May Stalin help Georgian village?29.08.2012 | 19:22
Nearly every district in Georgia has its own village of Akhalsopeli. This title is translated into Russian as "new village". No matter in what part of Georgia the village is located, in the east or the west, almost all of them are similar. And only Akhalsopeli, Martkopi district, located 25 km east of Tbilisi, cannot be confused with any other. The village is known for an ardent fan of Stalin, who has built a mausoleum to the leader of communism in his father's house.
Temur Kunelauri does not give interviews and assiduously avoids journalists. But he did not object to filming his home. A small bas-relief profile of Stalin hangs on the gate. After the gate you see a beautiful view of the lush green yard. On the right side there are busts of Stalin, framed by thick vegetation. The yard ends with a big monument, two times higher than a man. On either side of the monument there are portraits of Stalin in frames. To the left of the monument - there is the entrance to the courtyard and the house where, in fact, the entire family lives. Even the Niva car, which is parked in the yard, is also decorated with a small head of Stalin. In fact, we did not get to the mausoleum: the owner said it needed renovation.
At first glance, it appears that wealthy people live here. But when you start to look closely, you notice more and more patches skillfully covering the breaches.
Temur's mother, Iza Kunelauri.
- All that you see was acquired and made in the Soviet era. That's true to everything in the village. After obtaining independence we were unable to make anything. Life stopped. I have two sons, Temur and Shalva. Both of them are hardworking guys. But they both are sitting at home. There is no job for them. And my husband has diabetes for a few years, he cannot move without assistance.
- Do you have a medical insurance policy?
- What's that?
- Do you get any help from the state?
- No help is being provided by the government. My husband and I get only pension. One hundred lari. And what can you do with a hundred lari? I'm afraid to go shopping, because prices are prohibitive. We are old. Neither I nor my husband can do anything. And the officials have forgotten about our village. They don't care of how we live. When I saw you in the yard, I first thought you came to take the money. Then, as I saw the camera I calmed down.
- Do you have debts?
- Yes, we do.
Trembling hands of the 80-year-old Iza touch the willow bush which also starts shaking.
- And what does the village live on?
- We grow potato, lobio (beans). If the weather allows, we get the harvest.
- And have you got the harvest this year?
- Almost none. Due to bad weather and hail.
- So, only cattle feed you?
- Those who can afford to keep cattle do this. But not everyone has a cow. We have only chickens.
- Are there many young people in the village?
- They have scattered. They are mainly working in the city. But mainly this is piecework, temporary. You cannot find a permanent job now. My boys go to the city if there is job. Villagers respect and love them. They know they are hardworking. It's not easy to build a house with your own hands.
- Do the people often come to see the mausoleum, to talk to Temur?
- Recently, rare, mostly the tourists from Russia and Europe. They are looking with interest, shooting. But what's the use?
- Why does Temur love Stalin so much?
- Stalin was a great personality. Show me someone who is better than he was.
A young girl, the daughter of Shalva Kunelauri, comes out from the house. She says something to her grandmother; then her mother appears, and they all are hugging and congratulating her.
As it turned out, she has successfully passed the exams at the university. Having gained 70 points she has got the opportunity to study virtually for free. There is no longer free education, as under Stalin. There is the law for those who go to university: if you gain 70 points, the government covers major part of the expenses for education. This is a great success for the Kunelauri family.
On the way back we met another old woman, a resident of the last house. We stopped to ask her about her life. "Is this life? After my husband died more than twenty years ago, nothing happens", she says.
As it turned out, except the mausoleum, this village of Akhalsopeli is similar to dozens of Georgian villages with the same name. It has the same problems, joys and sorrows. The cult of Stalin is probably not enough to change and improve this life.