Page 1 georgiatoday

Issue no: 857

• JULY 1 - 4, 2016



In this week’s issue...

AP, Turkish police set up security perimeter around Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport

President Margvelashvili Visits Germany to Speed Visa Liberalization for Georgia NEWS PAGE 2

How Much Are We Allowed to Know?

FOCUS ON TRAGEDY Another terrorist attack in Istanbul shook the world this week. Read the Georgia Today analysis PAGE


“Give Us Five Years” - Exclusive Interview with the New Minister of Education BY RUSA SHELIA


e would be the first to admit that, unlike his predecessors, he lacks in political experience. What he intends to compensate this lack with lies in his impressive skills in management – both practically and theoretically. Why did one of Georgia’s most prominent management gurus agree to become the Minister of Education and Science? How does he plan to improve the motivation of teachers and reinforce the stale state education system? These were the questions Palitra’s Rusa Shelia put to

Minister Alexander Jejelava. “It didn’t come as a surprise to me,” he admitted of the request for him to take on the post of Minister, reminiscing that he had received similar offers throughout the tenures of the last three (!) governments. Apparently, it was the personal connection with Prime Minister Kvirikashvili that tipped the scales this time round. His friends also weighed in, telling him that this was the time to actually change things and if he were to refuse, the momentum might be lost. But unlike most Georgian ministers, he doesn’t see himself as a long term statesman figure. He says he has come to change things “For real”. Continued on page 10


Rabies Flare-Up in Georgia – A Risk Not Worth Taking


The Ruler…a Dead Duck?


Country Comes to Town! CULTURE PAGE 19




President Margvelashvili Visits Businesses See Near-Zero Germany to Speed Visa Corruption in Georgia, Liberalization for Georgia Claims IFC Survey PREPARED BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES



eorgia’s President, Giorgi Margvelashvili, has paid an official visit to Germany accompanied by his wife, the First Lady Maka Chachua, and the Georgia delegation. The Georgian President’s spokesperson, Eka Mishveladze said Tuesday that during his German visit the President focused on speeding up visa liberalization for Georgia, boosting bilateral relations, and Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Margvelashvili is the third high ranking official after Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili to visit Germany this month. During his visit, on June 29the Georgian President met with his German counterpart Joachim Gauck and other high ranking officials. On Thursday, Margvelashvili delivered a speech about Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspiration at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Berlin.

He emphasized that Georgia and Germany have had strong ties for many years and highlighted that Germany was one of the first countries to support Georgia’s independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union when it opened an embassy in Tbilisi. “We appreciate Germany’s support and understand that the country itself is going through a difficult period. This is a time when the European Union is focused on the discussion of Britain’s decision to leave. Georgia is standing strong against important challenges to becoming a part of the European community, as well as to solving the problem of territorial integrity,” Margvelashvili said. He said that Georgia is strong and a strategic country in the region, and still a faithful partner for the EU. “With all of these challenges and opportunities we have, I hope that we will reach important collaboration with our partners here in Berlin. Bilateral relations with Germany, as well as an active European agenda with Brussels and Strasbourg are vital for Georgia,” he said. According to the President’s press office, before he ends his official visit, Margvelashvili is to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

survey from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, which focuses exclusively on the private sector in emerging markets, found there is virtually no perception of corruption in Georgia, according to business representatives, and the vast majority of firms are satisfied with the business environment. Conducted by the IFC Georgia Investment Climate Project based on 2015 data, the Georgia Business Perception Survey examined more than 800 small, medium, and large local and international businesses in Georgia to help the government identify the next steps necessary to improve the investment climate and boost growth. Only 0.03 percent of survey respondents said their business had encountered government corruption in the past year, while 0.75 percent said they heard about corrupt practices experienced by others. However, the survey also found that the revenues of most businesses declined last year, with the key reasons perceived as the currency devaluation and reduced purchasing power. “The survey found that investor expectations have mostly been met and, in spite of the revenue decline last year, the outlook is quite optimistic. Many businesses plan to increase production and employment,” said Jan van Bilsen, IFC Regional Manager for the South Caucasus. “The survey also pinpointed some areas where more needs to be done. We are committed to continue working with the government to implement reforms that can lead to further improvements in the investment climate.”

The survey also revealed that less than half of Georgia’s exporters are aware of the benefits of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTA) with the European Union, suggesting the need for an awareness campaign. According to respondents, the government should also continue to develop infrastructure and create a more competitive environment to help boost business growth. For more about the survey, please visit: www.ifc. org/eca.

ABOUT THE SURVEY The survey is part of the work of the World Bank Group’s Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, a joint practice of the World Bank and IFC, which helps countries accelerate private sector growth by creating simple, efficient, businessfriendly regulations while ensuring public interests are protected. As part of these efforts, the Georgia Investment Climate Project helps the Georgian government improve the investment climate by increasing the efficiency of regulations in three key areas: tax, trade logistics, and investment policy. It is implemented in partnership with the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance and BP and its Oil and Gas Co-venturers. Georgia became an IFC member in 1995. Since then, IFC has provided about USD 1.2 billion in long-term financing, of which USD 373 million was mobilized from partners, in 55 projects in financial services, agribusiness, manufacturing, and infrastructure. In addition, IFC has supported around USD 315 million in trade through its trade finance program, and implemented a number of advisory projects focused on developing the private sector. In fiscal year 2015, IFC invested almost USD 18 billion in developing countries worldwide.

IFC Source:

Conceptual Restaurant Kozlovna Comes to Tbilisi


ozlovna was opened for the first time in the Czech Republic in 2007. Currently, over 30 similar outlets are operating in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Moldova, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and now in Georgia. Czech Beer has gained global popularity and represents the highest quality. Kozel is the most popular Czech Beer. Therefore, the Kozlovna (Kozel Pub) is a global network and is represented in dozens of countries. Presentation of the first conceptual restaurant Kozlovna was held in Tbilisi this week at 46/50 Kostava Str. The event was attended by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic, embassy representatives, and the media. Guests invited to the opening of Kozlovna discovered the Czech cuisine, where dishes are prepared based only on Czech recipes and technology, while Czech beer technologists poured mixed dark and light beers. “Today, in Georgia, we opened one of the most famous conceptual beer restaurants. Kozlovna on Kostava Street is the first Kozlovna restaurant and will definitely be followed by others. We intend to make our contribution to the development of beer consumption culture in Georgia. Consumers will have the opportunity to taste the best Czech beer and dishes here,” - said Nikoloz Khundzakishvili, Corporate Director, Natakhtari. According to Levan Namgaladze, Director of

Kozlovna, many interesting novelties will be offered to customers. A chef from the Czech Republic was invited to train Georgian cooks throughout one month. Dark and light draft Kozel can be tasted only in Kozlovna, where they are poured for visitors in a special manner. And only here can you taste beer dishes prepared according to Czech and European methodology, e.g. shank, which is cooked over 24 hours.




Triple Suicide Attack Kills 41, Wounds 239 at Istanbul Airport BY NICHOLAS WALLER


n a brazen coordinated attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, three suicide bombers killed at least 41 people and wounded more than 239 others late Tuesday. The attackers, armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and wearing explosive devices strapped to their bodies, began opening fire near an entry point at one of the airport’s arrival terminals at just after 9 pm before detonating their suicide vests after Turkish police began firing in their direction. Eyewitnesses said two of the attackers entered the international arrivals hall and immediately began opening fire. The third bomber reportedly remained outside at the terminal’s car park, Turkey's Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said in the aftermath of the attack. According to investigators, the three fired their guns into the crowd before setting off the explosive devices. CCTV footage from inside the terminal showed dozens of terrified people fleeing one of the gunmen before an explosion engulfs the hall in a bright orange flash. Additional footage shared on social media showed another explosion only seconds after police officers fired on and wounded one of the attackers. The three suicide attackers are believed to have arrived at the airport – one of Europe’s largest with more than 61 million visitors per year – by taxi and were able to launch the attack without going through security checks, according to

preliminary police reports. Situated 22 kilometers from Istanbul’s city center, on the European side of the Bosphorus, Ataturk Airport has long been considered a soft target for the various terrorist groups that operate in Turkey. Security checks inside the airport’s departure and transfer halls are often thorough and include full body and luggage scans, as well as additional questioning by security officials. X-ray scanners are present at the far less highly patrolled arrivals terminal and security checks for cars are limited. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced early Wednesday that preliminary indicators suggest that the Islamic State (ISIS) was likely behind the attack. “Based on the analyses of our security forces, the first indications point to Daesh (the commonly used Arabic acronym for ISIS) as the perpetrators,” Yildirim said during a press conference at the airport. “What is noteworthy is that this attack came at a time when our country is putting up a merciless fight against separatist terrorism and recording significant success.” There was no immediate claim of responsibility by ISIS or any other of their affiliated groups in the region. Officials in Turkey have been quick to blame recent attacks on ISIS or, more often, Kurdish separatists based in the country’s volatile south-east as well as in northern Iraq and Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan referred to the attack as a turning point in the global fight against militant groups.

AFP, Kurdish PKK rebels gather at a base camp in the mountains of eastern Turkey

“The bombs that went off in Istanbul today could have gone off in any city in the world. I want everyone to understand that, to the terrorists, there is no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, Izmir and Chicago. Unless we come together and fight against terrorism, we can’t dare imagine what comes next,” an indignant Erdogan said in a televised address.

