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Issue no: 1071

• AUGUST 3 - 6, 2018



In this week’s issue...

Environment Minister Praises Ivanishvili for His Tree-Collecting NEWS PAGE 2


ON MARIJUANA A look into the controversy following this week's legalization

PAGE 2, 10

Study on Resilience to Russian Disinformation in Eastern Europe POLITICS PAGE 6

Emercoin, BTU Release BlochainIntegrated App to Combat International Manipulation Epidemic in Education Sector

Source: qz.com


Undecided & Ill-Informed: On the Latest NDI Poll

Georgia’s New Railway College BUSINESS PAGE 8



n August, 1, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Caucasus Research Resource Center of Georgia (CRRC Georgia) released their latest poll results which reveal that, generally speaking, people in Georgia appear to be concerned about the economic and political situation of their country. The poll demonstrated that 62% of those questioned, representing the population of Georgia as a whole, believe the country is “heading in the wrong direction,” while only 29% say things are moving as they should be. People have also said they are dissatisfied with the government’s weak answer to ongoing environmental issues. This study was funded with UK aid from the British people and ran from June 23 to July 8, gathering 2409 interviews throughout the country, excluding occupied regions. GEORGIA TODAY took a look at some of the key findings. Continued on page 3

Fewer Russian Children Being Sent to British Schools SOCIETY PAGE 9

Echowaves Festival Stages & Artists Announced CULTURE PAGE 15



Environment Minister Praises Ivanishvili for His Tree-Collecting BY THEA MORRISON


he Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia Levan Davitashvili has released a statement aimed at defending ruling Georgian Dream (GD) founder, Chair and ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and his private arboretum in Ureki, from criticism. It is well known that over recent years, billionaire Ivanishvili, who is the richest man in this small, post-Soviet country, has been transporting giant and unique trees from around Georgia to his personal arboretum in the coastal Adjara region. Last year, it was reported by media that Ivanishvili has plans to transport around 50 trees to his arboretum. It is unknown exactly how many old trees have already been uprooted and taken to his garden. Sometimes the trees are so large that other trees are cut down during the process of removal or branches are cut from trees on private property to make space. Moreover, very often the holes made after uprooting the centuries-old giant trees, are left unfilled. Ivanishvili first received permission to begin moving trees in December 2015. Since then, every time he targets a new tree, the opposition and environmentalists slam the government; however, the Minister of Environment has now said the process is entirely legal. “Georgia will have a unique dendrological park. The fact is that with the goodwill of Bidzina Ivanishvili, another important project is underway in our country. In fact, a new monument of


AUGUST 3 - 6, 2018

Clerics Demand Abolition of Constitutional Court after Marijuana Legalization Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, Levan Davitashvili

nature is being created. It is simply absurd to say that arranging such a unique place has a negative impact on the environment," says Davitashvili's statement, which was released by the Ministry on August 1. The Minister claims that implementation of this project will have social and economic benefits because private companies are involved in the process, and “special techniques and equipment have been brought to Georgia that will be involved in various infrastructural projects in the future.” According to Davitashvili, Ivanishvili’s Cartu Fund spends millions of GEL arranging roads and infrastructure in the areas where the trees are transported. He claims the local population also profits from the process because some trees are private property and Ivanishvili buys them. The Minister underlined that the State has no "luxury" to provide resources for such projects, adding that Ivanishvili’s contribution is of great importance. In April, 14 Georgian opposition parties raised money to pay for a 100-year-old Eucalyptus tree on the Green Cape, near Georgia’s Black Sea coastal city of Batumi. The parties acquired the tree after winning an auction announced by the Ministry of Finance. The opposition claimed they bought the tree to save it from Ivanishvili and “his obsession of tree-collecting.” The initial price of the tree was 7,000 GEL ($2,900) but the last bid was GEL 20,020 ($8,168). According to opposition, they had only one competitor in the auction – the company which serves Ivanishvili and transports giant trees to his private arboretum. After buying the tree, the parties decided to leave it in place and not to transport it anywhere.



fter the Constitutional Court of Georgia made a controversial decision to abolish administrative punishment for the use of marijuana, the Georgian Orthodox Church came out against the judges therein and stated that the institution needs to be abolished in its entirety. Archpriest Andria Jagmaidze made a statement on behalf of the Georgian Orthodox Church, saying the four judges of the Constitutional Court “had no right” to make such an important decision on behalf of 4 million Georgians. “The Constitutional Court is not a necessary attribute of a democratic state: the future of our children, students, and schoolchildren is based on the judgement of just four people,” he complained. Jagmaidze says that in the near future, the Georgian Patriarchate will appeal to the Georgian government with the recommendation to abolish the Constitutional Court. A number of clerics held a press-conference on August 1 supporting Archpriest Andria Jagmaidze’s position. Priest David Nozadze stated that a referendum should be held to reflect the real position of the Georgian nation regarding legalizing marijuana. “Let us ask our society what they prefer…These four judges should apologize for making such a decision,” the cleric added. Archpriest David Kvlividze is also against the court’s decision. The cleric claims people who consume marijuana are sick. “This is an anti-national decision and will actually destroy the nation,” he said.

Clerics hold anti-marijuana rally – No to Drugs. December 10, 2017. Source: 1 TV

Opposing these statements, Archpriest Vakhtang noted that the Constitutional Court is a necessary component of the State and its abolition would be a mistake. “The justice system exists for the purpose of making important decisions for the whole nation, taking into consideration the mentality, customs and other aspects,” he said. Member of the faction Georgian Dream - Social Democrats, Mirian Tsiklauri supports the clerics who demand the abolition of the Constitutional Court. He notes that as the Georgian Dream (GD) has the majority in Parliament, it could adopt such changes. “We need to save our nation. The Court’s decision on marijuana is unacceptable and poses a threat to our future,” he added. Davit Sergeenko, Minister of IDPs, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, also dislikes the Court’s decision. While he did not openly criticize the

Court, he noted that it does not have such deep knowledge about the effects of marijuana as those experts who have been working on this issue specifically. “I do not have the right to criticize the Court, but I will say I dread the thought of a marijuana-affected surgeon walking into an OR, or a teacher or pilot under the influence,” he added. Deputy Parliament Speaker Tamar Chugoshvili says the Constitutional Court is the main body in the country ensuring constitutional justice, and consequently Georgia cannot exist without it. "We have the right to like something or not but talks about the abolition of the Court are absolutely inappropriate," she stated. The Constitutional Court of Georgia delivered its verdict on marijuana on July 30. The decision refers only to consumption and not to cultivation or sale of the drug, which remains punishable. More on marijuana on page 10.




Undecided & Ill-Informed: On the Latest NDI Poll Continued from page 1

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES According to the poll, Georgians are worried about environmental issues. For 54% of them, the government is not spending enough to adequately deal with the issue. 67% of respondents said they would like the government to spend more on resolving air pollution problems and 66% think Georgia does not spend enough on food safety. Where environmental issues are mentioned foremost by the poll respondents, there is a divide between Tbilisi, of which 87% believe national pollution is problematic, and the remainder of the country, 67%. The divide exists on every topic related to the environment, with around 15% more people concerned in the capital. 90% of the Georgians polled support the purchasing of land by the state to promote green spaces. In majority, the people polled drink water from their domestic taps, showing that they are confident about the quality of the mains supply. Only 1% of those surveyed say they buy bottled water due to concerns about water quality.

SOCIAL ISSUES In 2015, 92% of the population thought that protection of the disabled was important; today this is 93%, showing a constant. Yet only 23% think that sexual minorities need protecting and 44% think it is not necessary at all to protect them.

69% of those surveyed say democracy is weak and that favoritism can be seen in the courts in Georgia. Paradoxically, 69% also agree that freedom of speech should be restricted to certain groups. 54% of Georgians use the internet every day while 28% never use it. This week, the Constitutional Court of Georgia effectively abolished administrative punishment for the use of the marijuana. However, interestingly, the poll shows that 74% of the people oppose any such legalization. To the question how the country has changed, 93% answered it has worsened in terms of inflation, and 40% believes that corruption has increase over the last 10 years. 65% say that the situation has also worsened in terms of employment and crime. Paradoxically, Georgians feel more confident about their economy than before (66% evaluated the economy as “bad” in 2016, now down to 57%).

could identify a party closest to them ideologically, with 18% choosing the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD), 10% the United National Movement (UNM), and 3% the Labor Party. Who runs could have a strong impact on the election, in particular for GD. For instance, if President Margvelashvili participated, a GD candidate would receive 12% of the overall vote, according to the survey. However, if the President does not compete, the GD candidate’s votes would rise to 17%. In addition, in different second-round scenarios, GD would still earn the majority of votes, but if the current President was the second candidate, the race would be close compared to other scenarios. We can also say, overall, that Georgian citizens are still facing a lack of information and transparency. 51% had not heard about the pension reform currently being discussed in Parliament. Regarding the EU and NATO, people have been constant over the last 10 years (around 80% in favor of entering the EU, and 75% NATO).

POLITICS The poll shows that 29% of respondents disagreed with the former Prime Minister's resignation. Georgians would like to see healthcare, education, pensions, and social assistance as top government spending priorities and the majority would tolerate cuts in foreign affairs, police, sports and assistance to small and medium businesses to accommodate this. With a presidential election approaching, citizens are looking to hear candi-

dates focus on employment, inflation, healthcare, and education. Moreover, 71% expect candidates to tackle the relationship with Russia, and 65% women rights. Today, only 24% see territorial integrity as the most important national

issue, down from nearly 50% in 2009 and 35% in 2013. When asked if they were decided about their vote if the presidential elections were held tomorrow, 74% of respondents reported that they were undecided. Few

The NDI is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government. CRRC-Georgia is a non-governmental, non-profit research organization which aims to promote debates on policy issues by providing reliable data and analysis.




AUGUST 3 - 6, 2018

Time to Move a Little Faster! OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


hings are changing fast in the world. Suffice to say that a couple of months ago, Russia and America were ready to eat each other alive, but today, they are almost eager to embrace the spirit of peaceful coexistence and mutual cooperation (if this is possible between the two long-feuding giants). At the very least, they are both up to reciprocating the summits in the near future. What is Georgia doing at this great moment of the Russian-American thaw? Georgia is sitting like a fluffy little darling of a puppy, squeezed between two mastiffs, wagging its downy tail fast and turning its head from side to side, trying to give out occasional barks in sotto voce to attract the attention of the edgy vicious beasts. Was the picture clear enough for a momentary perception? If it was, let us proceed! If America and Russia overcome their differences and settle down as partners to promote a more optimal world order than this, Georgia will be looking at a blurry prospect of survival, not having a clue what the patrons of the world might suggest as a solution to its territorial problems and geopolitical orientation. The worst political corollary for Georgia will likely be the persistence of the status quo, as mindboggling and heartbreaking as it has been in the last umpteen moons. If things are changed in the world but nothing changes for Georgia, we might cease to develop, which may very well yield into our questioning our existence as such. That said, we could development independently, without the overt meddling of outside dominant forces, but this path would be extremely unsavory: forget about territorial integrity and enjoy what we have?! Even the thought of this prospect is devastating for a nation that has never lost hope of recovering its lost lands.

Meanwhile, the current national scenery overflows with political contradictions and existential discrepancies: America is faithfully helping Geor-

gia into the western military alliance and Russia is threatening to kill that joy so harshly that Georgia might never recover from the presum-

able consequences; the West is boasting its total independence from Russian threats and menaces when it comes to widening NATO membership, but the reality is that they cannot help reckoning with Russian interests and attitudes; Georgia is living in hope that the West is so near at hand that it might find itself in the Alliance in the twinkle of an eye, only a mirage at this very moment because the Russian Cerberus is sitting right in front of the gates of NATO, ready to tear Georgia apart of it dares to make an entrance. The dream of being part of the western family of nations is what makes Georgia tick right now, and if we are laid devoid of this dream, we might find ourselves at a terrible political loss. Going back to the Russian bosom is an option as dark as Hades, because it entails falling back to soviet ways and means, and losing that which we have dedicated 30 years of our lives to. Living in unending expectation, knowing that nothing is moving forward, is also frustrating. So the Russian-American political tapering off might be the sign of some movement forward for Georgia and a breaking of the detestable status quo which has been sitting on our neck like a heavy painful yoke for so many years that it has depleted the creative energy needed to improve our lifestyle. Of course, we are working to feed ourselves and our kids, not idling away all our time, but this is just a scanty drop in a bucket. This nation has much bigger potential to take care of itself, but that potential is not being used to its full extent because it is blocked by the interminable status quo. And the blame should be put firmly on the shoulders of those who are propping up that status quo so severely imposed on us. We see the grass growing quick under our feet, but we are not able to do anything about it. It is time to move a little faster so that we are not completely sucked into the political marsh that is narrowing around us to strangulate our chances of survival. Conventional wisdom has it that a sleeping fox catches no chickens – nothing ventured nothing gained!

Former Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili to Run for President



avit Usupashvili, former Speaker of the Georgian Parliament and the founder of the centrist opposition force 'Movement for Construction,' is to run for the position of President of Georgia this October. He led the Republican Party in 2005-2013 and served as the Parliament Speaker in 2012-2016. The ex-Speaker, who earlier suggested President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili join forces and take part in the elections, says the President did not accept his proposal, therefore, he will run himself. “Margvelashvili is not interested in long-term party-political activity. Since he cannot see himself

in the party, I am undertaking the responsibility,” he stated. Officially, there are 5 presidential candidates besides Usupashvili: Shalva Natelashvili from the Labor Party, Nino Burjanadze, the leader of the Russia-affiliated Democratic Movement-United Georgia, Zurab Japaridze from the New Political Center – Girchi, United opposition candidate – Grigol Vashadze, and European Georgia – David Bakradze. Salome Zurabishvili, an independent MP, has not yet officially declared if she will take part in the presidential elections. However, it is alleged that she might be supported by the ruling Georgian Dream party, which has not named their candidate. The current President of Georgia, he yet to specify either if he will run the race. The elections will be held in Georgia on October 28.




AUGUST 3 - 6, 2018

Study on Resilience to Russian Disinformation in Eastern Europe BY ANTOINE DEWAEST


ince the advent of the digital era, the concept of resilience to disinformation has been a key notion, researched and discussed. Work on resilience plays a role in the collective defense against any attempt to affect societal and political processes. Tackling this concept is all the more important considering that since the collapse of the USSR, Russia has continued to interfere with the domestic politics of its former soviet republics and further afield, as seen in the US presidential elections. In the wake of these works, a study entitled 'Disinformation Resilience in Central and Eastern Europe' by the DRI - Disinformation Resilience Index was released last week. The study is aimed at assessing national vulnerabilities and preparedness to counteract foreign-led disinformation in 14 countries of Eastern and Central Europe. The Visegrad states (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia), Eastern Partnership countries (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine), the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Romania are covered. An integral part of the research is the Disinformation Resilience Index, which is a quantitative assessment of exposure to Kremlin-led disinformation and the level of national resilience to disinformation campaigns. Authors of the content are government representatives, analytical, consulting and research institutions, media, NGOs, and pressure groups. According to NATO, “disinformation resilience is the adaptability of states, societies, and individuals to political, economic, and societal intentional pressure and falsehood spread in various

Source: arcdigital.media

formats of media, including TV, radio, print and online media, (and) social media, to influence political and economic decisions, including thought-targeting particular vulnerable groups”. Four categories of disinformation can be highlighted: falsified claims, unsourced claims, claims based on previous unsourced claims to legitimize, and conspiracy theories. If we now take a global look at the 14 countries targeted by the report, here are the conclusions. The elderly are among the most vul-

nerable groups to Russian disinformation. In 2016, for instance, in Lithuania, 45.8% of the population aged 46 or older agreed that “in the Soviet Union, life was better than it is today.” Moscow takes advantage of this by targeting them "to instigate a sense of nihilism about European integration,” a fact seen as much in Georgia as in other eastern countries. Ethnic minorities are also receptive. In Georgia, ethnic minorities (Armenians, 4.5%; Azerbaijanis, 6.3%) are most targeted. Many do not know the Geor-

gian language well or at all, which is a serious barrier to their integration into Georgian (and European) society. As a result, they often use foreign sources of information, including Kremlin-governed media. In Moldova, nearly 20% of people do not speak Moldovan/ Romanian. In Latvia, 25% of the population is Russian. In Estonia, natives whose mother-tongue is Russian make up more than 28% of the whole population. So the Russian language factor should be taken into account. Russian is the main foreign

language in Georgia, with 72% of citizens speaking it fluently as opposed to the 20% who speak English. This means that while youth are more likely to learn English at school these days, in general in Georgia, people remain more vulnerable to Russian disinformation. The second group susceptible to Kremlin-led disinformation are active followers of the Orthodox Christian Church, in particular in Georgia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. In Moldova, for example, the Orthodox church is the most trusted institution, with 70%. Some particularities exist among these countries. In Belarus, army officers and staff are considered by the DRI as more vulnerable, while in Georgia, people related to business are more likely to be targeted because Russia is one of the biggest economic partners of Georgia. At the end of the day, the popularity of Russian-language media heavily determines the exposure to Russian disinformation, all the more because these countries seriously lack national long-term counter strategies. Nevertheless, while Russian disinformation is important, focusing only on this might lack sense. In eastern countries, they are other (minor) propaganda sources, among others the USA, but also local propaganda often used as a response to Russian attacks. This local response usually plays more on vocabulary than on use of fake news. Furthermore, according to NATO, the definition of the problem, i.e influencing economics and politics, only focuses on disinformation, and totally forgets that a (conscious or not) lack of information will also ultimately affect the public opinion. See the full study here: http://prismua. org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ DRI_CEE_2018.pdf.

Georgia as "the Israel of the Caucasus"- a Concept Worth Considering (and Implementing)? ANALYSIS BY VICTOR KIPIANI


he recent NATO Summit in Brussels presented the free world with a new and incomprehensible quagmire when it comes to the viability and sustainability of its security. This development is even more alarming when one considers that the simmering disarray within NATO’s architecture has reached boiling point, with its members visibly divided over a wide range of issues—from defense spending

10 Galaktion Street

to naming priorities for a mode of reorganization capable of shielding liberal regimes, from current dangers to tomorrow's treacherous risks. This NATO “crisis” (to call it that) is not necessarily insurmountable, but it nevertheless raises the prospect of a variety of dire scenarios. These relate to the breaking down of NATO’s collective system into a series of "geographic cells" of varying degrees of intensity (e.g. "old" Western European members vs. “new” Eastern European ones, core European states vs. a Balkan "underbelly," practically reneging on the equal and unbiased application of Article 5, etc.) and egre-

gious questions such as former Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt’s “What is left of NATO and the transatlantic order?” All in all, and regardless of the multiplicity of entanglements, there is no doubt that the most famous system for collective defense since World War II is facing historically high levels of uncertainty, and the precariousness of the current international situation is causing even greater anxiety for Georgia, which has anchored its present and future wellbeing upon the health of the free world and its capacity to cope with internal and external shocks. Equally, the "caveat" view is that Geor-

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

gia obtained no more than it was supposed to and no less than it deserved during the Brussels summit in July. Although we have been advocating for NATO to promote the Georgian cause more decisively and vigorously (see, for example, “Georgia's NATO Membership: A Definitive Decision Has (Yet) to Come,” GEORGIA TODAY, 20 July 2017; “We Need A Marshall Plan: We All Really Need One”, GT, 19 June 2017), if we submit the question to at least a modicum of sound analysis, it is crystal clear that given the frictions within NATO and the volatility of US policies (both before and after the summit), our expectations need to be modest. In addition to the handwringing among its more conservative (not to say lax) members on the Western flank and the somewhat flamboyant stance of its members on its Eastern one, NATO has been in dire need to reconcile its polyphonic positions (at least temporarily) with Russia's ever-increasing penchant for revisionism, and therefore maintain a (formal) unity among its rankand-file. With that in mind, we appeal to the most ardent critics of Georgia's "failure" at the summit to diligently and carefully read every line of the NATOGeorgia Commission Declaration before wasting more energy on their passionate expressions of opprobrium. The Declaration does repeat certain elements of the past, of course, such as appreciating Georgia's "significant contribution to the Resolute Support Mission" (RSM), welcoming expanding co-operation "in particular under the umbrella of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package" (SNGP) and progressing with "the NATO-

Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Center" (JTEC), etc. Yet whilst reiterating that "Georgia will become a member of the Alliance" (a famous Bucharest dictum subsequently reaffirmed at the summits in Strasbourg, Lisbon, Chicago, Newport, Warsaw) and recognizing a future MAP "as an integral part of the process," the Declaration also focuses on the very meaning of security for the Black Sea basin, engaging with both the western and eastern shores of the wider Black Sea region on an equal footing. This is very hard indeed to overlook, but the feeling nonetheless lingers that Georgia is still not where it has long been destined to be—not only through its annual national program or various other elements of co-operation with NATO, but most importantly through its own "blood, toil, tears and sweat," to quote Churchill. Regardless of whether the 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels was a success or a failure, the vulnerable posture of collective security systems these days, combined with a growing transactionality in world affairs and the frivolity of Russian policies in its neighborhood, demands that we spare no effort in searching for alternatives (see “Georgia's Foreign-Policy "Great Game": a Multifaceted Coin”, GT, 11 May 2017; “Buckle Up: "New Normals " Are Coming”, GT, 8 March 2018), that we boost our stillfragile national security and that we achieve a relative respite, domestically speaking, until the conflicts around us are settled and a new world order is finally "buckled up". Continued on page 7




Georgia as "the Israel of the Caucasus"- a Concept Worth Considering (and Implementing)? Continued from page 6

The story is once again one of a quest for a Georgian-driven defensive pivot, for a regional "center of gravity" heavily backed by a bilateral, specifically designed treaty, through which Georgia may avoid many problems and, within NATO in particular, give the country a muchneeded foundation for long-lasting peace, security and development. The current torments of the emerging “World Order 2.0” clearly entail a shift towards formulating and following more idiosyncratic paths: it has become fanciful to speak of the liberal values and multilateralism shared by modern democracies. In the present era of existential threats, which may well increase tomorrow, the choice had better be plain and realistic instead of complex and unachievable. Perhaps an apposite parallel: Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once noted that "If we have to [choose] between being dead and pitied, and being alive with a bad image, we would rather be alive and have the bad image."

BILATERALISM RULES? Is the world heading towards bilateral defense arrangements? Perhaps not irrevocably, of course, but recent trends for more bilateralism are indisputable. We have briefly discussed the phenomenon of bilateral setups (“Bilateral Arrangements: A Transitional Stage to Heighten Georgia's Security?”, GT, 23 November 2017), but scholars and policymakers should expand these discussions for a wider audience and thus permit them to make a more informed decision when and if a U-turn occurs. There are plenty of relevant examples, but few of them are perhaps more apposite to our present discussion than the trajectory which runs from the notorious US-Israel relationship to Poland’s recent initiative of an "Israel on the Vistula". The United States has always defined

Israel’s survival and security as important to US national interests, and by the terms of their strategic partnership has been providing Israel (the only democracy in the Middle East) with important security assistance for decades. An illustration of the truly remarkable extent of their co-operation is that on 14 September 2016, the two signed a new package whereby the US will provide Israel with $38 billion in security assistance- $5 billion of which to be spent on missile defense. (For the sake of completeness, however, it should be mentioned that Israel is required to spend nearly 75% of this assistance on US-made equipment, thereby creating American jobs.) This latest package supersedes the one which was signed in 1998 worth $21.3 billion. On top of this, the US relies on Israeli assistance when it comes to dealing with regional instability, and regularly cooperates on intelligence, national security and counterterrorism. The IDF and the US military also benefit from the sharing of technologies and tactics. All in all, the US-Israeli example is unique when compared to other partnerships around the world. The next case we will briefly touch upon is that of the US and Poland, a relationship which is remarkable in a few important aspects and can be quite instructive to Georgia, since Poland, a NATO member on the eastern flank, borders upon a revisionist Russia and is regarded by various pundits as the future economic powerhouse of Europe and the undeniable leader of the "buffer" of countries which stretches from the Baltic to the Black Seas (the so-called “intermarium”). The Poles have long craved to enhance their air and missile defense systems, as the one they inherited from the Warsaw Pact is obsolete and cannot serve as an effective shield (except perhaps at medium ranges). This situation, however, has changed dramatically thanks to the "Israel on

the Vistula" strategy and the introduction of US Patriot missiles within Polish air defense. Besides increasing the interoperability of Polish armed forces with those of NATO, and strengthening the block to the east, by creating a "system of systems" it also adds the capability of intercepting medium and intermediate range missiles from the Middle East. A last point to mention regarding the case of Poland is that the country acts as a fully-fledged member of the largest military alliance in the world but continues to develop a defensive strategy on a somewhat "isolated" basis within NATO.

IS IT ALL ABOUT "BOOTS ON THE GROUND"? Defense components are certainly the backbone of any alliance which Georgia may possibly enter into. Various NATO embedded programs (e.g. RSM, SNGP, JTEC, GDPR) significantly improved the Georgian army’s interoperability with its Alliance counterparts, and particularly with the US armed forces. Georgia is also working with NATO partners to

seek to address regional security challenges, while missions to Iraq and Afghanistan have primarily contributed to US-led operations there. This military story continues to reach new heights, with Georgia’s acquisition of US antitank missiles and the holding of joint military drills (e.g. Noble Partner, Agile Spirit). This is of course just a short “recap” of the defense-driven actions which lay down sound foundations in keeping with the country’s two-speed approach, which aims to hold the course of its Euro-Atlantic integration (a course that was recently entrenched in the constitution) whilst keeping a sharp look out for potential bilateral security and defense treaties (most logically with the US) should such opportunities arise. Prospects, and possibly venues, for further developing the Georgia-US bilateral relationships are ample considering the need to contribute to regional stability (including through a US forward presence), to keep an eye on the Iranian conundrum, intelligence-sharing and developing Georgia as a regional infrastructure hub. The practicality of Geor-

gia realizing all this, which is not a radical departure from what has already been tested in different parts of the globe, mainly rests upon the political will to make decisions, but like any other sound alliance in the world, the one under discussion goes far beyond simple military hardware and people in uniforms. Georgia’s chances of becoming a member of multilateral or bilateral security systems in the democratic world are strongly related to the viability of its own democracy, to the extent that its economy is truly open, to its human rights record and to its devotion to the rule of law. No air defense system can be a substitute for the tangibility and operability of these values. And this is really good, as it leaves no room for secretive governance, fake institutional independence and shady economic systems. All things considered, any security system for Georgia would only be viable if it is underpinned by liberal democracy and unrestricted civil rights: these are what Georgia should stand for as the country dear to all those who call it home.


Emercoin, BTU Release Blochain-Integrated App to Combat International Manipulation Epidemic in Education Sector

“We are very happy to work with the innovative Emercoin team on this crucially important project,” said Batiashvili. “The Trusted Diploma platform will help our school build a secure and immutable database of education certificates, which will help our graduates as they pursue successful careers.”



n August 2, Emercoin, in partnership with the Business & Technology University (BTU), announced the start of a free, socially important, blockchain-integrated platform, ‘Trusted Diploma.’ The MOU was signed between Emercoin Investor, Advisor and Renowned Venture Capitalist,Bill Tai, and the Business Technology University Tbilisi Rector, now Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia, Mikheil Batiashvili. Trusted Diploma ensures that the competencies of all graduates are easily and clearly verified and that graduates can easily access their records without fear of manipulation or corruption. This platform helps schools, businesses, and graduates to validate the online accuracy and authenticity of education credentials, as well as share verifiable diplomas and other certificates on an encrypted and secure app. Empowering fintech and other industries with new levels of security and immutability, blockchain changes the way people live. The Emercoin and BTU partnership, which resulted in the creation of the Trusted Diploma platform, suggests a novel stage in the global technology expansion. “Trusted Diploma will help us prevent

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growing levels of manipulation and corruption and ensure that the education credentials we see online are valid,” said Eugene Shumilov, CEO of Emercoin. “We urge everyone to join our effort,

which will improve professional services and protect people from dangerous fraud in the healthcare, legal, real estate, and other sectors.” BTU provides students with innova-

tive approaches to learning and together with Emercoin, the implemented platform will be a serious step towards combatting manipulation and corruption in the education sector.

The Business and Technology University is an innovative learning institution that perfectly combines two directions of learning- business and technology. Programs bring together faculty and professionals from international companies and universities, integrating leading management and academic thinking with innovation. The university comes with undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs. Being oriented on entrepreneurship-based learning, the programs encourage students to find their inner potential and develop their managerial skills, making alumni competitive on both local and global labor markets.




AUGUST 3 - 6, 2018

Georgia’s New Railway College INTERVIEW BY ANNA ZHVANIA


Railway College has been opened within the frames of the American foundation ‘Millenium Challenge Cooperation.’ The professional institution offers students dual programs in many different directions. Manana Moistrapashvili, Railway Transport College Quality Management Manager, talks about the first students of the college and the priorities of the institution.

HOW DID THE IDEA OF ESTABLISHING A RAILWAY COLLEGE COME ABOUT? Over the last 20 years, trainings for professional personnel in the railway industry have been in deficit. The Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia and the Georgian Technical University thus decided to unite to open a Railway Transport College with the initiative and support of JSC Georgian Railway and a grant from the Millennium Challenge Fund.

WITH THE STATE’S ENCOURAGEMENT, MANY PROFESSIONAL COLLEGES HAVE RECENTLY EMERGED ON THE MARKET. HOW IS THE RAILWAY TRANSPORT COLLEGE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER INSTITUTIONS? The main priority of the College is based on European experience and a dual methodology. Our goal is to prepare professional technical personnel of high civil awareness for the railway. Highly qualified staff provide the company with the possibility to replace elderly staff and boost development. A strong team of motivated personalities are gathered around the college idea, which received funding from the Millennium Challenge Fund of $2,281,900. Georgian Railway further invested $1,829,141.


Preparing technical personnel for railways in Georgia has been ongoing since 1878, closely linked to the production side of the industry. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, this system has declined since the 1990s, resulting in the loss of specialized institutions and a sharp deterioration in staff quality. Education which does not provide for the job market requirements loses its function and, as a result, damages the country’s economy. Professional staff deficits impede the development of companies and after a while, they face the need to necessarily conduct further training.

TELL US HOW THE PROFESSIONAL INSTITUTION IS EQUIPPED We worked hard to ensure that our grants were rationalized, allowing more preparatory work to be done. We started construction from scratch: the building was constructed specially for its purpose, educational spaces were arranged and equipped, rails were put in the courtyard for educational purposes, and a modern simulation of locomotive management, signaling, centralization and blocking trainers were set up.

sional program of farming wagons, a railway carrier fourth cycle professional program, centralization of signaling and railway cycle, a four-level professional program of railroad transport and a fourth stage of railway electric rolling stock.

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE COLLEGE? The main aim of the college is to guarantee work placement for each student. To come up with a contingent plan, we cooperated with Georgian Railway: our team has the ambition to become the region’s best railway college, therefore, management will continuously monitor the education process. The purpose of the monitoring system is based on analysis of the results of observation and on the basis of Georgian Railway’s demand: to implement con-

tinuous development, complete pedagogical resources and to strengthen the material-technical training base. We also plan to fit out the campus in a comfortable and healthy way for the students. However, the main priority is to popularize railway specialties and make our modest contribution to the development of the Georgian railway and to strengthening the country's economy!

http://www.rentmaster.ge/en/ E-mail: georentmaster@gmail.com Tel: ( +995 ) 591 930 303

HOW DID YOU SELECT THE TEACHERS AND WHAT DOES THE “DUAL METHOD” IMPLY? We are proud to have worked with the best experienced partner, German Railway Training Center DBE&C. Trainers, managers and program managers were trained in Germany in methodological literature as well as demonstration materials, both of which were prepared specially for our students in Georgia. Moreover, our second partner, the Iowa State University, hosted additional trainings for our work and health security staff.

WHAT CAN STUDENTS STUDY SPECIFICALLY AT THE RAILWAY TRANSPORT COLLEGE? We successfully received authorization and agreed and approved with the National Center for Education Quality a 4-point document, which includes 8 major railway specialties in the field. These include the third stage of professional development of railroad tracking, third stage of railway track monitoring, a professional program of railway electric power supply, fourth stage of locomotive driving, a profes-

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Fewer Russian Children Being Sent to British Schools BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


ccording to a study by the UK-based 'Good Schools Guide,' in 2015, 3611 Russian schoolchildren attended British schools. Three years later, this figure is down to 2806. The survey data is based on information received from 1,300 educational institutions in the United Kingdom. However, it is worth noting that the study was conducted at the beginning of the year, before the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal followed by the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the country. Therefore, the publication concludes that such statistics were likely affected by the deterioration of relations between Moscow and London against the background of the conflict in Ukraine and Syria. "The figures indicating a fall can be a short-term deviation which will soon straighten out or refer to the changing tastes of wealthy Russians in the field of education. Time will tell," says Ralph Lucas, Editor-in-Chief of the ‘Good Schools Guide.’ After President Putin sent military aid to Syria to support Bashar Assad, relations between Russia and Britain began to cool, the deterioration peaking around the Skripal scandal, the subsequent expulsion of diplomats and attempts to boycott the 2018 World Cup held in Russia this July.

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AUGUST 3 - 6, 2018

The Marijuana Debate BY SHAWN WAYNE


t is now legal to smoke marijuana in Georgia since a court ruling on July 30. This decision has been met with controversy throughout the country, though it has become apparent that the vast majority of those speaking out are ill-informed about the drug, being unsure exactly what marijuana is, how it works and what the short- and longterm effects are of using it. It is also necessary to emphasize the responsibility that comes with marijuana use, just as we do with the use of alcohol: you don’t go to work drunk, so why would you go to work high? The use of any substance, be it for medicinal or recreational use, should be looked at from a responsible point of view.

HOW DO THE PEOPLE FEEL ABOUT DRUGS IN GEORGIA? A survey conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Center in May 2018 surveyed the attitudes on drug-related issues, finding that 72% of all respondents said there should be no punishment for using light drugs such as marijuana. 50% of all respondents said they felt the same way about club drugs such as ecstasy, while 43% of all respondents thought intravenous drug users should not be imprisoned. Comparing these statistics to the use of alcohol, Georgia is ranked 67th among 200 countries worldwide in the consumption of alcohol. Statistically, the average Georgian consumed 7.7 liters of alcohol (calculated by amount of pure alcohol, not beverage) last year, which includes men and women above the age of 15. The health impact on the body from alcohol is enormous, arguably more so than that of marijuana, yet its use has been legal for years. Looking at the average household, it is the responsibility of any parent, grandparent or legal guardian to teach a child that alcohol is only to be consumed in a responsible manner. With marijuana now being legal, the responsibility of teaching again falls on the parent. It’s not just a battle of health and safety: business in Georgia can be effected in a positive way as well, as indicated by an

72% of respondents said there should be no punishment for using light drugs such as marijuana. 50% of respondents said they felt the same way about club drugs such as ecstasy

Pot protesters hit the streets for the Global Marijuana March 2017 in Toronto, Canada. Source: cannabisculture.com

analysis done of the US states of Colorado and Georgia. Legalization campaigner Zurab Japaridze said that it can produce a 7% - 8% annual growth for the economy.

WHAT IS MARIJUANA, HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOUR BODY AND WHERE DOES IT COME FROM? Marijuana has roots as far back as 2737 B.C. where it was referenced in ancient Chinese medicine. By 500 A.D. it had spread from China to India, North Africa, and Europe. Historically reported medicinal uses included treating rheumatism, gout, and malaria. Recreational use became popular in India among the Muslim population, leading to the development and popularization of hashish, a concentrated psychoactive resin from the cannabis plant. In 1545, Spanish explorers brought the plant to North America. In 1611, it was introduced in Jamestown and quickly became a staple commercial crop. By 1890, cotton replaced hemp, a variant of marijuana, as the major cash crop and marijuana effectively fell off the market. In the 1920s in the US, there was a big resurgence in marijuana use. At the time, smoking marijuana was legal and not considered a social threat. Marijuana clubs began popping up in major cities. It was even listed in the United States Pharmacopeia from 1850 until 1942, used to treat a wide variety of ailments, including labor pains, nausea, and rheumatism. Marijuana in its many guises, including weed, herb, pot, grass, bud, ganja,

Mary Jane and a vast number of other slang terms, is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried flowers of Cannabis sativa. Most people smoke marijuana, but it can also be used to brew tea and, particularly when it is sold or consumed for medicinal purposes, is frequently mixed into foods such as cookies, cakes or candies. Vaporizers are also increasingly used in marijuana consumption. The main mind-altering chemical in marijuana, responsible for most of the intoxicating effects that people seek, is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The chemical is found in resin produced by the leaves and buds primarily of the female cannabis plant. The plant also contains more than 500 other chemicals, including more than 100 compounds that are chemically related to THC, called cannabinoids. When marijuana smoke is inhaled, the chemicals are carried through the bloodstream, saturating the body. THC is a very potent chemical compared to other psychoactive drugs. Once in your bloodstream, THC typically reaches the brain seconds after it is inhaled and begins to go to work. Marijuana users often describe the experience of smoking the drug as initially relaxing and mellow. It is said to create a feeling of haziness and lightheadedness, depending on the strain used. The user's eyes may dilate, causing colors to appear more intense, and other senses may be enhanced. The interaction of the THC with the brain is what causes these feelings. To understand how marijuana affects the brain, you need to know about the parts of the brain that are affected by THC. Covering the basics, neurons are the cells that process information in the brain. Chemicals called neurotransmitters allow neurons to communicate with each other. Neurotransmitters fill the gap, or synapse, between two neurons and bind to protein receptors, which allow various functions in the brain and body to be turned on and off. Some neurons have thousands of receptors that are specific to particular neurotransmitters. Foreign chemicals, like THC, can mimic or block the actions of neurotransmitters and interfere with normal functions. Your brain has groups of cannabinoid receptors concentrated in several different places. These cannabinoid receptors can affect the following mental and physical activities: short-term memory, coordination, learning and problemsolving. Cannabinoid receptors are activated by a neurotransmitter called anandamide.

Like THC, anandamide is a cannabinoid, but this one is naturally produced by the body. THC mimics the actions of anandamide, binding with cannabinoid receptors to activate neurons which result in adverse effects on the mind and body. High concentrations of cannabinoid receptors exist in the hippocampus, cerebellum and basal ganglia. The hippocampus sits within the temporal lobe and is important for short-term memory. When the THC binds with the cannabinoid receptors inside the hippocampus, it interferes with the recollection of recent events. THC also affects coordination, which the cerebellum controls. The basal ganglia direct unconscious muscle movements, which is another reason why motor coordination is impaired when under the influence of marijuana. A combination of all these effects results in the user feeling “high;” however, there is another main component in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD). This is where most of the medicinal uses are derived from.

