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A Statue of the patron warrior saint of Georgia, St George, slaying the dragon in Freedom Square in Tbilisi. Former president Mikheil Saakashvili commissioned the statue in 2006 to stand in the place of a large soviet era statue of Vladimir Lenin.

 

  Young girls in national dress prepare to practice traditional Georgian dances at the Georgian National Ballet in Tbilisi. Young Georgians are taught to practice traditional customs and dance as part of their national identity.

Young girls in national dress prepare to practice traditional Georgian dances at the Georgian National Ballet in Tbilisi. Young Georgians are taught to practice traditional customs and dance as part of their national identity.

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The capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi looking towards the great Mountains of the South Caucasus. Lying on the banks of the Mtkvari River the city was founded in the 5th century. Tbilisi'™s proximity to vital trade routes between east and west has made it a prize fought over by rival empires through out history.

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Vitali, an IDP & veteran of the Abkhazian War, stands in his small holding on the shores of the Tbilisi Sea. He fled his home in Gali, Abkhazia, nearly twenty years ago after Russian backed Abkhazian forces embarked on a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Georgians living in the town.

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A speaker at a pro EU, Pro NATO anti Russian rally in central Tbilisi. The current ruling coalition "€œGeorgian Dream" founded by ex president Oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili has been accused by the nationalist opposition party "National United Movement"€ (NUM) of being to pro Russian, and operating to close to the Kremlin. Many fear a second revolution as seen in 2003 as support for the coalition swains.

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Megi & Ana two young Abkhazian IDP'€™s (Internally Displaced People) stand outside the ex soviet hotel they call home, both where born in Tbilisi and though neither has been to Abkhazia they count themselves as displaced. Despite living in the hotel their whole lives the Georgian government still considers the accommodation temporary.

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Young Orthodox Georgians participate in a march in central Tbilisi to commemorate the "€œHundred Thousand Martyrs of Tbilisi"€. In the 12th century Tbilisi was sacked by the Persian Sultan Jal Al Din, those who did not renounce their Christian faith where decapitated on the Metheki bridge.

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Ako Gogadze, a young political activist for the Georgian Conservative Party, stands guard at Tbilisi airport as part of his National Service. Young men have the choice of serving either in the army or police. After his service he plans to go into politics to effect change for his generation.

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Ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili speaks via video link from Kiev to a rally in Tbilisi. Saakashvili is infamous for his pro EU/NATO stance & anti Russian agenda during his time in power, leading to the 2008 five day war with Russia. His ex-party UNM is gaining support in the current domestic political sphere despite Saakashvili being unable to return to his native country for fear of arrest. He faces arrest for exceeding his official capacities in 2007.

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Young girls in national dress prepare to practice traditional Georgian dances at the Georgian National Ballet in Tbilisi. Many young Georgians practice traditional customs as part of their national identity.

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A Car parked outside an old dilapidated soviet era hotel which has housed a community of Abkhazian refugees since the 1990's. Conditions in the hotel are basic with no gas and families of up to five sharing single rooms. Many residents survive on handouts from the state due to their refugee status. It is extremely unlikely that Georgia will be allowed to join the EU unless it can produce a solution for the nearly 300,000 displaced people within its borders.

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Nana, an Abkhazian IDP, stands by portraits of her sons in her apartment in Tbilisi. They both died in a car crash shortly after fleeing to Tbilisi after fighting with Georgian forces against Russian & Abkhazian troops in Sukhumi.

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Georgians protest at a large anti Russian rally in central Tbilisi. The overwhelming majority of Georgians are deeply suspicious and fearful of its large neighbour thanks to the brief war between the countries in 2008 and Russia’s recent actions in eastern Ukraine. Many feel that joining NATO & the EU will safeguard it against future attack. However membership could only be granted if Georgia unifies its Russian backed breakaway states.

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Roland Abdushelishvili, an activist and mineworker, stands outside the Manganese plant in the Northern Town of Chiatura. Manganese is Georgia'€™s second biggest export. Accidents are common in the mines and the town suffers heavy pollution and high cancer rates. Roland campaigns for better conditions while recognising vast investment is needed to bring the soviet era mines in line with EU regulations.

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Young girls at an Orthodox rally in central Tbilisi. The Georgian Orthodox Church has around 3.6 million members out of a total population of 4.6 million. The church holds vast power and influence in a secular republic after years of soviet oppression.