WORLDWIDE CONDEMNATION AND CALLS FOR FIGHT AGAINST TERROR International condemnation of the attack has been swift, with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for the perpetrators to be immediately identified and brought to justice. US President Barack Obama issued a statement through the White House press office saying, “Ataturk International Airport, like Brussels Airport, which was attacked earlier this year, is a symbol of the international connections that bind

us together. Our deepest condolences go out to the families and loved ones of those killed, and we wish a speedy recovery to those injured. We remain steadfast in our support for Turkey, our NATO ally and partner, along with all of our friends and allies around the world, as we continue to confront the threat of terrorism." Embattled UK Prime Minister David Cameron – who is currently dealing with his own crisis after Britain shocked the world by voting to leave the EU – called the terrorist attack a "hideous crime". Cameron said the UK would continue to work with other countries after the Brexit vote "to keep our countries and people safe – and it's particularly important to say that tonight again when there has been another hideous terrorist attack in Turkey". NATO General-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg also offered his condolences, saying the Western military alliance stands in solidarity with key member Turkey.

French President Francois Hollande offered his thoughts in an interview with the Voice of America saying, “As I have unfortunately had to do before, I strongly condemn the attack and stress that we need to make sure that we know exactly who the perpetrators are so we can do anything possible to fight against terrorism.” Germany’s Foreign Minister FrankWalter Steinmeier also condemned the attacks, saying, “We in Germany grieve for the victims and their relatives. We stand by Turkey.” The Pakistani Foreign Office issued a statement early Wednesday morning, calling the attack “a mindless act of brutal terrorism”. Turkey’s ambassador to Georgia, Zeki Levent Gumrukcu, told GEORGIA TODAY “Messages of solidarity and condemnation by Georgian officials have flooded into the embassy. Prime Minister (Giorgi) Kvirikashvili was among the very first to condemn the attack and express full solidarity with the Turkish government and people,” he said. “President (Giorgi) Margvelashvili and Foreign Minister (Mikheil) Janelidze also expressed their condolences…and messages of support are pouring in from all corners of Georgian society. This is a true show of friendship and solidarity that makes us even more confident that terrorism will not achieve its objectives.” Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, also offered his condolences via Twitter, “The attack in Istanbul is inhuman & horrific. I condemn it strongly. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly.” Continued on page 4




Triple Suicide Attack Kills 41, Wounds 239 at Istanbul Airport Continued from page 3

CASUALTY DETAILS CONSTANTLY REVISED AS SECURITY MEASURES INCREASE According to reports by Agence-France Presse, two police officers are among the dead. At least 24 Turkish nationals and 13 foreign citizens were killed in the attack, according to Yildirim. Additional details about the nationalities of those killed and injured were still emerging throughout Wednesday, but Turkish officials said five Saudis, two Iraqis and one each from Iran, Ukraine, China, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Jordan and the Palestinian-controlled West Bank were among the dead. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Embassy said at least seven more of their citizens were seriously injured in the attack. All flights at the airport were suspended immediately after the attack. The United State’s Federal Aviation Administration initially grounded all services between the US and Istanbul, but the stoppage was later lifted. According to Turkey’s Dogan news agency, a plane carrying Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama was landing at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport for an official visit when the attack occurred. Rama and his entourage were taken safely to an official residence and shuttled onward to Turkey’s capital, Ankara. Most flights have now resumed at the airport, but information boards showed about one-third had been cancelled, with many delays, the BBC reported. Iran, however, announced that it had indefinitely suspended all flights to and from Ataturk Airport until further notice, according to Reza Jafarzadeh, director of public relations at Iran's Civil Aviation Organization. Ambassador Gumrukcu said in an e-mail to GEORGIA TODAY that additional security measures are being put in place at the airport as well as in Istanbul’s more heavily trafficked areas and praised the conduct of the city police. “Turkish authorities are reviewing all possible steps to further increase the security in and around the airport, as well as in other public places. But it should also be noted in terms of the physical security of the airport; there was no real gap. The attackers were stopped at the main entrance of the terminal, and a higher death toll was pre-

vented due to the timely intervention of Turkish police officers,” Gumrukcu said.

GT’S ANALYSIS: FINDING A MOTIVE IN TURKEY’S ANNUS HORRIBILIS Tuesday’s attack is the tenth deadly incident to have rocked Turkey in just over a year. Nearly 300 people have been killed and up to 2,400 more wounded in a series of car bomb and suicide attacks since April 2015. The Turkish government has blamed Kurdish separatists and, to a lesser extent, ISIS for the attacks. Erdogan has been a reluctant ally of the US-led coalition’s fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, often refusing to take part in combat operations aimed at destroying the militant group. Turkey has instead allocated most of its military operations against various Kurdish separatist groups that are locked in an intense fight against both ISIS and the Turkish government. Ankara resumed hostilities with its main advisory the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) after a two-year ceasefire collapsed in recent months. The PKK are Kurdish separatists that have been in an armed struggle with the Turkish government since the mid-1980s. The group has long been considered a terrorist organization by Ankara and the greatest threat to Turkey’s national security.

Erdogan and the Turkish government have consistently claimed that the PKK and their Kurdish allies in Syria – the YPG – are actively cooperating with one another to carve out a separate Kurdish state made up of regions from southeastern Turkey and the Upper Mesopotamian Plain in Iraq and Syria. The likelihood that the PKK or other Kurdish groups carried out the attack remains remote, based on the target in question. Kurdish separatists tend to target military and security installations instead of purely civilian targets as they are of more strategic and symbolic importance to the Kurds. A Kurdish separatist group – the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons – claimed responsibility for an attack on June 9 when it blew up a bus carrying riot police in the center of Istanbul that left 11 security officers dead. The lack of an immediate claim by ISIS is not surprising. The group rarely makes a public statement about attacks carried out against Turkey. The style of the attack, however, points to ISIS or an affiliated group as it targeted a civilian facility where it can inflict dozens of casualties on an equal number of nationalities. The modus operandi of ISIS affiliates and other militant groups is to target multinational assets, particularly those with light or porous security checks.

Similar small groups of armed men dressed in black and marauding through public spaces were responsible for recent attacks in both Paris and Brussels. In each case, the perpetrators had sworn allegiance to ISIS or other Islamist groups. The timing of the attack may be key to deciphering who was responsible. Turkish officials are quick to blame ISIS, but a certain degree of scepticism may cloud Ankara’s claim. Erdogan, who has come under criticism for his autocratic rule and severe rollback of secular institutions in Turkey, has been reluctant to combat the militant group or consider it an existential threat on par with the PKK. His ambivalence towards the rise of Islamist rebels in Syria and his frequent references to ISIS and the PKK as equals has been sharply criticized by most governments in the region and the West. Turkey’s open support for Islamist groups fighting in the Syrian Civil War has come under fire from the US, UK, EU, Iran and Jordan. According to Germany’s BND intelligence service and the CIA, the Turks have done little to stem the tide of jihadist volunteers who cross the Turkish-Syrian border to join Sunni militant groups that include Jabhat alNusra, Ahrar al-Sham and the now-defunct Muhajireen Brigade, the latter of which was made up almost entirely of volunteers from the North and South Caucasus.

The groups, along with Turkey, are bitter enemies of Syria’s Shi’a dictator Bashar al-Assad. They had scored significant victories against the regular Syrian Army since the start of the war. Once Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to intervene on the side of close ally Assad, both Islamist groups became the main target of Moscow’s intense bombing campaign that began in October 2015. The Russian Air Force has inflicted heavy casualties on both alNusra and al-Sham, helping Assad’s forces recapture most of the territory they had lost to opposition forces in the last four years. Ankara’s support for groups battling Assad peaked when the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian Su-24 fighter-bomber in November 2015, killing one the pilots. The incident caused a major rift between Putin and Erdogan – who had previously been on exceptionally warm terms due to their similar personalities and anti-Western rhetoric – that led to a ban on Russian citizens travelling to Turkey and reciprocal sanctions on each countries’ products. Moscow’s actions severely strained Turkey’s reeling economy, which counts tourism and exports as its main sources of revenue. Putin demanded a personal apology, which had been flatly rejected by Erdogan until earlier in the week when he phoned the Kremlin to offer his personal condolences and regret over the November incident. Erdogan's sudden apology to Putin and recent rapprochement with Israel after years of frozen relations is a major shift in his foreign policy priorities. His support for Islamic militant group Hamas, coupled with an incident where Israeli commandos raided a Turkish blockade runner after it attempted to enter Hamas' stronghold in the Gaza Strip left several Turkish and Israeli citizens dead, severed relations between the one-time close allies for the better part of a decade. Ankara's move to normalize relations with Egyptian President Abdel el-Sisi – a man whose presidency Erdogan has described as illegitimate – sent further signals that Erdogan's growing diplomatic isolation from the EU and US was taking precedent over his close ties to groups like Hamas and Egypt's ousted Muslim Brotherhood. Erdogan's sudden about-face towards Russia and Israel may have led to a backlash from the same extremist groups Erdogan once supported.






