The restricted area could only be entered in Soviet times with special passes.
Pobeda (‘Victory’ in Russian) is a settlement located 30 kilometres from Tbilisi, near the town of Gardabani.
In Soviet times, this place was a restricted area, which meant that it could only be accessed with special passes. There were two important secret military facilities here: one of them subordinate to the intelligence department (GRU), and the second to the State Security Committee (KGB).
There were about 600 people living in Pobeda during Communist rule. These people were made up of Russian military and intelligence officers and their families, all who worked at these secret sites.
The Russians left these places as soon as the Soviet Union collapsed.
“Even if relatives wanted to visit us, they had to be issued with special passes in advance. When they did come they envied us – how good everything was here,” recalls Natela Chkheidze, an elderly village local who remained here with her sick husband.
Her husband served as a military man, then retrained as an engineer and stayed in Pobeda.
Natela Chkheidze remembers that in Soviet times Pobeda looked beautiful with its renovated houses and well-kept yards. The village had their own store and club.
Today, the large area full of half-empty houses is home to about twenty families. There is no public transport that can be used to reach Gardabani, and the road is badly damaged.
The village, consisting of two-story buildings, looks more like a set for a gloomy film: shabby walls, broken windows and unhinged doors.
The most striking feature is the absence of children, as if their voices have never been heard around here. There aren’t even traces of any children, no clothes drying on clotheslines, not even a broken, discarded useless toy. Locals say that those who had even the slightest of opportunities to leave had gone. No one wants to stay in Pobeda.