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Lina sits with her Daughter Lola in the single room she shares in a slum with her son and husband in the up market "Vake" district of Tbilisi. The family face eviction as the Government looks to close down its decaying tenements in its drive for EU membership. Lina fears that she and her family will be made homeless.

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An active Manganese processing plant stands on the banks of the River Kvilira in the mining Town of Chiatura. The mines where privatised after Georgia'™s independence and little or no money has been invested in to the area since. The mines continue to operate using aged soviet technology. The River Kvilira runs black due to the high levels of pollution.

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The State Minister of Georgia for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Mr Paata Zakareishvili. His role as Minister is to co-ordinate and monitor Georgian-Osettian & Georgian-Abkhazian relationships, conflict resolution and the integration of these regions back into the Republic. The job has become harder following a recent military agreement between Russia and Abkhazia. Georgia has accused the Kremlin of moving towards the annexation of the break-away region.

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European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) members patrolling the Georgian/South Ossetian boundary line. Georgia regards South Ossetia as sovereign territory. The region was the focus of the 2008 war with Russia and as part of the ceasefire brokered by Nicholas Sarkhozy Russia now has many peacekeepers patrolling the boundary, the EUMM ensure that the terms of the agreement are stuck to and assist in prisoner exchanges and mediation.

 

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The outside of one of the many ex public/private buildings allocated to the housing of IDP'€™s in Georgia, as many as five people live in each hotel room. The issue & solution of IDP's is seen as key to EU membership.

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Young girls at an Orthodox rally in central Tbilisi. The Georgian Orthodox Church has around 3.6 million members out of a total population of 4.6 million. The church holds vast power and influence in a secular republic after years of soviet oppression.

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Georgians watch ex president Mikheil Saakashvili via a live link from Kiev, Ukraine. Saakashvili’s ex party UNM is enjoying a resurgence and calling for a vote of no confidence in the ruling Georgian Dream coalition who it accuses of being too close to Putin’s Russia. Nationalist feelings still run high after the 2008 Georgian-Ruso war and the occupation of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia & South Ossetia.

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Megi, a young IDP, walks on the roof of the tower block she calls home. She dreams of becoming a journalist working hard at school and hoping to study at University in Tbilisi. Since Georgia’s Rose Revolution education has improved dramatically for the young although job prospects have not. 40% of females between 14-24 are unemployed and living off state handouts.

 

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Police stand on Rustaveli Avenue in central Tbilisi. In 2005 as part of the sweeping reforms brought in by ex president Mikheil Saakashvili the entire Transport Police along with many others were sacked due to endemic corruption. An entirely new police force was recruited. Many police stations were also rebuilt using glass to align with the new ethos of transparency and reform.

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Tsitso sits at her window in an apartment. Her husband, a wounded veteran from the Abkhazian war, is the only breadwinner in the family and works as a taxi driver.

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Inside one of the converted tower blocks on the outskirts of Tbilisi. This is home to thousands of IDP'™s who live in poor conditions with no gas and inconsistent electricity. Widespread poverty in the IDP community is an issue that the current and previous Governments have tried to solve, but to little effect. Many when they moved in to the block were told it was a temporary arrangement and they would be returning home in months; some have been residents for almost twenty years.

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An Ethnic Georgian farmer in his field in the Abkhazian town of Gali. The proximity of the town to the Georgian border means it has long been the flash point for ethnic violence. Recently Georgians have been returning to their homes after many fled the violent clashes & ethnic cleansing that took place in the 1990's.

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A Georgian Orthodox shrine in a government owned tenement in Tbilisi, many Georgians are Orthodox with nearly 3.6 million members, the Church vehemently opposes LGBT rights, in 2013, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, had called for banning a gay rights rally, describing homosexuality as an "anomaly and disease." Some 30,000 protesters including priests consequently attacked a pro gay rights rally, injuring 30.

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Megi a young IDP walks on the roof of the tower block she calls home. She dreams of becoming a journalist and works hard at school and hopes to study at University in Tbilisi. Since Georgia's Rose Revolution education has improved dramatically for the young. However with 40% of females between 14-24 unemployed there is an abundance of young people out of work and living off state handouts

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The boundary line between Georgia and South Ossetia; the government in Tbilisi still regards the break away region as sovereign Georgian soil. The Kremlin backs the defacto South Ossetian government and ethnic Ossetians living in the region hold Russian passports. The boundary line has divided entire communities and families, with many caught crossing the line detained by Russian peacekeepers.