Despite reports of violence and discrimination against queer people often hitting the news, for Wagdy (Egypt), Riri (Azerbaijan), and Misha (Nigeria), Georgia represents a safe place where they can finally be themselves. While some find a new life in Georgia free from fear, the country’s opaque asylum procedures threaten to send some of them back, their presence deemed ‘contradictory to the interests of the country’.
Tbilisi city authorities have come under fire for a recent decision to privatise a plot of land in central Tbilisi. The sale was for just ₾1 ($0.40), to a company connected to Georgia’s wealthiest, and perhaps most influential person — billionaire ex–Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Last month, reports emerged of the mass detention of queer people in Azerbaijan. OC Media spoke to one of the men caught up in the roundup, and a number of activists offering assistance. They tell of illegal arrests, humiliation, and even torture, as authorities continue to apply pressure. [Read more…]
At over 2,000 metres above sea level, in the last village before the northern mountain pass from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, life in Sotk can be arduous. The village, which until 30 years ago was inhabited by Azerbaijanis, is now home to Armenians who fled their homes in Azerbaijan, though most of these have also moved on to greener pastures.
In Armenia’s capital Yerevan, drinking fountains can be found on almost every street corner. But in the neighbouring Armavir Province to the west, water quality is so low that villages rely on private delivery lorries, bringing clean water to the villages each morning.
The mere existence of lesbian couples in Azerbaijan is rarely talked about or acknowledged. Out of sight of the public and even queer rights activists, some women still live together and raise children as families.
An entire generation has grown up in Abkhazia with no direct experience of the 1992–1993 war. For many of these young people, a collective memory of the conflict still persists, and attitudes towards Georgia and Georgians are often extremely hostile.
A string of changes in how identity documents are issued has left residents of Abkhazia’s Gali District feeling frustrated and powerless. OC Media spoke to a number of locals, who complained that widespread corruption and discrimination makes them feel unwelcome in their homeland.
Construction on the shore of Makhachkala’s Ak-Gyol Lake by local authorities and private entrepreneurs has been going on for years, to the chagrin of many locals. The fight against the latest such construction, an Orthodox Christian cathedral, has been taken on by local Christians themselves, who are suing the local government and their own diocese. [Read more…]