Pankisi Gorge

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Coordinates: 42°07′N 45°16′E / 42.117°N 45.267°E / 42.117; 45.267

The Pankisi Gorge (Georgian: პანკისის ხეობა, Pankisis Kheoba) or Pankisi (პანკისი) is a valley region in Georgia, in the upper reaches of River Alazani just south of Georgia’s historic region of Tusheti between Mt Borbalo and the ruined 17th-century fortress of Bakhtrioni. Administratively, it is included in the Akhmeta municipality of the Kakheti region. An ethnic group called Kists of Chechen roots form the majority (75%) in the area.

Area conditions[edit]

It had allegedly often been used as a base for transit, training and shipments of arms and financing by Chechen rebels and Islamic militants, including foreign fighters from Afghanistan and Arab countries, many of whom followed Ruslan Gelayev.[1] Most of these accusations were around 2002, but others allege that it is more peaceful now,[2] although there are still many Chechen refugees living there.[3] The senior ISIS leader "Omar the Chechen" grew up in the area, where his family still lives,[4] and in 2014 Omar reportedly threatened to return to the area to lead a Muslim attack on Russian Chechnya.[5]

Landmine Monitor warns of antipersonnel mines being laid in the Gorge. A number of casualties have resulted from landmines still being encountered in the Gorge.[6][7]

Cultural references[edit]

The situation in the Pankisi Gorge received an extensive fictional treatment factoring into several of the popular John Ringo anti-terrorism military science fiction books in the Kildar series.


  1. ^ Kleveman, Lutz, 'The New Great Game', Grove Press New York, 2003 page 35; sourced from New York Times August 15, 2002.
  2. ^ BBC News, Russia's reach unnerves Chechens, Wednesday, 16 January 2008. Retrieved September 29, 2010.
  3. ^ UNHCR, 'Chechen refugees in Pankisi Gorge resume normal life after Georgia scare', 1 October 2008. Retrieved September 29, 2010.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "LM Report 2002". 2005-02-25. Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  7. ^ "LM Report 2006". 2006-09-12. Retrieved 2007-01-15. 


  • Shorena Kurtsikidze & Vakhtang Chikovani, Ethnography and Folklore of the Georgia-Chechnya Border: Images, Customs, Myths & Folk Tales of the Peripheries, Munich: Lincom Europa, 2008.

External links[edit]