Ing­mar Björn Nol­ting


Remains of a Soviet Uto­pia
by Ing­mar Nol­ting and Arne Piepke

Vaziani, an estate of run­down tower blocks sur­roun­ded by moun­ta­ins and broad acres, is situa­ted just a 30-minu­tes drive off the gates of Georgia’s capi­tal, Tbi­lisi. Vaziani set­t­le­ment, con­struc­ted during the soviet era, ser­ved as accom­mo­da­tion for sol­diers, sta­tio­ned in a near-by mili­tary base, living there with their fami­lies. In the USSR mili­tary per­son­nel and politi­ci­ans were highly pri­vi­le­ged. They were pro­vi­ded with ade­quate hou­sing, recei­ved bet­ter sala­ries and were given prio­rity in the dis­tri­bu­tion of luxury goods and sup­plies.

Back then, life was cele­bra­ted in Vaziani – the popu­la­tion lived in pro­spe­rity and the set­t­le­ment flou­ris­hed. Howe­ver, after the down­fall of the Soviet Union, the sta­tio­ned Rus­sian sol­diers left the hou­sing estate for home – without them Vaziani’s good days were num­be­red. The govern­ment sold the apart­ments for around 50 Lari (abt 20 US-Dol­lars) to people with depri­ved back­grounds, home­l­ess, or to refu­gees from Abkha­zia, who had to flee from the Rus­sian arms in the Russo-Geor­gian War. Today the aut­ho­ri­ties don’t care any lon­ger about the set­t­le­ment and its inha­bi­tants. The first buil­ding col­lap­sed in May 2013 – others are not far from expe­ri­en­cing the very same fate.
Pro­blems with water, gas and electri­cal sup­plies are huge – many lines and tubings are demo­lis­hed. The sewage sys­tem is lea­king, and thus con­ta­mi­na­ting drin­king water by fecal bac­te­ria. The unem­ploy­ment rate in Vaziani is a stag­ge­ring 90 per­cent – and has stuck there for the last couple of years. There are sim­ply no jobs in Vaziani. Alt­hough time shat­te­red con­crete to dust, the people stay – because there is no alter­na­tive, they hope for a future in their home.