Bershueti – The needs of people living along the occupation line

On March 21, team members of the Democracy Research Institute visited the village of Bershueti, which is located near the occupation line in the Gori municipality. According to the 2014 census,[1] 837 people live in the village of Bershueti in the Zeghduleti community of the Gori municipality. Locals say there are about 300 households in the village.

The village of Bershueti is bordered by a territory controlled by Russian troops. The area near the occupation line is marked with a large cross instead of the barbed wire.

People can freely enter and move in the village. There is no Georgian police post on the road section of the village. The locals’ sense of insecurity has strengthened after the Russian military erected a banner in the outskirts of the village, above the cemetery. Locals say it is risky to approach that area.

The village has lost its pastures due to occupation. Most of the land used by the residents of Bershueti as pasture is now on the other side of the occupation line. The Virgin Mary Church is also in the occupied territory now, which is a matter of particular concern for the locals.

Poor quality of water was named as the biggest problem of the village by the people we interviewed. They say the water supplied to them is unsuitable for drinking, which was proved by the inspection as well. Irrigation water is also problematic, which prevents locals from growing annual and perennial crops. During our visit, residents of the village showed us uncultivated land, which they said was related to the lack of irrigation water.

Damaged central and internal roads of the village have been problematic for years. The village does not have the status of a mountainous settlement and therefore cannot enjoy benefits under the status. The population is poor. We found out that five lonely pensioners, who were shy to talk about their problems, were not supplied with gas or electricity.

Women are mainly engaged in agriculture. They also found it difficult to talk about their needs, which may be caused by the lack of information. According to them, they have not been involved in any kind of programme aimed at their empowerment. As for teachers (most of them are women), they participate in all the training programmes intended for teachers.

Despite the outflow, some young people still remain in the village, who wish that they had a stadium and a small park in the village. A few of them even talked about the necessity of restoring and saving the historical tower of the village.

The measures taken to prevent the spread of the COVID 19 virus, including the ban on the movement of mini-buses, has made it problematic for the rural population to go to Gori or Tbilisi. Given that there is no pharmacy in the village, the ban on transport has created additional obstacles for older people in terms of buying medicines.

[1] The 2014 census results are available at: