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facebook.com/ georgiatoday

Issue no: 849

• JUNE 3 - 6, 2016



In this week’s issue... NATO on Georgia’s Mind, Before Warsaw Summit POLITICS PAGE 4

The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep POLITICS PAGE 5

CBRN Science and Consequence Management World Congress Opens in Tbilisi


ON A NEW AGE OF EMPIRES Igor Girkin, a former commander and self-declared defense minister of Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, has officially announced the creation of an ultra-nationalist political party


EU Tables Decision on Visa-Liberalization for Georgia BY NICHOLAS WALLER


he European Union o n We d n e s d a y delayed a decision on implementing its visa liberalization regime for Georgia until the bloc receives additional guarantees from Tbilisi regarding migration issues, EU delegation sources told journalists. According to the Reuters news agency, EU envoys in Brussels discussed the deal with the Georgian delegation but were unable to come to an agreement as key members Germany and France opposed an immediate implementation of the program. Continued on page 2


CoE: Georgia Failing to Control Illegal Internet Content SOCIETY PAGE 9

Explore the Humble Talent Who Respects Mistakes in Art CULTURE PAGE 12

Robbie Williams Entertains Tbilisi CULTURE PAGE 15

FIFA or not FIFA, that is the Question SPORTS PAGE 15




JUNE 3 - 6, 2016

Pride is All Very Well, but a Sausage is a Sausage: Ogden on Tolerance

Source: www.comfortablyhungry.com



henever Georgia makes the international news and people ask me why I live in Georgia, I know that my expression changes and I begin to look like Michael Bay enduring an interview about his latest awful film; cringing, yet defiant. I assure them that Georgia is a fine place to live, really, despite what they may have heard...and what they have heard will universally have been something negative. The fabled stories of Georgian hospitality and friendliness matter little and less when the only thing that people associate with Georgia is an attack on a vegan cafe; likewise, the tales of the Georgian warrior spirit will raise eyebrows when so many Georgians turned up to violently assault the anti-homophobia rally a few years ago. (One thing that Georgian men don’t seem to understand is that being Georgian doesn’t necessarily make them tough. I’m prepared to believe it about Georgian boxers, rugby players and soldiers, but not about hordes of young men who are only brave when they are many and their targets are few and unlikely to put up much of a fight; as much as I support the rights of vegans and gay people, they’re not groups one associates with fighting prowess: try attacking a group of Royal Marines or the Cuban boxing team, why don’t you?) I’m not disturbed by violence in itself; as I mentioned in these pages a few weeks ago, England is far worse for street fights than Georgia (or anywhere else, for that matter). A brawl and a stabbing are par for the course for the UK these days, and it’s accepted as being normal; however, acts of violence like the attack on the vegan cafe or on the anti-homophobia rally are frightening because they are far from mindless. I personally have little understanding of vegans. Beef, eggs and bacon are far too good to be neglected, and after all, we only live once, so the vegan lifestyle is something I believe I am biologically incapable of attempting. The truth is, I don’t particular care what they do providing it doesn’t affect me. I

might become irate if a gay man was bothering me the way Turkish men bother my wife on Facebook, or if people were keeping meat away from me, but what people do in their personal lives should be up to them, and if they want to have a rally celebrating whatever it is they do, well...good luck and have fun, chaps, but I’m off for a steak and a pint with the wife. Tolerance doesn’t mean endorsement or active support, it just means putting up with things. Georgians claim they are tolerant, but as with their understanding of concepts like victory, their definition of the term is somewhat different to ours. Providing things aren’t on public display and done in private, they are prepared to grudgingly put up with them; however, if something too out of the mainstream is too visible, a problem arises. Fairly obvious conclusions, you’ll agree, but the government needs to crack down on all this quickly. Georgia’s visa liberalization prospects are already on the rocks due to EU migration fears, but incidents like this are not going to help. The stereotypical perception of Eastern Europeans in the West is far from positive, and it’s surprising how often stereotypes find their way into influencing higher authority. The fallout from the attack on the vegan cafe is just as concerning as the act itself. Residents of the neighbourhood rallied behind the aggressors - they being ‘normal’ Georgians – but worse yet, so seemingly did the police. I recall mentioning in an earlier article my high opinion of the police in this country, but my perception has been damaged by this and another recent incident in which two friends of mine – an Englishman and an American – were confronted by a knife-wielding Georgian. The police were called, but on arrival they didn’t seem to care too much about the fate of two foreigners, with one telling my American friend ‘This is Georgia’. I’m not sure if he was just trying to do a Gerard Butler impression from ‘300’ or if he was sincere, nor am I sure which of those is the most worrying. As ever, the horizon of my word limit has loomed. I shall finish my thoughts next week and deal with whatever else comes to light over this incident. In the meantime, friends, stay tolerant. And I never, ever imagined I’d say that. Headline quote by Terry Pratchett.

Author of World’s Best-Selling Book on Georgia in Conversation at Prospero’s


uthor of Lonely Planet’s ‘GEORGIA, ARMENIA and AZERBAIJAN’, John Noble, will be in conversation with Peter Nasmyth (author of ‘Walking in the Caucasus, Georgia’) at Prospero’s Books to celebrate his new edition, published May 2016. The Lonely Planet series of country guides are the most widely read in the world and the Georgia edition is Prospero’s Books best-selling book. Just about every tourist visiting to Georgia will either have their own copy or have consulted one. John Noble, who has written guides to a number of other countries for Lonely Planet, says that Georgia is his favourite country to describe and recommend. The book sells most of its copies in international bookshops around the globe and is often the only available printed information on the country. We are lucky that he has chosen to make a special trip to Tbilisi to launch his latest book. This event will be of interest to anyone interested in Georgia’s future as a tourist destination. It is free and open to all. 6.30pm Monday 6th June, 2016 Prospero’s Bookshop, 34 Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi Contact: prospero@access.sanet.ge. Phone (995 32) 292395



JUNE 3 - 6, 2016

A Tale of Two Tonys BY TONY HANMER


e meet at last. The author of the great Bread and Ashes and the long-serving weekly GT columnist who has made Georgia his home country of greatest duration. He brings a small group of fellow Brits and a Georgian guide to Hanmer house for a night, during the course of which I am able to interview him. Tony Anderson first came to this country in 1989, so, two years before I arrived in the USSR. He has made roughly twelve visits here, so obviously the place has made a lasting impression and continues to draw him back. His wife, the well-known painter Lucy Willis, is currently showing an exhibition in the UK including some works from her only trip here with him. Mr Anderson’s longest trip here was the one which resulted in his writing Bread and Ashes, in 1996. It took him primarily through Svaneti, Racha, Khevsureti and Kazbegi, and involved getting mugged in Svaneti (where else, in those years?) and losing all his money to the thieves. T’was also the time when the entire Svaneti road was desperately bad, all the way up from Zugdidi, even in Mestia town itself. Fond memories for us both! He was also connected with a theater group in the UK, and arranged an exchange with the Rustaveli Georgian theater company before Gamsakhurdia’s election, the huge crowds on Rustaveli Avenue inspiring him to make the Bread and Ashes walk “to understand it all”. Georgia became one of his life’s main themes, and he has also been a director of the British-Georgian Society and run FOARIG, Friends of Academic Research in Georgia. There is an annual Georgia Studies Day in London, attended by around a hundred people, more of Tony’s work. And... There is the book, the manuscript of the travel writings of one Margaret Chambers from the early 20th century. This typed original he and two colleagues of his great friend, Marika Didibulidze, found squirreled away in the depths of the Royal Geographic Society in London. It details her travels in this country, including to Becho and Etseri, so its publication will be of considerable interest to me and my friends and neighbours here. Next week, some excerpts! Margaret Cambers also painted and either took or was in many photographs concurrent with her travels. Tony aims to have a complete dual-language version of the book produced, along with good quality reproductions of as many of the pictures

Read. Learn. Enjoy. Pick up a copy of Georgia Today Education at any BIBLUS shop or phone 229 59 19