MEDICINAL USES In a study, mice with pancreatic cancer were treated with a combination of CBD and chemotherapy. The mice survived nearly three times longer than those treated with chemotherapy alone. CBD is a non-intoxicating compound in marijuana and has already been shown to improve the side effects of chemotherapy like nausea and vomiting. The latest results provide more justification for testing on humans, building on prior animal research that uncovered possible anti-cancer properties in the compound. "Cannabidiol is already approved for use in clinics [in the UK], which means we can quickly go on to test this in human clinical trials,” said lead researcher Marco Falasca from the Queen Mary University of London. A number of other studies have found that inhaled (smoked or vaporized) marijuana can be a helpful treatment to pain caused by damaged nerves. Smoked marijuana has also helped improve food intake in HIV patients in studies. No official studies have yet been conducted on people regarding the effects of marijuana oil or hemp oil. Studies have long shown that people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine. More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce the spread of some forms of cancer. There have been some early clinical trials of cannabinoids in treating cancer in humans and more

The health impact from alcohol is enormous, arguably more so than that of marijuana, yet its use has been legal for years studies are planned. While the studies so far have shown that cannabinoids can be safe in treating cancer, they do not show that they help control or cure the disease. However, what many do not realize is that relying on marijuana alone as a treatment, while avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer, may have serious health consequences. Contrary to what most people believe or say, marijuana can also pose some harm to users, even if not directly. While the most common effect of marijuana is a feeling of euphoria, it also can lower the user’s control over movement, cause disorientation, and sometimes cause unpleasant thoughts or feelings of anxiety and paranoia. Smoked marijuana delivers THC and other cannabinoids to the body, but it also delivers harmful substances to users: ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, nitric oxide and certain aromatic amines are contained in the smoke of marijuana, however these are also found in cigarettes. The levels vary depending on how the plant is grown and what fertilizer is used.

CONCLUSION There have been no reports of fatal overdose caused by marijuana, but the danger does not lie there. The danger of marijuana, much like alcohol, is the irresponsible use of it, leading to unwanted accidents or unforeseen outcomes and this is what seems to have triggered the greatest fear in anti-legislators in Georgia following the July 30 announcement from the Constitutional Court. Marijuana use has been legalized in Georgia, and we expect much social debate and eventual legal enforcement and awareness-raising to ensure that citizens who wish to use it do so in a responsible manner.



New Technology Teaches Braille with Fun INTERVIEW BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


raille Teach is a new product of the company Horizon Next, created by Rashid Aliyev, an entrepreneur and inventor based in Baku, Azerbaijan. The product is an interactive hand-held device designed to help teach the Braille alphabet quickly and in a fun way using audio feedback. The company’s mission is that “Braille literacy must be accesible to all blind and visually impaired people.” GEORGIA TODAY sat down with Aliyev to learn more about the project.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START BRAILLE TEACH? My previous project was called Braille Pad – a tablet with tactile display. When I was doing research, I noticed that it's hard to learn Braille and existing devices and methodologies are too expensive. I decided to work on a simple solution and did it.


Mostly pre-school children who are blind or visually impaired who need to learn braille, but not only them – their family members, parents and those who want to learn braille for themselves or to teach it. I’d also like organizations who have social responsibilities or who work on education for disabled (blind and visually impaired) persons to get involved, and for those who help manufacture such devices and/or those who apply new technologies in education to use Braille Teach.

WHAT ARE YOUR LONGTERM GOALS FOR BT? Make education available to all. In the long term, I want to develop and update the device, include games, and create new versions.

WHO HAS SUPPORTED BT? The Ministry of Education of Azerbaijan, RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind, UK), Baku American Center, Mujitler Atelyesi (Turkey), "Hope" NGO (Ukraine), School #5 for BVI (Azerbaijan), Bank of Baku (Azerbaijan), UAFA (United Aid for Azerbaijan), and some other organizations and individual persons.

WHAT KIND OF RESPONSE HAVE YOU HAD FROM THE COMMUNITIES YOU’VE BEEN WORKING WITH? We continue working with organizations and individuals and are always improving our product. We got feedback from them and improved our device. We are open to all feedback. Some of the changes we have made already: a. Change button sizes (there are now big and small button versions); b. Additional headphone jack; c. Additional languages (currently: English, Russian, Azerbaijani, Ukrainian and German); d. Additional "challenging" game

WHAT IS THE NEXT IMMEDIATE STEP FOR BT? Going into mass production. For that reason, we are seeking grants, investments. We'll be happy to get all kind of help and support – especially from the United States! For more information on Braille Teach, including how to support the product, go to http:// www.brailleteach.com/ Interview edited for clarity.

EU Supports Kakheti Rural & Tourism Potential through Summer Camps BY ANTOINE DEWAEST


he Akhalkalaki Location Action Group recently organized a EU-support youth summer camp, one that proved a little bit different from the standard summer camps: focusing on ways to promote regional development and tourism in Kakheti. Participants were given the opportunity to visit cultural, historical and leisure locations and to learn traditional local crafts such as the art of creating Georgian tablecloths and preparing local dishes. The summer camp was supported by the European Neighborhood Program for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) which is aimed at reducing rural poverty in Georgia.

Photo: EU Neighbors east





AUGUST 3 - 6, 2018

Plaster Diary, 1: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER


he weeks before: We had decided to finish the outside of the house with cement and sanded plaster, at last, as our sixth anniversary of living here approached. A big expense, needing much preparation, thought, planning and communication. After all, if you can’t persuade people to come in to your guest house’s beautiful interior because the exterior is so unfinished and rough, what’s the use? Initial calls were made to prospective craftsmen, in this case at the other end of the country, from my wife’s village in Kakheti, recommended by her brother. The first thing, they said once they knew the size of the house and we had agreed on a price, was to have wood at hand for scaffolding. As all locally bought wood is green, fresh cut, heavy, needing to be dried out with spacers between each piece to keep them straight, this must be arranged well in advance; months would not be too soon. Done! It came up from lower down in Svaneti by dumptruck, was duly dumped in the yard, and we did the necessary to ensure its drying under the strong sun while we firmed up the dates for the workers actually to arrive. This next stage proved tricky, as the mother-in-law of the senior of the three was poorly; and then he had to attend her funeral before he was free to come up from so far away. In the meantime, we ordered and acquired another dumptruck load, this time of sand, straight from the banks of the Enguri River in Mestia; and 50 bags of your best Heidelberg cement, please, into the bargain.

These we stored in the garage, kicking the car out as there wasn’t enough space for everything. Arrival day: I fetched our threesome from their minivan at our village’s only bus stop and brought them home. On the 1 km way, they kept an eye out for other local houses to absorb the standard finish for dwellings here. Once we had made introductions with my wife, they asked to be shown some houses whose exteriors I liked, and we walked a bit down to have a look. Something classical but not very fancy, I suggested, and they understood from this and the examples what I meant. 1st day: We awoke to hammering and my circular saw’s growl soon after 6 a.m., no fooling around! But it wasn’t that early or rude a start, and indeed made a good impression. First order of the day, of course, making the scaffolding for two adjacent sides of the house, the ones visible from the street. The posts had to be dug into the ground then several floors nailed to them for the workers to walk on as they progressed from bottom to top. I also took the main man to Mestia for some necessary local supplies. 2nd day: They started with the cement mixing, and this quickly developed into a problem. Never having done wall finishing, I can only pass on what they told me, but it wasn’t going on the wall right. New sand, new altitude, fair enough, some unknowns. The main thing was, would it do? Could they adjust to the unique local materials and conditions? The fellow whom we asked to cut and finish some square wood bars for cementsmoothing said that he, and everyone else locally, had used exclusively this sand for their walls because it was all they had, and it worked, was long lasting, would do the job.

3rd day: The senior worker and I went off to Zugdidi: I had some shopping for our shop to do and was on the hunt for sand more to his liking. On the way, conflicting calls: the sand we had wouldn’t do at all; no, a short time later (once the cement had set a bit), it was fine; some time after that, no, it’s not what we’re used to after all, please get some better stuff! So, plenty of stress all round. Once we finished the shop business, on the return trip we stopped at couple of riverside villages just before the climb to Svaneti, where there were sand-crushing

and -sorting operations visible, to enquire. Although my man liked the look and feel of it, the prices were through the roof, both for material and especially for transport; so we took some phone numbers, made noncommittal responses, and moved on, shaking our heads. Today: they’re back into liking the local sand, and have dug well into the process, so we think it will work out. Sighs of relief all round, and savings of money, time and nerves. The house and yard look a fine mess, but these are signs of work happening. Put up with it, visitors

of the next few weeks, and you will join with us in seeing Hanmer House transformed. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1900 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: w.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti




Swiss in Georgia Celebrate National Day of Switzerland BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE


igh-ranking politicians, diplomats, businesspeople, NGOs, media, lobbyists and other enablers were all present at an official reception held at Otium restaurant on August 1 to celebrate the Swiss national day. It’s been 727 years (and still going strong) since the three alpine cantons, Uri, Schwyz and Unterwald swore a solemn oath giving birth to the Swiss Confederation. Over these centuries, the world saw Switzerland transform itself from being the chief supplier of Medieval Europe with elite mercenary troops to a country that is almost eponymous with success, stability and welfare and which has trademarked notions like neutrality, confederation and direct democracy, and, lest we forget, the most secure and well-oiled banking system in the world. “Today, we celebrate the 727nd birthday of the Swiss Confederation and the 170th anniversary of Switzerland’s first federal constitution which established a modern federal state. This year, Georgia commemorates the establishment of the first Democratic Republic of Georgia a hundred years ago, and in light of the Swiss experience, I dare to say that fundamental republican principles are a recipe for success. They inspire and underpin Switzerland’s continued sup-

port to Georgia on its way towards democratic nation-building, rule of law, peace and prosperity. Georgia’s freedom and well-being is close to our hearts and minds, as symbolized by the flags of our countries,” said His Excellency, Lukas Beglinger, Ambassador of Switzerland to Georgia, in his welcoming speech at the reception, after musician David Archvadze and trio Hangebi, responsible for musical accompaniment, provided a delightful rendition of the two countries’ anthems. “Regrettably, this year also marks the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of the 2008 August war,” he added, reminding us that the path of conflict transfor-

mation, reconciliation and peace-building in the South Caucasus region is an arduous task. The Swiss have been instrumental in conflict transformation, reconciliation and peace-building activities, as, since 2009, the country has stood as the appointed mediator in regulating the conflict between Georgia and Russia, taking on a protecting power mandate after the two countries broke off diplomatic relations. Switzerland is also host to meetings where all interested sides discuss security-related issues and humanitarian needs of the conflictaffected population, as the OSCE and UN led Geneva Talks bring them (with the US also present and involved) to the

negotiations table four times a year. The economic development has been steady between the two countries, as the Swiss try to bring over their famed know-how of the agriculture and mountain resort businesses. Economics and trade are yet another sector where Switzerland has put on the mediator’s mantle between Russia and Georgia, as it was the Swiss-brokered deal that saw the two countries reach a consensus over Russia’s eventual accession to the WTO. Other than that, Swiss investors and companies contribute to creating work places in Georgia, establishing quality standards and providing trainings- a very welcome trend that was deservedly

underlined by the Ambassador. The Ambassador’s remarks were echoed in the speech delivered by the Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Georgia, David Zalkaliani, who noted how multilayered the partnership between the two countries is, praising the successful political, economic, interparliamentary, regional, cultural and educational cooperation between Georgia and Switzerland. The Minister also praised the ratification of the free trade area agreement between Georgia and EFTA countries, stating that it would further bolster economic ties between Switzerland and Tbilisi. Welcoming the ever-increasing numbers of Swiss companies willing to invest in Georgia, the Minister singled out a memorandum signed in June this year, according to which a Stadler factory will be built in Georgia. “Over these years, Switzerland has been a firm supporter of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, for which we are deeply grateful,” he concluded. The event lasted until almost midnight, with the guests feasting on a delightful fusion of Georgian and Swiss cuisine and engaging in interesting discussion and networking, with the embassy staff particularly engaged in making sure that potential collaborators wouldn’t miss each other. The media also had its hands full, as many a top level diplomat, including incumbent and former ministers, stepped in to pay homage to Switzerland, a country that according to the popular consensus, should be a model for Georgia.




AUGUST 3 - 6, 2018


AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL August 3-9 CHRISTOPHER ROBIN Directed by Marc Forster Cast: Hayley Atwell, Ewan McGregor, Toby Jones Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:45 Ticket: 11-12 GEL MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT Directed by Christopher McQuarrieMarshall Thurber Cast: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller Language: English Start time: 21:45 Ticket: 13-14 GEL ZOE Directed by Drake Doremusarshall Thurber Cast: Theo James, Ewan McGregor, Rashida Jones Genre: Romance, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 15 GEL OCEAN’S 8 Directed by Gary Ross Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime Language: Russian Start time: 16:45 Ticket: 13 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL August 3-9 CHRISTOPHER ROBIN (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 14:15 Language: Russian Start time: 12:10, 14:45, 16:45, 19:30 Ticket: 11-15 GEL MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE FALLOUT (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 19:40 Language: Russian Start time: 13:15, 16:30, 19:20 Ticket: 11-19 GEL

ZOE (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 16-19 GEL SKYSCRAPER Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurberwson Marshall Thurber Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber Genre: Action, Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 16-19 GEL HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky Cast: David Spade, Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 16-17 GEL THE FIRST PURGE Directed by Gerard McMurray Cast: Y'lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 22:00 Ticket: 13-19 GEL THE DARKEST MINDS Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson Cast: Bradley Whitford, Mandy Moore, Amandla Stenberg Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 16-19 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY Exhibition showcasing a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS April 26 – September 1 UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS

OF GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM– INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN The exhibition showcases up to 500 artworks - paintings, sculptures and samples of applied art, the chronological range of which is wide. May 26 – September 30 THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA - 100 YEARS The Georgian National Museum and Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, Korneli Kekelidze Georgian National Center of Manuscripts and National Archives of Georgia, presents the exhibition

SIGHNAGHI MUSEUM Address: 8 Sh. Rustaveli Blind-alley

Georgia, within the Museum Fest, present the exhibition

Exhibition PORTRAITS OF KAKHETIAN NOBLES – FROM THE BEGINNING OF GEORGIAN EASEL PAINTING UP TO 20TH CENTURY The exposition comprises portraits of Kakhetian historical figures, such as: King Erekle II, Queen Darejan, Prince Vakhtang Dimitris-dze Janbakur-Orbeliani, Princess Tekla and David Guramishvili, as well as Qajar paintings of representatives of the Andronikashvili family.

LADO GUDIASHVILI ART GALLERY Address: Gudiashvili Atr. Telephone: 293 23 05

June 12 – August 31 Georgian National Museum presents the exhibition CAUCASUS BIODIVERSITY The exhibition is dedicated to the 100the anniversary of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia.

SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI MUSEUM Address: Rabati Fortress, 1 P. Kharistchirashvili Str.1, Akhaltsikhe

IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 June 27 – September 10 Georgian National Museum and The Goethe Institute, in connection with 200 years of relations between Germany and Georgia, presents a project THE DYNASTIES - PARALLEL PERSPECTIVE The exhibition features the historic-cultural and, in particular, architectural legacy that has been created and developed in parallel in Germany and Georgia, representing two different architectural family dynasties- the Böhms and the Kurdianis in Germany and Georgia, respectively.

The Georgian National Museum presents the renovated exhibition spaces at the Samtskhe-Javakheti Museum, which see the addition of recently discovered exhibits, and technical updates according to modern museum standards. VISITOR CENTER OF KOBULETI-KINTRISHI PROTECTED AREAS Address: 271 D. Aghmashenebeli Str., Kobuleti July 5 20018 – July 5 2019 Georgian National Museum presents new exhibition. The exposition depicts the unique ecosystems of Adjara, in particular the Kobuleti wetland areas, the Kintrishi forests and their biodiversity. The most interesting parts of the exhibition are the Ispani sphagnum peatlands and the Kintrishi forest illuminated lightboxes.

MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge

ETHNOGRAPHIC OPEN AIR MUSEUM Address: 1 Turtle Lake Telephone: 223 09 60, 222 63 02 www.museum.ge

PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia.

The museum displays houses and household buildings brought from around Georgia and representing 14 ethnographic zones: Kartli, Samegrelo, Adjara, Abkhazia, Svaneti, Khevsureti, Kakheti, Meskheti, Javakheti, Guria, Imereti, Racha, Lechkhumi and Ossetia.

SVANETI MUSEUM Address: Mestia, Svaneti May 19 – August 19 The Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography hosts an exhibition "MAGNUM PHOTO 70 - GEORGIAN JOURNAL: ROBERT CAPA 1947, THOMAS DWORZAK 2017".


THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge May 15 – August 5 For International Museum Day GNM presents the Georgian National Museum festival, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia. Exhibition TITIAN - MASTER OF COLOR: THE VIRGIN AND CHILD This exhibition is part of a large project, which also comprises exhibitions of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and other great Italian artists in the Georgian National Museum. May 25-August 26 The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy to Georgia, within the Museum Fest, present the exhibition EVIDENCE. A NEW STATE OF ART The National Gallery is hosting the exhibition of Garuzzo Institute for Visual Arts- presenting contemporary Italian artists' artworks created since the 1950s. GENIUSES OF RENAISSANCE The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy to

Tickets: General - 5 GEL, Ages 6-18 - 3 Gel, Students and Pensioners - 3 GEL, Free admission for orphan groups and children under 6 EXHIBITION OF PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN ART PIECES CREATED BY LEGENDARY ARTIST LADO GUDIASHVILI: 1 + 70 UNKNOWN MUSIC

BLACK SEA ARENA Address: Village Natanebi (Shekvetili), Guria August 4 ‘Check in Georgia’ and Black Sea Arena Present Georgian pianist and composer GIORGI MIKADZE WITH HIS PROJECT: VOISA The concert is dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Independence of Georgia Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-60 GEL ADJARA SOHO BATUMI Address: Old boulevard, Batumi Telephone: 595 53 57 57 August 8 STEFAN BINIAK NEW COMPOSITIONS AND HITS Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20 GEL UP2YOU Address: Batumi Beach Club Telephone: 577 43 39 39 August 4 YANNDESTAL (FROM MODJO) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 30-70 GEL August 5 FREAKSHOW RAVERS Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 30-70 GEL Sector26 Address: Batumi Beach August 3 STEPHANE BIRTHDAY PARTY Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20 GEL BATUMI STATE MUSICAL CENTER Address: 1 O. Dimitriadis Str. Telephone: 0422 22 15 06 August 4 GURJI-KHATUN Contemporary Ballet based on Dato Turashvili's Novel Original idea and choreography by Mariam Aleksidze Music by Josef Bardanashvili Stage Designer: Ana Kalatozishvili With participation of the Giorgi Aleksidze Tbilisi Contemporary Ballet Company Gurji-Khatun– Natia Bunturi Company Artistic Director– Mariam Aleksidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL August 7 EMILI AND FRIENDS Partisipants: Emili, “Babilo,” Kids Studio and Special guest: Nini Shermadii Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 80-160 GEL




Georgian Artist Tamoonz Takes Part in Top Street Art Festival in Bristol, UK BY LIKA CHIGLADZE


amoonz. Most likely you’ll have heard this name somewhere: a well-known Georgian female street artist who has adorned the cities of Georgia with her bright and colorful artworks over the years. The artist has embarked on a number of ambitious projects and this year is no exception, seeing her take part in the recent Upfest 2018, Europe’s largest annual free street art and graffiti festival, which attracts around 400 artists to paint 50 venues throughout Bedminster and Southville, Bristol (UK). Apart from Tamoonz (real name Tamuna Tsakhnakia), two other Georgian artists, Dr. Love and Oto, represented Georgia at the 2018 festival. Within the frames of the event, distinguished artists travelled from 70 countries and across the UK to paint live on 60,000 sq ft surfaces, watched by 50,000 visitors. As part of the festival, art sales, live music and art workshops were also organized. Besides street art, Tamoonz, also makes animations for games, illustrates books and comics and does many other interesting things. The artist first became interested in street art after seeing the postcards depicting Amsterdam which she received from her father as little girl. “I became so interested in this part of underground culture that at the age of 17, I began to create my own works of street art by using paintbrushes instead of spray paint; there

I became so interested in this underground culture that at 17, I began to create my own street art using paintbrushes instead of spray paint were no specific shops for this kind of art in Georgia at that time,” she recalled. During her time in Bristol, the Georgian artist was hosted by the Consul of Georgia in Bristol, Derek Pickup. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Tamoonz about the festival and her career:

50 artists from around the world took part in Upfest, and the number is going up by the year. Participants are selected based on their applications. I applied 6 months ago and was selected. As far as I know, 15 people from Georgia applied and only three of us were chosen.



This is the third time the festival has been held in Bristol. Originally, around

The festival lasts around one week. Sev-

eral locations had been selected where artists could paint their works. I was given a space at Ashton Gate and painted my signature bird holding a spray can, itself in the process of painting.

TELL US ABOUT OTHER FESTIVALS YOU’VE TAKEN PART IN Since 2012, I’ve taken part in several international and local festivals, including the Kosmopolite Art Tour 2012 in Belgium. This was the first street art festival I was actually invited to. In 2013/14/16, I was part of the Batumi

Graffiti Festival in Georgia; and in 2015/16 I took part in Fabirkafitti Festival in Tbilisi, where both Georgian and international artists put their ideas into specially devoted spaces on the buildings, walls and streets around Fabrika. In 2016, I traveled to Nepal and took part in the PRASAD festival, creating a mural on one of the crowded streets as well as painting a wall in one of the rooms in the old palace Bal Mandir. There, I decided to introduce Georgian script to the locals and wrote some words on the wall. Everyone liked it and asked me what it meant and wanted to know more about the language, complimenting the Georgian alphabet. I’ve also taken part in group exhibitions with international street artists: Graffiti and Street Art at Médiathèque Lucie Aubrac 2015, Lyon; Strokar 2016 Brussels; Happanstance Gallery 2013, and I received the award Critics’ Choice for my artwork exhibited in London.

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS? I’ve signed an agreement with museumshop.ge and now my works are being put on T-shirts, bags and other items. I’ll add some more to the collection. I’m constantly busy. I recently finished painting a 300 square meter wall in Sairme, a Georgian balneological resort- the largest artwork I’ve ever painted. In midAugust, I’m flying to Berlin to be part of a project organized by an international organization which will see me spending one week painting and collaborating with other international artists.

Echowaves Festival Stages & Artists Announced BY ANNA ZHVANIA


he countdown is on – less than a month left until E c h o w a v e s Fe s t i v a l unleashes its musical capabilities to the Georgian audience. Its massive stages are starting to take form and organizers are actively preparing for the festival, which will take place on 23-26 August with up to 150 artists performing on 4 stages. Over the course of four days and four stages, some of the world’s biggest names in electronic music will perform jawdropping sets. Echowaves recently announced the line-up of Taiyo stage. This will be the first occasion that Taiyo will be present during the festival. Taiyo Stage will be entirely constructed of bamboo. The Bamboo plant is closely linked with the Japanese culture. Taiyo’s concept is to be associated with the Japanese culture, specifically the Sun culture and the stage will unite artists who will perform for the audience together with the sunrise. Taiyo differs from other stages in the course of the day and will take place from 6 am to 10 pm. The music will be different and the melodies will be heard from artists visiting Georgia for the first time, including FOALS, NU, Dominik Eulberg Henry Saiz, Matthew Dekay and Ishome. KHIDI Stage will be completely unique with its lineup. With many variations and

genres of Techno, KHIDI will present Italian techno artists with more melodic sounds, together with Berghain Resident DJs. KHIDI is a popular nightclub situated in Tbilisi and it will move its techno scene to the outdoors for the very first time. Top Headliners include Ben Clock and Marcel



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Anuka Poladishvili



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Dettmann, along with Ancient Methods, Regal, Bjarki, Yanamaste and many more! EYE Stage will be oriented on melodious house music and will present 25 internationally known artists, including Kollektiv Turmstrasse, Henrik Schwarz, Detroit Swindle, Butch, Sailor & I, Woo

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

York and many others. With its enchanting design and magnificent dance space, EYE Stage will provide the audience an unforgettable experience. Last, but not least, the Main Stage will feature a stacked lineup of key electronic music figures. Eye-catching names on

Website Manager/Editor: Tamzin Whitewood Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

the lineup include the Ibiza mainstay Solomun, Detroit techno don Juan Atkins and trip-hop legend Tricky. Echowaves, a new festival powered by Serbian party promoters EXIT will be located in sunny Anaklia, Georgia, on August 23-26.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1071  

August 3 - 6, 2018

Issue #1071  

August 3 - 6, 2018