This post is unusual post. Not only because of showing cover from very “rare” territory, but also because of showing the cover, which I haven’t received. Total of 10 covers were posted from the inaccessible place, but only covers sent to Czechia were stollen, all other covers to 7 countries were safely delivered.
The rare country mentioned above is Abkhazia, one of the rarest countries among cover collectors. Abkhazia is autonomous territory of Georgia, it lies in the north-western corner of the country. Under Georgia’s official designation it is Autonomous republic of Abkhazia. Since August 2008, the territory consider itself an independent country, but de facto it is occupied by the Russian federation and it represents the “frozen” conflict similar to other territories occupied by Russia (e.g. Transnistria in Moldova or “Donbas” region in Ukraine).
From the philatelic point of view, there were plenty of illegal (cinderella) stamps allegedly issued by Abkhazia in the past, however the only official issue (issued by the Russian post) is a single issue of 2013 (see it used on cover here). This issue (as well as any other illegal issues) can’t be used on mail outgoing outside the Russian Federation, the 2013 issue is supposed to be used on mails going to Russia only (Abkhazia is not UPU member, thus it can’t be used internationally). However, the stamp became rare quickly and in practice, only Russian stamps are used in postal service. All the mail is collected in the Sukhumi (capital of Abkhazia), Russian stamps are used on letters, and then all the mail is transferred by cars to Sochi in Russia, where all letters receive the Russian postmark of Sochi (Сочи). Thus the mail from Sukhumi is practically unrecognizable from mail posted from Russian Sochi. Cover received from Abkhazia represents one the the rarest items in cover collections worldwide.
A friend of mine arranged to send 10 covers from Sukhumi, sent as regular mail, i.e. using Russian stamps as usually (with 2 exceptions) and with the Sukhumi Post Office postmark on the backside, three covers were addressed to me, seven covers were addressed to my friends. All covers were posted in Sukhumi on July, covers to Asia has the postmark of July 8, covers to Europe has the postmark of July 21. First cover out of 10 was delivered to Russia, Yuri has received his cover around July 17. Covers sent to Europe arrived around August 10 (and based on my experience, my cover very likely arrived to Czechia at the same date), Miloš (Slovakia), Holger (Belgium), Roland (France) and Florian (Austria) received covers between August 10-11. Finally, it arrived to Jinesh Joseph in India and to Ralph in Philippines around August 18. Unfortunately, my 3 covers were stollen on it’s way. If all other friends would not receive their covers, I would suspect that clerk at P.O. took money but failed to send covers. But it is unlikely, all friend in 7 different countries received covers, thus it had to be stollen in Czechia. Furthermore, after investigations, it is now confirmed that it was not the only case of stealing rare philatelic items, more rare covers were stollen with the help of the Czech Post this year :(. This makes very bad impression of the Czech Post and confirms the bad rumours on image of the company as eastern-minded relic of socialist period in our country.
And how the cover from one-of-the-rarest-country look like? I feel sorry I can’t show my own cover, but here are examples of covers sent to my friends :).
And notice the beautiful postmark of the Abkhazian Post Office on the backside :).
* * *
The mills of god grind, yet they grind exceeding small 😉