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Issue no: 987

• OCTOBER 6 - 9, 2017



In this week’s issue...

FOCUS ON THE FALL OF SOKHUMI A look at then and now...PAGE


Georgia Supports Sovereignty & Territorial Integrity of Spain NEWS PAGE 3

Headaches in Abkhazia


Russia Makes Turkmenistan Proposals in Oil & Gas BUSINESS PAGE 10

German Embassy Marks 27th Anniversary of Unification of Germany Photo by Mike Goldwater


Tbilisoba Kicks off This Weekend

Textile from Georgia - New Album on Georgian Costume Published



he two-day annual celebration of Tbilisoba (Tbilisi Day), first held in October 1979, this year starts on Saturday October 7 in various locations throughout the capital. The program announced by Tbilisi City hall begins at 12PM on Saturday, and is to offer guests a plethora of activities: from pavilions representing the capitals twinned with Tbilisi set up in Europe Square, a fair and exhibition of classic and new cars on Metekhi Bridge, to children’s culinary classes, archeology for children and quizzes to be held in the New Tiflis, Agmashenebeli area and a kite festival and master-classes for little ones in Rike Park. Adults can enjoy a festival of Georgian wine on day one of the festival from 12 to 10 PM, visit an exhibition of Georgian produce, and attend a costume performance with musicians and actors


in New Tiflis until 9PM. A festival of sweets and master-classes from famous chefs is promised for the New Tiflis area, and a fruit festival is to be held on Sioni Street. Along with the packed program of culinary and wine tasting events, a photo exhibition, flower show and sports activities during the weekend, music lovers will also get a chance to attend

numerous concerts during the Tbilisi City Fest, with and City Hall’s Big Band concert alongside dance performances, and electronic music concerts by DJ Ericsson, DJ Sumo, and DJ Third. The traditional awards ceremony for honorary citizens of the capital, followed by a concert, is to be held in the Abanotubani district on October 8, to round up Tbilisoba 2017.




OCTOBER 6 - 9, 2017

Georgia Denounces Syrian Delegation’s Visit to Breakaway Abkhazia

Photo: Syrian delegation meets “Foreign Ministry” representatives of breakaway Abkhazia Source: Apsnypress.



he Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia (MFA) has denounced the recent visit of a Syrian delegation to Georgia’s Russianoccupied region of Abkhazia, claiming that the visit is a continuation of Russia’s provocative policy and its occupation regimes. “Russia is trying to legitimize its attempts to force changes to the borders of a sovereign state and widespread ethnic cleansing of Georgians. This visit is part of that policy,” the ministry stressed, adding that one of the most important priorities of the Georgian government is consistent implementation of the non-recognition policy. “The Foreign Ministry reacts immediately to the attempts of the occupation regimes to establish illegal contacts with representatives of foreign countries,” the statement of the ministry reads. Communication was held with international partners with regard to the so-called visit. The parliamentary delegation of Syria arrived in

occupied Sokhumi on October 3. Abkhazian news agency Apsnypress reports that the delegation had a meeting with the de facto foreign Minister of Abkhazia, Daur Kove, who welcomed the Syrian delegation and expressed content that mutual relationships have been developed. “We are glad that Abkhazian-Syrian relations have developed dynamically this year. We cooperate in different fields. The current situation in Syria concerns us," he said. The Syrian delegation was led by Sanah Abo Zaid, who noted that there are good prospects for developing ties between the two sides. The delegation of Syria was also hosted by the so called president of Abkhazia, Raul Khajimba. “It is important to restore justice…The West and the Americans are trying to influence world processes. This is unacceptable both for Syria and for those who want to live peacefully," Khajimba said. The de facto president added that Abkhazians support the position of the leadership of Syria. The Syrian delegation also held meetings with the de facto ministers of occupied Abkhazia. “Economy Minister” Adgur Ardzinba stated that

the “Ministry of Economy” is preparing a draft agreement with the Syrian Arab Republic on the duty-free trade regime between the countries. “Our main task is to create favorable conditions for developing businesses in both countries,” Ardzinba said. Prior the visit of the Syrian delegation to Sokhumi, the “Abkhazian delegation” paid a visit to Syria. The de facto MFA of Abkhazia reported that the delegation of the “Republic of Abkhazia” held various meetings in Syria in August.

The so-called Abkhazian Ministry stated that the Syrian authorities had expressed interest in developing trade and economic cooperation with the “Republic” and received its representatives as a friendly “state.” Since the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008, Russia has recognized the independence of Abkhazia and another separatist region, South Ossetia. In total, only four countries recognize Georgia’s breakaway regions as independent republics: Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru.

Saakashvili Asks for Asylum in Ukraine President & Parliamentary Majority



fter returning to Ukraine, ex-President of Georgia and former Governor of Ukraine’s Odessa Oblast, Mikheil Saakashvili, has requested asylum in Ukraine on the grounds of “a person in need of special protection,” which in turn stops him being extradited to another country. The information was released by Saakashvili’s lawyer Markian Galabala. “After the issue of the decree on terminating Saakashvili’s citizenship, he automatically acquired the status of ‘a person without citizenship permanently residing in Ukraine,’ and, in line with Ukrainian law, the extradition of such persons is prohibited,” he said.

The State Immigration Service of Ukraine has yet to respond to Saakashvili’s request. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Justice Ministry stated they will make a decision on the ex-president’s extradition to Georgia after relevant checks. “The Justice Ministry will make the final decision depending on the relevant materials. Politics has nothing to do with the issue at all,” Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavel Petrenko stated. Saakashvili was the third president of Georgia from 2004-2007 and again in 2008-2013. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko granted Saakashvili Ukrainian citizenship in May 2015, when appointing him as the Governor of Odessa. In December 2015, Georgian authorities stripped Saakashvili of Georgian citizenship as dual citizenship is not allowed in Georgia. In November 2016, Saakashvili quit his post and formed an opposition party and was seen heavily criticizing the Ukrainian authorities, which led to a disagreement between Poroshenko and the exGeorgian President. Poroshenko stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship in July. After losing his Ukrainian citizenship, Saakashvili returned to Ukraine on September 10, with the help of his supporters, who broke through the line of security forces and pulled Saakashvili from neutral territory between Poland and Ukraine, and onto Ukrainian territory.

Discuss Constitutional Changes



he scheduled meeting between the Georgian President and the Parliamentary majority Georgian Dream (GD) was held on October 4 at the Presidential Palace. The President’s Press Office reports that Margvelashvili emphasized the necessity of consensus

and expressed willingness to continue holding consultations with all political forces if necessary. The sides discussed key changes which are to be made to the newly-adopted constitution. The Head of the Administration of the President, Giorgi Abashishvili, assessed the meeting as “interesting and constructive.” He said conversation mainly touched upon the two topics that are included in the constitutional amendments: abolition of a bonus system and allowing the formation of election blocks for the October 21 elections. “The President places special emphasis on reaching a consensus on the constitutional issues, finding common viewpoints, and reaching all-encompassing agreement on the Constitution; therefore, in the days to come, the President and his team will spare no efforts to find common grounds to reach a consensus. If necessary, meetings will be held with everyone, including the ruling political party,” Abashishvili stated. Margvelashvili offered the Georgian Dream and other political parties the chance to meet and discuss the Constitution last week. The President has already met with representatives of about 20 political parties to discuss the same topic. However, Mamuka Mdinaradze, chairperson of the GD faction, says the president has not made a final decision over the two issues. “It is up to the President. He must decide whether to reflect these two issues in his notes or not. If this is not taken into consideration, we will naturally try to override the veto," Mdinaradze said, adding the President said that in a few days he will make his final decision. The parliament adopted the constitutional draft with its third and final reading on September 26 by 117 votes. The GD has 116 MPs in the 150-member parliament. The ruling party wants to make changes to the constitution following the Venice Commission’s preliminary report on the issue. The GD initiative includes abolition of a bonus system and allowing the formation of election blocks this year. The amendments envisage moving to a classical parliamentary model. They also imply moving to full proportional election system from 2024, instead of the previously promised 2020. The president and the opposition disagree with the majority over the latter.




