Since December 1994, when war broke out between the Russian-backed central government in Grozny and a determined group of Chechen resistance fighters, nearby Pankisi has witnessed an influx of refugees from Chechnya. Though not recognized or officially monitored by international agencies, Pankisi has become a refuge from state-sponsored terror for thousands of people who, ironically, are accused by Moscow of waging terror at home. Chechens have a reputation for rugged individualism, even among the peoples of the Caucasus who - by any standards - are accustomed to rugged conditions and nurture a fierce sense of national pride and independence. By most estimates, approximately 5,000 Chechens escaped the deadly war in Chechnya by fleeing to Georgia's Pankisi Gorge. ( Exhibit Abstract)
Education is one of the most important resources in this underrepresented, but culturally rich community. When I was last in Pankisi, funding for the after-school art program had just been denied. Satellite Republic will donate 10% of its earnings to work towards reinstating this program.