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as possible. At the moment he is at the fundraising stage, and I wish him much success, with a vested interest, it must be said. Such finds as this book are a rare delight. Another project of Tony’s, when he isn’t accompanying tourists here on special custom tours, is the compiling and editing of a book on British travellers to the UK from the Middle Ages to the present. Here the famous and the not so famous will be introduced and quoted, the relationships between our two countries delved into to some considerable depth. This, too, will be a valuable addition to literature on Georgia in English. Naturally, the two Tonys became fast friends in no time at all, and intend to develop this friendship to their mutual benefit and hopefully that of their shared country of interest. This visit was a short one, rather rushed by circumstances, but time will allow more such in the near future. I am reassured to know that such people have this country as an orbit point. Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1300 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti





JUNE 3 - 6, 2016

Explore the Humble Talent Who Respects Mistakes in Art sonal changes of belief about life impact my works.” Alexander Berdysheff was one of the first painters of his generation to escape the turmoil of post-Soviet Georgia, and believes this is why he is so open-minded - a real artist who does not have any concrete aims, never obsessed whether this or that picture will be sold or not. Alex fully dedicates himself to the creative process, but claims the noisy atmosphere of the city can damage his inspiration. “On leaving the city, I become instantly revived in nature. I fully agree with Tchaikovsky’s expression that muses do not visit the lazy. My inspiration comes in the process of working. A painting has its own energetic charge, and painting is an interactive process. I respect mistakes in painting very much, as it gives birth to a totally different painting. I am not an artisan who knows everything, the perfectionist type for whom mistakes constitute failure. For a creative person, mistakes should be welcome.”



lexander Berdysheff, whose works are currently being exhibited in Tbilisi, is in his early 50s, an experienced artist whose background is in graphic design. Berdysheff’s creative use of colors makes his style instantly recognizable, his works having been exhibited at galleries and exhibitions in the UK, Austria, Germany, Azerbaijan, Russia and, last year, the USA. This humble painter from Georgia recently participated in the esteemed Art Basel Miami international art fair. “It gave me a lot in terms of professional experience. It takes place annually. It was a cultural shock, I’d never been to an event like it, but it was a wonderful experience. I was lucky enough to participate thanks to some personal contacts,” the artist says. Berdysheff’s international success story began in Scotland. Depressed by the political and economic instability of Georgia and the art market in his homeland, the painter was invited by friends to move to Edinburgh. The artist admits that this was where he was recognized as a painter. The British East-West Journal wrote an article with the headline “Georgian painter

makes impact in Scotland”, a testament to his success. However, he later returned home and continued working in Georgia. As with all big painters, he does not like to be qualified as a follower of one con-

crete genre. “I like experiments. I make series, too. The series represented here is more pop-art, in the vain of Jasper Johns. I get inspired by traveling, as it is a basis for new forms and colors. Also, my per-

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GEORGIA TODAY enquired about the artistic taste of Georgians, whether it is getting more exquisite. Berdysheff says: “I am glad that among the buyers of my paintings there are more and more youngsters, which gives me hope. As for artists, I am happy there are ever more young illustrators.” Berdysheff adds that he was very much

inspired by surrealists, though he thinks that all artistic directions are crucial, and he has been influenced by the classical period such as Rembrandt. “Primeval cave art is also very important for me, as strong symbols,” he adds. GEORGIA TODAY also spoke to David Gerrard, the former Chairman of the Chartered Society of Designers in Scotland who first visited Georgia in 1987 and recently attended Berdysheff’s exhibition in Tbilisi. Years ago, his Georgian counterparts invited him to Georgia. They decided to exchange students to make bilateral links tighter, which was when he first met Berdysheff. It was the very first art student exchange, but Georgia’s conflicts of the 1990s put a stop to the practice. However, in 1997, he and the British Council organized Berdysheff’s solo exhibition during the Edinburgh Festival. “Georgian students went to four art schools and then worked in design offices of Scotland. Alex lived with us. During this time, I did six exhibitions of his work. I’ve always liked what he does. He has changed very much. His Georgian roots are very important, but his work can be favourably compared with artists of all nationalities.” Berdysheff’s exhibition ‘Edges’ is on at the Vanda Gallery from May 20 to June 6, at Chonkadze 14, Sololaki. The gallery is open daily with free admission.

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: info@peoplescafe.ge




A Perfect Match: TBC Bank and International Festival for Painters

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n May 18-28, the non-governmental organization ‘Voice from Georgia’, with the support of the Georgian Ministry of Culture, Mtskheta Municipality, TBC Bank and Chateau Mukhrani, held the 4th international painting festival ‘Paint for Georgia’ in the historical town of Mtskheta. Fourteen painters from different countries participated, making it once again an international event. The festival aims to promote and spread culture. Lucky for Georgia, TBC Bank is involved in the promotion of quite a number of cultural events, as culture is a priority for the bank. The painting festival was one of its most recent successful projects. The final exhibitions and events took place on the 26th of May in Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia, near the main cathedral, Svetitskhoveli. The following day, the final exhibition took place at the National Library of Georgia in Tbilisi. This is the fourth time the festival has been held. The organizers claim that this event is equally important both for Mtskheta and rest of the country. The festival’s reputation has increased abroad, as the number of participating artists grows and international coverage of ‘Paint for Georgia’ increases on the websites of famous foreign artists. This year, artists from Canada, England, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Iran, India, Syria and Georgia (17 in total) took part in the festival. For ten days, fourteen famous foreign painters worked alongside three Georgian painters, who created large

format (1.5 m X 1 m) artwork. As per tradition, the festival was widely covered by the media. The painters also held master classes for different age groups. The goal of the festival is to highlight Georgia as the region’s cultural hub, as well as its challenges, the role of art in the social life in general, and Georgia’s unique culture and wine as an inseparable part of our identity. GEOGRIA TODAY had a chance to interview Colleen Kerr, an experienced Canadian painter who remained in Georgia longer than other participants in the festival. Colleen learned about the festival when she read a social media post about it written by her acquaintance, who had already taken part in ‘Paint for Georgia’. Colleen’s colleague praised Georgia and the project, and encouraged other artists to also participate in the festival. Colleen applied and was an immediate success. “I first came two years ago. It was all so new then. I had met a Georgian woman in Victoria and she told me a lot about Georgia. It is so very different from where I come from, but very beautiful.” Georgia proved to be full of fresh emotions and impressions for her. Colleen’s first most vibrant inspiration was the Argonauts. The second visit drew her to Georgia even more, as she became more aware of the life of the country, its painful recent history and much more. “The residency program was very good. The organizers made everyone feel very welcome. I’m very grateful,” Colleen said. The agenda also included tours around the country. However, during the working process, the painters were not obliged to paint any particular subjects. Quite the opposite: they were encouraged to explore all ideas and styles. Colleen sees Georgia as a country of

great joy and sorrow, which has a resilient culture. In her paintings there is abstraction as well as concrete form. Georgian architecture − first and foremost, TBC Bank’s historic building, which is a cultural heritage monument − the grapes, as the ancient wine culture and the color of the sky, have had an impact on her. “Thanks to TBC Bank, we went to Chateau Mukhrani and learned more about Georgian wine, the landscape and history. Everything from going to buy tomatoes to listening to history can inspire me.” Colleen’s favorite thing is story-telling through art. Had not she been a painter, she would be a writer, she said. Symbolically, she sees and elaborates objects into her prism that are not necessarily similar. She is more inclined to tell a story, which makes her persona and creativity even more nuanced. “The Georgian project has changed my art, made it freer. I was so full [of inspiration] that I couldn’t stop painting even after going home!” GEORGIA TODAY also interviewed Giorgi Tabliashvili, the festival organizer: “We think it a very important project, with real potential for the future because, in this way, we can bring many famous foreign artists to Georgia whose lives and art will then be connected with Georgia. Therefore, it is essential not only for art, but also for the country.” The foreign painters are like ambassadors to Georgian culture. An example of this can be seen in one of Colleen Kerr’s paintings which will remain in the TBC Bank Gallery. Others will join private collections or hang in galleries. Colleen is also determined to come back to Georgia as a tourist. So, a thousand thanks to the organizers and participants, and congratulations, Georgia!




JUNE 3 - 6, 2016


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATRE Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 June 2 THE FIRST GARMENT Zaza Marjanishvili’s MusicalChoreographical Drama Based on the novel of Guram Dochanashvili Directed by Lasha Oniani Conductor: Davit Kintsurashvili Set design: Levan Salukvadze and Gela Iordanishvili Costume design: Ana Kalatozishvili Choreographer: Lali Kandelaki Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 20-150 GEL June 3, 4 SWAN LAKE State Ballet of Georgia presents P.Tchaikovsky’s two-act ballet Choreographic version and staging by Alexei Fadeechev Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 30 GEL June 8 PAGLIACCI Starring: Anzor Khidasheli, Irina Taboridze, Sulkhan Gvelesiani, Lasha Sesitashvili, Irakli Murjikneli Conductor: Davit Kintsurashvili Directed by Temur Chkheidze Set and Costume Designer: Giorgi Aleksi-Meskhishvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 30 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 June 3 STALINGRAD Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-30 GEL June 4 RAMONA Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-30 GEL

June 5, 9 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-30 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 June 3, 4 INTRO Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL June 5 ABRACADABRA Start time: 14:00 Ticket price: 10 GEL June 5 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 21:00 Free Entry GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 June 3 KRIMANCHULI Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 10 GEL June 6 LUARSAB Directed by Luka Chkhaidze Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 10 GEL TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge June 8 MACBETH Directed by Davit Doiashvili Language: Georgian Musical Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 8, 10 GEL


AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari June 3-9 WARCRAFT Directed by Duncan Jones Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Cast: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Callan Mulvey Language: Russian Start time: 15:00, 19:30 Ticket price: 8-16 GEL MONEY MONSTER Directed by Jodie Foster Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell Language: English Start time: 20:00 Language: Russian Start time: 17:45, 22:00 Ticket price: 13-16 GEL ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS Directed by James Bobin Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy Cast: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter Language: Russian Start time: 12:30 Ticket price: 8-9 GEL TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS Directed by Dave Green Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Tyler Perry Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:30, 17:00 Ticket price: 8-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari June 3-9 TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS (Info Above) Start time: 12:30, 15:00, 17:30, 20:00, 22:30 Ticket price: 8-15 GEL

MONEY MONSTER (Info Above) Start time: 12:15, 14:45, 19:45, 22:15 Ticket price: 8-16 GEL WARCRAFT (Info Above) Start time: 22:35 Ticket price: 15-16 GEL X-MEN: APOCALYPSE Directed by Bryan Singer Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence Language: Russian Start time: 19:15 Ticket price: 15-16 GEL MUSEUM



THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze May 17 – June 22 KETEVAN MAGALASHVILI – 120 Exhibition is dedicated to the 120th anniversary of Ketevan Magalashvili - remarkable representative of Georgian art. MUSIC

GINO PARADISE Address: Tbilisi Reservoir Telephone: 2 15 85 85 June 4 TRUTH HURTS & TL (LIVE) Season Opening Party Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: 30-50 GEL BUDDHA BAR Address: Rike Park


June 4 BEKA GOCHIASHVILI, MISHO URUSHADZE & THE BAND Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: 30 GEL

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.

BATUMI MIRACLES PARK Address: Batumi, Georgia

MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 www.museum.ge May 18 – July 18 AVANT-GARDE 1900-1937 The exhibition is opened within the Georgian National Museum week dedicated to International Museum Day.

June 7 MAROON 5 5th – the new album by Maroon 5 Start time: 17:00 Ticket price: From 40 GEL XS GALAXY NIGHT CLUB Address: 60 Gogebashvili Str., Hotel Leogrand, Batumi Telephone: 0422 24 20 20 June 7 SONIQUE & TL LIVE Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: From 30 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 June 7, 9 JAM SESSION WITH THE RESO KIKNADZE QUINTET Start time: 21:00 Free entry June 8 TANGO MILONGA Start time: 20:00 Tango Lesson: 5 GEL 7TH CAUCASUS JAZZ FESTIVAL www.kavkazjazz.com Telephone: 593 22 42 86 June 8 FESTIVAL OPENING Tulug Tirpan Quartet/TURKEY Reso Kiknadze with special guests Michael Tracy/USA Craig Wagner/USA Start time: 20:00 Venue: Conservatory Grand Hall June 9 J.E.F. EXPERIMENT AZERBAIJAN Kanudosi - GEORGIA (Gori) The Birds - ARMENIA Start time: 19:00 Venue: Club33a, Vake Park TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 June 5 11TH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL FROM EASTER TO ASCENTION Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: 20-55 GEL




FIFA or not FIFA, that is the Question Official FIFA representatives apparently visited the tournament, where they held a press conference. Swedish Dag Larsen and Russian Sergey Azizov are said to be highly satisfied with the work of their Abkhazian colleagues and say that they are ready to mediate in order to help the so-called “Abkhazian Football Federation” join FIFA. “Abkhazia is a decent country, which can represent FIFA, as it has its own land, government and language. Apart from this is the quality of football; people love playing football here, therefore we will begin negotiations with FIFA,” Azizov allegedly said during the press conference.

Naturally, Tbilisi reacted to this statement and the ongoing tournament in Sokhumi, with the Georgian Football Federation (GFF) denying that occupied Abkhazia would join FIFA in any form. General Secretary David Mujiri did not confirm the presence of either Azizov or Larsen as representatives of FIFA. “They are ordinary agents registered in FIFA and have nothing in common with Official FIFA,” Mujiri told journalists in Tbilisi. This reasonable answer from the GFF was followed by an amazing comment from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which gave a much bigger meaning to the championship held in Sokhumi. At first glance, one can wonder just what is so remarkable about the Somaliland and Western Armenian teams visiting Sokhumi to play football? Nothing much. But the catastrophic lack of professionalism of our government is striking. The

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikheil Janelidze, announced: “This championship has no legitimacy.” First of all, why should a top diplomat of the country make any comments about such a petty event? Secondly, this is an unrecognized sports tournament of confederations (there are millions of such championships across the world) and nobody protests them. To the journalist’s question, any professional diplomat would have answered: “Which championship? No comment.” Nevertheless, this was not a big surprise from the Georgian Dream government. Notably, a similar football tournament was held last year, the “unrecognized” European Championship hosted by Budapest. Occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia teams planned to participate, but both had their visas rejected by the government of Hungary.

Robbie Williams Entertains Tbilisi

were affirmative screams. To the next question, “Anybody over 40?” there were still many responses to be heard. The last question from this series was the most humorous: “Anybody under 20?” and then, his comment followed, as a sort of black humor characteristic to the last Oscar and other award-giving ceremonies: “Hi, I probably slept with your mothers.” Pop-culture! They are what they are and they do it their way! Back in the 1990s, as a member of the Take That boy-band, Robbie was one of the favorites of many a Georgian teen. However, his solo career proved to be even more successful. The ‘Let Me Entertain You Tour’ is Williams’ eleventh concert tour, which began in Spain and traveled throughout Europe and Asia in Spring 2015, reaching Australia and New Zealand in October 2015. During the summer months, Williams performed at numerous music festivals in Europe. He was singing in Tbilisi after a 7-month break. For the generation of the 1990s, the most touching song to hear was ‘Back for Good’ from the repertory of ‘Take That’. Ever the entertainer, he then got to audience to join in with a rendition

of Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York,’ substituting the name of the mega-polis with ‘Georgia’ each time. The most lyrical part was ‘Love Supreme’, adorned with lit mobiles all around, making an effect of candles. Williams also performed the outstanding ‘I love rock & roll’. The final part was more ample with less known new compositions. While performing ‘Feel’, a comment towards our country in-between, he exclaimed: “Georgia on my mind”. Following the concert, Robbie said of the Georgian crowd, “They were sensational, incredibly warm and generous. I could not believe everybody knew the words to my songs considering that I’ve never been here. It seems their energy was eternal and kept on going. It is an experience that will go into my memory, and stay with me forever. I am really happy and can’t wait to come back and perform here again.” “I cannot put words to my emotions today,” said Minister Giorgadze. “Georgia has not only checked in on the world musical map but it is already sparkling. I am sure that the events to come will be even more successful, and attract even more tourists to Georgia.”