Georgian Political Parties Criticize Alliance of Patriots for Second Visit to Moscow

Photo source: Vestnik Kavkaza



he Alliance of Patriots of Georgia (APG), a Georgian parliamentary opposition party which is often affiliated with Russia, has become the object of criticism of Georgian political parties once again after their second visit to Moscow. Three members of the APG, Ada Marshania, Giorgi Lomia and Nato Chkheidze, left for Moscow on October 1 in order to meet Russian Parliamentarians for the second time. The previous visit took place in June this year. Ada Marshania reported prior to the departure that the visit would last for several days and Georgia’s occupied territories and Georgia-Russian dialogue

would be the main topics of the meeting. One of the leaders of the APG, Irma Inashvili, called on the Georgian government to use the opportunity to restore political ties with Russia. “The government should support the creation of a new format: Georgia-NATORussia. This format will give us a chance to talk about security mechanisms and borders. The government of Georgia will benefit from this chance,” she stated. The Russian Communist Party Head, Leonid Kalashnikov, who met the APG members in Moscow, stated that the main topics of the meeting were humanitarian cooperation issues and restoration of bilateral ties. Kalashnikov also mentioned that Georgia rejected Russia’s offer to help extinguish large-scale fire in Borjomi Gorge this summer, adding this was “not nice”. “With the Alliance of Patriots, we dis-

cussed the need for restoration of bilateral relations between Russia and Georgia and also about the functioning of a railway system via Abkhazia,” he added. Tamar Chugoshvili, the first deputy chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia, negatively assessed the visit of APG to Russia. “I do not think that such meetings serve the interests of the country, especially with the conditions in the occupied territories: ethnic cleansing, ethnic persecution and discrimination of Georgians," she said. The opposition parties claim the APG is a lobbyist of Russia in Georgian parliament, where the party has six MPs. The United National Movement (UNM) believes that the APG’s actions are agreed on with the government of Georgia. “Russia successfully continues a hybrid war against Georgia, and this is done with the support of the Georgian authorities,” Roman Gotsiridze from the UNM stressed. Another parliamentary opposition party, European Georgia, also hints at there being some ties between the Government of Georgia and the APG. "It is damaging when one of the opposition forces of Georgian parliament speaks to the occupant country, and this is naturally partially agreed with the government: they wanted to have such a political force in the Parliament of Georgia," Sergo Ratiani, member of European Georgia, said. Georgia and Russia cut diplomatic ties in 2008 after the August War. Since then, meetings of the Georgian Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, and the State Secretary and Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, Grigory Karasin, have been the only direct format of negotiations between the two states.

Photo source: qzprod.files.wordpress.com

Georgia Supports Sovereignty & Territorial Integrity of Spain BY THEA MORRISON


he Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) stated that Georgia fully supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Spain within its internationally recognized borders. The statement was made after the referendum held in Catalonia, a region in the northeast of Spain, which showed that 90% of people supported the separation of the region from Spain. “Georgia hopes that the situation in the Kingdom of Spain will be peacefully regulated in full compliance with the principles of the country's legislation, constitution and law," the Foreign Ministry said. More than 2.25 million people turned out to the October 1 referendum across

Catalonia. The turnout was low - around 42% of the voter roll. Catalan authorities blamed the figure on the crackdown on the vote initiated by the national government. Spain's national government in Madrid has ardently resisted separation. In the run-up to the vote, national authorities seized ballot papers, voter lists and campaign material. Thousands of extra national police were sent to the region and high-ranking Catalan officials involved in organizing the referendum were arrested. Videos of police brutality towards apparently peaceful voters went viral on social media. Spain's highest court had ruled the vote illegal under the Spanish constitution. Catalan officials called on the EU to step in but the EU backed Madrid: the European Commission, the European Union's executive body, said the vote was illegal.




OCTOBER 6 - 9, 2017

Commemorating the Fall of Sokhumi

Geogrian refugees cross the Zugdidi bridge to relative safety. Photo by Mike Goldwater



EORGIA TODAY takes an in-depth look at the moment that Georgia will never forget.

HISTORY OF THE ABKHAZIAN CONFLICT The collapse of the Soviet Union precipitated a host of conflicts on its former territories. The 1992-1993 GeorgianAbkhazian war is arguably one of the most consequential, unresolved, and deadliest of the lot. The exact number of casualties has been hard to prove, but it is estimated by the Red Cross that as many as 15,000 lives were lost, while other sources claim that this is only half the real figure. The war also resulted in the displacement of a quarter-million people. The roots of the conflict can be understood through the prism of the different nationalisms of the Georgian and Abkhazian people, and the consequently parallel but differing national liberation movements and narratives that were taking place at the time. As Ghia Nodia, Georgian political analyst, explains: “The modern Georgian national project is that of a classical nation-state: based on the idea that ‘we only want what belongs to us, but what does belong to us, we will never give up.’ Abkhazia is part of Georgia because it was always part of Georgia when Georgia was united. …The national project of the Abkhaz was not directed primarily at political independence … its main task was to ensure the survival of the Abkhaz as a distinct ethnic group…. to create a separate Abkhaz identity rooted in the western Caucasian region”. Back in the days of Stalin, many ethnic Georgians were forcefully resettled in Abkhazia, which led to increasing Abkhaz fears for the loss of their homeland. To that end, in 1956, 1967, and 1978, Abkhazian leaders petitioned the Kremlin to remove Abkhazia from Georgia and incorporate it into Russia. However, instead of agreeing to these demands, Moscow gradually began implementing a host of preferential policies towards the Abkhazians, which by the tail end of the 1980s resulted in them enjoying a higher standard of living, and the most powerful political positions in Abkhaz hands. This inequality increased the ethnic tensions between the Georgian majority, who by 1989 made up 45.7% of the population, and the Abkhaz minority (17.8%), in what was then known as the Abkhaz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR). While there had been historical precedent for said movements, the chaotic break-up of the Soviet Union and the resultant policies of the Kremlin allowed for these historical tensions to boil-over into armed conflict. In the years until the eruption of hostilities in 1992, a so-called ‘war of laws’ took place between the Georgian and Abkhaz Supreme Soviets as each sought