he Prosecutor’s Office stopped the investigation of the Erosi Kitsmarishvili case. “The Former Ambassador and founder of TV company Rustavi 2 committed suicide because of debts, and so the case is closed,” – it says in the uploaded statement on the Prosecutor’s website. Kitsmarishvili had one of the most important roles in political life in the past 20 years, but his case ended with such a trivial finale. Erosi Kitsmarishvili’s corpse, with a shot to the head, was found in the garage of his house, at the wheel of his own car on July 15, 2014. The Prosecutor’s Office brought the case with the clause of “pushed to suicide”, and a series of misunderstandings began thereafter. The family members, lawyers, and criminal experts objected to the Prosecutor’s decision from the very beginning, but nothing ever came of this protest. The Prosecutor’s decision proved unbreakable. Not “murdered” but “pushed to suicide,” which meant that the prosecution did not see anything suspicious in Kitsmarishvili’s death from the beginning, and only thought to investigate what had led the man to kill himself. It seemed that the prosecution knew precisely that Kitsmarishvili was not dead by someone else’s hand and there was left only to investigate the cause of the suicide. Throughout two years the reason was revealed – the bank and debts

of individuals, a total of USD 312,000 and 120,000 GEL. At first glance, it’s a really compelling argument for that so-called suicide, a lot of people kill themselves because of debts and for far less than this particular debt, but it really doesn’t serve as an argument in Erosi Kitsmarishvili’s case and the prosecution clearly made a mistake. People who knew Kitsmarishvili said

that he didn’t commit suicide because of debtors, especially for some USD 350,000. This validity of this view was further strengthened after TV company Rustavi 2 disclosed Kitsmarishvili’s real estate registry extracts, the market value of which was much higher than USD 350,000. Turns out that the Prosecutor’s conclusion was wrong and closing the case was a crime. Not only did the family members not believe the version of the Pros-

ecutor but his opponents, too. Even exParliament speaker and leader of the Party of Democratic Georgia, Nino Burjanadze, thinks that the Prosecutor’s Office invented the debt story to cover up their incompetence. “I do not believe the prosecution, they could not investigate the case of Vano Merabishvili, where everything was clear, so how could they investigate this one? Of course, they couldn’t and because of that they thought

up the story of the debt,” Burjanadze told reporters. It’s hard to say whether the ex-speaker drew a parallel between Kitsmarishvili and Merabishvili’s cases deliberately, but it should be noted that the parallel is really quite correct and, what’s more, timely. The closure of Kitsmarishvili’s case suspiciously coincided with the Strasbourg verdict about Merabishvili. So, naturally, the question arises, why did they decide just now, in the middle of the election campaign, to close the Kitsmarishvili case and openly state that Erosi Kitsmarishvili was not murdered and had committed suicide. Why now? At first glance seems like there is no connection between the Strasbourg verdict about the Merabishvili case and the closure of Kitsmarishvili’s case. In fact, the connection is obvious: when the Prosecutor’s Office delayed the highprofile cases over the years, neither saying “Yes” or “No”, neither “Open the case” nor “Close the case”, or even worse, inhibited the process because of political reasons, it damaged the government, especially ahead of the elections. The conclusion of Strasbourg is fatal in any case: do they have political motive, or are they simply incompetent and unprofessional? It’s strange, when the Prosecutor’s Office couldn’t investigate the Prime Minister’s case over 11 years and finally can’t even prove whether it was an accident or he was murdered. We eagerly await news from Prosecutor on the Zurab Zhvania case and that of other endless cases as well.




How Much Are We Allowed to Know? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


he purpose of the media – putting it briefly – is to inform, enlighten and entertain. To do this, the private media has to generate income, and the public media needs donations and meat. To survive, the media needs to sell advertising which will not happen unless they attract consumers, and to attract the buying public, media will do their very best. We, the television viewers, radio listeners and press readers have to be versed in everyday events taking place in our life, and the media ensures that we are fed the news in good time. News is a commodity that is sold to us. Politicians, aware that the public buys news, bend over backwards to let the news reach us in the shape and content that best shows their cause in the most favorable and convenient way for them. In this situation, media and politicians are ‘business’ partners, so to speak. And the public is the target of their mutual product. The news conveyer moves fast round the clock, seven days a week, permanently connected to our hearts and minds. The process is formally called ‘shaping of public opinion’ – using a euphemism – but in a straighter tongue, this is brainwashing. The process is intricate, expensive and cunning, which in most cases has the effect of being pursued by the doers. The public will never know what is

happening in reality. The information on the surface – television screens, radio waves and newspaper pages, meant for public ears and eyes, is only a part of the matter we the people are allowed to know. If we knew more than we are permitted to know, trouble would follow, as fulsome knowledge of the forbidden has the proclivity of taking the people out to the streets. On the other hand, why should we know more than we are allowed to know? Who needs the headache? Let us give preference to ignorance for the sake of keeping society on the verge between peace and mutiny.

On top of that, we don’t have enough time, energy, nerves, experience, knowledge or power to delve into the truth so deeply that the truth in its entire depth and purity tends to come to the surface where we start seeing and perceiving all that is brewing in the echelons beyond our reach. Sometimes, guesswork makes sense while imbibing the news, if we insist on knowing more than is allowed. This might be an attempt to decipher subtexts and concealed meanings of the words and thoughts we hear. Politicians, the media and public have their own functions in the conglomerate of events that are reflected in the news. Those functions drastically differ from one other: politicians have an agenda that is conducive to acquiring or main-

taining the ruling power; the media wants to seem a faithful servant of truth, endearing itself to both public and politicians for survival; and the public needs to be in the swim of the matters around, to be cultured, informed and to have fun, not disregarded by the other players. The whole game seems naïve and harmless, but complicated enough for occasional analysis. Why analysis? Only because we the people know that politicians and the media are using us to stay in business, and most importantly, to be conscious of reality without any expectations that candor and truth would ever matter when politicians and the media

are talking to us. Oh yes, the impression of candor and truth, created by politicians and the media, will always be there to better catch our attention, but only because this kind of impression means more success for politicians in achieving the final goal and more power for the media to stay functional. Conclusively, we the people should probably make wise and optimized choices in the process of using media, and via media, using the proliferated political thoughts and ideas to our greater benefit as long as possible. It is so good to be able to know that somebody is trying to lie to us and delude us. We can’t do much about it, of course, but we will at least know that we are smart enough to discern between right and wrong. We should hate to be in a cynical position that is clearly detrimental, and thus embarrassing to us.




Inconclusive Spanish Elections Create More Doubts as Parties Scramble to Form Government BY NICHOLAS WALLER AND MJ RIQUELME DEL VALLE


unday’s general election in Spain fell far short of breaking the political deadlock left by the last election cycle six months ago as the results from the polls indicate another hung parliament as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was unable to secure the necessary amount of votes for his Partido Popular (PP) and will now be forced into contentious negotiations to form a ruling coalition. With 100 percent of the vote counted, the results gave the PP 137 seats in the new parliament, 12 more than the received in the December poll. Sunday’s results undoubtedly strengthened the position of the ruling conservative PP and Rajoy but did little to break more than six months of political deadlock that began with an inconclusive poll in December. The PP now faces the same challenge it did six months ago in trying to form a government. It needs support from a number of other parties to achieve a voting majority. In its post-election assessment, the BBC said Rajoy has little chance of forming a cohesive coalition government, which will most likely lead to further deadlock for the rest of the year. The one silver lining from Sunday’s

vote may have been the resuscitated calls for bipartisanship in the Spanish parliament, which, in the months leading up to Sunday’s poll looked unlikely as the competing parties. The left-wing Podemos and right-wing Ciudadanos parties finished third and fourth, respectively, largely due to a general sense of fatigue and anger directed at the two main parties - PP and Spain’s Socialist party, known as the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE). The establishment parties have been blamed for having failed to resolve core economic issues, including one of Europe’s highest unemployment rates and nearly eight years of zero growth in the economy. Voters’ general distrust of the PP and PSOE was further exacerbated after a series of corruption scandals involving both parties rocked the Spanish political establishment. Sunday’s results, however, appear to indicate that Spanish voters were lessinclined to hand over the country’s legislative and executive powers to parties with no history of governance and a more radical political agenda. The PP, in particular, openly used fear tactics to appeal to moderate voters. In its post-election assessment, Spain’s largest national daily El País said, “Rajoy’s message of fear against the “radical” Unidos Podemos (a coalition of the leftwing Podemos and Izquierda Unida parties) has worked. The UK’s Brexit

vote also offered last-minute support for Rajoy’s call for moderation against the siren songs of populism.” The Financial Times echoed this sentiment, saying the Brexit vote likely encouraged voters on the left to switch their support from more radical leftist parties to the mainstream PSOE. The potential formation of a government will most likely hinge on the PSOE. A natural option would be to unite with its ideological allies in the Unidos Podemos coalition, but this option is no longer viable given that the left-wing parties did far worse in the polls than in December. The PSOE would be forced to enter into negotiations with Ciudadanos, whose centrist policies are in direct contrast to the traditionalist leftist plat-

form that serves as the foundation of a Unidos Podemos/PSOE alliance. The smaller regional parties with enough sway in the parliament are out of the question due to their support for Catalan and Basque secessionism. A PP-led minority government will have to hope the Socialists either abstain or vote for Rajoy’s coalition building efforts, an arrangement that would leave the Spanish government dangerously precarious state. A third election is also unlikely as the PSOE fears being punished at the ballot box because for its inability to come to terms with the PP. Some parliamentarians have floated have suggested that the legislature look into major constitutional reform to change how the prime minister is chosen.

The coming weeks will be critical for Spain as the increasingly urgent political situation has begun to threaten the stability of the country - Europe's fifth largest economy. In the last seven months no laws have been passed, new budgets approved and private investment has been paralyzed. In the wake of Britain’s decision to withdraw from the EU, the fallout in Europe will be particularly felt in the economies with significant investment deals with the UK, including Spain and Portugal. Further political paralysis in Spain could spark an even greater crisis in the country as Catalan nationalists could use the current infighting among Spain’s political parties to further their demands for full independence from Madrid.




