From Russia, With Fear

A secret community of Chechen refugees.

Since December 1994, when war broke out between the Russian-backed central government in Chechnya and resisters seeking independence for their state, the Pankisi Gorge region, a high, remote enclave in the far northeast corner of the Republic of Georgia, has witnessed an influx of refugees from Chechnya.

Though not recognized or officially monitored by international agencies, Pankisi has become a refuge from state-sponsored terror for thousands of people who are accused by the Kremlin of waging terror at home.

Chechens have a reputation for rugged individualism, even among the peoples of the Caucasus, who have defended their mountainous home from invading nations for centuries.

Some 5,000 Chechens escaped the deadly war in Chechnya by fleeing to Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge. Demotix photographer Daro Sulakauri documents life among the Chechens in the Pankisi Gorge.