to undermine the other’s authority. In December 1990, hardline separatist Vladiszlav Ardzinba, (‘president’ of Abkhazia until 2005) was elected as chairman of the Abkhaz Supreme Soviet, further sowing the seeds for conflict as his hostile relationship with Georgian nationalist leader and soon to be first President of Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, elected in the 1991 election boycotted by Abkhazians, threatened to push things over the brink. In August 1991, in an effort to defuse tensions, a power-sharing deal was agreed for the composition of a new Abkhaz parliament based on ethnic quotas, where the ethnic Georgians that made up the vast majority of the local population were guaranteed 26/65 seats to the Abkhaz’s 28. Alas, Tbilisi’s backing for this arrangement would not last long as a mutiny in the National Guard forced the Georgian President into exile in December of that year, with his position assumed by Eduard Shevardnadze. In May 1992, levying accusations of discrimination, a boycott was initiated by the Georgian deputies in the Abkhaz Parliament, and a Georgian strike in Sokhumi was begun. Consequently, the Abkhaz Ministry of Internal Affairs, Tbilisi’s last remaining outpost of authority in the region, was attacked by Abkhazia’s National Guard. On July 23, without the Georgian deputies, a resolution restoring the 1925 Abkhaz constitution and the province’s status as a sovereign public (within the former Soviet Union) was passed by the Abkhaz Parliament. Full-blown conflict erupted on August 14 when the Georgian National Guard was sent into Abkhazia to retrieve hostages that had allegedly been taken there (three days earlier, forces loyal to Gamaskhurdia in Mingrelia kidnapped the minister of the interior and the national security advisor, amongst others). The hostage mission turned into combat between Georgian and Abkhaz forces defending Sokhumi as the former’s tanks entered the city. It is believed that Abkhaz forces first engaged their adversaries in Ilovi, 50 kilometers from their capital. Ardzinba denied Georgian claims that he was notified of their intentions to enter Abkhazia. It is estimated that up to 5000 Georgian

The national project of the Abkhaz was not directed primarily at political independence … its main task was to ensure the survival of the Abkhaz as a distinct ethnic group troops headed for Sokhumi while a further 1000 landed in Gagra in the northwest to seal off the Russian border. The Abkhazian resistance was a lot stronger and more determined than initially anticipated, and heavy fighting broke out in Sokhumi and the surrounding area, with a temporary 3-day ceasefire coming to an end on August 18 and the retaking of Sokhumi by Georgian forces together with the fleeing of the Abkhaz leadership to Russian military base ‘Gudauta’. Indeed, it seemed as if Tbilisi had prevailed, prompting Shevardnadze to declare that “Georgian authority has been restored throughout the entire territory of the republic”. The achievement of this goal, however, proved problematic, as Alexandros Petersen, Southeast Europe Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, explains: “tactical objectives … seem to have been to secure the main northwest-to- southeast road running through Abkhazia… to seal off the mountain passes to the North Caucasus. These… were

Refugees carrying possessions on their backs begin the long climb over the 2,780 metre high Chuberi Pass, fleeing from Abkhazian Svaneti into Georgia. Photo by Mike Goldwater

never met, resulting in a resilient Abkhaz resistance able to move about the territory, as well as a steady stream of North Caucasian fighters moving southwards to supplement it… On September 3, talks between Shevardnadze, Yeltsin and Ardzinba were held in Moscow where the Abkhaz leader signed a document authorizing the presence of Georgian troops in Abkhazia. The talks fell through, however, when Abkhaz forces recaptured Gagra in October 1992”. Hostilities continued with the civilian population bearing the wrath of fighters from both sides, as villages were regularly burned and looted, and their inhabitants slaughtered or taken hostage. In November, the Abkhaz forces began their siege on Sokhumi, and by February 1993, Russian planes had started bombing the city while Gamsakhurdia’s Zvidiast militia began assaults on the back end of Georgian forces. Finally, on July 27, 1993, the end seemed to be at hand as another Russian-brokered ceasefire brought an end to hostilities, with the subsequent withdrawal of Georgian soldiers from Abkhazia. Believing that the war was over, Georgian civilians returned to Sokhumi. Alas, it was not to be, as the Abkhazian forces broke cease-fire agreement and recaptured Sokhumi on September 27 with their largest offensive yet, leading to the expulsion of 250,000 Georgian civilians into Georgia proper, and the near wholesale ethnic cleansing of the Georgian population of Abkhazia.

GEOPOLITICS OF THE ABKHAZIAN CONFLICT Decades have passed since the conflict and Russia (which played a dubious role in the early 1990s fighting) is now only increasing its influence over the breakaway region, denying any possibility of compromise between Sokhumi and the central government in Tbilisi. Russia emerged little during the initial phase of the conflict, but looking at this in hindsight, one could tell that, overall, Moscow’s attitude towards the fighting was no different than in other conflicts across the former Soviet Union. In other words, if Russia has had a grand strategy in its foreign policy realm, it certainly involves the purposeful creation of conflict zones and their management throughout the post-Soviet space. For the Russians, the fall of the Soviet Union was indeed the biggest geopolitical setback for Moscow, but keeping 11 buffer states around Russia has remained a cornerstone of the Kremlin’s foreign policy against Western influence. Politicians in Russia clearly saw that because of Russia’s low economic potential, the South Caucasus states would inevitably turn to Europe. And it can be rightly said that Russia has been fomenting and managing the Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria and east Ukraine conflicts in the last 25 years to deny Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine their prowestern aspirations. There is a number of reasons why Moscow has been supporting breakaway Abkhazia. For Russia, Abkhazia is one of three major routes through which Moscow can physically enter the South Caucasus region. Two other routes are the Roki Pass in South Ossetia (Samachablo); and the one along the Caspian Sea coast from Dagestan to Azerbaijan. Russia has consistently dominated the three routes over several centuries, and when threatened with western encroachment, it has been open to using military force just as it did in 2008 when there was a real possibility of Georgia moving closer to NATO or, more generally, to the EU. The control of the Abkhazian route allows Russia not only to quickly deploy its forces in the breakaway region but, in case of urgency, also threaten Georgia’s entire Black Sea coast. Remember what happened in 2008 when Russian forces entered Poti and other Black Sea locations? Moscow understands that without control over Abkhazia (and South Ossetia), it would have been simply shut off from processes in the South Caucasus. Thus, this projection of military power serves the basis of Moscow’s

