Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Abkhazia, an Update and a Move

It's 18 months since I first dipped my toe into the big Blog pond and experimented with the medium.

This little blog was produced only over a matter of days but it has not been short lived. Time and time again I came back to see the material I had posted and it was a great extension to my notes and a constant source of inspiration for the features I subsequently produced.

I'm sure that blogging will figure in my future reporting. How exactly is something I'm still tinkering with.

Meanwhile, I've added a few things and made a few changes to the blog.

You can now listen to and download all of the Georgian radio features I produced. And, I will gradually add some slideshows.

Perhaps the most significant addition to The Georgia Project is material produced from my Nov-Dec 2006 trip to Abkhazia.(Sadly, I had to surrender the green laminated plastic visa on the way out - passports are not stamped).

Blogging was not an option as internet speeds in Sukhum/Sukhumi were circa 1996 (this is where Twitter would have worked quite well via Russian mobile networks). It was an enormously informative trip though and I made many friends - both Abkhaz and Georgian.

On the Georgian side it was great to team up again with my ever dependable driver Chaco who took great pleasure showing me around his home town of Kutaisi on the way to and from the Zugdidi border. In Abkhazia, Arto was one of the best fixers I've worked with and Timur and his black right hand drive Subaru took up driving duties for me.

My thanks to the independent Basque journalist Karlos Zurutuza for making the Thomas Goltz connection for me.

I can thoroughly recommend Goltz's Georgia Diary and Chechnya Diary. Goltz should be the first thing anyone considers reading before venturing to the Caucasus. I'm reading Azerbaijan Diary at the moment. If TG writes that getting a grip on post-Soviet Caucasus is like walking into the middle of a movie and playing intellectual catch-up of Georgian issues ever after, then I've only scratched the surface.

Three radio features I produced from my Abkhazia material are below. The first is a mini-documentary about the political situation and general life in Abkhazia. The second looks at how the European Union is helping to support independent media and the final feature profiles Abkhazia's one and only hip-hop band Black & White. It was the first time they had been interviewed.

More photos and video from Abkhazia to follow shortly.

The other little bit of news is I'm planning to link The Georgia Project to a new all-purpose reporter blog which I will use for future trips and other media related themes in the future.

See you over there soon.



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