Georgia’s Quest to Promote Agricultural Insurance BY JOSEPH LARSEN


griculture is Georgia’s lifeblood. Fifty-three percent of the country’s working population is engaged in agriculture, many working on small plots of one hectare or less. The family farm is the backbone of Georgia’s rich rural culture. But from a financial perspective, it’s far from a sure thing. The agriculture sector employs more than half of Georgia’s workforce but accounts for only 10 percent of GDP. Many farmers earn little or no cash income. When natural disaster strikes and crops fail, rural families have little to fall back on. The fragility of that life became obvious in August 2015, when a storm destroyed roughly 2,300 hectares of land in Kakheti. Hail, rain, and wind whipped across the landscape for 25 minutes. During that time, numerous homes and large numbers of livestock and crops were destroyed. In the Akhmeta region, the entire grape harvest was destroyed by a mudslide brought on by the storm. Crop damage is difficult to avoid when harsh weather hits. Limiting the financial fallout can be an effective strategy, however. “Insurance is very important for financial security”, said Tamar Toria, Executive Director of the Georgian Farmers Association, in an interview with GEORGIA TODAY. That’s why, in 2014, the government introduced a program

to expand enrollment in agricultural insurance schemes. Widely used in the European Union, crop insurance is still a novel concept in Georgia. Many farmers don’t know about the available options. In fact, Toria cited the lack of information as the strongest factor holding back insurance. Rather than buy insurance policies, farmers traditionally rely on the government to compensate their losses. For example, after a major 2012 storm, affected farmers received a total of GEL 150 million from the government and GEL 150 million from a private fund. But according to Toria, a government bailout is never certain. “It’s the government’s free will to assist. No compensation is guaranteed.” The government is working to build a positive culture around agricultural insurance. In September 2014, the Agricultural Projects Management Agency (APMA) rolled out the Agro Insurance Program. By combining financial subsidies with a program to raise awareness, APMA hopes to increase the prevalence of insurance, which should reduce both overall risk and dependence on government bailouts. Farmers are able to purchase insurance against hail, excess rainfall, storms, and autumn frost. The insurance is provided by private companies in partnership with APMA. In 2014, the government covered 94 percent of the tab on every insurance policy sold; farmers were liable for the rest. The program sold 20,952 policies and saw 18,596 hectares of land insured during the first year. However, its very

Crops damaged by hail in August, 2015. Source: APMA

success highlighted a serious problem. Farmers bought insurance largely because it was heavily subsidized. The next year, APMA made the program less generous. The government covered only 40-60 percent of the cost (the higher rate excluded grape production), and subsidies were available only to farms of five hectares or less. Only 3,439 new policies were sold through the first eight months of 2015. Only 3,112 hectares were insured (to be fair, the drop was due in part to farmers purchasing coverage for 2015 during the previous year). Once farmers had to assume the financial risk themselves, insurance looked less attractive. Additionally, many farmers reported being unhappy with the loss adjustment process. Things went

back largely to the way they were. APMA recognized the problems with the Agro Insurance Program and is addressing them with help from foreign development organizations. For example, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is playing a role through its project, “Promoting Access

to Finance and Agri-Insurance in Georgia” (PAFAI). PAFAI’s work includes advising the government on agro-insurance regulation and public-private partnerships, as well as promoting insurance literacy on the part of farmers. It’s doing the latter by creating and distributing educational materials, including easyto-understand brochures and videos. The government is also working with its partners to improve the loss adjustment process: “We are working hard with SDC’s project PAFAI and with insurance companies on [improving] loss adjustment”, said Levan Maghradze, a project manager with APMA, during an interview with GEORGIA TODAY. “We are highly motivated to create a clear and transparent loss adjustment methodology as we think it is crucial for insurance schemes and for long-term and sustainable development.” In addition, APMA has increased subsidies by 10 percent from their 2015 levels and introduced incentives for farmers to register their lands. By improving the quality of the product and increasing awareness about it, the government hopes that more farmers will buy insurance, even if the subsidy is less generous than it was in 2014. The Georgian government, its foreign and private-sector partners, and farmers themselves face a long road toward expanded use of agriculture insurance. But if the Agro Insurance Program and other initiatives can be effectively put in place, Georgian farmers will be in a stronger, more secure position.




Believe’s 3rd Annual Charity Gala a Huge Success PREPARED BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


n June 25th, the business community of western Georgia came together to support Believe’s annual Charity Gala event and help socially vulnerable and disabled children and adults. This special one-night benefit gala took place at 7pm at Hilton Batumi Hotel. Over 200 guests from various local and international companies enjoyed an evening of dinner and entertainment, featuring a live performance by Tbilisi Big Band lead singer Mariko Ebralidze and an auction conducted by Auctioneer-extraordinaire Mr. Cliff Isaak - Honorary Consul of Canada in Georgia, with artworks by prominent Georgian and foreign artists. Supporters and patrons helped to raise GEL 104,449.18. Since 2014, every summer, Believe Foundation organizes a Charity Gala Dinner for the benefactors of the Foundation. The primary aim of the charity event is to support disabled and socially vulnerable children and adults. Believe Foundation is a non-profit, non-political independent organization established to support charitable, cultural and educational activities in western Georgia. It is committed to bringing positive changes, improvements and progress to the lives of socially vulnerable children, elderly and families, individuals with disabilities and youth. With the support of its donors and volunteers it strives to protect the rights of beneficiaries; facilitating their integration into society; caring about their health; fighting to overcome hunger and poverty. Believe helps them to fulfi ll their potential, enhance their professional skills and helps to give them an educational foundation. The Gala night also included raffles sponsored by: Hilton Batumi, Radisson Blu Batumi, Radisson Blu Iveria, RBS Travel, Tako Dvalishvili, Georgia Palace Hotel, Retail Groups Georgia, Social Enterprise IKORTA, KARACA Georgia, Sheraton Batumi, PRIME Hotel, and others. Charity Auction artworks, jewelry and sports memorabilia were donated by Nino Chakvetadze, Gigisha Pachkoria, Tamar Gugunava, Elene Gamgo-

nidze, Grigol Ghvania, Tatia Kintskurashvili, Kakhaber Baramia, Beka Jokhadze, Irakli Kekelia, Gia Baratashvili, David Badzaghua, Lasha Beraia, Iulia Sorokina, Gia Markozashvili, Tite Shekiladze, Natia Ochigava, Anna Vishnevskaya, Gabriela Proksch, Dimitri Basilaia and Zurab Zhvania. Believe Foundation thanks and proudly acknowledges its major sponsors and supporters: Gold Sponsors: Bank of Georgia, PACE Georgia, AGRICOM, Channel Energy. Silver Sponsors: MSC Georgia, SATNO Company, Barwil Georgia, Hilton Batumi. Bronze Sponsors: Caisa, Cautrex, Prime Concrete. Corporate Table Sponsors: CMA CGM, Caucasus Metal Terminal, Polzug Intermodal, Iceberg, B&P, Transford. Partners of the event: International Chamber of Commerce, International Investors Association, Aldagi, BDO, Coca-Cola, DHL, GIFme, Fortuna plus, Radio Harmonia, The Ninth Wave TV, Alex Kvashilava Photography.




“Give Us Five Years” - Exclusive Interview with the New Minister of Education Continued from page 1

However, the four months that are left until the parliamentary elections in Georgia is hardly sufficient time for any telling changes, so it is safe to assume that he will keep his post a while longer, provided Georgian Dream win the elections, of course. “If not, I’ll just go back to what I used to do. I’m not a career politician and don’t plan to become one,” Jejelava reaffirms, adding that he sees the aforementioned four month period as a time to test the waters and see how the government will react to his methods. “My pledge is a simple one,” he says. “I,

Everyone deserves the opportunity to renew or reestablish their career

together with my team, want to change things for the better and solve problems inherent in the current education system. If we’re allowed to do that, then it’s worthwhile, otherwise I don’t fancy being a mere cosmetic addition to the ministry.” For many, the first real test to determine whether his position has any cosmetic value will come in the form of the elections of the rector of Tbilisi State University, due to commence in August. The country’s largest education center has been beset with waves of student protests, the youth apparently dissatisfied with how the incumbent administration is handling matters. More protests are expected and the role of the Minister as a mediator between confronting sides is not to be underestimated. “I’ve already held ten meetings with students and am doing my best to get all sides to engage in a dialogue. We Georgians are temperamental people and one could even say anger and discontent is in our style,” the minister admits, conceding that there is a portion among students on both sides who might be politically motivated. Which he apparently doesn’t view as an inherently bad thing, stressing that “it’s even positive unless it grows into violence and offending one another.” Yet another problem that is going to keep the newly appointed minister pen-

sive for the foreseeable future is the sharp increase in the numbers of youth that could not pass the National Exams. The exact numbers have yet to be revealed by the Ministry, while it has become public knowledge that about 86 percent of teachers couldn’t pass the mandatory qualification exams. Being no stranger to the education system, these numbers have not come as a surprise for Jejelava, who believes that the modern education structure is outdated in practically every component. The culprit? The previous government, apparently. “It’s rather telling that the United National Movement is rather vocal about the distressing results of the National Exams – to me it means nothing but that they admit that wrong decisions have been made in the system years ago and now we have to witness the results of those mistakes. When your way of dealing with school and teachers is to oppress them and you implement the methodology of ruthlessness and cruelty, lack of motivation is bound to happen, which at the end is reflected in the pupils’ performance. Rest assured, we’ll make all numbers public – that’s the first step towards correcting the situation, identifying the problem,” Minister Jejelava says. “Give us five years and we will deliver some outstanding results,” he pledges, explaining that his preferred method to remedy the situation is a combined effort on raising the motivation of the teaching personnel while at the same time giving the students/pupils more time and freedom to develop themselves and explore the fields they are really keen on.

Welcome to Indian Restaurant

“We’ve been basically stoning the teachers for 25 years, only remembering them when we needed to find a scapegoat for a failed exam,” Jejelava says. What he intends to do is to make the profession of teacher an appreciated one and apparently that doesn’t necessarily mean financial encouragement. “I’d advise everyone who thinks that the only secret to motivation lies in money- you’ve got to throw those age-old management manuals out the window!” he says in a tone that excludes every possibility of things being any other way. He goes on to emphasize that teaching should be a matter of social pride. “We have come to associate words like Coca Cola and iPhone with a positive meaning, and being a teacher will need to have the same positive ring to it,” he says. The new minister also commented on the German model of education which was recently advocated by the Prime Minister – an approach which ensures that the student gets employed at the earlier stages of university studies and can simultaneously work and study, though not at the expense of one or another. It remains to be seen how this model will be effective in a country where even dedicated professionals have trouble finding steady employment, but the Minister is convinced this is due to structural unemployment, where one’s professional competence, however high it might be, fails to correspond to the demands of the labor market. “Today you’ll have no trouble finding work as an accountant, or a crane operator, or an engine specialist, but

We’ve been basically stoning the teachers for 25 years, only remembering them when we needed to find a scapegoat for a failed exam you’ll most probably struggle if you are the 220th best lawyer in your capacity. On the other hand, we have just a single biochemicals expert in the country and whoever becomes good at it will inevitably be employed,” Jejelava explained, adding that even those who missed their first shot due to a wrongly chosen profession or high competition in a given field will be given another chance, another shot at “something else,” through retraining. “Everyone deserves and will be given the opportunity to renew or reestablish their career,” he said, ending the interview on a hopeful note.