foreign policy whereby NATO powers are quite hesitant to engage Moscow directly. We talked about the geopolitically important Abkhazian route. But there is also another aspect which facilitates the Russian presence in the breakaway region. Unlike South Ossetia, Abkhazia is in a much more comfortable geographic position. Where South Ossetia lacks natural barriers to defend it, Abkhazia, by contrast, has the buffer of the Enguri River. To the east there is the Kodori Gorge, a narrow passage which serves as a natural division line between the breakaway territory and the rest of Georgia. Thence comes the difficulty to prevail militarily over Sokhumi which, like South Ossetia, hosts approximately 5,000 Russian troops. This would largely explain why the Russians are not moving the demarcation line in Abkhazia deeper into Georgia: there is simply no need to do so. Another reason for fostering the separatist regime in Abkhazia was to get hold of the military infrastructure built in Abkhazia during the Soviet period. Little is known about it, but some of the facilities are of great value. Overall, support for Abkhazia aims at constantly pressuring the Georgian government by ramping up or cooling military activities in the breakaway region. Georgia will always be interesting for Moscow due to its geographical position in the South Caucasus. And it is not only about barring Tbilisi from joining NATO or the EU: Russia’s goal historically has been to minimize the importance of the Caucasus mountain range as a barrier between the South Caucasus and the Russian mainland and Abkhazia is one of the ways to implement this policy. At the same time, Moscow has been clever enough not to strengthen Abkhazia too much to avoid Abkhaz nationalism and at times even openly anti-Russian feelings. Moscow does much to minimize Abkhazia’s internal stability. The idea is to provide the ruling politicians with money, while also boosting opposition forces to stage manifestations and even cause resignations. An example of this complicated situation is the return of Ankvab to Abkhazia several months ago. Raul Khajimba’s government, fearful of a reaction and not strong enough anyway, were unable to forestall his election as PM. Moscow is closely watching the developments in the region as there are always elements in Abkhazia which do not agree with being entirely pro-Russian. Many fear that Russian money will leave ethnic Abkhaz without land. Unlike South Ossetia, where the population numbers are quite low and political life cannot become violent, in Abkhazia, for Russia, it is more prudent to have a divided political spectrum; a divided society where neither of the sides can gain the upper hand as a policy which will help Moscow hold off any anti-Russian sentiment gaining momentum. This, in the longer run, will help Russia to further its military and economic influence on political life in Abkhazia. Russian support for Abkhazia is deeply rooted Moscow’s geopolitical calculations not only towards Tbilisi, but the wider South Caucasus. This is Russia’s geopolitical imperative and Moscow will continue pursuing this narrative further as western influence in the former Soviet Union increases along with pressure on Moscow.

Villages were regularly burned and looted, and their inhabitants slaughtered or taken hostage




OCTOBER 6 - 9, 2017

Mike Goldwater on the Day Georgia “Lost” Abkhazia EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

The morning after the Abkhazian advance refugees gather on the Georgian side of the Zugdidi bridge and stare across at the Abkhazian tanks. Photo by Mike Goldwater


eptember 27, the day Sokhumi fell to Abkhazian troops, remains one of the darkest leaves in Georgia’s modern history. Other Abkhazian cities were soon to follow and tens of thousands of Georgian refugees had to embark on a perilous journey through the mountainous Chuberi Pass to make it to safety. There are a few photos and pieces of footage depicting this journey, but none as vivid and visceral as those taken by award-winning British photographer Mike Goldwater. Goldwater, at the time an up-and-coming pro, founded a photo agency together with friends and approached the Independent Magazine, inquiring whether they would be interested in him flying over to the South Caucasus and covering the Abkhazian conflict. They duly consented and after making a couple of calls with the then-Georgian administration, he found himself on a plane to Tbilisi. Shortly after his arrival, he found a travel mate, “a Polish guy, also a photographer, named Cris,” and together they left for Sokhumi. However, as it turned out, the city fell while they were on the way, so they decided to go to the town of Ochamchire instead, believing it would become the new frontline. From there, as fate would have it, their journey was anything but mundane, with their first involuntary stop coming at the behest of none other than the first president of Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia himself. 24 years on, Goldwater sat down with GEORGIA TODAY to speak publicly for the first time about his Abkhazian adventure, a tale told with a sort of jovial sadness as he looks back to what transpired in those dark days.

GAMSAKHURDIA “We were stopped somewhere near Gali by Gamsakhurdia’s security forces, were told that we had to meet him, and then frog-marched right into his office. We took some pictures, made a small interview… But the main thing was he gave us his press-pass, so we now had two passes – one from him, one from the Tbilisi government…” When asked what his impressions of Georgia’s highly divisive first President were, Goldwater takes a moment to ponder. He underlines he was a “cultured man, but…” and that ‘but’ is the size of elephant. We press on to get more out of him and he complies, chuckling. “It’s not only how he came across as a person, but how he behaved. How he, in a way, precipitated the disaster that was

just about to unfold… The second time I saw him was in Ochamchire, the day before everybody fled. He was saying ‘we’re going to hold the town,’ giving out orders and things like that… Later that day, we spent some time with the government troops who were preparing to fight Abkhazians. And later on, I discovered that the government troops had been disarmed by Gamsakhurdia’s people. I remember asking myself ‘what’s going on?’ How come these people are squabbling among themselves in the face of impending invasion? Couldn’t get my head around it. I’m no expert, but you didn’t need to be one to figure out that it was not the cleverest thing to do”. Interrupting, we remark that Gamsakurdia, as disputed as his legacy might be, has retained a staunch base of diminishing supporters to this day, and is widely thought of as the one who was betrayed, the rightful president of the country and not vice versa… And we get a firm rebuttal. “Be that as it may,” he says, “it was evident that everybody was exasperated with how it was turning out; how it played right into enemy hands. It was the wrong time and wrong place for this confrontation. If not for this conflict between

Gamsakhurdia and Shevardnadze, I don’t think the Abkhazian’s would have tried a landgrab the way they did”. “When Ochamchire fell and everybody was trying to get out of there as fast as possible towards Zugdidi, with the road literally swamped with people and vehicles, some of them even without wheels, I suddenly spotted a tank trundling amongst the civilians. Gamsakhurdia’s tank. I thought – what on earth are they doing there in this crowd of fleeing people? So I took some pictures of this tank. And it was towing a luxury soviet Volga, with armed soldiers in it. One of them, when he sees me taking pictures, jumps out of the car, pulls two guns on me and says: Give me the camera! I did. He took both of my cameras and even my photographer’s vest. So I’m standing there, on the road, with no passport, no money, no camera, no film with a guy waving his guns around. And then he forced me on top of the tank. I was sitting on the tank, as he went through all my stuff. Soon Cris joined me, too. And then another photographer. Cris spoke good Russian and he told the soldiers, that we had a pass from Gamsakhurdia. Gamsakhurdia? Oh, Gamsakhurdia! – was the animated answer. So I told them my pass

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was in my camera vest, they found it, there was another round of “Oo Gamsakhurdia? No problem, Gamsakhurdia!” and eventually they gave me all my stuff back. So I was standing there, next to the road, having gone through this trauma, and someone, an elderly woman actually, from a nearby house who was getting ready to evacuate, came over to us and said: ‘I saw what happened to you, come and have some plum wine!’ So we went with her, drank some plum wine, and got back to normal... She was really sweet and caring and this at the moment her family was hauling their stuff out of there…”

ZUGDIDI BRIDGE Among his photos, all of them visceral, one in particular hits hard: Georgian refugees standing on Zugdidi Bridge looking at the Abkhazian tanks rolling towards Sokhumi. We ask Goldwater to share his first-hand experience of what it was like to be there; what were the emotions of these forlorn, desperate people? What he says partly explains why his photos fell so real and vivid- this man had an emphatic link to people around him. “Zugdidi Bridge was a key location in

more ways than one. Everybody was fleeing south to Zugdidi: people knew that once they were past that bridge, they were safe. But they also knew that they were leaving behind everything they had: their houses, belongings, their life… And stepping into an unpredictable future. It was a massive exodus inside their own country. As for that photo, I remember it was early morning and the people that had flocked to Zugdidi bridge, instead of crossing, just stood there, with vacant stares, watching as Abkhazian tanks rolled across… It was a sublimely poignant moment. I stood on top of the bridge parapets to get the view of the crowd and… There was not one smiling face there. In Georgia people smile, right? It was just the moment of realization, when it dawned upon them just how much was going to be lost… What everybody would lose, because there was just no way back… And this weighed them down heavily. As it turned out, later on, some of them tried to sneak back to grab some things they’d left behind, and some of those who dared to do it had to pay with their lives…” You can read the second part of Mike Goldwater’s Abkhazian Adventure in the next issue.