hile the government is busy beating up the opposition, occupied Abkhazia is hosting the football World Championship of “unrecognized” countries. Agency Apsni Press writes of the triumphal start of the Abkhazian team, which defeated the team from Chagos, India 9:0. The new “world” champions will be revealed on June 5th at the Dinamo Stadium in Sukhumi. Twelve teams are participating in the championship in Sokhumi: Somalia (Somalia), Abkhazia (Georgia), Padania (Italy), Raetia (Germany), Chagos Islands (India), Kurdistan (Iraq), Punjabi (Great Britain), United Korea (Japan), North

Cyprus (Cyprus), United Gypsies (European Council), Sami (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia), and West Armenia (Armenia). The week of tournaments between unrecognized football federations was organized for the first time in 2014 when it was hosted by Sweden. In 2014, the national team of Catalonia also planned to participate, but withdrew at the last moment. The 2014 winner was a team from Nice (France), which played in the finals against Ellan Vannin (Great Britain) and defeated the rivals in a series of penalties 5:3. The South Ossetian team came in at fourth place in 2014.




nder the aegis of the ‘Check in Georgia’ project of the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection, on the 27th of May, world star Robbie Williams dedicated his well-known hits and new songs to Georgian Independence Day, playing at the Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi. Before the show, played in front of a

packed stadium, Robbie Williams met the Georgian Minister of Culture Mikheil Giorgadze who handed the star a modernized Georgian Kabalakh (traditional hood for Western Georgians) as a souvenir. The audience was made up of as many Georgian as foreigners, many of whom had flown in especially for the concert. GEORGIA TODAY spoke with Sany, a young Chinese lady: “I’ve never been here before. In China it would cost more than 2000 [GEL], so it’s very affordable. I love Robbie and I’m sure hearing him



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live will sound so much better than on CD!” “This concert will be part of the history of Georgia. That’s why I came,” Salome Beridze, 22, told GEORGIA TODAY. Williams kept his fans waiting an hour before the inscription ‘Let me entertain you,’ appeared on the gigantic screen, met with an outpouring of ovation. The Great Entertainer, a talented and handsome 40-something British man is well-loved in Georgia. He is well known as a joker, and he pushed this side of his personality to the fore when he, upon greeting the crowd with the Georgian “gamarjoba,” then went on to list all the Georgian swear words he knew. The reaction to this was mixed. Williams seemed somewhat surprised by the Georgian reaction to him (and surprised that they knew him so well), asking several times “Do you know who I am?” to which he received uproarious laughter from the audience. To the question, “Anybody from the 90s here?” there

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JUNE 3 - 6, 2016

Georgia – Philippine Long Life Park Opens in Tbilisi Zoo

Nadya Savchenko sings Ukraine’s national anthem while addressing fellow lawmakers. Source: Reuters

Ukraine’s Savchenko Berates Lawmakers in Defiant Speech BY NICHOLAS WALLER BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


natural wooden children’s park ‘Mabuhay’ (Long Life) was opened on the initiative of the Honorary Consul General of Georgia to the Philippines, Thelmo Luis Cunanan, in partnership with the Director of Tbilisi Zoo, Zurab Gurielidze, specifically for International Children’s Day. The open-air park, equipped with houses, a tower, slide, sandpits and other developmental structures, is available free of charge for all zoo visitors from June 1. June 13 will mark one year since the flood in Tbilisi, during which the city zoo suffered most – with cages destroyed and most of the animals killed. Since then the Zoo has been gradually recovering, acquiring new animals, and improving infrastruc-

ture and entertainment areas. “The new children’s park will be a symbol of renewal. It has a very symbolic name. ‘Mabuhay’ is a Filipino word which means Long Life,” said the Director of Tbilisi Zoo, Zurab Gurielidze. “As such, we hope that the Park and the Zoo as a whole will truly have a long life.” The Tbilisi Zoo are assured that partnership with the Philippine side is not over. “We are going to bring two mesh pythons to Georgia, so, in addition to the entertainment infrastructure, we want to add to the zoo collection,” said Consul Thelmo Luis Cunanan. The Zoo has already hosted new habitants from Europe and beyond: banded mongoose, wildebeest, South American coatis and Indian porcupine. In the near future, the Zoo expects delivery of hamadryads, monkeys, wallabies, tapirs, degus, emus and spotted deer from Belgium, France, Holland and the UK. The majority of these new animals have never been seen in the Tbilisi Zoo before.


krainian servicewoman and former prisoner of war Nadya Savchenko used her first day as a deputy in Ukraine’s parliament to chastise her fellow lawmakers, calling them lazy schoolchildren for having betrayed the goals of the country’s revolution that saw the ouster of proRussian President Viktor Yanukovych. “I’m back and will not let you forget - you who sit in these seats in the parliament - about all those guys who laid down their lives for the country,” Savchenko, who spent two years in a Russian prison, said in a defiant tone. “I tell you that nobody is forgotten, nothing is forgotten. Nothing is forgiven. And the Ukrainian people will not let us sit in these seats if we continue to betray them,” she added. Disappointment in the pace of reforms has been growing in the country of 45 million since President Petro Poroshenko came to power following the 2013-14 Maidan Revolution. Key pro-Western reformers have been sacked, and vital privatization projects have, for the most part, failed to be implemented. This and the ongoing war in the east of the country has left most Ukrainians

disillusioned with the current government. “One gets the impression that lawmakers are like lazy schoolchildren who shirk their work,” Savchenko told reporters after her speech. 35-year-old Savchenko, whose bold resistance to her imprisonment in Russia made her a national hero, is seen by many analysts as a last possible guarantor of the revolutionary ideals that were meant to cleanse the country of its endemic corruption and steer it permanently away from Russia’s sphere of influence. A former army helicopter pilot, she was captured while fighting pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region. She was later illegally transferred to a prison in Russia’s Rostov Region, where she was later tried and convicted of murdering two Russian journalists. The Russian court sentenced her to 22 years in prison, to which Savchenko defiantly cursed the presiding judges and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Savchenko arrived home to a hero’s welcome last week after she was swapped for two Russian military intelligence officers who were captured by Ukrainian troops in 2015. While still in prison, Savchenko was made a deputy of Ukraine’s Rada, or Parliament, by opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. Upon her return to Kyiv, Savchenko announced that she is willing to run for president if nominated.

EU Tables Decision on VisaLiberalization for Georgia Continued from page 1

“We don’t want to stop the whole process, but we want to be more cautious,” a diplomat from an EU state opposed to visa-free travel for Georgia, said. According to a source in the European Parliament, Berlin is growing increasingly cautious when it comes to dealing with Tbilisi because many of the major players in Germany’s organized crime world can be traced back to Georgia. Anxiety over the possibility of another mass influx of migrants is reaching a fever pitch across the EU as most European governments struggle to cope with the number of refugees flowing in from the Middle East.

The visa waiver regime allows easier access - but not the right to work - for up to 90 days in Europe’s Schengen Zone, which comprises most EU states and several non-EU members. Europe’s inability to address the visa-liberalization question for Georgia comes only a day after French President Francois Hollande gave a ringing endorsement to the Georgian government for its efforts to bring the country closer to full Euro-Atlantic integration. Hollande said in his statements with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili that he supported the immediate implementation of a visa-free regime for Georgia.