JULY 1 - 4, 2016

What Do We Dump and What Could We Turn into a Resource?



n 2015-2016, a morphological composition study of solid household waste was carried out in Kakheti Region and Adjara AR (Autonomous Republic). The study was held within the Waste ManagementTechnologiesinRegions(WMTR) Program implemented by ICMA and CENN in Kakheti and Adjara with the financial support of USAID. The study has shown that organic materials, paper and plastic are the main waste streams generated in the target regions, their share significantly exceeding other types of waste generated there. Overall, the largest share (Kakheti – 42.72 percent, Adjara – 36.61 percent) of waste disposed at the dumpsites/landfills of the regions under study falls on organic waste. Considering the results, the need for implementation of a composting practice in the country becomes evident. Setting up a composting area or using organic waste to obtain fuel in bio-plants is quite possible, provided there is sufficient investment. There is quite a choice of locations in Kakheti Region where compost could be made from organic waste and then provided to farms. And it is much needed, given the comparatively developed agricultural sector in the region. Representatives of various enterprises collect plastic, polymeric products, PET bottles and cardboard waste and deliver them to various recycling companies, some of which are not registered or recorded by proper governmental structures. There is a sufficient resource of plastic in the region, and its pos-

Considering the results, the need for implementation of a composting practice in the country becomes evident

sible use as a raw material could reduce the volume of plastic in the landfills by at least 10-15%. It should also be noted that collection and re-use of glass waste takes place in a disorderly manner and in violation of the existing norms (Kakheti – 5.95 percent, Adjara – 5.02 percent). Paper and cardboard waste (Kakheti – 11.19 percent, Adjara – 14.7 percent) is disposed of and buried in landfills. In Adjara, cardboard waste is partially accumulated at commercial facilities and markets, pressed and exported, while only a very small amount of paper waste is treated on the spot. Unfortunately, there are no local recycling companies in Kakheti. Accordingly, due to the lack of recycling companies, the country loses a very important resource. The situation is a little different in the Adjara AR where seven small productive recycling companies operate, mainly conducting initial treatment and export of recyclables collected from municipal waste in a disorderly manner, which consists of around 20-30 percent of the overall volume of separate components. The small amount of materials is, among other things, conditioned by their quality. Many more resources could be recycled through source separation rather than by sorting recyclables out of mixed waste. It should be noted that similar composition studies were conducted to identify the morphological composition of municipal waste at the Batumi landfill in 2008-2009. The findings of those studies are completely different from the findings of the studies conducted within WMTR. Current results are close to municipal waste composition established by international standards and existing in numerous other countries. The results of the 2015-2016 morphological study show that up to 90% of raw materials of various components subject to recycling are buried in the soil. The burial of organic and partially organic waste is accompanied by decomposition and the resulting generation of greenhouse gases, mainly methane and carbon dioxide. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is required by the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Gas generation from organic waste disposed of in the landfill normally starts several months after waste disposal and continues throughout the entire life cycle of the landfill; after the burial of waste, the complete period of gas emission from organic waste at the landfill is almost 70 years. This is why it is essential to implement various activities and to create waste recycling companies of various types and characteristics.

Contact: Phone: 599 461908





Rabies FlareUp in Georgia – A Risk Not Worth Taking OP-ED BY STEVEN SIMPSON


e are constantly told by non-governmental and animal welfare organizations that vaccination and sterilization of feral dog populations are the only ways to control rabies. Recent increases in the global prevalence and incidence of rabies, e.g. in Bali, where the number of stray dogs is estimated at over 500,000, a rabies epidemic underway since 2008 has killed over 80 people (and despite vaccination the epidemic continues - a single human death in 2013, two in 2014, 12 in the first six months of 2015), seeming to be a striking and harsh condemnation of current control strategies. Over the past 50 years many countries have worked hard to maintain sustained suppression of canine rabies yet the disease, like the feral dogs themselves, is relentlessly opportunistic and persistent. The huge advances made by Georgian, Russian and other scientists in dog and wildlife vaccination in the Caucasus region and the debt we all owe them should not be quickly forgotten and their legacy should not be elbowed aside by a resurgence of rabies in Georgia. A dozen years ago Botvinkin and Kosenko, writing for the World Organization for Animal Health, stated that “it is very probable that conditions for the next rabies outbreak are gradually forming against a background of economic crisis. History, once again, will repeat.”¹ 91 cases of rabies, mostly in dogs but also in domestic animals such as cattle, horses, pigs and goats, were reported for Georgia in 2015, including 4 cases of dog rabies in Tbilisi, and no-one can forget the 4 human deaths that occurred between 2010 and 2014 (official national reporting to WHO through the vital statistics mortality database). Any number of factors can be blamed: the explosive growth of urban areas, the throw-away society and inadequate garbage collection, limited government resources, excessive reliance on feral dog vaccination, disruption of wild mammal populations through human conflict and war, ineffectual and incorrect field methods, poor training of field personnel, the quick fix mentality, inadequate public education and overemphasis on the top-down role of prescriptive government rather than the bottom-up role of the local community, take your pick. Feral dogs feeding on a cattle carcass. Photo: Graham Wienert

Where baiting for vaccination can be successful, baiting for humane lethal control can likewise be so, and in the long run is very likely to be less costly. It has to be said that irrational sentimental considerations have no place in the joined up debate and integrated approach to rabies control. The situation is too important to suffer the vanity of intolerant liberal sentiment and the attentions of the rubber gun club, particularly and pointlessly clouding the issue with their heartfelt but irrational statements, and the international rescue dog rehoming charities that continue to chew at the lunatic fringes of the debate. The challenges that confront the global rabies eradication campaign may appear to be dwarfed by the obstacles faced today. The problem is acute and is not confined solely to urban areas. Feral dogs are ubiquitous and abundant, current estimates rank their numbers in the many hundreds of millions globally and we must accept that rising human populations have inevitably meant rising numbers of feral dogs. Consider this: “Finding a feasible answer to humanely reduce the dog population is probably the single most important missing tool in the battle to reduce the burden of rabies across the globe,” says Professor Deborah Briggs, executive director of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control. In Indonesia this year, in North Sulawesi, the head of the Minahasa Health Agency, Yuliana Kaunang, confirmed 243 bites on humans by rabid animals, including one fatality, noting that the high rate might be due to the large feral dog population in Minahasa. In the period 1950-2015 the world's urban populations rose from around 745 million to almost 4 billion. Much of this growth has been in the tropics; 80 percent of the populations of Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, now live in urban areas and in most of the region they share their environment with feral dogs. Southern Europe and the Caucasus are no different- just look at the growth in Tbilisi in recent years. Compared to many of their rural cousins, our urban feral dogs live in a veritable paradise of abundant food and shelter, and the obstacles to significant control would appear challenging. Feral dogs can be hard to detect, even by the most diligent. Faced with a routine of search-and-find, field-workers inevitably miss many individuals, particularly those not in the usual categories: the nocturnal dogs, the ultra-shy, the itinerant and the migratory, and those

Here, doggy

living on closed or abandoned industrial or military sites. Considering that in Turkey the average feral dog population has been estimated in excess of 420 individuals per square kilometer, it is inconceivable that every individual can be located, vaccinated and sterilized. The global media understandably shy away from showing you photos of the clinical effects, the end game of rabies, preferring the inevitable repeated images of dog catching, tagging, and vaccination. Catch-and-release does nothing whatsoever to address the other problems associated with free-ranging dogs: the noise, smell, mess, traffic collisions, and completely fails to take into consideration the scourge of leptospirosis (27 human cases reported in Georgia in 2015, and 3 deaths in 2013), predation and disturbance impacts on wildlife and domestic stock, spread of wildlife diseases, hybridization with wolves and competition between dogs and sympatric carnivores. The success and methodology of the early vaccination bait campaigns can be readily transferred to more modern and critical methods of control, where it is acceptable to local communities, community participation and local commitment in planning and execution being essential. Although feral dogs are highly unlikely to become bait shy, baiting for control and baiting for vaccination are both very costly. Preventing the transmission of rabies through dog vaccination has a high cost per dog and in the event of having to bait for rabies control it is necessary to weigh the benefits of baiting to kill rather than baiting to vaccinate. Dog vaccines for rabies claim an immunity period of up to two years only. High turnover rates (high mortality parallel to high fecundity) clearly render single vaccina-

tion campaigns ineffectual. An annual turnover of about 25% in dog populations necessitates re-vaccination of millions of animals each year, and the reintroduction of rabies through the arrival of carrier and infected animals from outside a controlled area is an inevitable consequence in a lapse of control. Elsewhere in the world a novel formulation feral dog bait has just been released for use, the first of its kind in 50 years. A major collaborative research and development initiative between the Australian government and industry has resulted in the first new feral dog toxin in 50 years becoming available. The new bait, launched after more than 11 years of testing within Australia and the USA, contains a chemical toxin called para-amino propiophenone (its acronym is PAPP) which causes a targeted, quick and humane death to feral dogs when consumed. Unlike other feral dog toxins, this new PAPP bait product has an effective antidote which needs to be administered by a vet. However due to the fast acting nature of the bait, normal precautions and notifications must be undertaken to protect pets, companion and working dogs, and livestock guardian dogs during baiting programs. Here in Georgia field trials to assess the viability of lethal baiting could be completed in a matter of months. If results are favourable, the baits could be applied by landowners and licensed contractors, collaboration and coordination between stakeholders being vital. No individual landholder can fully benefit from feral dog control on their own property if their neighbors are not taking similar action. Clearly, feral dog management is the responsibility of all landowners and land managers. Training requirements would be minimal and operators would not have to cull feral dogs using firearms which may be disquieting to some members of the public, especially around hot spots such as markets, schools, hospitals and prisons. The Achilles heel of such campaigns is, understandably, sustainability. It can be hard for a government to justify funding for a problem that appears to no longer exist and it is worth noting that the absence of human rabies cases does not prove that there is no canine rabies, merely that the incidence of canine rabies may be low. The lesson of rabies is that after decades of dedicated control it can and will rear its ugly head when you least expect it and for this reason alone the need for effective control must continue. This year rabies infections have been confirmed in 20 provinces in Thailand, which despite decades of control has the third highest number of rabies cases in Asia.