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




OCTOBER 6 - 9, 2017

The Obscure Imprints of the German Elections OP-ED BY ISIDOROS KARDERINIS


he German elections of September 24, due to the country’s specific political, financial and historical strength, have undoubtedly been at the center of international and European interest. Their results were marked by the winning of the Christian Union CDU / CSU led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, even with a lower percent, 33%, than that achieved in the Federal elections of 2013 (41.5%), the contraction (20.5% down from 25.7% in 2013) of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Martin Schulz, and also by the entry in the Federal Parliament of the AfD party, the most dangerous far-right party in Europe due to the size of Germany and to the dramatic historical events that changed the course of the 20th century. Germans, it is more than obvious, are grateful to Chancellor Merkel for their well-being; their high standard of living, compared with that of other European peoples; for combating unemployment effectively (the unemployment rate is at historically low levels, only 3.9% of the workforce); and, of course, for the budget surpluses. So, for all these reasons, they gave her a fourth term in the Chancellery, something achieved previously only by Konrad Adenauer, the reformer of postwar Germany and Helmut Kohl, the father of the reunification of Germany. On the other side, Chancellor Merkel’s victory and the formation of a government with potential partners, whoever they may be, obviously implies the continuation of a policy of extreme austerity and faithful implementation of the "sacred" rules of budgetary discipline, since it serves Germany in a very visible way. However, the implementation of this policy, for years now, has already strained

and overstretched the Southern European countries and especially Greece and therefore, along the road, it will lead, with mathematical precision, the entire European project to a serious risk of collapse. At the same time, the historically high percent (12.6%) of the far-right xenophobic and anti-immigrant “Alternative for Germany” (AfD), which, for the first time was able not only to enter the Bundestag but also to become the third largest party

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A far-right xenophobic and anti-immigrant party entered the Bundestag for the first time since WWII and the collapse of the Nazi regime in 1945 in Germany as a whole and the second largest one in the eastern federal states, is a particularly obscure imprint of the German elections and considerably enhances the right-wing populists and extremists across the continent. It is the first time since the Second World War and the collapse of the Nazi regime in 1945 that such a thing has happened, a fact that undoubtedly constitutes a negative milestone in German history. At this point, it should be noted that in the elections of September 2013, the party AfD, which was born that same year from the reaction of a number of Germans against the Southern European countries, took 4.7% percent of the votes and did not enter Parliament. However, with its current entry, the hardcore far-right and xenophobic members of AfD, for many people considered authentic heirs of the Nazis, are bound to exert strong pressure on Chancellor Merkel to change the liberal democratic face she showed on immigration, terrorism and security matters, for example, the open borders policy which resulted in the entry of many refugees and migrants in Germany in September 2015. Of course, in reality, this policy is not motivated by philanthropic feelings but it is based on Germany's interest, as every year the country needs half a million immigrants in order to continue its existence as an economic power and in order to effectively support its social system. The statement made by the co-chairman of the ,AfD party, Frauke Petry, during a speech in Stuttgart, where she compared a society incorporating migrants to a “compost heap”, her approach on surveillance of the border by German guards who will shoot any refugee or immigrant attempting to pass illegally, but also the statement of the other co-chairman of AfD Alexander Gauland a few days before the 2016 Euro regarding the great black German-Ghanaian player of Bayern and of the German National Football Team Jerome Boateng,

-“People consider him a good player, but they would not want him as their neighbor”- indicate in the clearest way that this party has indeed inherited the loathsome traditions of the assault battalions of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party of Adolf Hitler in the decade of 1930, regarding the Aryan race. What is the reason, however, for the frantic rise of this racist political formation which wants, among other things, to change the attitude of Germany in order to stop the manifestation of remorse for the horrible Nazi crimes? Definitely a key cause is the refugee and migration crisis which has recently assumed gigantic proportions and which overstretches European countries and, of course, Germany. On this basis of ongoing refugee and migration flows, instead of the developed world building a democratic and progressive refugee and immigration policy showing compassion and solidarity, the spiky flowers of evil grow, and inhuman, fascist policies and hatred rhetoric emerge triumphant against persecuted and unfortunate people who fled their homes under the most tragic circumstances, seeking light far from the horrible, deadly darkness of war and extreme poverty, with hope for a better and more peaceful future. Moreover, another important reason for the rapid rise of the far-right AfD is the full use, by the officials of this political formation, of Islamic terrorist incidents and of criminal events who connect them to the influx of refugees and immigrants from Islamic countries: during the election period, they made sure to remind voters about the Berlin Christmas massacre and the sexual attacks against young German women by Arab immigrants at New Year 2016 in Cologne. Finally, the seeds of extreme and xenophobic views are much better incubated as a new "snake egg" in prosperous northern societies that feel threatened by the "poor people" of the south, to whom they have attributed various negative stereotypes, and of course, by the refugees and immigrants. In conclusion, the imprints of the German elections are obscure for the poorer Southern Europe countries in difficulty, since the German policy of austerity is not going to change even a little, for the democratic citizens of Germany and for the whole of Europe which watches with horror the nightmarish onslaught of the fascist, racist and xenophobic political entities. Isidoros Karderinis is a novelist, poet and columnist. He has studied economics and has completed postgraduate studies in the tourism economy. Articles of his have been republished in newspapers, magazines and sites worldwide. His poems have been translated into English, French and Spanish and published in literary magazines and literary sections of newspapers. He has published seven poetry books and two novels. His novels and three of his poetry books have been published in USA and Great Britain.




The Anti-Trump: Oprah for President? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


ho would disagree with the statement that America is a very serious country, in fact, the only country in the world that can claim the planet as a showground for its own will and dictate?! America is a country which can afford grandiose experiments in politics, both foreign and domestic. America has enough power to pay for its own little quirks and whims, always electing its darlings as presidents. And not only that! America can afford abrupt alteration in politics, and, as a rule, it enjoys these sudden shifts. Some ten years ago, America wanted an African American leader of the nation and elected one as chief exec, having probed into a peculiar political stint for a change. America has in recent years tasted the fruits of Kennedy’s charisma and Carter’s humility, Reagan’s spontaneity and Clinton’s tenacity, Bush’s clannishness and Nixon’s craftiness, Obama’s narcissism and Trump’s wildness. The White House has seen thousands of motley days in the hands of its drastically contrasting owners, who still look alike like drops of water even in their disparity. Now rumor has it that the whitest house in the world is getting ready to carry on with its outlandish experiments in its glittering presidential incumbency. The other day, I came across news online that for 2020 the democrats’ best hope is Oprah Winfrey

herself! Oprah has recently moved from soft to hard journalism, having landed in one of the major fields of glamorous political broadcasting. Didn’t you know? Of course, you did: she would never pounce at anything less than the renowned ‘60 Minutes’. The famous American media proprietor, actress, producer, philanthropist and political talk show hostess of a cosmic caliber, might also seize upon the White House! Just think about it: ‘Make America Great Again’ is doomed to sink into oblivion as the message flips to: ‘Be your Best Self’. How about that? And the funniest part of the big and almost breaking news for us Georgians? Not only are Georgian journalists tempted to get themselves into big politics, but American media biggies are setting an example! And now, I would love for all of you to lend your eye to what I read in the American press a couple of days ago. I am quoting the lovely excerpt word for word, without even a feather-touch of change: “If you need to set a thief to catch a thief, you need a star, a grand, outsized, fearless star whom Trump can neither intimidate nor outshine, to catch a star. We’re through the looking glass here. America is discarding old approaches in politics. Democrats will have to do the same to match the mood to the moment. And that’s where Oprah Winfrey comes in. She is the mirror image of Trump, but more so. Of course, she’s female and he’s male; she’s America’s generous aunt and he’s America’s crazy uncle. And yes, she’s black and he’s white, she’s liberal and he’s whatever he is. It goes beyond that. He’s rich and she’s rich, but she made her $3