Ex-Separatist Leader Launches Party Aimed at Restoring Russia’s Empire BY NICHOLAS WALLER


gor Girkin, a former commander and self-declared defense minister of Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, has officially announced the creation of an ultra-nationalist, irredentist political party known as the Russian National Movement. A former FSB colonel and veteran of several post-Soviet wars, Girkin rose to prominence in the early stages of Ukraine’s war in the eastern Donbass region. Known for his stridently antiWestern rhetoric and Russian chauvinism, Girkin said his movement would join with other like-minded nationalist political groups to create a party that would reassert Moscow’s authority over its former imperial dominions. The movement held its first party congress in Moscow on May 28 where it unveiled a political platform that aims to restore Russia’s imperial glory. “The lands where Russians live, which are soaked in the blood of the Russian people, have the right to become a part of Russia. We will unite the Russian Fed-

eration, Ukraine, Belarus and other historic Russian lands into a single allRussian superstate and transform the entire territory of the former Soviet Union into an unconditional Russian sphere of influence,” the party’s manifesto says. Through his press officer, Girkin said the Russian National Movement fully rejects President Vladimir Putin’s regime and calls for an end to the current climate of fear and intimidation of citizens. In addition to opposing the policies of the Kremlin – which they see as too lenient, liberal and Western-influenced – Girkin’s party has called for a strict quota system for migrant workers from the former Soviet republics in Central Asia and the Caucasus and the cancelling of laws on internet control. The creation of the new ultranationalist party comes months after Girkin hinted he was looking into entering politics. In October 2015, he said that he planned to create a party that would oppose Putin’s government and “respond to the Western fascist threat that Russia faces today.”

CRIMEA INVOLVEMENT Girkin, who rose to international prom-

inence under his nom de guerre Strelkov (or “Shooter”), took command of proRussian separatist forces in east Ukraine after arriving from Crimea in April 2014. He played a key role in organizing and training the self-styled Crimean defense forces in the lead-up to Russia’s annexation of the strategically important Black Sea peninsula. According to a recent report by RFE/ RL’s Sergei Loiko, Girkin trained Crimea’s pro-Russian volunteer forces before they were transferred to the Donbass to take part in the seizure of the region’s administrative buildings. Loiko reported that Girkin personally negotiated and oversaw the withdrawal of Ukraine’s armed forces from Crimea after they were surrounded by crack Russian units later known as “little green men” – troops known for their olive drab balaclavas and insignia-less uniforms. According to an interview, Girkin gave to Russian media in January 2015, support for Russia’s takeover of Crimea was far from universal. “The overwhelming national support for the self-defense units, as portrayed by the Russian media, was complete fiction. We actually had to force the

Igor Girkin at his Slavyansk headquarters, June 2014. Source: RFE/RL

(Crimean) deputies to vote (to join Russia),” Girkin said in the interview.

STAUNCH RUSSIAN NATIONALIST A 45-year-old Moscow native, Girkin is known as a historical military re-enactment enthusiast in his spare time and a battle-hardened veteran of several postSoviet wars. Described as a staunch Russian nationalist, he has written for right-wing Russian newspaper Zavtra - run by antiSemitic Russian nationalist Alexander Prokhanov - since the mid-1990s. While he was a regular contributor to the paper, he met and later collaborated with future separatist political leader, Alexander Borodai. At around the same time, Girkin was also a frequent contributor for the Abkhazian Network News Agency, a Russianlanguage publication that supports Abkhaz separatism in Georgia.

According to his diaries that were leaked in 2014, Girkin fought on the side of pro-Russian separatists in Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region in early 1992. Later that year he travelled with hundreds of other Russians to the Balkans to fight for Serbian ultranationalists in the 1992-95 Bosnian War. According to Bosnian media, he and his unit took part in a 1992 massacre of hundreds of Bosnian civilians in Visegrad. Girkin served as an FSB colonel from 1996-2014, including a seven-year deployment to Chechnya from 1999-2005. Russian human rights group Memorial has accused Girkin of taking part in the forced disappearance of Chechen civilians. Memorial alleges that Girkin was responsible for the abduction and murder of residents while he served with the 45th Guards Detached Spetsnaz Brigade, a special forces paratrooper unit. Continued on page 5




JUNE 3 - 6, 2016

NATO on Georgia’s Mind, Before Warsaw Summit BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA


n May 24-25, Georgia’s Defense Ministry (MoD) hosted its 10th Defense and Security Conference (GDSC) involving dozens of leading security practitioners and international experts. The event principally aimed at helping the MoD and its head, Tinatin Khidasheli, prepare the ground for the upcoming NATO Warsaw Summit in July. The GDSC was matched with Georgia’s 25th anniversary of independence and high-level joint exercises of Noble Partner by NATO troops from the US and UK, wrapping up with their Georgian counterparts in order to highlight the deepening cooperation between members of the Western Alliance and Georgia’s Armed Forces. In his opening speech, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili once again promoted Georgia’s deeply held motto: “More NATO in Georgia and more Georgia in NATO,” emphasizing the reality that Georgia is a willing and able provider of security for common European defense. James Appathurai, NATO SecGen’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia who was specially invited to the event, highlighted that “NATO strongly stands by its Open Door Policy,” adding that Georgia has all the tools for Alliance membership. In addition, Ben Hodges, a commanding General of the United States Army Europe articulated that “security and stability in Europe starts in the Caucasus.”

It has long been a matter of political speculation whether to accept Georgia to NATO or provide the ‘successful South Caucasian state’ with a sufficient carrot to revive and enhance a sense of strategic patience in her openly NATO aspiring population. Notably, GDSC’s first day was entirely dedicated to NATO enlargement perspectives, asking the questions, “If” and “When” the enlargement might take place. Interestingly, almost the full majority of the renowned panel speakers agreed that Georgia has met all the criteria and has done what was necessary to become a full-fledged member of NATO. In the second part of the GDSC, Russia’s informational propaganda against Georgia as well as the wider West was largely discussed. The experts and leaders broadly talked about nontrivial challenges triggered by Russia’s hybrid warfare in Ukraine and beyond, declaring Vladimir Putin’s establishment as one of the major threats for the old continent and its neighborhood. Surprisingly, representatives of Georgia-sceptic countries, such as France and Germany, who have long demonstrated reluctance about Georgia’s NATO membership, were underrepresented at the recent conference. Bearing in mind that these two nations have a key word in the Alliance accession process, it could be assumed that the process of Georgia’s NATO membership is not completely on track. More precisely, even though Georgia was promised eventual membership in the Western Alliance at the 2008 NATO Bucharest Summit, and the country has been enjoying its Substantive Package

Credit: Giorgi Pridonishvili / GT

granted in Wales in 2014, the question whether the political, in another words audacious, step will be made by all the 28 Alliance members, still remains unanswered. In this context, Georgia is widely requested to retain her strategic patience and wait for the ‘right moment’ for her eventual membership. US Ambassador to Georgia, Ian C. Kelly, referring to George Orwell, said at GDSC that ”for Russia, all countries are sovereign but some countries are more sovereign.” The same reality is clear for European and US leaderships. At the same time, fishing in troubled waters could be a theoretical tactic where Georgia’s strategic

patience is concerned. When is this ‘right moment’ going to arrive? What could Russia do other than occupy onefifth of Georgia’s territory, Ukraine’s Crimea and an important part of its eastern regions, or do what it is doing in Syria? For the Georgian government, it might be worth considering an increase in performance in terms of working with the so-called “Georgia sceptics.” This path could only be pursued through active diplomacy and proactive foreign affairs. It seems that the MoD has done its part and the level of political actions should be enhanced that will finally bring Georgia to the Alliance.

Meanwhile, Georgia is getting ready for its 2016 parliamentary elections, which will play a significant role in the country’s future democratic life. If Georgia passes her major test of the year successfully, it could be a huge step forward for her on the European and Euro-Atlantic path. ZVIAD ADZINBAIA is an Analyst at Georgia Today, covering security, foreign policy, as well as domestic politics of Georgia. He is academically affiliated with the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS). From autumn 2016, Zviad will be joining the Tufts Fletcher School as a Master’s student in Law and Diplomacy.



