Ulyanovka’s only other inhabitant, Rurua, calls it a “hard and boring” life. “It’s a strange way to live, without any human contact,” he says.
The pair, however, do not live in total isolation. In warmer months, residents of nearby villages sometimes come in cars and trucks to gather wild herbs for themselves and grass for their livestock. A military base is not far off.
But Ulyanovka’s original residents never return, it appears. Thousands of rural Georgians have moved to Greece, Russia and Ukraine since the end of the Soviet era, the government reports. Overall, 98,300 Georgians emigrated in 2016, a 2.4-percent increase from the preceding year.
The migration, though, is not just outward. Rurua’s family, displaced from Abkhazia, settled in Ulyanovka 13 years ago to raise pigs, cows and chickens. After a few years, they moved on to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, since the work did not pay.