This prompted, the French holiday and travel vaccination website, to publish, on 19 May 2016, the following advice: "In Thailand, the traveller must consider every bite, scratch or lick of a wound by any warm-blooded animal (dog, cat, monkey or other mammal) as a medical emergency and must seek a medical center immediately”. In Thailand, puppies aged between 3 and 6 months are the main carriers. Recently a well published dog watcher suggested that you may only need to vaccinate the adult dog population against rabies because the number of puppies surviving to their first year is so low², a grossly irresponsible view considering that children often become victims due to their frequent contact with dogs and their mothers not having the right knowledge about what needs to be said and done to prevent their children contracting rabies, children are often the initial adopters of 'stray' puppies, one half to two thirds of reported dog bites are to children, at least half of those bites are to the face and neck (the highest risk areas in terms of rabies infection), and children playing with cats and dogs are especially at risk even if they are not bitten. The rabies virus can enter the human body through scratch lesions on the skin. It is timely that the long standing and incorrectly held assumption regarding rabies exposure for travellers, that a longer stay equals a higher risk, is being reconsidered. The duration of travel has little if any impact on the likelihood of having a potential rabies exposure if you can encounter feral dogs within walking distance of the airport. Fear of rabies, and the stress it causes, is insidious and calls for a determined approach. Although rabies is 100% fatal it is 100% preventable so in the tragic event of an outbreak, pray that there is no shortage of human rabies immunoglobulin. Rabies is a disease that is all too often under-estimated and in light of the widely acknowledged under-reporting of rabies cases internationally it would be very interesting to know how complete and consistent the numbers for Georgia are. Are you still happy with the NGOs and animal welfare organizations telling you what to think? Steven Simpson is a consultant invasive mammal manager and technical author. Copyright © 2016 by Steven Simpson. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.




“Summer Pro-Rhythm” from ProCredit Bank PASHA Bank Funds Training for Socially Vulnerable & Successful Students



roCredit Bank offered a lot of interesting news and surprises to the general public, its customers and employees on June 25 at the opening event of a completely new, innovative design 24/7 selfservice space in Batumi, where business customers can use their preferred banking services at any time. Customers will significantly save their time and financial resources in the safe and comfortable environment. Multifunctional machines determine the uniqueness of the service, as yet only offered by ProCredit Bank.

The concept of Batumi branch stands out for its 24/7 innovative, modern space and unique interior. The space is a synthesis of business environment, art, and nature. Modern equipment is completely focused on user comfort, allowing the client to cash deposit, withdrawal and transfer at any time of the day. At the opening event, ProCredit held the "Summer Pro-rhythm" party on the beach near the Alphabet Tower. Guests enjoyed a performance from the National Ballet Sukhishvili which ended with a grand display of fireworks-to-music, the first such display in the history of Georgia.

ASHA Bank sponsored a one-day training organized by Tbilisi Hippo Fund and International School of Intellect and Education (ISIE). The training was arranged for socially vulnerable students and those with high academic performance. The training was held near Tbilisi in a specially selected casual atmosphere, so that the participants could freely communicate, share opinions and gain basic knowledge about the various subjects. The participants were chosen based on their applications and motivation letters. Specially invited speakers Maka Asatiani (Unicard, Marketing Director), Bidzina Kumsiashvili (Founder at Tbilisi Hippo Fund, lecturer at Pennsylvania University), Jemal Arjevanidze (Specialist at Tbilisi European Youth Center) and Tornike Chargeish-

vili (Peace Corps Regional Coordinator) presented the following topics: Writing projects, marketing and effective communication, volunteering and informal education. The project was supported by Tbilisi City Hall,, Generations for peace and Tbilisi life. “PASHA Bank happily agreed to support this project as we think that the experience will benefit the students in a variety of ways. It has become something of a tradition for PASHA Bank to sponsor educational projects, as we believe in the effectiveness and importance of such initiatives. We strive to contribute to the growth and development of the Georgian and regional economy and business with quality education being an absolute prerequisite,” said Anano Korkia, Head of PR and Marketing at PASHA Bank.

Construction of 82 billion Rouble 4th Reactor at Rostov NPP Ongoing BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


asil Golubev, the head of the Rostov Region, visited the Volgodonsk-onRostov Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) to examine the third reactor and monitor the progress of work on the construction of a fourth. At present the reactor is just 40 percent complete, and, as reported by Rostov Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) Director, Andrei Salnikov, the main construction works have been set up and installation of the equipment is finished. In 2016, builders are going to carry out the basic technological operation which includes welding of the main circulation pipeline. 16 billion Roubles have been allocated to this stage of works, an amount that should cover all costs this year. Golubev claims that adding a fourth reactor to the Rostov NPP will allow the region to be able to enter the top ten global locations for energy production. The energy increase will ensure the devel-

The fourth phase of the Rostov Nuclear Power Plant. Source:

opment of a partnership with Rosatom and empower schools to train highly qualified specialists. The fourth reactor in particular is expected to provide electricity to the entire Rostov region and to Crimea, which badly needs the energy. The reactor will be switched on in 2017. At the end of 2015 the Plant began installation of the first steam generator. The plant ATOMMASH from Volgodonsk created 300 tonnes of large-sized equipment with a length of 15 m and a diameter of 4 m. The fourth steam generator is the key stage to the reactor building. Total construction is expected to cost 82 billion Roubles. The existing Rostov NPP generates more than 50 percent of all electricity generated in the Don. The total capacity of operating units is 3070 MW/h. Last year, nuclear power generated 20.5 billion kW/h of electricity (10.25% of total). In total since the opening of the Rostov NPP, 163.4 billion kilowatt / hours of electricity have been produced. Construction began on the fourth reactor in 2010. Its planning and construction take into account all NPP accidents which have occurred around the world in the last fifty years.



JULY 1 - 4, 2016

Meet Dinehall’s Concept Man



nJune9th,GEORGIATODAYreported on the opening of the new fresh casual café restaurant Dinehall on Rustaveli Avenue. Nearly one month in, we decided to go back and find our more about it. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Dinehalls’s concept author Taner Icten, for more information about the design, menu, and chefs.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO OPEN DINEHALL IN GEORGIA? Before dining, our three-year-old company covered two different sectors in Tbilisi- accommodation and residential -with Hotel Mercury Tbilisi and the Green Budapest Project. We love this country and I think Georgia has great potential in business. We wanted to work with Georgian people in the dining sector, so we decided that the first fresh casual café restaurant would be the ideal project for us. When childrens and babywear shop Mothercare left the location at Rustaveli 28, we realized the spot would be perfect for our restaurant!

TELL US ABOUT THE DESIGN OF DINEHALL Our concept is food, wine, art. This is a first locale in our city where you can enjoy food and paintingsart work which is changed on a monthly basis. It is unique, from the works of talented young artists to the wine cellar and bar. For those who want to taste Georgian wine, we have a special sommelier. We believe in the success of Dinehall. We can host corporate night events, banquets, birthday parties, and

more. We have a delicious breakfast choice, a Take Away service, an interesting lunch and dinner menu, and we stay open until the last guest leaves. We said “yes” to the “less is more concept,” integrating exclusively Georgian art in this project to show how much we like and respect the talented artists here!

WHO ARE YOUR TARGET CUSTOMERS AT DINEHALL? We have targeted the A, B, and C1 economic groups. You can come here with your family, and you might find yourself sitting alongside groups of friends in their mid-twenties or older. We are, in fact, open to all. Our kitchen concept is global: for example, we have the “restaurant side” and, again, the “less is more” concept. Often, when you go to restaurant there are pages and pages in the menu and it’s difficult to choose, which explains why some customers prefer exclusive restaurants with a simplified choice. We update our menu regularly. Our chefs have international experience in Denmark, USA, and other countries, all having finished top schools. Now our chefs are training the Georgian staff here and they have their own special recipes. We present very interesting desserts, birthday cakes, coffee, tea, and some customers even pop in to order Take Away.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FUTURE PLANS FOR DINEHALL This project is international for us and we are currently studying where to open more branches, maybe this year in Dubai, then Hong Kong, or London. We are oriented on big cities, with large populations, because there are no fresh casual cafes like Dinehall elsewhere in the world.