Ex-Separatist Leader Launches Party Aimed at Restoring Russia’s Empire Continued from page 3

COMMANDER OF DNR FORCES At the time of the Crimean crisis, Girkin reportedly resigned from the FSB and presented himself as an official Kremlin emissary to the pro-Russian leader of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov. Once the seizure of the region was complete, he and his trained units travelled to Ukraine’s eastern city of Donetsk to take part in the separatist takeover of key government buildings around the region. Girkin later established his headquarters in the separatist stronghold Slavyansk, a drab Soviet industrial town of 120,000 located two hours from Donetsk. His takeover quickly descended into an organized reign of terror as he enacted harsh Stalin-era laws that included curfews, summary executions, the kidnapping and torture of proUkrainian activists and arrest of Western journalists. Nearly three months after Slavyansk became the heart of darkness of the proRussian separatist movement, Ukraine’s beleaguered military slowly began to gain ground against Girkin’s forces. They eventually recaptured the city in July 2014 and forced Girkin to retreat to Donetsk.

DOWNFALL His defeat at Slavyansk and the subse-

quent shoot down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 2014, ushered in Girkin’s rapid fall from grace. Almost immediately after the plane disappeared from radar contact, Girkin boasted on his Vkontakte social networking page that his troops had downed a plane, but he later deleted the post once it became apparent that a passenger aircraft had been shot down, killing all 298 people on board. Girkin was abruptly removed from his command by Moscow officials in August 2014 after the FSB grew impatient with the attention caused by the downing of MH17. The separatists’ political leader, Borodai, claimed Girkin had to be gagged and handcuffed before he was put on a military transport back to Moscow.

POLITICAL FUTURE Since his return to Russia, Girkin has been a vocal critic of the Kremlin’s handling of the war in the Donbass. He has consistently criticized the Russian government’s decision to abstain from major combat operations in an attempt to freeze the conflict. With the establishment of a political party, many both inside and outside Russia worry that Girkin may be able to translate his near-mythical popularity amongst Russian ultranationalists and those who believe in re-establishing the country as an empire into a formidable political movement with a mandate.




truly terrifying book- is how The Washington Post escribes David Satter’s recent book ‘The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep: Russia’s Road to Terror and Dictatorship under Yeltsin and Putin’. David Satter, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, was the Moscow-based correspondent of the Financial Times from 1976 to 1982, and then special correspondent on Soviet Affairs for the Wall Street Journal. He was expelled from Russia nearly three years ago. “The inspiration for my book was my expulsion from Russia in December 2013,” he tells his audience at the D.C. based Hudson Institute hosting his book presentation. “‘Competent organs, which is a code word for the FSB, the successor organization of the KGB, have determined that your presence on the territory of the Russian Federation is undesirable and you are banned from entering the country,’” Satter remembers being told. In The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep: Russia’s Road to Terror and Dictatorship under Yeltsin and Putin, Satter tells the story of the apartment bombings, Boris Yeltsin’s role presiding over the criminalization of Russia, and Putin’s

rise to power. Satter describes how and why Vladimir Putin was chosen as the next successor. Additionally, Satter argues that the bombings of the apartment buildings were actually carried out by the FSB security police, rather than Chechen forces. For Satter, the 1999 apartment bombings were “the combination of the criminalization of Russia under Yeltsin, they were the foundation of the dictatorship that was established under Putin, they were the identifying marks of a leadership that, to this day, has absolutely no respect for human life, the lives of its own citizens or the lives of others.” The book brings a unique perspective on Putin and the Russian regime. Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy, says the 1990s were a precursor to Putin

and to everything that has happened since. “We have to understand what Russia is today, what happened and what was done in the 90s which led to the takeover by Putin and creation of a criminal regime. As Satter further maintains, “Yeltsin was not prepared to come to terms with the past; and he was not prepared to have a moral accounting. He engaged in the privatization of property and industry without the rule of law, which led to the creation of a vast criminal system. He destroyed the parliament, and eventually, brought Vladimir Putin to power to get immunity from prosecution.” As Satter writes in his book, to grasp the reality of Russia, it is necessary to believe that the Russian leaders really are capable of blowing up hundreds of their own people in order to preserve their hold on power. “When one accepts that the impossible is actually possible, the degradation of the Yeltsin years and Vladimir Putin’s rise to power make perfect sense.”




JUNE 3 - 6, 2016

Hatchets Not Buried OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


hey kill us and…nothing! They kill and then leave the bloodstained place unharmed as if nothing has happened. They disappear on us after murder like invisible ghosts never to be seen again, not even in the courtroom to face due punishment. No trace, no justice. Just a slight formal reaction to the fact of the heinous crime. One of our men was slaughtered the other day in broad daylight on our territory, right in front of passersby who witnessed the dreadful moment of flashback to previous fratricides. Deaths happen. We know that much. We know that nobody is safe from God’s will, but this one is different, very different. This one is a reminder of many other deaths, recent vain and foolish deaths. That fateful day, one more life was taken, and this time it was the life of a young Georgian family man who will always remain the symbol of unhealed wounds between Georgia and Russia, with Abkhazia in between. Words lose their meaning when describing what happened. The man

was buried, the bereaved family mourned, politicians sent condolences and the funeral gathered more people than it would have if it had been just another regular death. The talk continues on investigating the case, circulating on a certain level of justice-must-be-done enthusiasm, the officially nursed rationale is to let the massacre shed the accompanying political inconveniences. Life continues, and the tragedy is going to be forgotten, as have many other human tragedies that have taken place before on the disputed Georgian land called Abkhazia, now insolently and forcefully occupied by Russia. In reality, does it make any sense to know who gunned the man down and what nationality he belongs to, or who in particular was slain, or what the immediate cause of the murder was, or where the skeletons are hidden now? Technically, yes, but not in the broader context which propels our thoughts in two varied and scary directions – the past and the future. The past is full of blood and rancor which totally defies reconciliatory attitudes because it has put Russia and Georgia in a perennial political cul-desac, and the future now looks heartbreak-

ingly grim and frustrating because the deliberate shooting on the artificially created and militarily maintained border between this Georgia and that Georgia – with a new appellation of Abkhazia – has bogged down any presumable friendly talks between Russia and Georgia. Potentially, the unfortunate deadly event is equal to a loose cannon that can explode the long-frozen conflict at any time. Time has passed but it seems that the hatchets have not been buried. The murderer did his dirty job, having killed a good man in cold blood. He then safely escaped into unidentified space and into mysterious oblivion, the worst part of the case being the possibility that he may very well get away with the butchery of this magnitude. The internationally recognized juridical interpretation of a functioning system will not oblige the other side to extradite the assassin to Georgia to let justice be done. The venue of the presumable prosecution could only be Russia – this is what is fed to us right now. The investigation thereof, the apprehension if possible at all, the indictment if this time ever comes, the prosecution, the imaginable attempts of copping a plea, the verdict and the conviction might take years, and the emerged consequence

Rashid Kanjioghli, an Abkhaz border guard serving near the Khurcha-Nabakevi checkpoint on the contact line separating the Russian-backed breakaway region from the rest of Georgia, shot and killed 31-year-old Giga Otkhozoria on May 19 after he attempted to cross the administrative border to attend his aunt’s funeral

might still be unfavorable for the victim’s family and for the Georgian people in general. Incidentally, I have a name for the newly formed borders of Georgia with Russia – the vicious line of life and death, marked with inhuman everyday incidents of arrests, imprisonments, beatings and murders, cruelly decorated with barbed wire. And the end cannot be seen. Moreover, the slaughter of innocents may continue in this form or another. These are just emotionally prompted hints of an angry compatriot of a murder victim, which might easily be qualified in the long run as a nasty introduction into the idea of our people’s extermination if allowed some day. I understand that it will take a while for the implication of these hints to sink in because they are bitter and hard to deal with. These are the hints to the incipient overwhelming hatred between the innocent participants in the RussianGeorgian conflict representing smaller ethnic groups, afflicted with the Russian-

supported idea of utterly destructive separatism. The Georgians and the Abkhaz have inflicted carnage on each other with the help of Russia. The carnage continues, and it will probably reach a level at which coexistence and cooperation will no longer be a possibility. They all – the conflict participants – want to eliminate each other, the role of chief executioner being assigned to the fact of the Russian occupation of our lands. The candles may flick massively in the wake of executions like this one, but they will only help the memory of the dead to be blessed. No lost lives will be brought back. The trembling hands of our daughters, mothers and wives will heave and rend their hair in mournful hysteria which will not be heard by the powers that be. All of us, all of us here in this beautiful but mournful little land have certainly found ourselves on the rack, desperately trying to save our remaining bodies and to let our dejected spirit somehow survive the hell suggested by the times.

