Page 1 georgiatoday

Issue no: 867

• AUGUST 5 - 8, 2016



In this week’s issue... Georgian Dream Accuses Opposition of Meddling in Constitutional Court NEWS PAGE 2

The Russian Principle: What is Mine is Mine, What is Yours Can Be Discussed

FOCUS ON THE MOD Former Minister of Defense Tinatin Khidasheli discusses her replacement and her achievements to date


Three White Lion Cubs Born at Tbilisi Zoo BY TAMAR SVANIDZE


bilisi Zoo on Tuesday welcomed the birth of three rare white lion cubs, the Zoo’s Facebook page announced while posting pictures of the newborns. According to a press release, this is a first addition to the zoo’s big cat family following a devastating flash flood in June 2015 that left most of the zoo’s animal inhabitants dead and destroyed the lower portion of the park. The zoo’s announced via Facebook that Cleopatra, a female African lion, and her three newborn cubs were all healthy and have recovered. Continued on page 2

ORBI Group Project Gains World Recognition BUSINESS PAGE 10

Safe and Healthy – Tusheti Greets First Emergency Car SOCIETY PAGE 15

Georgian Filmmakers against National Film Center System


WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink and Buy in August CULTURE PAGE 19




AUGUST 5 - 8, 2016

Massive Explosion Wounds At Least 12 in Restive Dagestan Region

Georgian Dream Accuses Opposition of Meddling in Constitutional Court BY THEA MORRISON




massive explosion at a hospital in Russia’s restive North Caucasus republic of Dagestan wounded at least a dozen people, news portal Kavkaz-uzel reported Thursday. According to Dagestan’s health ministry, five of the 12 injured by the blast are in critical condition. The incident comes only three days after a huge explosion caused by a gas leak at a banquet hall in the regional capital Makhachkala left 27 people seriously injured. The victims of Thursday’s blast reportedly include two 14-year-old schoolgirls, who suffered severe burns on most of their bodies. "At this point, the patients are in critical con-

dition, and we plan to transfer them to burn centers in Moscow," Kavkaz-uzel quoted Dagestan’s Health Minister Tank Ibragimov in the hours after the explosion. The cause of both explosions remains unknown, though the possibility that both were acts of terror remains high. Dagestan, a Scotland-sized Muslim republic in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region, has suffered from a low-level by increasingly violent anti-Moscow insurgency since the late 1990s. Much like neighboring Chechnya, elements of Dagestan’s society have taken up arms against direct rule from Moscow. While initially less active than their Chechen counterparts, the insurgency in Dagestan has grown in recent years as rebel fighters and Islamic militants from Chechnya, Ingushetia and Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge have joined forces to fight the local Russian-backed authorities.

embers of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) coalition have accused the main opposition United National Movement (UNM) party of former President Mikheil Saakashvili of colluding with sitting members of the judiciary to change the country’s Constitution. “These are secret relations, but the UNM’s plot to influence the court will not come true,” GD Chair Gia Volski said while accusing the UNM of illegally attempting to change the constitution. Volski and the Head of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, Eka Beselia held a press conference on August 3, saying the situation in the Constitutional Court is “extremely difficult.” According to Beselia, the investigation will show that members of the UNM put pressure on constitutional court judges to overlook politically connected cases. None of the judges involved in the investigation have responded to the accusations. The scandal involv-

ing the Constitutional Court started on July 21 when the Court Chair, Giorgi Papuashvili staid certain judges were being pressured in order to make them rule out in favor of government. The Prosecutor General’s office launched an immediate investigation into the incident and questioned each member of the nine-seat court. According to a report earlier this week, all of the judges who were questioned deny that they are being pressured. In late July, five judges of the Court released a letter that accused Papuashvili of trying to speed up politically connected rulings and not giving judges enough time to properly consider certain high-profile cases. According to Parliament Speaker and leader of the opposition Republican Party, David Usupashvili, the Constitutional Court is undergoing a major crisis. “I lost hope that something positive might happen in the current Constitutional Court,” Usupashvili said. He added that the Court needs new appointments to the bench before the current group’s term expires in September.

Three White Lion Cubs Born at Tbilisi Zoo Continued from page 1

“Currently, the newborn babies are being kept in a closed cage and away from the public so they can adapt to the calm environment. Their mother will most likely let them out in the coming days, and everyone will have a chance to come and see them for the first time,” the zoo’s Facebook page said in its announcement. The cubs have yet to be named by the zookeepers as they are still wa i t i n g to determine all of the genders of the litter. In addition to the

albino lion family, the zoo’s main attraction is Begi the Hippo, who gained international fame as he roamed through the streets of central Tbilisi in a daze after last year’s flood washed away his enclosure. European zoos have donated new animals to the zoo, including wildebeests, mongoose and porcupines, to help rehabilitate and repopulate the number of residents at the park.



Activist Group Has Enough Signatures for Referendum on Defining Marriage BY THEA MORRISON

Photo: Mikhail Metzek/TASS

Russia’s Putin to Visit Baku for Talks with Azeri, Iranian Presidents BY NICHOLAS WALLER


fter validating more than 200,000 signatures gathered by a conservative activist group, Georgia’s Central Election Commission of Georgia (CEC) approved a motion to hold a referendum on defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman in the Georgian Constitution. The group wants a referendum to be held simultaneously with parliamentary elections scheduled for October 8. The conservative group has proposed a single question vote that will ask those going to the polls if they agree that marriage should be defined as a union between a man and woman for the purpose of starting a family. The CEC registered the request of the group and sent their recommendation to Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili. Following its registration, Margvelashvili has a month to approve the bid, which then has to be approved and signed by Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The idea of constitutionally defining marriage as a union between a man and woman in was first raised by the ruling Georgian Dream coalition. A draft resolution on amending the Constitution was

R not put to a vote in May during its first reading due to a lack of quorum in Parliament. The referendum issue was met with a lukewarm response by sitting parliamentarians and opposition party leaders. Parties opposed to the Georgian Dream have publicly stated they think the issue was initially raised in order to cover up issues that are plaguing the country and the ruling coalition before the October elections. The Georgian Dream flatly reject the accusations, saying they fully support the idea of defining marriage along traditional social lines. The head of Parliament's Human Rights Committee, Eka Beselia, says the issue of clearly defining marriage in the Constitution remains too vague to bring to a vote. “It should be defined in the Constitu-

tion that marriage is a voluntary union of a man and woman and the State. This is the position of the current government,” Beselia said. According to legal expert Vakhushti Menabde, a referendum cannot be held as it contradicts the standards of the Constitution. “Existing laws strictly forbid referendums to be held with the purpose of changing the Constitution. Only the parliament can make amendments to the Constitution,” Menabde said. According to Article 36 of the Georgian Constitution, marriage is defined as being based on the equality of rights and free will of spouses. The new proposal offers to replace the term “spouses” with “a man and woman.” However, Georgia’s civil code already specifies that marriage is a “voluntary union of a man and woman”.


ussian President Vladimir Putin is to visit Azerbaijan’s capital Baku for talks with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the Kremlin announced on its official website Thursday. Putin’s visit came at the personal invitation of Aliyev, who has in recent years tried to forge closer economic and military ties with Moscow. The three leaders will discuss current issues on the international and regional political agenda and prospects for establishing practical cooperation, particularly in energy and transport. According to Russia’s state-run news agency ITAR-TASS, the three sides will specifically discuss the future NorthSouth transportation corridor, which will connect Northern Europe and South-East Asia via existing railway systems in Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia. Putin and Aliyev will also likely discuss the current situation in neighboring Armenia and the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, where Baku and Yerevan have been at war over the ethnic Armenian enclave for more than

two decades. Russia is Armenia’s closest political and economic ally, with huge swathes of the Armenian economy controlled by Kremlin-connected businesses. Yerevan joined the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union in January 2015, thinking the economic, military and diplomatic cover Moscow would provide the small Christian nation of 3 million with solid security guarantees against its historic Muslim arch-rivals Turkey and Azerbaijan. Russia, however, infuriated Armenia after it sold billions of dollars’ worth of highly sophisticated weaponry to Azerbaijan in the run-up to a four-day conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh in April. The clashes, the worst in 20 years, left hundreds dead and wounded; with Azerbaijan in control of territory previously held by ethnic Armenian forces since the end of hostilities in 1994. Russia has historically been the main mediator between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and Putin’s visit will likely catch the attention of Armenia, which has undergone major civil unrest as a group of radical Karabakh War veterans recently seized a police station in Yerevan and demanded the resignation of close Russian-ally, President Serzh Sargsyan.




AUGUST 5 - 8, 2016

The Russian Principle: What is Mine is Mine, What is Yours Can Be Discussed BY JUKA VAKHTANGIDZE


tto von Bismarck once said: “Russia will sign any agreement, but the value of the treaty will be lower than of the papers on which it is drafted”. For every Georgian citizen, the wording of the first German Chancellor has been relevant since 1783, the date of signatory of the ’Georgievsk Treaty’ between the Kingdom of KartliKakheti and the Russian Empire. The Treaty was aimed at establishing Russia’s protectorate on the eastern part of Georgia, thus purporting to guarantee the territorial integrity and protect the land from invasion by the Persians and Turks. This treaty represented the beginning of Russia’s exertion of force over Georgia by breaching further agreements between the two sides throughout the centuries. Russia first reversed from the commitment of the Georgievsk at the Krtsanisi Battle (1795) of Georgia-Persia. The collapse of stable Russia-Georgia relations began when the Russian Empire then gave financial backing to the Persians against Eastern Georgia to subordinate the entire country, instead of supporting the Georgian side as promised. Territorial enlargement of Russia was

a security strategy for the it across the centuries, which made Russia one of the largest empires in the world. Soon after Georgievsk, in 1801, Eastern Georgia became a Russian satellite. This short historical overview clarifies the well-maintained strategic concept of Georgia’s northern neighbor: Eurasian domination, which has its roots in the period of Tsar Ivan the Terrible (16th century). Georgia’s geographically strategic location has always challenged the country to endure continual invasions from a number of empires, and Russia is no exception. The same geographic factor has actively motivated Putin’s modern Russia to endeavor to prevent Georgia from becoming a member of the European and EuroAtlantic family. Despite numerous attempts to fully subordinate the country, ranging from 70-year Soviet occupation to provoking a civil war (1990s) and occupying 20 percent of the country’s sovereign territory today, Georgia still maintains its laborious route to the EuroAtlantic space. To discourage Georgia from its EU and NATO aspirations, Russia has activated its historically known “Fifth Column”, the ideological machine and information propaganda in Georgia. Notably, some elements of the Georgian Orthodox Church, which Russia transformed into a machine of its intelligence (since the

Georgian citizens protest Russian occupation in their country. Photo:

1811 abolishment of autonomy), has actively been utilized as a tool for discouraging Western values in Georgia. Today, when Georgia is on its transitional standing, it should be pragmatic and rational in its assessment of historical facts, in order to improve the future prospective of Georgia-Russia political and diplomatic relations. Furthermore, some crucial mistakes Georgia has made since Eduard Shevar-

dnadze’s presidency in terms of trusting Russia (e.g. ceasefire in the war of Abkhazia, 1993), can be attributed to the government’s lack of understanding of Russian diplomacy. Such actions are reminiscent of those of King Heraclius II (1762-1798) of Georgia, who signed the historical Georgievsk Treaty. Despite the fact that normalizing politics with Russia has been the primary issue for every new government of Geor-

gia, the aftermath of all the endeavors faced deadlocks once talks about Georgia’s sovereignty and European integration took place. Assuming the risky historical path Georgia has undergone for its last two centuries of cohabitation with its northern neighbor, the lessons of history are worth heeding for the entire Georgian nation to prevent itself from falling into the same historical trap once again.

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“The PM Made a Mistake,” Georgia Ex-Def Minister on her Replacement and Future Plans BY RUSA SHELIA


eorgia’s Ministry of Defense has a new head with Tinatin Khidasheli, the country’s first ever lady defense minister being replaced by Levan Izoria, former deputy at the State Security Service. We asked her of her plans for the looming elections and why she thinks that Izoria’s appointment was a mistake on the Prime Minister’s part. “I know why he’s been appointed, but I’m averse to talking about that with media yet,” she says, implying there’s more to the story and, keeping fingers crossed, she might spill the beans in the near future. The appointment of Izoria came as a surprise to the ex-Minister, who apparently expected either David Zalkaliani (former deputy MoF, Free Democrats) or David Bakradze (incumbent EU Integration Minister) to succeed her. According to Khidasheli, it was “a specifically institutional mistake” from the PM, especially on the eve of the elections. She claims she has nothing against Izoria

personally, describing him during our chat as “a virtuous man, a good citizen and lawyer, with good education, who had significant human resources”. But there was a big, unsaid But – Khidasheli believes that successful management of the defense ministry requires many more political skills, especially on the foreign front. “I hope during these last three months, that is, before the elections, that nothing will go wrong, nothing will undermine what I did during my 15 months at the helm,” she says, clearly proud of the legacy she is leaving behind. Her only regret? Not to be in office when the UN sends its official apologies on the Central Africa case (where Georgian soldiers were falsely accused of child molestation, and proven innocent through investigation), which, Khidasheli insists, it’s bound to do, as the Georgian side went through every detail and sent an apology request to every responsible body. Speaking further on her legacy, Khidasheli claims she essentially cleared of the dust – that is, took on matters that remained unresolved for almost a decade. “A complete structural overhaul – that’s what we did,” she says. “There were dozens of foreign consultants who

for years were demanding concrete steps from the Ministry, but my predecessors, due to the task being openly thankless and an incredibly arduous one at that, were constantly opting for more populist solutions which would benefit them at elections.” One such step was the abolition of mandatory military service, which, being a huge change affecting thousands of lives, went through relatively unno-

Izoria is “a virtuous man, a good citizen and lawyer, with good education, who had significant human resources”

ticed and unheralded. Being a career politician, Khidasheli also has to think about her future. Whether she will return to governmental administration after the elections is entirely a matter of her party’s resources. The Republicans, she says, “will do their utmost to keep the promise and not to turn the pre-election period into political warfare.” She’s calling for responsibility from every actor involved as “turning this into an uncontrollable mess will benefit no-one.” As for the ruling party and their potential cooperation, despite earlier criticism, the ex-Minister was generous when talking about the Prime Minister, dubbing him “a political partner,

who is faithfully trying to change Georgia’s future for the better.” When asked what chances her own party has, Khidasheli underlined the Republicans’ proven track record of political resilience. “During my tenure, we were getting lots of undeserved stick; from Gregory Karasin and Stalin fans all the way to some representatives of Georgian Dream, but we are used to that, and for years now, our unyielding nature has shown through,” she declares. There is no legitimate political accusation that can be reasonably addressed at the Republicans, Khidasheli believes, and content with how things stand for now, she seems hopeful about the coming elections.




AUGUST 5 - 8, 2016

Draculas and Defectors: It’s Political Silly Season! OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


his is a silly season – call it the cucumber time if you wish – in most countries of the civilized world. In Georgia, this political season of the year should also be qualified as one but it seems like we are still active in political bouts and contests. Politics in Georgia never enjoys a break. We are always on with political sweat pouring out in smelly, sticky and oozy floods- we are up to our necks in it. On the other hand, this is quite understandable – the country is right now headed for the next parliamentary elections, to determine whether Georgia is going to be ruled in the same old one-party fashion or by an intra-parliamentary coalition of motley political forces. This might not sound terribly impor-

We could be faced with a totally new style of managing the nation

tant to a regular outsider, but for us locals it could mean something decisive in the country’s political life because we are going to be faced with a totally new style of managing the nation. So the general excitement in Georgia is overwhelming. This is at least the impression we are getting from our television screens: the government is focused on making shuffles in the cabinet; the disgruntled ministers are changing their political orientation and the content of their comments momentarily; the irritated head of the administration is trying hard to be as reserved and balanced in his remarks as he possibly can; the ruling party is lining up the parliamentary membership candidates and doing their presentations to respective electorates ubiquitously, the accompanying speeches reminding me of some very remote times of my socialist youth; the most prominent opposition powers are trying to eat the ruling party alive, doing their utmost to suck the governmental blood more viciously and profusely than any Dracula – if in politics –could; courts are unrecognizable in the worst sense of the word; the economy is simply left to its own miserable devices; the newly-born players in the electoral game are eating their hearts out to prove they are suggesting something new and more practicable to save the almost perished day for the Nation; the party turncoats are multiplying fast and are eager to rid themselves of the stigma of defectors, but are still taken as traitors, easily adapting themselves

We have no desire to be bothered by eager political wannabes and their nonstop ballotmania, who never get tired of pestering us for votes in order to stay in business or to come into it at any cost to new political nests and platforms; the leaders in the heavily and perilously mined political field are becoming increasingly boring and unattractive, having stereotyped themselves to the point of zero discernibility; the West is watching the process with a keen eye not to miss anything that might be

reversing the process of democracy in Georgia, thus selling out the hardhammered western values offhand; and Russia is looking for favorable moments in the process to pounce on Georgia’s preponderance towards Euro-Atlantic sentiments, having her favorites in the zone and feeding them surreptitiously. So the ideological war is still on about Georgia and in Georgia. Ideologies clash on this territory, whatever is left of it. Meanwhile, most of us future electors are exhausted and spaced out, having no desire to be bothered by eager political wannabes and their nonstop ballot-mania, who never get tired of pestering us for votes in order to stay in business or to come into it at any cost. One of the reasons, as I see it, for the political heat not subsiding in Georgia even in the summer time is that the political arena is very densely populated in general, and I suspect that this is happening because politics is one of the most popular specialties here. There should be something enticing and lucrative in the trade. Why would I bother myself, and spend my money into the bargain, if there is no axe at all to grind in the entire deal?




What About All Those Undecided Voters? BY LINCOLN MITCHELL


he Georgia Analysis is a twice monthly analysis of political and other major developments in Georgia. Lincoln Mitchell is a political development, research and strategic consultant who has worked extensively in the post-Soviet space. He has agreed to share some of his analyses with GEORGIA TODAY. The most recent poll by NDI is not radically different from previous polls by NDI and other organizations. The two central findings of these polls, that the election will be close and that a very large number of Georgian voters are undecided, remain unchanged. The new poll shows the Georgian Dream (GD) opening up a slight lead over the United National Movement (UNM), but also shows that they may not win a majority of votes in the coming parliamentary election. It is the persistently high number of undecided voters that is most significant. According to this poll, 57 percent of all voters still have not made up their mind about how they will vote in an election that is two months away. This number has fluctuated slightly over the last months, but remains surprisingly constant, and represents a very high number of undecided voters. At this point in the election cycle, if half that percentage of voters were undecided, it would still be a very high number. One way to put this in perspective is that most recent polls show that only 5-15 percent of the Amer-

ican electorate has not yet decided for whom they will vote for President in November. Significantly, NDI’s polling gives voters the option to choose not just between the two major parties, the GD and the UNM, but from a myriad other parties as well. Thus, those voters who are undecided are not just unsatisfied with the two main parties, but are equally unimpressed with Georgia’s other political parties. The large number of undecided voters to some extent represents a failure on the part of Georgia’s political parties, particularly the major ones, but is also evidence of a disconnection between Georgian political parties, and Georgian political institutions more broadly, on one hand, and the Georgian people on the other. Ironically, this disconnection is exacerbated, or at least revealed more, by the growing stability, even normality of Georgian political life. During periods of instability the looming sense of crisis sharpens political differences and strengthens partisan allegiances. As stability increases, voters may rightly conclude that there is less at stake in the election, so their general discontent begins to outweigh the imperative for one political party or another. Thus, in previous elections that were driven by a strong dynamic of government and opposition, the choice for voters was simple. Moreover, the large number of voters who were frustrated by political life or angry at the political class could find their way to the opposition relatively easily. This was particularly true in 2012. This year, however, is different. Both

the GD and UNM are unequivocally part of the political class, the same political class that many Georgians feel has failed them in recent years. Neither party can pick up voters simply by being the alternative to the other, nor can they make progress by simply offering platitudinal statements about creating jobs or improving the economy. Additionally, several other parties such as the Free Democrats (FD) and the Republicans are part of that political class as well. Those parties that are more outside that class have also not generated sufficient excitement or energy to win substantial numbers of undecided voters. Ironically, Georgia’s transition to what looks like a more stable and recognizable multi-party system has contributed to, at least on the surface, greater disillusionment with political processes. It is noteworthy that in 2016, the top two finishers in the campaign are very likely to be the

same parties that finished in the top two in 2012. This is new in Georgia and is evidence of the strengthening of Georgia’s political party system. However, it appears that both major parties have enough support to create what looks a lot like a two party system, but not enough support to bring in voters who are not already strong supporters of their parties. Georgia may be transitioning from a party system where important new parties appear every election cycle to one where the same parties compete against each other with regularity. The latter tends to produce more consolidated democracies as voters can choose between familiar political forces and are more able to hold political parties accountable. This may be happening in Georgia, but the critical caveat is that neither party is very popular. This contributes to the large number of undecided voters, but an equally relevant contributing fac-

tor is that the Georgian electorate may be losing faith in the notion that some larger than life figure, like Bidzina Ivanishvili in 2012 or Mikheil Saakshvili for much of the decade before that, can be their political savior. The failure of other familiar political faces like Irakli Alasania and the Free Democrats or newer political figures like Paata Burchaladze and his Georgia Development Foundation Party, to move to the top of the polls is further evidence of this. Over the next few months as the election approaches it is likely that the number of undecided voters will decline, but many voters will remain unpersuaded by all of the political parties. Some voters who are still undecided in the days leading up to an election will make up their minds at the last minute, but many more simply will not vote. Continued on page 9




AUGUST 5 - 8, 2016

Georgian Society’s Perception of the West after Terrorism Menace BY DR. VAKHTANG MAISAIA


t’s better to look the truth in the face: after a series of hazardous terrorist acts have covered the European continent, and a certain air of vulnerability and insecurity has become affiliated with the Western community. For Georgia, which always expressed very pro-European sentiments since restoring its sovereignty in 1991, this means a tumultuous spell of fear and uncertainty in an already quite addled foreign policy agenda. After the occupation and annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, a new label has emerged - the “New Cold War” - thanks to well-known journalist and scholar Eduard Lucas and yet another term, “New Terrorism” (terrorism associated with religious frustration), has been taken up by keynote experts and scholars. Western society has been facing up to new challenges and threats the scale of which it clearly never anticipated. Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, Nice, Munich, and Paris again – there are few clues as to how far it will go. Individual suicideterrorists and special units of trained terrorist groups have exacted severe psychological menace and fear on the European community as part of a Global War of Terror. NATO now borders two quasi-state entities: the “Caliphate” declared by ISIS and Al-Qaeda’s emerging “emirate” in

northwestern Syria. These entities will continue their reliance on terrorism as the weapon of choice against what they broadly understand as their nemesis – The West, and further, given the right circumstances and opportunities, could subsequently gravitate towards other means of waging a war of attrition. Considering that the Euro-Atlantic security landscape has been changed and security provisions are being forced to deal with asymmetric military challenges posed by ISIS (the recent NATO Warsaw Summit acknowledged the existence of the threats and counted ISIS as a chief threat to the whole Euro-Atlantic community – see final Communique), from Western society a demonstration of vulnerability and inability to cope with these challenges is very much troubling to those states aspiring to become an indispensable part of the Western community – and Georgia is a prime example of this. Since its first days of independence, the Georgian community has been declaring in very strong terms an adherence to liberal democratic values. One could argue that these aspirations were what prompted a severe (and mutually shared) dislike between Georgia and its northern neighbors, or, to narrow it down, to the authoritarian rulers in the Kremlin starting from predominantly “liberal” President Boris Yeltsin, his cozy Oligarch “Semibankirshina Republic” rulers, and ending with what is perhaps an annalsworthy classic example on non-restricted authoritarian governance of “Tsar”

Vladimir Putin. But no matter the pressure, the “Due West” course is still a dominant feature for the Georgian audience – considering last week’s NDI poll results which revealed that more than 52 percent of Georgians support the proWestern foreign policy tendency for joining NATO and the EU. What drives the Georgian community to “Go West” in even such an uncertain security environment is indeed a curious matter to research. There were and remain several key factors why Georgians opted (and will continue to opt) for that geopolitical path, including: • Having a solid security “umbrella” to be protected from real military as well as non-military threats and challenges to its sovereignty; • Having an opportunity to promote democracy and rule of law provisions for strengthening nationhood; • Having the ability to build-up and develop a society with strong economic and social welfare; • Having a chance not to miss another historic chance to join the European community as an entity of true European origins. It can be argued that the West has also been responding to a certain level, for instance, the recently released EU Global Strategy highlights the importance of states to the east and the south, and the contribution those societies (where Georgia holds key position) make to Europe’s security. As for NATO’s perspective, under the aegis of the 2010

Dr. Vakhtang Maisaia

NATO Strategic Concept, the Alliance should, when affected by developments beyond its borders, engage in attempts to enhance international security via a network of partnerships with third countries (including, first of all, Georgia). However, these positive responses and reactions to Georgia’s loud aspirations might not be enough to persuade people that they have chosen right path for much longer. At the moment, when European security lies in a fragile shambles due to the looming terrorism “shadows;” when Georgian citizens are dismayed with the rather disappointing protraction of the visa liberalization process; when there are no real plans from the European community to cope with massive illegal migration, hybrid warfare, worsened

social and economic conditions; and when there is not enough space yet for Georgia’s full-pledged participation into the Euro-Atlantic structures – by and large, the above four key historic and strategic priorities are being shelved, undermining Western orientation. There are a number of questions every ordinary citizen of Georgia would very much like to ask “those nosy EU people”, such as – how secure is it to travel in EU member-countries? Why are we deprived of the chance to travel without visa regulations and why are we suffering in lines to get these visas? And here goes the philosophical one my neighbor, an 80 year old man asked the other day – if Europe (he has trouble grasping the concept of the EU) is so good, why did the British leave? Nobody seems to be in much of a hurry to answer these questions, and, unfortunately, when the new and shiny future proves to be a murky one, “a devil we know” sentiment always emerges. Around 29% of the Georgian population, according to the recent NDI sociological poll research – prefers the very sad and outdated chanson: “Go North”… And don’t expect many of those 29% percent (or the pro-Western 56 percent for that matter) to realize that it would be a catastrophe for Georgian statehood. Dr. Vakhtang Maisaia holds a Ph.D. in politics and geostrategic studies. His sphere of interests and expertise are - international politics, international security, politics and geostrategic studies.




What About All Those Undecided Voters? Continued from page 7

A low turnout election will have several different impacts on politics in Georgia. First, parties will win a much higher proportion of votes than current polling suggestions. For example, according to the NDI poll, among all voters the GD has a slight lead of 19-15 percent over the UNM. However, fully 57 percent of the respondents were either undecided, supported no party or refused to answer. Thus among the 43 percent who are decided, the GD lead is 44-35 percent. Of course, some of those undecided voters will vote, but the point should be clear. Lower vote turnout will increase the overall proportion of votes for the leading parties and increase the margins between these parties from what the polls currently suggest. The second, and more significant, impact of low turnout is that the disconnection between the electorate and political institutions could become greater. It is very possible that, following a low turnout election, politics will continue to be seen by most Georgians as something that involves a few people in the capital, but in which they have little interest or stake. This is not a good foundation on which to consolidate democracy. Regardless of who wins the election, by what margin or what the eventual ruling coalition looks like, if turnout is low, the new government will have to govern a population that has little faith in either the new government or the institutions of government. The post-election government, however, will not be powerless in the face of voter discontent following a low turnout election. The new government can address this by working not just on governance, but on changing the relationship between the political class

and the broader Georgian population. This will be a difficult task, but one of great importance to the future of democracy in Georgia. Creating programs that genuinely seek the input of ordinary citizens, requiring MPs to spend time in their districts discussing issues with voters, of if they are from the party list finding other ways to interact with citizens, promoting a politics where elected official and candidates spend more time listening to voters than talking at them, and otherwise breaking down the barriers between those who govern and those who are governed are all ways this relationship can be changed. In Georgia’s recent past, these kinds of projects have been the bailiwick of democracy promotion organizations, but it is now time for Georgian political parties to do this on their own. Unfortunately, there is little time to do this well between now and the election, but there will be time after October. The parties that do this, rather than get pulled back into the older more comfortable habits of partisan bickering and broad unrealistic promises, will not only be helping Georgian democracy, but will also increase their own popularity and support. It is likely that the large number of undecided voters will not upend this election. Some will not vote. Others will cast a protest vote of some kind and some will return to one of the major parties. In this respect Georgia will very likely get through this election smoothly, but failing to address the causes of this large number of undecided voters would be a mistake, because as long as more than half the voters are dissatisfied with the numerous party options, the possibility of a destabilizing political event will be present.

Photo: EUMM

Fatal Incident on Georgia-Abkhaz Border Again Dominates IPRM Talks BY TAMAR SVANIDZE


monthly meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) took place Tuesday at the UN Office in Gali, a town located between Georgia and its Russian-backed breakaway region of Abkhazia. Georgian, Abkhaz, Russian and representatives of the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) participated in the meeting chaired by the United Nations. According to the EUMM press release, the discussions were constructive and professional in nature. The fatal incident that took place on May 19 in the village of Khurcha that left one Georgian citizen dead was the main topic of discussion at the meeting.

The Georgian side has repeatedly demanded that the Abkhaz rebel authorities hand over the separatist border guard who is accused of carrying out the shooting. The deputy of the head of the analytical department of Georgia’s State Security Service, David Kobakhidze said the Abkhaz side refuses to extradite the accused individual as they want to use the incident as political leverage. According Kobakhidze, the separatist government in Abkhazia is requesting a tit-for-tat legal cooperation, which the Georgian side flatly rejects. Representatives of the meeting also discussed the issue of discrimination of ethnic Georgians living in Abkhazia, including restrictions on their freedom of movement and the right to an education in Georgian. The IPRM meetings are regularly held with Georgia’s other breakaway region, South Ossetia. Meetings between Tbilisi

and the Abkhaz side are rare as contact between the two were suspended in March 2012. In April 2012, Abkhazia’s Foreign Ministry opted out of the talks after it accused the European Union Monitoring Mission ignored their requests and continued to carry out independent checks without notifying the separatist government and their Russian patrons. Immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian-backed rebels in Abkhazia broke away from Georgia. Moscow occupied and effectively annexed the area, as well as Georgia’s other breakaway South Ossetia region. Moscow recognized South Ossetia and the other occupied Abkhazia region as independent states following the 2008 war. International law and the United Nations continue to state that the regions remain part of Georgia. The next IPRM meeting will be held in Gali on September 8.




AUGUST 5 - 8, 2016

ORBI Group Project Gains World Recognition


he Orbi Twin Tower is the new grand project built on the coast of the Black Sea in Batumi. With 4,500 rooms, it will be the sixth largest hotel by capacity. The project was awarded The Best Investment Project 2016 in Panama which means Orbi Group was awarded an “Oscar” in the real estate sphere. We talked with the General Director of Orbi Group – Irakli Kvergelidze about the project, the prize and its significance.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BUILD THE 6TH LARGEST HOTEL COMPLEX AND WHO ELSE IS IN THE WORLD’S TOP TEN? The world’s top ten: 1. Las Vegas - The Palazzo Resort Hotel & Casino - 8108 rooms; 2. Moscow – Izmailovo’s Hotel Complex -7500 rooms; 3. Las Vegas - The Signature at MGM Grand - 6772 rooms; 4. Malaysia - First World Hotel - 6118 rooms; 5. Las Vegas - Encore Las Vegas - 4570 rooms; 6. Batumi - ORBI Twin Tower - 4500 rooms; 7. Las Vegas Luxor Hotel&Casino – 4400 rooms; 8. Las Vegas - Mandalay bay – 4337 rooms; 9. Thailand - Ambassador City – 4210 rooms; 10. Las VEgas - The Venetian – 4027 rooms. Orbi Group is proud of carrying out a project which will put Georgia on the world map in the real estate market. This project goes far beyond regional significance and gives our company, and Batumi as a touristic destination, a completely new importance. More information about the Orbi Twin Towers can be found at


FIABCI PRIX D’EXCELLENCE FOR GEORGIA? The fact that the Orbi Twin Towers has been acknowledged as the best investment project in the world is of course a great success not only for our company, but a very significant accomplishment for the whole country. As for the FIABCI Prix d’Excellence – it is the most prestigious award, the same as the Oscars but in the real estate industry. FIABCI is an international real estate federation founded in Paris in 1948 by the leading developers and real estate specialists of Europe and America. In 1954, FIABCI was awarded official consultant status in the United Nations Economic and Social Council. It is the only organization in the industry which had the privilege of making a speech from the UN Tribune. Throughout the history of the FIABCI, Prix d’Excellence awardees were such large-scale projects as the Trump Tower in NYC, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Disneyland – Paris, Millennium Park - Chicago, Republic Plaza - Singapore, The Palace - Taiwan, Sinar Mas Land Plaza – Indonesia, Norwest Business Park – Sydney and many more famous successful architectural and real estate

[This] acknowledgement... is... a very significant accomplishment for the whole country

Irakli Kvergelidze, General Director of Orbi Group

projects. The award is so important that every such company is proud of this recognition and it has become one of the most significant bases for their future success. To this day no company from the post-Soviet territory was able to get the prize apart from us – the Orbi Group. Mega companies from the US, China, Singapore, Dubai, Malaysia, Japan and other European countries whose budgets exceed not only that of our company but of Georgia by 15 and 20 times, were also participating in the competition. The jury comprised of 70 competent, international experts, who studied the presented projects from more than 40 counties for six months, decided that Orbi Twin Towers is the best investment project of 2016. There has been no such precedent in the history of FIABCI that a project has won unanimously, which was highlighted by the President of FIABCI at the award ceremony.

ORBI GROUP TRADES APARTMENTS IN THE ORBI TWIN TOWERS. WHAT MAKES THESE APARTMENTS DIFFERENT FROM TRADITIONAL FLATS? Our apartments, just like any ordinary flats, are private property, documented in the Public Register. There is no difference between our apartments and any apartment owned by a private owner in terms of legislation. What makes it unique is that it is built in an multifunctional hotel complex, having a complete 5-starhotel level infrastructure and service: reception, concierge service, room service, security, technical support, casino spa center, open and closed swimming pools, cafes, restaurants, shopping zones, kids playgrounds, medical center, etc. The owners can live in their apartments permanently, only on holidays or just rent it out. If the owner wants to rent out, Orbi Group will provide full support and the owner will receive a monthly, stable income. It should be noted that a multifunctional complex with 5 star hotel service and infrastructure is high in demand, which means the apartments can be rented very often and at high prices.

HOW CAN AN INTERESTED CLIENT PURCHASE AN APARTMENT IN ORBI TWIN TOWERS? WHAT ARE THE TERMS AND BENEFITS? Orbi Towers has a unique architecture and location; constructed near the dancing fountains in Batumi, 50 meters from the sea with every apartment having an amazing view.

Orbi Twin Towers has prepared a special offer, as is our tradition, at the beginning of every project Orbi Group sells apartments for the best price. Until September 1, 2016, an apartment in Orbi Twin Tower costs just USD 17,500. The first contribution amounts to USD 1700, while monthly payment will be just USD 250. The owner can purchase the apartment with Italian furniture, renovation made according to European standards and built in appliances. There are standard as well as lux and even higher class apartments in the complex. Some of which cost USD 500,000, USD 1 million and even USD 1,500.000. As for the benefits I would like to say that while investing in the real estate two factors should be taken into consideration: 1. What kind of stable income the rent of the real estate will bring 2. How the price of the purchased real estate will increase after completion Purchasing a standard apartment in Orbi Towers will bring an annual income of about USD 5 or 6 thousand. As for the increase of the price of the purchased apartment, by the end of the construction it will approximately double. Orbi Twin Towers construction will last 24 months. How actively do the Georgian citizens buy apartments in real estate constructed by Orbi Group and what are the dynamics of purchases by international clients? Orbi Group was able to create a project

Since the Towers were named the Best Investment Project of 2016, awareness has increased dramatically on an international scalewe already have clients from 35 countries

which would be interesting for locals as well as foreigners. That is why Orbi Group has up to 30 offices in 7 countries and by the end of 2016, another 50 representational offices will open across the world. Apartments purchased in Orbi Group’s multifunctional hotel complex are not only real estate, but a business which guarantees secure income. The system of payments is very flexible and simple, therefore, those who live in Georgia can invest only 1700 USD initially and pay just 250 USD monthly. Because of this flexible offer we have many clients from larger cities of Georgia as well as different regions. Apart from this there are a lot of cases of immigrants purchasing apartments for their parents or other family members in order to provide them with stable income. Moreover, the apartments are great for spending holidays. Apartments are interesting for busy people working in their industries (e.g. lawyers, accountants, auditors, doctors, etc.) everyone who does not have time or opportunity to run a personal business independently. By purchasing apartments in hotels, they secure stable income and can at the same time continue their career. As I mentioned before, rent and operation of apartments is provided by Orbi Group and the buyer just receiving the monthly amount from the rent straight in their bank account. The interest from other countries like Germany, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Israel, America, Dubai, Qatar and others is also quite high. Since the Orbi Twin Towers was named as the best investment project of 2016, awareness has increased dramatically on an international scale and we already have clients from 35 countries.

PLEASE TELL US ABOUT ORBI GROUP’S FUTURE PLANS Orbi Group plans to start a large-scale project in Tbilisi. Apart from us being the first Georgian company to begin development projects beyond our country, we also plan to develop many other projects and directions locally and internationally.

HOW CAN INTERESTED PARTIES CONTACT ORBI FOR FURTHER INFORMATION? Toll Free Number: 0800 100115; +995 555330000, +995 555320000, +995 555350000; website: e-mail: batumi@



AUGUST 5 - 8, 2016

Another Death by Domestic Violence: Ombudsman Calls for Better Risk Assessment






09:00, 12:00, 20:00, 01:00 09:00, 12:00, 19:00, 01:00 2 Station Square


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unay was murdered by her husband on July 13th, 2016. “Gunay had an argument with her husband and came to me. We were alone at home. Gunay’s husband came and beat both of us and threatened to murder us. I immediately called the police. If the police had reacted adequately, Gunay would be alive now,” said Minakhanim, grandmother of Gunay and a resident of Ponitchala settlement. According to the investigation results, early in the morning, Novraz A, 26, cut Gunay’s throat and disappeared. The young woman died in hospital. Gunay was 19 years old and had two small children. Her husband had kidnapped her at the age of 13. Nurlana H, the aunt of the murdered girl, said Gunay and her husband lived in poverty and often quarreled. Due to these disagreements, Gunay several times returned to the family home but each time had to go back to her husband because she was afraid. “Last year they had a serious argument but Gunay was so afraid that she returned to his family again. She told me repeatedly that he would kill her and leave her children without a mother.” Gunay’s grandmother said the couple had their last quarrel 20 days before the murder. After that she came to her father’s home together with the children. The grandmother and Gunay were alone together with the children as Gunay’s parents live in Russia. “Gunay’s husband came and started beating her. He demanded she go home and threatened to kill her if she refused. I stood between them and he beat me too. I have bruises on my arms to prove it. When he left I called the police, but they didn’t arrest him. In the evening he came and cut my granddaughter’s throat,” Minakhanim said. The neighbor of the murdered woman, S.K., said the police just took the aggressor’s written promise not to abuse the women but did nothing to prevent the murder. Representatives of the Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) said after the threats and abuse were reported, police officers went to Novraz A.’s home and questioned him. The police could have arrested him on the statement of Gunay but the latter refused to sign against her husband; the police

could not arrest the aggressor based on the grandmother’s statement. The Public Defender of Georgia also responded to the murder of the young woman in Ponitchala. In his statement news/ the Ombudsman wrote that “the victim had appealed to the law enforcement agency, which limited its actions only to the use of a warning letter. Despite a number of appeals made by the Public Defender, the vicious practice of application of warning letters has not been eliminated. This is also proved by the cases studied by the Public Defender's Office. In addition, no individual risk assessment is carried out so as to prevent the recurrence of cases.” According to the MIA, eight women have died as a result of domestic violence since January 2016. Representative of the organization Partnership for Human Rights, Ana Arganashvili, said the State has yet to develop effective mechanisms to protect the victims of femicide and domestic violence. “When there is risk of violence and murder, the State and Police have an obligation to interfere and protect life. Often, domestic violence is hidden from society; sometimes the victims are afraid of the aggressor and do not

If police had reacted adequately, Gunay would still be alive report to the police or cancel their statements once given. For that reason, the police need to be particularly cautious and take all measures to combat such tragedies as Gunay’s. The MIA should have a well-established mechanism to evaluate and identify risks. Unfortunately, we have not yet achieved that and hope the MIA will create a special unit to work on genderbased violence.” According to the MIA, in 2015 the police issued 2,726 restrictive orders in the cases of domestic violence. The majority of aggressors (2,283) were men and 185 aggressors were women. In the same period, 2,301 victims were women and 337 were men. According to the MIA, most facts of domestic violence happen because of jealousy, alcohol influence and property dispute. In 2015, because of domestic violence, criminal prosecution was begun against 949 persons. Law enforcement officers arrested Novraz A soon after the murder of 19-year-old Gunay. The investigation was launched under Article 108 of the Criminal Code of Georgia for premeditated murder.




AUGUST 5 - 8, 2016

Respect for Women: Ogden on the Georgian Flirt OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN


his is a post I've been hesitant to write for a while, since it will invariably lead to the kind of comments and arguments common to the 21st century, a time in which pointing out obvious truths is somehow unacceptable. Yet the fact remains there is a problem with Georgian male culture, especially with regards to their attitudes towards women. I have difficulty explaining this country to outsiders, especially as Georgian women occupy a number of senior government positions in a country wherein sexism is so rampant, they say, surely females wouldn't be able to get those sorts of jobs. I can only put it down to females being driven towards attaining better qualifications. I work as a lecturer, and most of my MA students are young women, and of almost all the Georgians I've known who've gone on to study abroad have been female. However, I doubt if Georgian men are any lazier (or Georgian women any harder working) than other nationalities of the species, but attitudes towards women are like nothing else I've seen elsewhere. It's something I've found impossible to get past, since after six years here, I still have precious few Georgian male friends. Yesterday, a friend of mine went for a driving lesson. She told me she had already had problems with the instructor making clumsy attempts to flirt with her despite knowing she was married, but yesterday he took it further by touching her. Naturally, she screamed and shouted at him and then fled the car and ran down the street. Undeterred, the instructor follows her in his car telling her to get back in. Eventually, she boarded a bus to escape. About two months ago, I went with my wife to get my phone fixed. The man there barely glanced at me, seeing that I was a foreigner, but told my wife that it would be ready in an hour and a half. I couldn't collect it myself since I had to work that afternoon, but when

I'd hate for Georgians to destroy their reputation after being granted visa liberalization this year and then doing this sort of thing in Europe. Western tolerance – particularly where women are concerned – has a limit

After six years here, I've realized that the national male persona is an aspiration rather than a description. But what I would dearly love to know is what on earth these men expect the result to be

she went back the man told her 'Oh, you're so beautiful, you have such wonderful eyes'. I recall a similar incident when we had to have our taps fixed and the workman told my wife she was 'So delicious, if she was a cake [he] would eat her.' He'd been before but said nothing while I was there. Further misadventures involving my wife was when she was walking home from work and a car followed her, the driver and his friend calling out 'Girl. Girl. Come here. Girl,' and more recently when she went out to a bar with her friends and a man grabbed her arm while she was trying to leave. I have many more stories of the same ilk told me by Georgian women, so I could go on, but the idea is, I think, firmly established. As much as it amuses me that the macho, aggressive, 'warrior' Georgian men are only brave enough to try this stuff when husbands and boyfriends aren't around, it isn't overly surprising; after six years here, I've realized that the national male persona is an aspiration rather than a description. But what I would dearly love to know is what

on earth these men expect the result to be. Did the driving instructor really expect a married woman to suddenly realise just how attracted she is to him, despite the fact she'd already reprimanded him for being inappropriate? Do Georgian men really believe that following a girl in a car and saying 'Come here' will work? And what is it about grabbing someone's arm while she's walking away that they think leads to success? Perhaps it's a result of most men here losing their virginity and getting most of their experience from prostitutes which has fostered this, but even so, one would have thought that their lack of success with these borderline rapist techniques might have convinced them to go back to the drawing board. I've seen Georgian men in bars popular with foreigners brooding angrily when they see Georgian women talking to foreign men, and then become furious when their attempts at flirting (which usually constitute something like 'You are so beautiful' repeated ad nauseam) fail. I even saw a few (no one-on-one challenges in this country,

you see) start a fight with an American friend of mine. They were, however, unaware that he was a member of the United States Army Special Forces. I don't usually feel sorry for Georgian men, but I confess in those moments when they painfully regretted their actions, I felt a bit of a pang. (I should quickly add the disclaimer that yes, I am aware that not all Georgian men are like this, many are perfect gentlemen, and a lot of foreigners are also awful. Right? Fine.) As you might know, I'm not a big fan of the term 'European', but I will admit that there are things Britain and the vast majority of European countries have in common, among them being the fact that the kind of behaviour described above would be considered the actions of borderline rapists. As someone who still has something of a high opinion of this country, I'd hate for Georgians to destroy their reputation after being granted visa liberalisation this year and then doing this sort of thing in Europe. Western tolerance – particularly where women are concerned – has a limit.




AUGUST 5 - 8, 2016

Wheels, Next Round



n my life I can count on one hand the number of powered vehicles I have owned. First, a 1977 Honda Civic which my father helped me buy when I was 18, in Canada. It died the month I paid off the bank, because I failed to check the oil and its engine seized up. Bad start. Most memorable moment? Taking my then-girlfriend to my high school prom in it. Having learned to drive in an automatic transmission car, this manual one was like trying to control someone with constant seizures. All we could do was laugh, which was better than her being upset with me. Next, a two-door Toyota truck, which I had for several years before selling it on the eve of beginning a planned seven-year biking trek around the world. Good little vehicle, and I didn't kill it. Learned something. Hiatus of several years. I moved to the UK with my bike in late 1989, aged 22, didn't drive there at all, just cycled everywhere or took public transport for the longer trips. Years in Russia, months in Austria and Azerbaijan, then finally settling in Georgia, which recently became the country I've lived in longer than anywhere else in my life. Here... a Niva from the end of the Soviet period, because apparently those were better made than early post-Soviet. "Niva qvelgan miva" means "A Niva goes anywhere" in Georgian. This one took me and friends to Ushguli three times, once even by the back way, via Lentekhi. Pretty good! More carless years followed. Marriage... and the need to be wheeled again. The 1999 Hyundai Galloper, big manual diesel 4x4, which I paid an acquaintance to fly to Germany, buy and drive back for us. I had agreed with a friend in Svaneti that he could drive it once, if he accepted

responsibility for whatever happened when he was behind the wheel. And he blew off the top of the radiator. Took him six weeks to have the replacement handmade in Tbilisi. The car was never the same after that, and my generosity cost us far more than I could have imagined. Having the village shop at home in Etseri, expertly run by my wife, enabled us to add considerably to our savings. And now here we are again, able to be in motion! I've just taken ownership of a 2008 Toyota 4Runner, nice big manual patrol 4x4, clean, quiet and smooth, and a beast for the off roads. My brother in law joined me from Kakheti in Tbilisi and, after a few hours' checking things out at the massive Rustavi car market, we came away with this. I had researched the vehicle type and reviews of it online extensively beforehand, and we were even to do an internet discovery of the particular candidate car's entire history, which revealed nothing alarming. The buying process took an hour or so once we were confident of my choice, and off I drove, pleased as could be in my fifth ever vehicle. Oil change, brake pad and tire change, and I'm ready to make the triumphal entry into Etseri. A few friends will fly in and I'll take them up with me, where my wife is waiting to celebrate this momentous occasion. We will be better equipped to meet, send off, and drive our guests anywhere locally, as well as just having the freedom we've missed for a while now to just get away on our own somewhere for a bit. What a luxury, when you don't have it! 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 1300 members, at www.facebook. com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

Photo: UNDP

UNDP, Georgian Government Launch Euro 2.63 Million Rural Development Project


he United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Georgia on Tuesday pledged to invest Euro 2.63 million (GEL 6.8) into a project aimed at assisting rural development in Georgia’s western Adjara region on the Black Sea. Shombi Sharp, the UNDP’s Resident Representative in Georgia, and Tbilisi’s Agriculture Minister, Otar Danelia, signed the relevant finalized agreement on Tuesday, which sees the European

Union provide 95 percent of the funds needed for the project. This initiative will assist in the development of a national Rural Development Strategy for Georgia and a specific strategy for the Adjara region. According to the UNDP’s press release, the two-year initiative is part of an EU-funded European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) that launched its second phase in Georgia just over a month ago.



AUGUST 5 - 8, 2016

Safe and Healthy – Tusheti Greets First Emergency Car BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE


sk every tourist agency, private or public, anywhere in the world, what the must have factors are for a tourism industry to develop and they will be bound to mention safety among the very first and most vital ones. No matter how extreme and adventurous some of us are, it’s always gratifying to know that if something bad happens where you are going, you will be in the hands of experienced and professional people, instead of just those of your comrades-in-travel. Alongside Svaneti, Tusheti can be considered as one of the “wilder” areas among Georgia’s touristic destinations. One look at the road from Alwani to Tusheti makes some people dizzy. Despite all preconditions, however, for years, Tusheti remained medically obsolete, its only viable remedy to fly people over in helicopters if a health situation was deemed severe enough, or oftentimes, embarking on a rather bumpy and in no way pleasant journey lasting 4-5 hours in a car. One should give due credit to the solitary doctor living in Bochorna village, who, for nearly a quarter of a century, has been administering his craft travelling by horse up and down Tusheti villages. Exotic as they may be, neither option enthused locals and tourists with much relief of what might come if they were injured. Taking account all of this, it was a matter of joy and pride when recently the first emergency car appeared in Tusheti, fully upgraded for the mountainous region’s uncompromising conditions and the very first one since the fall of the Soviet Union. As with so many of the latest positive developments in the Tusheti region, this one also owes its existence to Czech involvement. The multipurpose vehicle was purchased by the Czech Development Agency and upgraded by another Czech organization, Caritas Czech Republic in Georgia, which also oversaw the training of doctors and nurses who are posted in the newly built Tusheti ambulatory on a three-week tenure. Safe Tusheti, as the project has become known online, where it proceeded to become a minor media hit, proved itself a success story in the very first month of its existence, and one should look no further than the impressions of the First Aid Unit, the head of which, Field Doctor Misha Patarkatsashvili, shared his recollections of the first month with GEORGIA TODAY.

We can’t access every village by car, sometimes we are running, panting… “We’re Ministry of Defense staff, from the medical department. I’ve seen lots of field work, but this one sure beats it all – it’s as extreme as it can get in Georgia. To carry out our duties we come against numerous primal forces, lack of roads being the biggest problem. We can’t access every village by car, so we often have to run, panting, cursing and sometimes end up in not much better shape than the patient waiting for us. Thankfully, the Emergency Situations Agency has been lending a helping hand in particularly hardcore situations. And it would be ungrateful not to mention how helpful the locals have been. We’re all working in good faith and the team spirit is extra high. Considering what we went through for the first 20 days, some quite serious cases, we handled them quite proficiently, if I dare say. Two weeks ago, we saved the life of a Swedish tourist who had an unexpected heart attack. If not for our help, she would probably have died. The applause, cheers and the eyes of the patient full of endless gratitude, the feeling that we’d passed such a serious test already so early on– it was all very satisfying,” Patarkatsashvili said. However, challenges still remain. While the first aid services will only be available in Tusheti during the tourist season (6 months), it is already a great step forward. To build upon this means solving yet another nagging problem in Tusheti, a block every government has stumbled on to date – the abysmal road conditions which practically isolate Tusheti from the rest of the country throughout the long winter months. Solve this, however, and there are yet other, unexplored riches Tusheti can offer – that of winter tourism. And safety will be as important then as always – Safe Tusheti means more and more tourists, which is exactly what the region needs.

Contact: Phone: 599 461908





AUGUST 5 - 8, 2016

Europa Donna Georgia Addresses Government for Support of Metastatic Cancer Patients


he campaign against breast cancer is ongoing in Georgia. From 2016 the State is providing countrywide financing of pharmaceuticals for patients with first, second and third stage cancer, for which GEL 9 million has been allocated. Despite this, issues related to the treatment of patients with metastatic cancer still remain unresolved. Therefore, Europa Donna Georgia has addressed the Ministry of Healthcare and Tbilisi City Hall to provide assistance and finance the medical treatment of such patients. Europa Donna Georgia organized a press conference at the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel to inform and once again remind the public about the campaign that promotes effective targeted therapeutic treatment of breast cancer and improvement of its accessibility. The press conference was attended by Marina Darakhvelidze, Head of the Healthcare Department of the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia; Gela Chiviashvili, Head of the City Office of Health and Social Service of Tbilisi City Hall; Giorgi Alibegashvili, Chairman of Tbilisi City Council; Ana Mazniashvili, President of Europa Donna Georgia; as well as oncologists, specialists working in the field, patients, campaign supporters and others. “We would very much like the State to finance medical treatment of patients with metastatic and fourth stage cancer because these are the people most in need of such assistance,” said Ana Mazniashvili. Mammologist Giorgi Dzagnidze talked about the necessity of providing expensive medication and therapeutic treatment to patients with terminal cancer. He believes that the treatment course will improve the condition of terminal cancer patients by 25 percent: “If the life expectancy of terminal cancer patients is six months, treatment may

Every year in Georgia more than 1,500 new cases of breast cancer are identified and more than 900 women die from this disease





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increase it even up to 20 years.” The Ministry of Healthcare stated that together with Tbilisi City Hall it already finances such patients on an individual basis. “We already have the possibility to study the situation of each patient individually. Namely, we finance them through a referral program. The State is also supporting them in this case. At the same time I believe that the future belongs to preventive medicine,” said Marina Darakhvelidze. In 2015, Europa Donna Georgia started an information dissemination campaign called “Targeting for Life” which exactly reflected this goal. The main focus was made on provision of expensive drugs which are effective but less accessible for patients. A petition was drafted in which the signatories asked the State to increase accessibility to biological pharmaceuticals, especially for breast cancer patients within the healthcare program. Later, Tbilisi City Council, City Hall, and corresponding departments of the Ministry of Healthcare made an extremely important decision and financed the medical treatment of 320 patients with first, second and third stages of breast cancer. “New findings and innovations over the past 50 years significantly increased our knowledge about breast cancer,” said Mazniashvili. “Important progress has been achieved in diagnostics, screening,



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surgery, radio therapy, chemotherapy, and combined and targeted therapy. During targeted therapy the drug is directed immediately to the cancer cells and inhibits the main processes which lead to cancer development and growth. This is why the therapy was called “Targeted Therapy”. Since targeted therapy is specifically aimed at cancer cells, it is very effective, less damaging for normal cells and has fewer side effects compared to the standard chemotherapy. Thanks to the assistance provided by the State, the quality of life of 320 patients has improved significantly. The life of these women has become less stressful, too, which makes the treatment more effective. Now the time has come to think about patients with metastatic cancer and start looking for solutions to ensure their timely treatment. The goal of the second phase of our campaign is still that of saving lives. Unfortunately, in Georgia, targeted therapy is inaccessible for the majority of patients.” Within the framework of the campaign “Targeting for Life,” Radisson Blu Iveria came up with a new initiative for assisting breast cancer patients and began a campaign “BluforPink” in which any company and person can participate. Every year in Georgia more than 1,500 new cases of breast cancer are identified and more than 900 women die from this disease. If diagnosed on time, breast

10 Galaktion Street

cancer can be cured. The goal of the campaign is to find the funds necessary for preserving the lives of those women who cannot afford medical treatment. All gathered funds will be fully transferred to the charity foundation Europa Donna Georgia in order to fight breast cancer.” The charity campaign rules are as follows: 1) Take a photo – with you in a blue T-shirt / details / make up 2) Upload it to Facebook or Instagram with hashtug - #BluForPink 3) Invite three of your friends or a partner company 4) Transfer money – cell phone: 0 901 700 002 Bank of Georgia: GE 82 BG 0000 0001 6254 9800 TBC Bank: GE 42 TB 7168536020100002 Europa Donna Georgia is an organization which periodically carries out charity activities. They are “Patients for Patients”. Their main goal is life, while for oncology patients life is a chance given as a result of targeted and proper medical treatment. During the past years the organization has implemented a number of projects helping many women. Active participation of the Georgian population, private sector and society in this charity activity is important because this way we can jointly fight against and overcome a very dangerous disease - breast cancer.

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




Georgian Pupils Win at IT Competition BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


school team in Informatics from Georgia took three medals at the Central European Olympiad (CEOI), showing one of the best results and entering the top four teams. The Georgian school team has been winning international competitions for more than 15 years, positioning itself as one of the strongest in the field. The Central European Olympiad in Informatics was held in the city of Piatra Neam, Romania, on July 18 – 23. Georgia competed with the best students from 11 countries in the region, with Giorgi Skhirtladze winning the silver medal, and Giorgi Kldiashvili and Bakur Tsut-

shashvili both taking bronze. “I took part in the Olympiad for the second time and can say that this time the competition was more difficult. However, the fact that only four countries, including Georgia, were able to take three medals can be considered an important achievement for us,” said Skhirtladze. The contest consisted of several stages, where for two days over five hours children had to solve three tasks on algorithmic and computer programming. The head of the Georgian team, Gocha Mandaria, noted that before International Olympiads, the students take part in local tournaments, after which the top four, as the national team, compete with other countries. “The competition, even within the country, is huge; each year we have about 150 participants, but only four have a

chance to make it as far as international tournaments. As such, we always get good results – since 2000 we have won at least two medals in each international competition,” said Mandaria, summarizing that at the moment the country has 2 gold, 7 silver and 35 bronze medals. “In general, it is a really strong test for young people and is a great achievement for them. Most of the winners of the Olympiad easily enter leading world universities, and then go on to be hired by the best IT companies,” he added. After a successful performance at the CEOI, the team will go to get their new medals at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI), which will take place in Kazan, Russia, on August 12-19. “Last year, all four of our members took medals at IOI, so we hope to repeat the result or even improve on it,” said Mandaria.

Georgian Filmmakers against National Film Center System BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


oung Georgian filmmakers face various obstacles while coordinating with the Georgian National Film Center (GNFC), which is now the only institution helping them in film funding. Representatives of new film movement Vake Park noted that besides the existing long-term problems, most recently, they have had to face the issue of censorship and incompetent assessment from the jury. The Vake Park Film Movement (VPFM) claim that the crucial moment for the movement’s creation was the jury’s incompetent evaluation of Lasha Tskvitinidze’s film ‘Armatura’. “Members of the jury demonstrated exceptionally unprofessional, incompetent and unethical behavior in their attempt to censor the project based on its “vulgar” content and the form of the script. The reviews and the scores given by the jury members were extremely biased and designed to simply unfairly ban the project from advancing

to the next stage of the competition. Reviews of the jury ranged from outright insulting to the director to politically incorrect and abusive toward the mentally handicapped character of the screenplay,” stated rpresentatives of the VPFM. Tskvitinidze, who is famous for directing the award-winning ‘I am Beso’ movie, said that the manner of speech of characters in his new work corresponds to their roles, and it cannot be considered as abuse or obscene language. The VPFM said that the above happened due to the new lottery system of jury selection brought in by new director of the GNFC, Zurab Maghalashvili. “The lottery, or random, selection of jury members for funding competitions completely liberates Maghalashvili and the GNFC from any responsibility of ensuring the quality of the selected jury, as well as the quality of the evaluation of the projects presented in competitions. The lottery selection process is not automatic, but a very convoluted one, which at the end gives the director of the GNFC an opportunity to appoint jury members based on his personal preference in an unchecked, uncontrolled environment, behind closed doors,”

noted in the VPFM’s statement. As a solution, representatives of the Movement carried out a study and now want the proven international system of film and jury selection to be taken on. "We want to meet Director Maghalashvili, but our mandatory condition is that this meeting should be open to the media. Over the years we have conducted a lot of meetings with the GNFC behind closed doors, and these have never led to any results," said Rati Oneli, director and participant of the VPFM. The director of the GNFC, in conversation with the media, said he was satisfied with the lottery system, but he has said he agrees to meet with representatives of movements and is open to their suggestions. The first meeting with a media presence, is due to take place today (August 5th). Representatives of The Vake Park Film Movement highlighted that they do not belong to any political party or organization. They represent a like-minded independent group which fights not against individuals, but against the GNFC’s system and wants to solve existing problems in the Center.

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AUGUST 5 - 8, 2016


MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 August 5 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 21:00 Free Entry CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari August 5-11 SUICIDE SQUAD Directed by David Ayer Genre: Action, Crime, Fantasy Cast: Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Cara Delevingne Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 14:00, 16:45, 19:15, 22:00 Ticket: 9-14 GEL

THE NEON DEMON Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn Genre: Horror, Thriller Cast: Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves Language: Russian Start time: 17:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL August 5-11 STAR TREK BEYOND Directed by Justin Lin Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Cast: Anton Yelchin, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR Directed by James DeMonaco Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi Cast: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson Language: Russian Start time: 20:00, 22:35 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

JULIETA Directed by Pedro Almodóvar Genre: Drama Cast: Adriana Ugarte, Rossy de Palma, Emma Suárez Language: Russian Start time: 19:45, 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

LIGHTS OUT Directed by David F. Sandberg Genre: Horror Cast: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello Language: Russian Start time: 17:40, 20:00, 22:35 Ticket: 8-14 GEL

CAFÉ SOCIETY Directed by Woody Allen Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

GHOSTBUSTERS (Info Above) Start time: 22:35 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

GHOSTBUSTERS Directed by Paul Feig Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon Language: Russian Start time: 16:30 Ticket: 10-11 GEL



THE CAUCASUS NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM COLLECTION RENEWED EXHIBITION EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY The exhibition showcases a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. June 11 – March 11 (2017) Georgian National Museum and Korneli Kekelidze National Center of Manuscripts present THE EXHIBITION “MEDIEVAL TREASURY” June 16 – December 16 THE EXHIBITION “NEW DISCOVERIES - GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY” The exhibition will be held in the frame of the international conference On Salt, Copper, and Gold: The Origins of Early Mining and Metallurgy in the Caucasus" June 12 – August 20 GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM AND ART CENTER " FOLIANT " PRESENT EXHIBITION "I SEE WITH MY FINGERS" The exhibition showcases artworks by the professors and students from Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, and students and teachers from a variety of creative and educational institutions. Most of the artworks were inspired by "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" and are dedicated to the 850th anniversary of Shota Rustaveli. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 July 6 – August 30 EXHIBITION “QUARTER OF THE

DAY” BY TAMAR MELIKISHVILI The exhibition showcases 70 paintings depicting people united by emotions: passion, melancholy, alienation, and mystery.


SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09

MOVEMENT THEATRE Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260

May 18 – September 11 AVANT-GARDE 1900-1937 August 4-14 GIORGI CHALADZE PERSONAL EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO HIS 85TH ANNIVERSARY The exhibition showcases 40 paintings and sculptures created from the 1960s to present day. Giorgi Chaladze is a painter and sculptor, and the founder of the Union of Artists from Rustavi. He was awarded the Medal of Honor of Georgia. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze June 24, 2016 – June 24, 2017 NIKO PIROSMANASHVILI’S WORKS “YARD CLEANER” AND “EAGLE SEIZING A HARE” August 5-25 TEMO JAVAKHI'S RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION The exhibition will showcase about 140 artworks by Temo Javakhi performed in different media including signs, separate letters of the alphabet, contextual texts, numbers, mapping silhouettes, symbolic images. He attaches particular importance to the word and creates "word objects" which have become his hallmark. GENERATOR 9.8 Address: 29 Atoneli Str. Telephone: 557 22 99 98



BATUMI TENNIS CLUB Address: Batumi Boulevard August 6 ELECTRONIC BAND THE QEMISTS’S CONCERT Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-40 GEL August 7 DATO KHUJADZE AND GOOFY LAND Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20-40 GEL August 9 DAVIT SHANIDZE’S CONCERT Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 10-25 GEL August 9 KAKHABERI AND KHANUMEBI’S CONCERT Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20-50 GEL August 11 VAKIS PARK’S CONCERT Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL BATUMI ART CENTER Address: 1 O. Dimitriadis Str. August 6 MASTER AND MARGARITA Mikhail Bulgakov




WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink and Buy in August


o you arrived in Georgia and you’re now wondering WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink and Buy. You want to know what’s on the latest events calendar and where the nearest bank, clinic or wine bar is. You want the best recommendations from the most qualified people.

And you want discounts for the best dishes, tourist venues, jewelry, wine and more. Then let us introduce you to Where, the latest and best tourist guide to Georgia, brought to you by the Georgia Today Group in partnership with the Georgian National Tourism Administration, now



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Mako Burduli



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

in its 2nd edition. Where to GO is introduced this month by Mako Abashidze, Founder Director of the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce, sharing with us her personal travel recommendations in Georgiafrom the famed Tbilisi Opera House to a hidden culinary delight in the capital city- with canyons and wine in between! More on the Opera House on page 36, but before you get that far in, you have a whole Georgian experience to delve into- from the National Treasury at the Georgian National Museum Simon Janashia Musem of Georgia, a vast gold and numismatic collection, to the heights of the Svaneti and Adjara mountains and the magnetism of the Black Sea coast. Dolphins, gardens, cocktails, beaches and food- find out everything you need to know to have a relaxed, fun and educational experience in Georgia’s favourite seaside city- Batumi! You may learn some things that even your tour guide doesn’t know! Where’s cultural guide to Batumi takes you on a comprehensive tour of the best museums and galleries. Discover Georgia’s archaeological treasures dating back to the Byzantine era, the best works of the 20th century Georgian artists- including world renowned Rusudan Petviashvili- and find out more about what the Nobel brothers did for Georgia. Our events calendar will tell you all you need to know about the latest theater performances, art exhibitions and concerts and, if you’ve still got energy, check out our list of casinos and nightclubs in our Nightlife section. In the Where to STAY section, Manager of Travelshop, Nick Manjgaladze, shares his choice of hotels around the country and we extend that with our feature on Medical Tourism, with a full list of resorts and hotels to satisfy every desire.

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

On to the Where to EAT section, and Mariam Kvrivishvili, General Manager of Fly Dubai Georgia, shares with us where she’d take guests with an appetite for something magical, chic and truly Georgian. On the topic of truly Georgian, our Editor Katie Ruth Davies sacrifices her waistline to find out three of the top places to grab that seaside special, Adjaruli Khachapuri, in Tbilisi and also reveals her tips for making your very own Turkish coffee. Following that, Tim Ogden this month introduces you to his top 6 Art-Cafes to inspire you as you dine. Find out more on page 74. Thirsty after all that? In our Where to DRINK section, Maya Sidamonidze, owner of Hotel The Terrace, offers her list of the best venues to taste exclusive wine and signature cocktails such as Culinarium’s Thai Bloody Mary (Tbilisi) and the deceptively light Mexican Watermelon Cocktail served at Fanfan in Batumi. On that theme, we recommend the best Batumi cocktail venues on page 89. We then whisk you away to the unique suggestions of Nata Gogoladze, Head of Marketing at Tbilisi Mall, who not only gives you the low-down Mall-side but also of a number of her favourite concept stores as an introduction to this month’s Where to BUY. While in Tbilisi, be sure not to miss

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

a trip to the Dry Bridge open air market for some unforgettable and affordable old treasures. Check out our photo reportage on page 98-99 to inspire you! And what would any self-respecting guide be like without a map of the city and a guide to the most needed services- banks, pharmacies, clinics and real estate companies? Where has it all! Pick up your free copy of the monthly Where magazine- the essential guide to WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink and Buy in Georgia. Want more? Where magazine is offering an exclusive discount voucher package. Buy 10 cards for only 10 Laris (1 Lari per card) and enjoy 130 Laris worth of free gifts and extra discounts up to 20% from locales carefully selected by the WHERE team to make sure that readers receive excusive offers from the best of attractions in each sections of WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink, Buy. Interested? Head on down to the souvenir shops in the Old Town- on Leselidze Street and in the Abanotubani and Sharden areas for your copy of WHERE. Otherwise, grab your free copy of WHERE (without discount cards) at one of the hotels or café-bars in central Tbilisi. Feel free to call WHERE HQ anytime to order your copy of WHERE & WHERE Discount Cards. TEL +995 032 2295919.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #867  

August 5 -8, 2016

Issue #867  

August 5 -8, 2016