Oprah Winfrey for the next US President? Photo source: buzznigeria.com

billion herself and with no controversy. She is, in herself, the embodiment of the American Dream. He got famous from TV, and so did she, but she became vastly more famous and vastly more successful at it. Oprah would need that, too. She can’t just be the anti-Trump. She would have to find a transcendent message of her own that rose above Democratic constituent service and spoke to the right people in the right states to take the fight to Trump’s underbelly. She can do it, in theory. The question is: Would she want to?” Isn’t this something, folks?

Obama’s landing in the White house stopped forever the two-and-a-half century long white male supremacy in the American electoral realm. Now there looms a chance on America’s shimmering political horizon that a female-non-white resident might conquer America’s shiny political Olympus, thus gagging the world once again from nasty comments on American society’s sense of freedom and democracy. Move over, the domineering tyrannical machos! Feminism is gathering momentum afresh with totally new tints and shades. Next will a gay, darling. What a hack!

Headaches in Abkhazia During the military parade on September 30, Khajimba faced a difficult day, just like his predecessor Aleksandr Ankvab did. On the last parade of his presidency, Ankvab had an armored vest on. Crazy? The so-called president, whose territories are protected by the powerful Russian army, puts

Russian President Vladimir Putin with de facto Abkhaz President Raul Khajimba. Photo source: http://static.kremlin.ru



wenty-four years have passed since the fall of Sokhumi. On September 27, 1993, the city was taken by North Caucasian militants and Abkhazian fighters. Three days later, the separatist military units had reached the River Enguri and the war that began on August 14th ended. Ceremonies to commemorate the fact, similar in form but different in content, are celebrated annually both in Tbilisi and Sokhumi. Veterans, government officials and families visit the memorials of those who died during the war, recall the 24 subsequent years of drama, light candles and leave... only to meet again the following year, on that same spot and pay tribute to their soldiers. This year was no exception for Tbilisi, unlike in Sokhumi, where the ceremony held in the Park of Glory started and ended earlier than planned. The workload of de-facto president Raul Khajimba was named as the reason, whose appearance in public has, by the way, been decreasing recently. Locals link his fading out of public life to the increasingly criminal situation, budget plundering and unfulfilled promises given to Moscow. Khajimba is having hard times for sure, since soon they have to host an official delegation from Moscow and Chief Curator of Abkhazia, Vladimir Surkov, for a “solemn” military parade. And the latter will definitely be asking questions for details about Khajimba’s “love story” with Turkey. Moscow has been irritated by the Turkish-Abkhazian relations, which are becoming ever firmer, and which should also worry Tbilisi. However, for now, Georgian diplomacy chooses pragmatism, as

Ankara does not recognize Abkhazian independence and the activities of Abkhazian diaspora living in Turkey should not become a reason for tense relations with one of our main trading and transport partners. Moscow has a completely different position, as the North Caucasian problem is still unresolved, the “Circassian Bomb” is ticking and they are far from wanting the Turkish “soft power” to come along the Black Sea coast which would increase its power through trade and informational, cultural and other mediums. It is no longer a secret that Turkish companies are exporting coal from Khajimba’s home town Tkvarcheli and that he has personal business interests. Khajimba’s government previously argued that the agreements were made only with 10% of the companies, the ones that Abkhazia had attracted independently of Russia. But Moscow finds this logic absurd: first of all, if not for those 90%, the 10% would not exist and, most importantly, the moment Russia closes its market to Abkhazian products (citrus, tea, mineral water, vegetables, etc.) everything will be over. Nevertheless, the source of Khajimba’s main headache is different. Surkov will be more interested in the law on Free Trade of Real Estate, which has not been adopted despite Khajimba guaranteeing this to the Kremlin. Surkov will demand that the Abkhazian government quickly adopt it, so that Russian citizens can begin purchasing property, that is about 40-50 thousand houses and apartments that earlier belonged to Georgians. Ethnic cleansing organizers had a plan to sell this property to Abkhazian diaspora residing in Turkey, but failed to do so, which is an interesting phenomenon, proving that the diaspora do not wish to settle in Russian-controlled Abkhazia, having as it does zero prospects of independent development.

on an armored vest prior to making a speech at a parade celebrating independence, so that a sniper doesn’t shoot him right on the tribune... Whether Khajimba put on the same vest on September 30 is not clear, but he has already proved that he is not fond of public celebrations anymore...




OCTOBER 6 - 9, 2017

Forbes: Georgia's Tourism Strategy is Starting to Pay Off



opular American business magazine Forbes has dedicated an article to Georgia, which reads that Georgia takes its tourism very seriously. "Clearly having jumped from 2.8 million visitors in 2011 to six million in 2016 is a big deal in this former Soviet Republic situated between Europe, Russia and the Middle East," the article says, adding that new flight routes have launched from cities around Europe and this year Georgia made the Conde Nast Traveler’s list of hottest upcoming wine destinations. The article reads that in 2015, the Georgian government partnered with the World Bank to develop a cohesive strategy to attract high-value tourists from around the globe.

"Georgia has always been synonymous with a culture of hospitality and warmth; visitors are said to be “gifts from God," the magazine says. "Georgia has all the makings of the next great tourist destination: an impressive list of UNESCO world heritage sites, rugged alpine villages with monasteries dating back to the Middle Ages and a renowned cuisine," the article reads. It also reads that Georgia has distinct wine traditions dating back 8,000 years, picturesque hill towns reminiscent of Italy’s Tuscany and hundreds of indigenous grape varieties. "At a recent travel forum, the Georgian government laid out its ambitious goals for the tourism industry: Build 25 new hotels in next two years, improve infrastructure, work with locals to develop guest houses along the Black Sea coast and elevate tourism standards. The country’s overall goal is to reach $6.6 billion in tourism dollars by 2025," Forbes says.

Georgian-Italian Business Forum Starts in Tbilisi

Most EU Countries in Favor of Negotiations on Nord Stream-2 BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


ost EU countries support the granting of a mandate to the European Commission to negotiate with Moscow on the creation of a special legal framework for the operation of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline, European Commissioner for Energy and Climate Miguel Arias Cañete said. The European Commission is trying to extend a number of EU regulations to the future gas pipeline, into the frames of which it does not currently fall. In summer, the European Commission approved a draft mandate for conducting relevant negotiations with Russia. This mandate must be approved

by the EU Council. According to Cañete, when the EU Council began discussing the mandate, most of the EU members supported the initiative. "Three different approaches to the mandate can be singled out at this stage. The first is that there is a significant number of EU countries that clearly support the mandate, the second is a group of countries that are fairly neutral to the idea; and only a small number of EU states at this stage are (against the mandate) for various reasons: either they consider it unnecessary, or because they believe (the proposal) is not ambitious enough, " Cañete noted. At the same time, Cañete added that the European Commission believes Nord Stream 2 may negatively affect a number of routes of gas transit to the European Union, including Ukrainian ones.

Nord Stream 2 does not apply to all the rules of the internal market of the European Union, the third energy package, since the pipe will not pass through the land part of the EU. Therefore, the EC wants to agree with Russia on a number of key principles that it intends to extend to the operation of the gas pipeline. Among them, transparency of the gas pipeline operation, non-discriminatory establishment of tariffs for pumping gas, access of third parties to pumping "blue fuel", as well as separation of its sale and transportation. The Nord Stream-2 project involves the construction of two strings of a gas pipeline with a total capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year from the Russian coast through the Baltic Sea to Germany. The new pipeline is planned to be built next to the "Nord Stream" pipeline.

Turkey Approves Environmental Report on Shelf Area of Turkish Pipeline BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE

Photo Source: imedinews.ge



he Georgian-Italian Business Forum started in Tbilisi at the Iota Hotel on Wednesday. Giorgi Gakharia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and Ivan Scalfarotto, Deputy of the Minister of Economic Development of Italy opened the forum. The Italian delegation attending the forum consists of over 30 of the largest company representatives from the agriculture, telecommunication, and tourism industries. Bilateral meetings with Georgian-Italian company representatives will be held during the event, the Georgian-Italian Business forum being a continuation of the one held in Italy, where over 260 companies from both countries participated.

Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili met with Scalfarotto and the Italian business delegation members at an official dinner, where they noted that Italy has been one of the main supporters of Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity from the moment the country regained its independence. Kvirikashvili talked about the reforms that are being implemented across the various spheres in Georgia, introduced the government’s Four Point Reform Plan, and discussing the free trade agreements signed with the EU and neighboring countries and, most recently, the free trade agreement signed with China. During the meeting with Italian delegation members, Georgia’s Prime Minister discussed the foreign policy of the country, cooperation with the EU and NATO, and noted that territorial integrity and stability in Georgia still remains top of the government agenda.


he report on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the offshore section of the Turkish gas pipeline has been approved by the Ministry of Environment and Urban Development of Turkey. “The Commission studied and evaluated the EIA report, which was submitted to our Ministry for the offshore section of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. Our ministry has made a positive decision,” the Ministry stated on its website. The construction of the shelf section of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline was started by Russian Gazprom in May. The gas main will consist of two lines, the capacity of each being 15.75 billion cubic meters. The first thread, the construction of which is still actively implemented, will send gas to consumers in Turkey and is expected to be put into operation in March 2018. The second line is intended to supply Russian "blue fuel" to the countries of South and South-Eastern Europe and is set to open in 2019. Earlier it was reported that Gazprom was considering allocating additional

funds for the implementation of the Turkish Stream project to the amount of approximately 50 billion Rubles, pending approval by the company's management of the draft investment program for 2017. Meanwhile, at the beginning of 2017, Gazprom said that the holding planned to allocate 41.92 billion Rubles for the construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. “Turkey attaches great importance

to the implementation of the Turkish Stream project, since this pipeline will become the key in the region and will affect all segments of the regional energy sector,” the head of the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Berat Albayrak, said. “Today, Turkey is a world record holder in terms of growth in energy consumption, which requires a corresponding increase in investment”.



Draft Budget for 2018 Sees Defense, Justice & Economy Ministry Budgets Reduced, Education Up


OCTOBER 6 - 9, 2017

Russia Makes Turkmenistan Proposals in Oil & Gas BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE




n 2018, Georgia is to have an increased budget amounting to 12,364,500,000 GEL, 949 million GEL more compared to 2017. Georgia’s draft budget for 2018, which has already been submitted to Parliament for approval, will decrease the funding of the Defense, Economy and Energy Ministries. The Defense Ministry in 2018 will receive GEL 702 million instead of this year’s GEL 748 million. The Energy Ministry will receive GEL 131 million instead of GEL 132.3 million and the funding of the Ministry of Economy will be reduced by GEL 116 million

to GEL 253.8 million. The funding of the Justice Ministry will also be reduced slightly: it will have GEL 62 million instead of GEL 62.015 million. The budget of the Ministry of Internal Affairs will be increased by GEL 20 million GEL to GEL 605 million. Education, Infrastructure and Health ministries will also see increased funding next year. The Health ministry budget will increase by GEL 111.2 million and will amount to GEL 3,527,000,000 million, while the Infrastructure and regional Development Ministry budget will be increased by GEL 572 million. The Education Ministry funding will be increased by GEL 62.6 million and will amount to GEL 1,178,770,000.

ussia has asked Turkmenistan to join the OPEC + deal to reduce oil production in order to stabilize the world’s oil market, and to resume joint projects in the gas sector, stated Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak. "We invited our colleagues to participate in the Forum of Gas Exporting Countries, as well as in the agreement between the OPEC countries and nonOPEC," Novak said, noting that Turkmenistan is ready to be an observer, not formally entering into an agreement, and also to participate in discussion of the situation developing in the hydrocarbon raw materials markets. According to Novak, although Turkmenistan extracts and sells oil, it does so in small amounts. Russian President Vladimir Putin officially visited Turkmenistan and held talks with the leader of the state, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, during which the key issues of bilateral cooperation in the political, trade-economic, scientific-educational and cultural-humanitarian spheres were considered. Novak said that Russia and Turkmenistan are considering joint projects for the extraction and sale of Turkmen gas. "Historically, we worked together with Turkmenistan to buy Turkmen gas. We are looking at projects for the extraction and sale of Turkmen gas," the Russian minister said.

According to reserves of "blue fuel," Turkmenistan occupies fourth place in the world after Russia, Iran and Qatar. For a long time, the main buyer of Turkmen gas was Russia, in particular, Gazprom. But after a series of scandals connected with price disagreements, the Russian gas holding stopped buying gas in Turkmenistan. In April 2003, Russia and Turkmenistan signed an agreement on cooperation in the gas industry for 25 years. As part of the agreement, the parties entered into a long-term contract for the purchase and sale of Turkmen natural gas. Deliveries were made through the system of transit gas pipelines ‘Central Asia – Center’, passing through the territory of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia. In accordance with intergovernmental

agreements, Gazprom acted as the operator for the transit of Turkmen gas through those territories. Throughout the 1990s and most of the 2000s, Turkmenistan sold the bulk of Russia's produced gas, and the remainder was supplied to Iran. Due to the lack of other export infrastructure, Russia's vast pipeline network was the only export outlet for Turkmenistan. For many years, Gazprom was the only intermediary available to the former president of Turkmenistan, Niyazov, which bought Turkmen gas at low prices and sold it at high prices. In the end, Turkmenistan rebelled. At present, the Turkmen gas market is reoriented to supplying fuel to China, which invested considerable funds in the gas transportation structure of Turkmenistan.




