Needs of People Living along the Occupation Line

The latest official statistics on the populations of Zardiaantkari and Gugutiaantkari are not available at this time. The last census of the rural population was conducted in 2014,[1] according to which, there were 144 people (71 men, 73 women) in Gugutiaantkari and 28 people (14 men, 14 women) in Zardiaantkari. 

There is an active migration of population in both settlements. The reason, along with security, is socio-economic problems.


The Georgian side restored control over the village of Zardiaantkari only in 2012. Since then, a police checkpoint has been operating in the village. People may arrive in the village only after passing the checkpoint, where Georgian law enforcement officers check passengers' documents, ask the purpose of the visit and provide police escort to ensure security.

The socio-economic situation of the Zardiaantkari population is concerning. In 2012, after returning to their homes following the four years of hostilities, the population found their houses damaged by war and pastures lost by the so-called “borderization”.

G.G. has been demanding that the roof of his burned house be repaired since 2012, but in vain. In a two-storey house, there is only one room suitable for living, which was repaired with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross. G.G. received $ 15,000 compensation in 2009, but since the village was not under the control of the central government then, he was unable to rebuild the house. According to him, due to the difficult financial situation, he spent the money on living and the expenses  of his imprisoned children. Although the house is in need of full restoration – he asks the authorities only to repair the roof. 

Ts.E. has not received any compensation for her house that was half-burned, damaged and robbed during the war. She says she is not able to fully rehabilitate the house by herself. The 2 hectares of land owned by her family has become barren due to lack of care.[1]

Villagers cannot keep livestock because of lost pastures. “We only demand compensation for the loss we suffered by war, nothing more. Before the war, we had houses, gardens full of fruit and livestock. Now only few people have livestock and they take them with a rope. If the cattle run away, they wouldn't be able to bring them back from that dividing line,” Ts.E. told us.
Another resident of the village, T.T., also demands the restoration of a house burnt down during the war. According to him, the house belongs to his son, who is unable to rebuild it due to the lack of finances. T.T. received $ 15,000 compensation in 2009. However, like other villagers, he explains that control over the village was then lost and he was unable to rebuild the house. He also spent the money on food and various health needs because of poor social conditions.  

The house of J.T. in Zardiaantkari also needs rehabilitation and roof replacement. The roof of the house is damaged by bullets and walls are cracked.

In addition to the damaged houses, the locals of Zardiaantkari are concerned about the ongoing exercises in the occupied territories. According to them, the sound of gunshots and explosions has become common in the village, which strengthens the sense of physical insecurity. The locals explain that they would also leave the village, if there were no police nearby.

Young people leave Zardiaantkari because of fear and lack of perspective. The village has one schoolchild and two students. The schoolchild goes to the Mereti school and is provided with transportation. The students’ tuition fees are funded by the State.

The village is supplied with natural gas, electricity and potable water. Zardiaantkari is on the list of high mountainous settlements. Accordingly, the villagers enjoy the benefits provided by the Law of Georgia on the Development of High Mountainous Regions. In winter, they receive the so-called natural gas voucher of GEL 200 and electricity is also partially subsidized for them, but this alone cannot change their difficult socio-economic situation.

Zardiaantkari was hit by hail this year. However, according to the population, they could not receive proper attention from the central or local authorities. They say that the GEL 300 voucher for agricultural chemicals and other agricultural items, which was given to the population after the hail, was not sufficient.


The population of the village of Gugutiaantkari also demand compensation for the loss caused by war. The population of the village have lost pastures and gardens as a result of the so-called “borderization".

R.J. and M.K.’s plot of land, which was their main source of income, fell on the other side of the dividing line after the war. “We had a hectare of land before the war. We had corn, bean, onion – and we could earn a living. We were not depended on anybody. Now there is a border and we’ve lost our land,” R.J. told us.

N.G. also lost his plot of land, which is near the occupation line. He says he can't approach it because of fear of being abducted.

Like Zardiaantkari, Gugutiaantkari also lost pastures due to "borderization". Consequently, only few families have cattle. They are afraid to letting their cows go for eating grass because of the danger of approaching the so-called border. “We take the cows by turns. We didn't have this problem before the war. There were pastures in the village and we could let the cattle go there,” said M.K., a resident of the village of Gugutiaantkari.

The population of Gugutiaantkari have so far been unable to replace the roofs of their houses damaged by bullets.

The population demands restoration of the roofs of their houses and assistance. The benefits provided by the Law of Georgia on the Development of High Mountainous Regions and one-time assistance with products received by the population after this year’s hail cannot change their poor social situation.

Gugutiaantkari has no kindergarten. The primary school building, which had been functional before the 2008 war, is now home to a war-affected family. Accordingly, schoolchildren have to go to a school located in the village of Mereti. Although the schoolchildren are provided with transportation, locals demand that the Gugutiaantkari primary school become functional again.

The Democracy Research Institute has sent questions to the Office of the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality regarding the problems of the villages of Zardiaantkari and Gugutiaantkari of the Mereti community, Gori municipality. The organization continues to research the needs of the population living along the dividing line.

The visits were possible to be paid to the villages of Zardiaantkari and Gugutiaantkari with the financial support of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED).



[1] Control over Zardiaantkari was restored by the central government of Georgia in 2012. Consequently, the population was unable to till their agricultural land plots in 2008-2012.

[2] Population Census 2014. The numbers of population according to the administrative-territorial units and sex: