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Russia’s playground

Behind Russian bellicosity in the Caucasus lies an old dream of holidays and romance

By Timothy Phillips   October 2004

In 1835, an anonymous Russian traveller to the Caucasus wrote, with what must have seemed even then an infelicitous turn of phrase, that the region was “to Russian nobles what Mecca is for Muslims.” At the same time, the Russian army was doing battle with native rebel forces resisting inclusion within the Russian empire. That struggle, like today’s, was a bloody one, costing the lives of thousands on both sides, including many civilians. However, by the time the Caucasian war ended in 1864, the region had already been a favourite holiday destination for Russians for almost half a century. More…

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