Coordinates: 42°07′N 45°16′E / 42.117°N 45.267°E / 42.117; 45.267
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pankisi Gorge
Georgian: პანკისის ხეობა
Pankisi Gorge is located in Georgia
Pankisi Gorge
Pankisi Gorge
Pankisi Gorge is located in Kakheti
Pankisi Gorge
Pankisi Gorge
Country Georgia
Coordinates42°07′N 45°16′E / 42.117°N 45.267°E / 42.117; 45.267

Pankisi (Georgian: პანკისი) or the Pankisi Gorge (Georgian: პანკისის ხეობა, Pankisis Kheoba)[a] 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]

Flag of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and Georgia in Pankisi Gorge

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, 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 former senior Islamic State leader Tarkan Batirashvili, otherwise known as "Omar the Chechen", grew up in the area where some of his family still lives.[4] In 2014, Batirashvilii reportedly threatened to return to the area to lead a Muslim attack on Russian Chechnya,[5] however such a threat never came into fruition as he was killed during a battle in the town of Al-Shirqat in Iraq of 2016.

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 Paladin of Shadows series.


  1. ^ Chechen: ПӀаьнгазхой чӀаж, romanized: Phängazkhoy ch'azh, Ingush: ПӀенгишхой чӀож, romanized: Phengishkhoy ch'ozh


  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. ^ Akhmeteli, Nina (2014-07-09). "Georgian roots of Isis commander". BBC News.
  5. ^ Michael Winfrey (October 9, 2014). "Islamic State Grooms Chechen Fighters Against Putin". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on November 17, 2014.


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

External links[edit]