The Accidental Ambassador: Interview for Smith Journal

When a mild-mannered linguist published an open letter to the people of Georgia in 1989, he suddenly found himself the enemy of the nascent post-soviet republic - and a diplomat for its breakaway territory.

Writer Kieran Pender Photographer Alice AedySmith Journal 

Prospective travellers do not attend grand embassies with officious consular staff, nor waste hours in visa-on-arrival lines at overcrowded airports. To get permission to visit this picturesque breakaway state in the Caucasus, intrepid tourists email Professor George Hewitt.

An affable 68-year-old with greying hair and a scholarly manner, Hewitt serves as Abkhazia’s honorary consul to the U.K. He is, essentially, an unofficial ambassador for an unofficial state. In addition to issuing colourful visas and providing travel advice, the recently retired academic advocates for the Abkhazian cause.

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