South Ossetia’s Rebel Government Delays Referendum on Joining Russia BY NICHOLAS WALLER


he separatist government of Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia region announced Monday that they would postpone a

planned referendum on joining the Russian Federation until 2017. In a joint statement released late last week, the region’s de facto President Leonid Tibilov and parliamentary speaker Anatoly Bibilov said the referendum would take place after both run as rival presidential candidates in an election scheduled for early next year.

The statement said that both Tibilov and Bibilov had agreed to postpone the planned referendum in an attempt to “preserve unity and political stability in the republic.” Long a public supporter of unification within Moscow, Bibilov’s call for full unification with Russia’s Republic of North Ossetia-Alania is thought to have

strong support from the local population in South Ossetia. Bibilov has been sharply critical of Tibilov’s handling of the region’s relations with Russia, including a public dressing down of the region’s de facto government after it signed a bilateral treaty on Union Relations and Integration between Russia and South Ossetia.

Bilbilov said in early 2015 that the proposed treaty would fail to address the public’s desire for full integration with Moscow. The treaty obliged Russia to act on the breakaway region’s behalf and push for broader international recognition of South Ossetia’s independence. Continued from page 6



CBRN Science and Consequence Management World Congress Opens in Tbilisi BY VICTORIA KLIMICHEVA


ead of State Security Service of Georgia, Vakhtang Gomelauri, opened the CBRN Science and Consequence Management World Congress which included US Ambassador to Georgia Ian C. Kelly; Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, Giorgi Mghebrishvili; Minister of Health and Social Care of Georgia, David Sergeenko, Deputy Head of SSG, Levan Izoria; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Gigi Gigiadze; Deputy Defense Minister, Maia Bitadze; Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Georgia, Davit Gelashvili; and director of US Defense Threat Reduction Agency, J3/7, Gary Blore. During his speech, Gomelauri highlighted the current situation existing in the region in terms of CBRN threats and spoke on those challenges that Georgia faces. According to Gomelauri, as a result of assessments of the current situation, the Government has elaborated a strategic, systematic plan in terms of applying strict security measures. Every object or place that is thought to contain a risk or threat is under government control and monitoring, Gomelauri says. The Government of Georgia fully realizes that, due to transit function and neighboring conflict zones, the country faces the risk of illegal smuggling and the risk of becoming a transit country. The factor of occupied territories makes


it almost impossible to create international security mechanisms, something which is of urgent importance. As war continues between Syria and Iraq, intelligence and security structures of the partner countries to Georgia often speak of the possibility that Islamists will use CBRN terrorism means. In order to respond to these challenges, national as well as international commitment is in place to prevent and detect those threats. According to Gomelauri, Georgia has made effective steps in the CBRN field and achieved important success, having elaborated a unique approach. An interagency coordination board has been established under the chairmanship of the State Security Service of Georgia. The relevant strategy and action plan has been elaborated with the support of the US and European partners. As Gomelauri noted, one of the main reasons for the progress is the institutional mechanism, priorities listed in the action plan, improved interagency coordination and international cooperation. Furthermore, during the Nuclear Summit held in Wash-

ington, Georgia highlighted its support towards strengthening security architecture. Gomelauri expressed gratitude to Georgia’s partner countries and thanked them for their contribution to addressing opportunities for development in various agencies of Georgia. The US Ambassador to Georgia, Ian C. Kelly, thanked the conference organizers and Government of Georgia for their hard work and dedication, as well as for organizing the event for the second time in three years. According to the Ambassador, it is very important that Georgia is a leader in detecting CBRN threats and in strategy development. “CBRN planning and preparedness is an area of increased urgency for the international community. Responding to a major CBRN incident requires cooperation and coordination at all levels to ensure the safety of the public. To effectively prepare for and respond the threats we must all work together,” the Ambassador said. “The US supports a global approach to these challenges. At the US

Embassy here in Tbilisi we have many Agencies coordinating efforts on this front, including departments of State, Defense and Justice, among others. It’s a top priority for our mission to collaborate with our Georgian and international partners to build effective response plans. This event presents a unique opportunity for the leaders of the scientific, technical, medical and policy fields of the CBRN to exchange ideas and research into developing strategies to protect our people against CBRN threats”. The CBRN Science and Consequence Management World Congress took place from 30th May to 2nd June, 2016 and was hosted by Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel. Georgia hosted the Congress for the first time on 1-5 June, 2014. It should be noted that during almost two decades it was held in Croatia and Switzerland. Georgia’s progress achieved in the CBRN field contributed to the decision to become a congress host country. The event was led by the State Security Service of Georgia with the support of Government of the USA. The Congress brought together high ranking officials from 30 countries and international organizations, CBRN experts and scientists. Biological and radiological security, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and such materials, biological security and protection, and aspects of chemical security are to be discussed during the Congress sessions. In the scope of the Congress, demonstrative field drills against illegal circulation of radioactive materials will be held.


South Ossetia’s Rebel Government Delays Referendum on Joining Russia

Continued on page 7

Since being recognized as an independent state by the Kremlin, only Venezuela, Nicaragua and the tiny Pacific island of Vanuatu have recognized South Ossetia’s independence. In contrast to his political foil Bibilov, Tibilov’s approach towards Moscow since his April 2012 election as the separatist region’s president has been to push for closer integration, but has stopped short of calling for full incorporation into Russia. Though he has defended South Ossetia’s nominal independent status, Tibilov has frequently described South Ossetia’s incorporation into Russia as a long-term project for the rebel government and the dream of the region’s residents. Tibilov has never set a timeframe for South Ossetia’s accession to the Russian Federation, but he has said on numerous occasions that the region would eventually be incorporated by Moscow as a separate federated republic instead of unifying with their ethnic kin in North Ossetia. Georgian government forces fought two devastating wars against Russianbacked separatists in South Ossetia between 1991-2008. The fighting left thousands dead and led to the ethnic cleansing of all ethnic Georgians in the region. Moscow recognized the rebel region’s independence following the 2008 Russian-Georgian War.




JUNE 3 - 6, 2016

Have You Heard about… the New European Transport Strategy?

