Georgia Russia war history for tourism
Georgia received Russian tourists despite 2008 war
A group of smiling tourists laugh and take pictures as they get off a coach in Tbilisi's medieval Old Town.
An elderly Georgian man waves at the group from an ornately-carved wooden balcony. And a worker carrying a huge sack of concrete winks cheekily at the blonde women and shouts a greeting in Russian. They giggle.
It is not a reaction they had expected. That is because these tourists are from Russia, a country which fought a war with Georgia four years ago. And whose troops are still stationed in 20 percent of Georgian territory.
In 2008, Georgia and Russia went to war over the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia.
It was a war Russia won. Tens of thousands of Georgians who lived in South Ossetia were forced to flee their homes, leaving everything behind. And today, Russian troops guard checkpoints into South Ossetia to stop them trying to go back.
"I'm really very surprised that people here are so happy to see tourists from Russia," said Zulfiya Nikonova, who is here for the first time, "I was sure there wouldn't even be any Russian tourists, just four years after the war. There are a lot of memories."
But in the eyes of the Kremlin, Zulfiya is holidaying on enemy territory.
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