The fate of two sanatoriums after they were left by Russian military forces Rozita German, Sukhum

In downtown Sukhum there are two sanatoriums. They occupy about 20 hectares of land, and for a long while were used by Russian military forces as bases. Nine years ago, they were given to the Abkhaz authorities. But nobody has been able to ‘relaunch’ the sanatoriums since then.

Only the park has remained in reasonable condition, where even panels describing the local plant life have some semblance of life. The rest is in need of dire repairs which haven’t been done since even Soviet times.
Several buildings of this enormous complex have been rented out by local businessmen. But the renters are not owners, and for that reason they do not plan to invest serious money into the reconstruction of the area.
After the Georgian-Abkhaz war of the 1990s, the first restaurant opened up here. This view is what remains of the well-known restaurant by the name of ‘Bely’ (ed. Rus, white), with a great view of the sea. Back in the day, it was difficult to get a table here.
There are some 300 local residents that work here. But only during the season, that is, four months a year. When the sanatoriums were being administered by the Russian military forces, there were some 1,500 staff here, and salaries were several times higher than in other places. It was even difficult to get work as a dish-washer or maid here.
Two 15-story buildings, a pool, dozens of cafes, movie theatres, children’s parks and sports fields, flower beds and a fantastic park. The territory of these Russian sanatoriums was a local paradise against the backdrop of post-war destruction in Abkhazia.
In 2008, after the recognition of Abkhazia by Russia, the sanatoriums were supposed to be handed over to the Ministry of Defense of Russia. However, it was too expensive to maintain them and to pay taxes to the Abkhaz treasury, and so Russia gave them up.
Gradually, the sanatoriums fell into decline. And the former social space moved to the Sukhum boardwalk
Since 2014, some buildings have been rented out to local residents, where cafes have again sprouted up. But every season, the drop off in tourists and other clients is felt all the more severely.

But there are still vacationers here, despite the dilapidation. An elderly couple from Moscow did not want their picture taken but said that they were happy with their vacation. “The sea is clean and the park is fantastic. You can’t see anything of the sort anywhere else, which is curious.”

Two images of Lenin remain on the territory. One is in front of a sports field, while the other is in mosaic form and is a local art attraction. Lenin is not often seen in Abkhazia, but the attitude towards him is not one of aggression.

Nalbyi came to Abkhazia, his historic homeland in 2014 from Syria. Here, he opened up a cafe with a friend, called “Kovcheg”. He says that in the first year, they didn’t do too bad, and this year he hopes tourists will come from Sochi - that is, football fans at the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Marina is the owner of the cafe “White Parrot”. She says that political debates sprout up in Abkhazia before the start of every tourist season and that demonstrations begin as well, which has the effect of scaring away tourists. And all her hopes are on the tourist season, which allows her to maintain her family for at least half a year.
Everybody who has a small business here says that they have no hopes for investments to sprout up which would return these sanatoriums to life. “There’s a crisis everywhere”, they say.
The idea of extending the main area of the boardwalk and connecting it to the territory of the sanatoriums is being actively discussed. For this, a small bridge would have to be constructed over the Baslariver.
Parts of the territory of the sanatoriums could be sold or rented out, and a small piece of the boardwalk would always remain at the disposal of city residents. However, so far, all such talks are still in the early discussion phase.