Well House Residential Complex CEO George Gvinadze


ELL HOUSE was established in 2014 as a company building high quality Euro standard residential

complexes. The Well House team unites qualified and experienced professionals and the construction is being carried out by the very best architects and construction supervisors, a guarantee of the strength and quality of the Well House complexes. With a mission to create peaceful and cozy residential environments where each resident will feel harmony, the company aimed to change the approach towards construction and to start European quality standard residential construction. This idea was strengthened when Georgia signed the EU association agreement, one of the requirements of which was high quality building rules. For the construction of the Well House

residential complex innovative YTONG blocks were used- high tech construction material blocks which satisfy Euro standards on construction and are made from ecologically clean materials which are certified by the European Institution on Construction. Compared to ordinary building blocks, the YTONG block has seven times less thermal conductivity (thermal insulation coefficient of 0.012 W / m 2). With such building blocks the apartment preserves its temperature longer, meaning that 40% less energy is spent on heating or cooling than any other ordinary building block. In addition to an energy-efficient housing complex, the second important component of the Well House projects are the quality of doors and windows. For these purposes it chose a combination of high quality German brands such as REHAU and ROTO. The doors and windows of the Well House residential com-

plex are all by REHAU. To create maximum comfort combined with high safety measures, Well House has installed in the building OTIS ultramodern design and high quality elevators, which are often used in premium class European hotels. Well House completley follows the safety standards required by International Regulations and cares about high quality and ecological safety during construction. The project is designed for the segment of customers seeking various sized apartments in the center of Tbilisi, offering: 46,5 sq.m., 50 sq.m., 51,4 sq.m., 62 sq.m., 66,1 sq.m., 78 sq.m., 79,3 sq.m., 126,1 sq.m., 135,8 sq.m., 138,4 sq.m., 142,9 sq.m. as well as other sizes. Well-House- The House of your dream. For more detailed information about the project visit:

Putting Us on The Map



had a drop-in visitor the other day, on of my new friends from (TCT) who was in the area. I’d given him a problem to solve, and he wanted to talk about it and about progress on the Trail itself. A couple of years or so ago, I arranged for the rendering of a huge set of tiles which together make a very high detail satellite image of Etseri, my village in Upper Svaneti. A local friend and I have been talking about adding layers of information to such an image. He is mostly interested in the location of every ruined watchtower and other ancient architectural feature, of which apparently there are vastly many more than the several we see standing now. My TCT friend, hearing that I couldn't piece together all the 20000-odd pieces of my huge mosaic, had told me that he might be able to do this. My computing and programming power simply aren't great enough, and there don't seem to be any programs (either freeware or to buy, reasonably) which can tackle so many pieces—edge to edge, with zero overlap, to boot. So I sent him a USB stick with the data on it. The thing is, he told me, he also has a drone... which is very exciting, but shouldn't surprise me now, as these things are getting everywhere on earth rather fast now. So we might consider taking

new images from his drone's eye view, in the next few weeks, instead of using my satellite image, which dates from before we bought our house and moved here four years ago. We could come up with a stitched composite image from the

drone's set of photos, and this too would be a very large file. How would I feel about this? I replied that I wasn't emotionally attached to using the tile set which I’d had rendered, though this had been time

10 Galaktion Street

consuming and rather difficult; it's just data, and if we can use something much more up to date, why not? (Even have my wife and me smiling up and waving from the ground outside the house, now that I think of it...) The layers that I would add include: roads, paths, hiking trails, water springs, every family's house, guest houses, field ownership, municipal sites such as schools and kindergartens, pagan holy places... and so on. These would all be on separate layers connected to the online image. Anyone could then select only the information layers which they need, and either export them to a bitmap or print them for use. It would be a fantastic resource for the village, historically and commercially, especially in this information-rich age. There was an online announcement just today, too, that Google Earth has just updated its data-set of imagery of the whole world, with much more detail and better color. Wow. Is there no stopping us? Apparently not. Wait, there's more: with a properly programmed drone, one can even do things like slowly zoom around an object, such as a watchtower, and compile a 3D data set from images of it, later to be 3D printed...

in: metal, wood, plastic stone, chocolate, whatever! The mind boggles. A zoomable, tourable 3D map of the whole village? (Never to replace reality, one fervently hopes, even with immersive 3D virtual reality equipment now being developed). The final answer to which watchtower is the tallest of all, after accurate measurements of them all, all 200 or so in Svaneti? They tell me that Etseri's one complete tower, the Dadeshkeliani, already holds this title, and was the model for the one in Tbilisi's open-air Ethnographic Museum near Vake Park. We could settle this question once and for all. The future of all my lifelong sci-fi reading is here, not just on earth in general but anywhere you care to go on the planet. Welcome to it, and welcome (soon) to Etseri Interactive Online, too. See you there. Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1300 members, at He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail:




The Ruler…a Dead Duck?

The Tsromi elders gathered in one room of the local school house to fight it out



he monthly CineClub, in partnership with CineDoc, screened Shalva Shengeli’s documentary ‘The Ruler’ at the Amirani cinema Tuesday, playing as usual to a packed hall of locals and expats. First, let me explain the headline, because I don’t want you to start out with a negative impression of the documentary itself which, coming from my nine years’ experience living in Georgia, I can say was both entertaining and very well done! One shot in the movie shows a white goose waddling confidently along the village street while the battle over the Joseph Stalin statue- move it or leave it in the nunnery grounds- rages on. An inspired critic at one of the 21 film festivals ‘The Ruler’ has been filmed at, told Director Shalva Shengeli, “That duck represents the Georgian people- proudly walking on their way to their fate.” We’re pretty sure he meant to focus on the pride and confidence of walking one’s own way rather than the fact that by the end of the film that goose had been beheaded, plucked and boiled for the opening of the new Stalin garden. We hope. Tsromi is a small village outside Gori, apparently once known for being a much grander citadel, and boasting a 7th century church. It also boasts a statue of Stalin at the village crossroads, pointing forward, as one villager (jokingly?) told the local priest, “To remind his soldiers to stand ready.” During the film, we were taken on a tour of the village and its surroundings by one village resident who showed us the chamber in the church in which a young Stalin, on the run from the author-

ities, would spend his nights, hiding in the forest by day, fed with whatever food the local families could afford to offer him. Also in the church is the rear chamber- shut off now by a steel door- in which the village hid the Stalin statue from the KGB for two or three years, having broken the hand off the statue and damaged its nose trying to conceal it first in the local river (too shallow) and pit in the forest (too narrow). The statue has been standing- broken, layers flaking away -for years, despite the clear devotion of many a local elderly Stalinophile. Most of them remember Joseph Stalin’s loyalty, good-looks and generosity, not directly, but through the stories told them by their parents. Many still hold dear paintings, photos and tacky statuettes kept clean and respected within their poor village houses. The Stalin statue had, at his back, the village community center, containing a hall with a small stage for theater performances. But without funding or local initiative, the building was abandoned to the weather and fates. Local youth are shown playing cards and board games or fighting in the streets, sitting in broken-down cars playing loud modern music while men of all ages wander aimlessly up and down the unpaved lanes, sometimes gathering at the roadside to chat, or to just watch the world go by. There is very much a sense of purposelessness. Perhaps that is why the Church chose that very village to set up a nunnery in, having been gifted the community hall by the State. And so purpose and fire is given to the village when the father, heading the nuns, asks the village elders to move the Stalin statue elsewhere. To understand why he would do this, here are the facts: From 1932 to 1937 Joseph Stalin declared the ‘five-year plan of atheism’ and the League of the Mili-

tant Godless movement was ordered to completely eliminate all religious expression. Many of the methods and terror tactics were also used against others that the regime considered to be its ideological enemies. The closing of churches, mass arrests of the clergy and religiously active, and persecution of people for attending church reached ‘unprecedented proportions.’ The Tsromi elders gathered in one room of the local school house to fight it outwith a local official diplomatically repeating: “I will do what YOU decide. It is your choice to make!” The village, in the course of the pro-and-cons argument, begins to analyse itself both as a community and as a group of human beings. Love of God, love and respect for one another and love and respect of their village are thoughts repeated over and over. The final decision is to keep the statue where it is, much to the anger of the priest, and to fence it off. The villagers promise to renovate the statue and at the end of the film we see him painted head-to-toe in gold, in a respectable memorial garden, the freshly renovated nunnery behind him, showing that religion and nostalgia for past times can live side-by side. After the show, GEORGIA TODAY asked Nino Chutkerashvili, ‘The Ruler’ Producer and resident of Tsromi, what had changed in the village since the making of the film. “We get more tourists,” she said with a smile. “But the statue is already looking worn. The people are the same. They are Georgian. It would take more than a film to change them!” CineClub thanks Irina from the distribution center for providing a home for them at Amirani cinema and Archil Khetagouri, CineDoc festival director, for his support and huge contribution. The next CineClub/CineDoc film screening will take place in September. Photo: Irakli Pipia

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GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 July 2 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-30 GEL July 3 STALINGRAD Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-30 GEL July 4 RAMONA Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-30 GEL July 5 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-30 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 July 1 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 21:00 Free Entry July 12, 3 IGGI Jemal Karchkhadze Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 15 GEL GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 July 2 DREAM AND REALITY Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 GEL

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari July 1-7 THE BFG Directed by Steven Spielberg Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy Cast: Bill Hader, Rebecca Hall, Mark Rylance Language: English Start time: 19:40 Ticket: 13-14 GEL INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE Directed by Roland Emmerich Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Cast: Maika Monroe, Joey King, Jeff Goldblum Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 22:05 Ticket: 10-14 GEL DEMOLITION Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée Genre: Comedy, Drama Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper Language: Russian Start time: 19:45, 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari July 1-7 THE LEGEND OF TARZAN Directed by David Yates Genre: Action, Adventure Cast: Margot Robbie, Alexander Skarsgård, Ella Purnell Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL THE CONJURING 2 Directed by James Wan Genre: Horror Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Franka Potente Language: Russian Start time: 19:30, 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL WARCRAFT