Source: www.eft.com



n 2013, the European Commission, in a EUR 250 billion European strategy which gives priority to the creation of an integrated transport network and seeks to level the imbalance between the Member States of the European Union, proposed the creation of international transport corridors, bringing together Western and Central Eastern Europe. In order to overcome traffic imbalance in the EU, nine multimodal corridors will be created, each of which has to combine at least three types of transport and connect three states. The new infrastructure policy will unite 28 EU states under trans-European transport network (TEN-T). Nine transport corridors will be provided: Baltic - Adriatic Sea, North Sea - Baltic, the Mediterranean Corridor, Middle Eastern Corridor, Scandinavia - the Mediterranean Sea, the Rhine - Alps, the Atlantic Corridor, the North Sea - the Mediterranean Sea, and the Rhine - Danube. They will be grouped into three general areas of “East - West”, “North - South” and “Diagonal” corridors. The project is scheduled for completion in 2030. The transport corridors will receive priority funding to connect the east and west of the European Union. To finance the first phase of the project, EUR 26 billion was allocated. The Pan-European transport corridors were defined at the second Pan-European transport Conference in Crete, March 1994, as routes in Central and Eastern Europe that required major investment over the next ten to fifteen years. Additions were made at the third conference in Helsinki in 1997. As such, these corridors are sometimes referred to as the “Crete corridors” or “Helsinki corridors”, regardless of their geographical locations. A tenth corridor was proposed after the end of hostilities between the states of the former Yugoslavia. The new project focuses on the construction of highspeed railways. At the first stage it is planned to create a single European rail traffic management system. The general direction of “East - West” includes three transport corridors: North Sea - Baltic, the Mediterranean, and the Rhine-Danube corridor. The North Sea - Baltic Corridor connects primarily the east coast of the Baltic Sea ports with the ports of the North Sea. It will run through eight countries (Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium). The Baltica motorway project will become part of the “old” trans-European corridor between Berlin and Finland. There is a priority project in the railroad Rail Baltica. The Trans-European railway Rail Baltica, linking Helsinki – Tallinn – Riga – Kaunas – Warsaw and continuing on to Berlin, is to be developed within the territories of the co-operating EU Member States. Rail Baltica will support the wider EU goals of parity of access to services and infrastructure of EU Member States and development of sustainable modes of transportation, improved balance and interoperability between different means of transportation, and the establishment of

links with the rest of the EU rail network. Even as far back as the 1990s it was in the works to build an underwater railway tunnel between Tallinn and Helsinki, but the project was delayed due to financial constraints. This corridor also involves the development of river waterways and canals (Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands), as well as ferry traffic (between Finland and Estonia). The project cost is estimated at over EUR 3.6 billion, including 50% from the EU budget (program TEN-T), and 50% from the budget of the project participants. In the Baltic countries there is no such means, and there are discussions about the feasibility of building a high-speed road which will pass by numerous settlements. The Mediterranean Corridor connects the Mediterranean countries (Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia) with Continental Hungary (up to the border with Ukraine). The basis of the corridor will be high-speed highways and railways. Reconstruction of railways will be carried out at intervals: Lyon - Turin and Venice - Ljubljana. The Rhine - Danube Corridor must connect via the main water artery of Europe, as well as roads and railways passing along it, five of the Danubian States of the European Union. It will provide the main east–west link between continental European countries, connecting France and Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria all along the Main and Danube rivers to the Black Sea by improving (high speed) rail and inland waterway interconnections. The countries that first aligned with the project are the Czech Republic and Slovenia. The direction “North - South” will strengthen transport links between the old and the most developed EU countries. The Scandinavia - Mediterranean Corridor will connect major cities and ports in Scandinavia and Northern Germany with the industrial centers of Southern Germany, Austria and Northern Italy, as well as the ports of Italy and the island of Malta. The Rhine Corridor through the Alps and Switzerland will connect the ports of the North Sea (Rotterdam and Antwerp) to the Mediterranean (Genoa). The diagonal directions complement the directions “East - West” and “North – South,” including four corridors: Baltic - Adriatic Sea, North Sea Mediterranean, Middle Eastern (Germany - Greece - Cyprus) and Atlantic corridors. They will join the developed countries of Western Europe with the Mediterranean. The Atlantic Corridor will link Portugal and Spain (West), and France and Germany (East). Germany intends to obtain from the European Union EUR 2.8 billion to improve transit transport systems which means a pass to six out of nine critical European transport corridors. The bulk of the subsidies from the EU (EUR 2.5 bn.) will be spent on development and improvement of the efficiency of railway infrastructure. By 2030, the single European transport network will connect 94 sea and river ports, 38 international airports and 15.000 Km of high-speed railway. Dimitri Dolaberidze is an expert in political-geography.



JUNE 3 - 6, 2016

CoE: Georgia Failing to Control Illegal Internet Content BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE


ollowing publication of a Council of Europe (CoE) authorized report on laws and practices of 47 member states on blocking, filtering and removal of Internet content, secretary-general Thorbjørn Jagland urged European governments to ensure that their legal frameworks and procedures in this area are clear, transparent and incorporate adequate safeguards for freedom of expression and access to information. The study, which was commissioned to the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law, contains 47 country reports and a comparative assessment. It analyses legal frameworks in a wide range of areas including on child abuse material, the protection of national security, the protection of intellectual property rights, defamation and unlawful processing of personal data across the Council of Europe member states. The study shows that states have taken varied approaches to addressing illegal Internet content. Some apply existing criminal and civil legislation whilst others have enacted specific regulations with procedures for blocking and content-removal applicable to information society services. Some other states rely on self-regulation by the private sector. Generally speaking, Internet companies have introduced rules in their terms and conditions and have put in place self-regulatory mechanisms to block websites or remove content deemed unlawful. Regarding Georgia, the study notes that despite the fast pace of internet development, the legislation regulating it fails to keep up “with the concomitant development in the majority of cases.” Primarily, the report notes that, “In Georgia, where

the practice of legal drafting was initiated just 20 years ago, there is no special legislation primarily focusing on the Internet, which means that no single state vision or concept exists as to what Internet regulation should be.” There is no official legislative act or code that would encompass every aspect concerning internet law directly or indirectly regulating the legal relations that may appear during Internet usage, despite the existence of separate norms in various legislative acts (Law of Georgia on Electronic Communication Act, No. 1514, LHG; 3 Law of Georgia on Freedom of Speech and Expression, Act No. 220, LHG; Criminal Code of Georgia, Act No. 2287 LHG). On the positive side, the study commends Georgia on ratifying several CoE conventions relevant to the subject, including the Convention on Cybercrime (CETS No. 185) which was mainly transposed into Criminal Code 4 (though Georgia has not signed the Additional Protocol of this Convention 5). Moreover, Georgia ratified the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (CETS No.: 108) transposed into the Law on Personal Data Protection 6 and the Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (CETS No.: 201). Based on all its findings, the report maintains that Georgia can be described “as a country with no specific regulation on these issues (B category). It should be mentioned as well that as a contracting state to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), general safeguards on freedom of expression apply, including in the field of Internet.” While many of the 47 member states have supplied for official commentary after the publication of the report, stressing their official stance on the matter, Georgia has yet to do so.

Air Astana Celebrates Five Years of Service to Georgia


cheduled services are now operating to Tbilisi from Almaty and Astana. Air Astana, Kazakhstan’s award winning flag carrier, marked its fourteenth anniversary last month and is now looking forward to another celebration, with June being the fifth anniversary of services launched between Kazakhstan and Georgia. In addition to the daily flight operated by Airbus A320 and Embraer 190 aircraft between Almaty and Tbilisi, this month has also seen the re-launch of regular scheduled services between Astana and Tbilisi. “Georgia has become very popular amongst Kazakh tourists, with its cuisine, warm hospitality and breathtaking scenery being amongst the attractions,” said Kamila Zhailaubayeva, Air Astana Country Manager for Georgia. “With visitor numbers having increased by 20% on the Astana route so far this year, the previously seasonal flight to

Tbilisi has been upgraded to a twice weekly service all year round. For Georgians, the three hour flight to Astana offers excellent onward connections to other destinations in Central Asia, Asia, southern Russia, Europe and the Middle East. And both Business Class passengers and Nomad Club Frequent Flyer Diamond, Gold and Silver card holders can enjoy the comfort of Air Astana’s ‘Shanyrak’ lounge at Astana Airport.” Convenient connecting flights are also available for passengers travelling from Tbilisi to Almaty, with onward destinations including Beijing, Urumqi, Delhi, Tashkent, Bishkek and Dushanbe. For destinations with longer connecting times, Air Astana offers a Stopover Holiday program including hotel accommodation and a city tour. Air Astana also offers cargo services from Georgia to all destinations on the network.

Contact: www.edelbrand.ge Phone: 599 461908


Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #849  

June 3 - 6, 2016

Issue #849  

June 3 - 6, 2016