BATUMI, GEORGIA: Robert, who repairs shoes in Batumi, joked that he not only shares the same first name with the famous US actor De Niro, but also similar facial features.
An Armenian, he has been repairing shoes for about 25 years – including a stint in the 1990s in Moscow region.
He was a machinist in the Soviet period, but amid Perestroika and the opening of private business, Robert’s brother suggested they make shoes for sale to Russia.
Their plan never materialized because the Soviet Union soon collapsed, unleashing economic chaos and trade barriers.
However, the idea changed their lives forever. Robert’s brother makes shoes in Krasnodar, Russia. They haven’t seen each other for many years.