Directed by Duncan Jones Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Cast: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Callan Mulvey Language: Russian Start time: 16:45 Ticket: 10-11 GEL THE NICE GUYS Directed by Shane Black Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice Language: Russian Start time: 14:15 Ticket: 9-10 GEL Now You See Me 2 Directed by Jon M. Chu Genre: Action, Comedy, Thriller Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson Language: Russian Start time: 11:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (Info Above) Start time: 16:45, 19:30, 22:35 Ticket: 10-14 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 PERMANENT EXHIBITION: GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY FROM 8TH MILLENNIUM B.C. TO 4TH CENTURY A.D THE CAUCASUS NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM COLLECTION RENEWED EXHIBITION EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY The exhibition showcases a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. June 11 – March 11 (2017) Georgian National Museum and Korneli Kekelidze National Center of Manuscripts present

THE EXHIBITION “MEDIEVAL TREASURY” The exhibition showcases preChristian and Georgian medieval art which reflects the continuity of the cultural traditions that were the basis for the formation of Georgian statehood and national identity. June 16 – December 16 THE EXHIBITION “NEW DISCOVERIES - GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY” The exhibition will be held in the frame of the international conference On Salt, Copper, and Gold: The Origins of Early Mining and Metallurgy in the Caucasus” MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION Here, visitors can discover the State’s personal files of “subversive” Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Soviet-era cultural and political repression in Georgia. The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors on which visitors can watch documentaries of various historical events. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 June 23, 2016 –July 3, 2016 THE EXHIBITION OF THE KRASNODAR REGION PHOTOGRAPHERS The exhibition is dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the “Viva Photo” festival. July 1 ACADEMY OF ARTS FOR LIFE CHARITY EXHIBITION TO SUPPORT TATIA DGEBUADZE Open: From 11:00 SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 May 18 – July 18 AVANT-GARDE 1900-1937

The exhibition is opened within the Georgian National Museum week dedicated to International Museum Day. June 22 –July 15 SOLO EXHIBITION “RETURNING FROM JOURNEY’S AFAR” BY ALEXANDER PAVLOV The exposition showcases 21 paintings by the Ukrainian artist and writer whose works are characterized by the aesthetics of abstract expressionism. Presented artworks reflect the artist’s thoughts on the current state of culture and society. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze June 24, 2016 – June 24, 2017 NIKO PIROSMANASHVILI’S WORKS “YARD CLEANER” AND “EAGLE SEIZING A HARE” June 26 - July 4 GROUP EXHIBITION “GREEN” DEDICATED TO WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. Telephone: 298 39 41 July 7 “Sukhishvili” presents MODERN BALLET “RAMISHVILI” Renewed program Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-40 GEL HIPPODROME PARK Address: Tbilisi Hippodrome July 1 NIKA J, THOMAS VON PARTY, BABA STILTZ MATT KARMIL, GIO SHENGELIA Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 July 5, 7 JAM SESSION WITH THE RESO KIKNADZE QUINTET Start time: 21:00 Free entry July 6 TANGO MILONGA Start time: 20:00 Tango Lesson: 5 GEL MTASTMINDA PARK Address: Mtastminda Park July 2, 3 TBILISI NIGHT MARKET FLEA MARKET MUSIC: KONO, ZURKIN AND ASH ON A MINIBUS The bar and a food spot would also be available to the visitors. Open: July 2 – 18:00 MZIURI PARK Address: Mziuri Park July 6 COSMIC DAY THE DAY WHEN PAUL MET JOHN Event for Beatles fans Music: Luka Shaishmelashvili, Avtandil Iremashvili Open: From 12:00



Country Comes to Town!


‘Sculpture as Place,’ 1958-2010. Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin. © Carl Andre / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016 / Foto: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Thomas Bruns

Artist of the Month: Carl Andre, Sculpture as Place BY LILY FÜRSTENOW



ome weeks ago, BBC radio broadcasted a short piece of information about Shota Adamashvili, a 28-year-old Georgian whose convincing accent, cowboy style of dress and even appearance are enough to make not only Georgians but also Americans and other foreigners think he is from the USA. Nevertheless, he has never been there. His fluent English, learned from country songs, does not betray him either. Shota has practically no rivals in Georgia and is a pioneer of this style. He plays on guitar and harmonica, as Bob Dylan did. The first question that comes to mind is how it happened that he was interviewed by the BBC. “Last April, I participated in TEDx Tbilisi (Technology, Entertainment and Design), international internet forum. I was a speaker and also performed two of my own songs. Just after my speech, a woman approached me and humbly asked: ‘Hi, I’m from the BBC, can I talk to you?’ I was excited, and answered that it would be a great honor for me.” Reportedly, for Shota as a student, the main inspiration was the song ‘My heroes have always been cowboys’ from the film ‘Electronic Rider’ by Sidney Polak, starring Robert Redford. It is hard to make a living with music, especially in a small market like the Georgian one, even more so that country music is not overly popular here. Nevertheless, as all true artists, he never planned to be commercial. “If I mix other styles, too, something people suggest, I will lose my niche. Besides, I am not so good at Georgian folk or other genres as I am at country music,” Adamashvili confesses frankly, a real romantic hero who is a rarity and thus, a living treasure, full of dreams about visiting the US and playing at the Bluebird Café. He no longer needs to play underground as he did as a beginner as three bars – ‘Zazanova,’ ‘MacLarens’ and newly opened ‘Old Wild West’ have already invited him to play.

The humble, intelligent and romantic Georgian western singer even caught the eye of fomer US Ambassador Richard Norland who invited him to play with Michael Peterson, 1990s country star at the July 4th, 2015 Independence Day party. “Mr. Peterson visited Georgia together with his spouse, Jill Chambers, a former colonel, who was involved in the program of rehabilitating war veterans and warriors in general from stress.” Adamashvili recalls. One day, hearing him playing at one of the bars of Tbilisi, a lady from the Georgian penitentiary system approached him. She had heard that the country star Johnny Cash used to go to prisons, and suggested Adamashvili do the same thing as a Georgian cowboy. “I’d always wanted to do it so I agreed right away,” he said. I played with teenagers and lower risk prisoners, who I found to be quite smart and communicative.” Why country? “I like its sincere life stories, and so called ‘chicken-pickin’ playing. Harlan Howard expressed its essence very well: ‘three chords, and truth.’” Adamashvili has never had any official musical education. Therefore, his talent and artistic manner is much more natural, though strengthened with ceaseless research and determination to improve. In 2013, he performed live on the popular international TV show The Voice (the Georgian version), and the four trainers almost killed one another to win his heart. He admits that in Georgia, as in some other countries, country music is not always welcome. Therefore, Shota is obliged to mix his repertoire and sometimes performs covers of the Beatles, and other popular groups. If the public is international, he is luckier, as foreigners tend to like the Georgian countryman’s famous country songs as well as some on his own credit. Shota Adamashvili’s warbling voice is subtle, refined, adorned with a high performing culture. He is close to the country in terms of lifestyle too, as in Bolnisi, he used to work as a farm-hand. So, one can say that he is a real country singer in all senses of the word!



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Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies


ncompassing more than 300 works, ‘Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958–2010’ is the most comprehensive solo show of this major American artist. Works from over five decades will be presented in Berlin, Germany, in approximately 7500 square meters of exhibition space. Among them will be the large floor sculptures for which Andre is renowned, as well as his less well known poems, small sculptures, photographs and works on paper. Carl Andre (b. 1935, Quincy, Massachusetts) has lastingly redefined our traditional concept of sculpture. Influenced by Constantin Brâncusi and Frank Stella, he forged a fundamentally new understanding of sculpture in the mid-1960s, making him one of the fathers of Minimal Art. For Andre, sculpture can be broken down into the underlying components of form, structure, place, and matter. The artist works with raw and industrial materials: metals (primarily steel, copper, aluminium, and magnesium), rocks and construction materials (such as bricks and limestone), but also wood. Using grid-like structures, geometric patterns and straight lines, the artist sorts and arranges slabs, blocks, ingots, and other units of often factory- finished material to create large-scale sculptures on the floor, without moulding or carving the materials in any way. The visual impact of his sculptures is derived from their simple forms and configurations, the ‘raw- ness’ of their materiality, and their spatial presence. Andre was one of the first artists to create works that were primarily site-specific, declaring: “I’m not a studio artist, I’m a location artist”. The surrounding space is thereby integrated into the work itself, the sculpture, which often can be walked on, becomes “place,” radically redefining the role of the spectator in the process of reception. The exhibition offers a compelling insight into Carl Andre’s innovative rethinking of sculpture. At the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, the exhibits are presented in an architectural context that could not be more fitting for the artist’s work. Andre’s sculptures will go on show in both the historical railway station concourse and the Rieckhallen, a row of converted storage and freight warehouses. The setting echoes with allusions to the

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Tamar Svanidze, Zviad Adzinbaia, Beqa Kirtava, Meri Taliashvili, Eka Karsaulidze, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Tim Ogden, Ana Akhalaia, Robert Isaf, Joseph Larsen, Will Cathcart, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze

artist’s early years and his time spent working for the railroads as a freight brakeman and train operator; this biographical aside revealingly shedding light on his choice of materials. In addition to the characteristic floor sculptures, the exhibition also features Andre’s poems, the earliest of which date to the 1950s. ‘Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958–2010’ contains some 150 poems on view in vitrines produced especially by the artist himself. On the one hand, the poetry enters into a relationship with the artist’s texts; on the other hand, it can be seen as a conceptual extension of his sculptural work. For, just as the sculptures relate specifically to the surrounding space, the language configures

Photographer: Giorgi Pridonishvili Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

itself in the exhibition space and the individual words in his poems engage in a spatial relationship with the viewers. ‘Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958– 2010’ is organized by Dia Art Foundation in partnership with the Nationalgalerie at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. The international tour of the exhibition has been made possible by lead support from the Henry Luce Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art. Additional tour support is provided by the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, the Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Sotheby’s.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #857  

July 1 - 4, 2016

Issue #857  

July 1 - 4, 2016