The separation line between Georgia and South Ossetia is visible from the patio of the Khurvaleti “Home Without Borders,” one of just ten nursing homes in Georgia. During warm summer afternoons, the senior residents enjoy the sunshine peeking through the lush garden. They gaze straight ahead to the grim realities of the occupation unfolding just 200 meters ahead.
On the left-hand side of the opposing mountain range is a cemetery controlled by the village’s most prolific agent of death — the Russian occupying forces. On the right-hand side is a green plaque that reads “The Republic of South Ossetia” in Cyrillic lettering.
The August 2008 war ended in a matter of five days, but the continued presence of Russian soldiers casts gloom over villages like Khurvaleti.
“You won’t see anyone who lives near the occupation line smiling,” says Luda Salia, the founder of Home Without Borders. “Everyone has a broken, pitiful face.”
Salia’s hatred for Russia runs deep. The Kremlin’s meddling in the 1992 Abkhazia civil war led to a drastic escalation in human rights abuses that destabilized the region and forced Salia to leave Sokhumi behind. While in exile, Salia married her husband in Khurvaleti, a village located just outside South Ossetia in the Tskhinvali region.