OCTOBER 6 - 9, 2017

Bohemian Rhapsody: Tbilisi BLOG BY TONY HANMER


ow did an American family end up acquiring Georgian citizenship and starting the most successful pizza chain in Georgia? Who ARE these people? Eric and Amy Binder actually grew up in Central and South America; both are artists, and they have three sons. They have lived in Georgia for more than a decade, and have designed and built their own house in Tbilisi, as well as naming their franchise after both of their fathers: Ronny’s Pizza. Ronny’s began with its original location on Gamsakhurdia Avenue, soon moving a short distance to Vazha-Pshavela. It has since added a branch on Paliashvili Str. in Vake, with a third due to open before the end of 2017 in Gldani. Business is flourishing, with eat-in, take-out, online ordering and delivery options available of the best pizza around. While I was in Tbilisi, I caught up with the Binders at home a few days ago, in a huge kitchen-living room-dining room open plan space, with beautifully naturally-textured raw concrete the main indoor material and a massive set of glass doors overlooking the city of Tbilisi. Oil-painted canvases stretched on wood frames are scattered over the walls and stacked vertically on the floor; white ones await inspiration. The fall’s meager but delicious harvest of wine grapes cover an island in the kitchen waiting to be pressed. We stopped on the way home to have some choice cuts of steak ground for the evening’s homemade flame-grilled burgers, which are definitely a cut above anything else. Here is a family which loves and achieves quality in design and execution, no matter the medium. I dossed down for the night on an opened-out sofa-bed, and next morning Eric gave me my first ever cup of coffee from freshly roast and ground green beans, thus ensuring my near-addiction to this freshest possible version of the drink. He uses

an industrial heat gun turned low to roast the beans in a small porcelain bowl, lets their skins fall through a coarse mesh screen, cools them briefly, and uses a hand burr grinder. A precise timing in water of exactly the right temperature, filtering through

paper into a jar, and the elixir is ready. I might be accused of adulterating it with milk AND sugar, but he was diplomatic enough to say nothing of my taste. As for you, you can try the fresh roasted beans in your own order, they way you like it, at Ronny’s, too. The result? As good as it sounds, every bit. I’m not going to exceed the “recommended daily allowance�, but I did go out and buy myself one of those heat guns and begin seeking the green beans here in the city. Having seen the process from start to finish, realizing by my own comparison that freshroasted beans are much more richly flavorful then those left a long time, I know that this is another product that Hanmer Guest House can offer its guests to stand out. We, too, love quality. The green beans also have the great advantage that they can be left raw much more successfully than roasted ones. How can I ever go back? The newest Ronny’s location, opening in bustling, booming Gldani very soon, is literally two minutes’ walk from our flat. So, although we are rarely in Tbilisi (this might improve once we downsize the cow herd to zero), it seems likely to become a favorite evening out for us. I can hardly wait.

since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance� Facebook group, now with over 1700 members, at www.facebook. com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti

https://www.ronnyspizza.com/ Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti Photo source: http://i.huffpost.com

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A Message for Georgian Youth: Turn Your Dreams into Goals with FLEX I was really proud of myself and Americans too because they were interested in hearing about different cultures.

Mariam (Georgia / Leola, SD)



rom mid-September to October 28, the Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX) testings will take place in all regions of Georgia. Established in 1992, each year FLEX high school foreign exchange allows around 80 Georgian scholars to spend one academic year in the US, attending local high schools and living in host families. Originally created in order to strengthen intercultural relations, it has promoted leadership and communication skills among Georgian youth. The deal was not easy, but nobody said turning your sacred desires into reality would be simple. Two years ago, I the thought of crossing the border of Georgia wasn’t even in my head. Of course, I wondered about the outside world, but I satisfied my curiosity by reading articles about foreign countries and watching American movies. Back then, I couldn’t imagine that a Georgian teenager could become part of those American movies himself. To my surprise, a year later, I found myself in the middle of Central Valley in the heart of California. I can’t remember many fully-funded exchange programs for high school students, since finding them is often hard. I accidentally bumped into the FLEX program while surfing the web, and did not believe the description. Offering a chance to study in the US for free, it also guaranteed a once-in-alifetime experience. Though I was a little skeptical, I applied. Essays, English testing, applications and an inter-

Photo source: americancouncils.ge / FLEX

view: just some of the processes I had to go through to become a finalist. The 6-8 months waiting for the phone call to say I was going to spend my next year in the US. Then comes excitement about the future trip, visa papers and the uncertain voice inside, saying that you are going to spend a year away from your family and friends, in a completely different country across the ocean. Nevertheless, I felt adventurous and eager to start my new life; a life in a year. After the long flight, the US shocked me right from the airport: it felt like the whole country was smiling at me. My uncertainty was blown away as I saw that people were open to forming new friendships and learning about exotic cultures and experiences. The welcoming host family, delicious cuisine from all over the world, and people interested in Georgian culture definitely made my year-long trip. The year also brought challenges and advanced my leaderships skills. While overcoming each of the challenges, like the language barrier or the culture shock, I found myself ready to return to Georgia with new ideas, skills and possibilities. My journey was not only about spending time in the US, seeing the amazing streets of LA and the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco, it was also about coming back and sharing my experience. With a fresh mindset and better understanding of the world around, I returned as a better person. If one teenager can improve something in his or her country, many can do more. So, if you see yourself as a young, active and adventurous person wanting to learn about the US culture and share yours – apply for the FLEX selection process. Dreams can always come true if you turn them into goals!


German Embassy Marks 27th Anniversary of Unification of Germany BY MAKA LOMADZE


n October 3, the German Federation Republic marked its unification. On this very day, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) joined the Federal Republic of Germany, thus becoming a united republic again. The date was celebrated by the German Embassy in Georgia at the Funicular Restaurant, Mtatsminda. The reception was ample with foreign diplomats accredited in Georgia, as well as local officials. This is the German-Georgian Year and the 25th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. Furthermore, the year of 2017 marks two centennials from the arrival of the first German emigrants to Georgia. “We celebrate today 27 years of German unification,” Heike Peitsch, German Ambassador to Georgia, told GEORGIA TODAY. “We are very grateful to our compatriots of the former GDR, cities like Berlin, Leipzig, etc, because they went to the streets and fought peacefully for freedom, democracy and rule of law. We are very glad to celebrate this event because this was a very important day not only for Germany but it also changed the architecture of the whole of Europe. We are very glad to celebrate this day with our Georgian friends. German-Georgian relations are very close and deeply rooted in history.” She also mentioned the high-level visits last week

of Georgan Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili who met with Angela Merkel, German Chancellor in Berlin and the forthcoming first official visit of German Defense Minister Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen who arrived in Tbilisi on October 5. Highlighting the importance of Georgia-Germany bilateral relations, the Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikheil Janelidze emphasized that Germany has been one of the key donors and supporters of Georgia’s democratic development and European and Euro-Atlantic integration since its restoration of independence. He also reaffirmed that Germany was one of the first countries to recognize Georgia’s independence and to open its diplomatic mission in Georgia. “Close co-operation and political links with Germany are of great importance, to which attests the Georgian Prime Minister’s visit to Germany shortly after the elections, and his meeting with the Federal Chancellor of Germany,” the Minister noted. “Just as Germany reunited 27 years ago, on 3 October, Georgia will also achieve peaceful reunification through the support of such partners as Germany and will thus be able to contribute to the security and development of Europe”. Within the coming weeks, a number of significant occasions are on the agenda. On October 7 and 8, a public holiday will be held in Bolnisi, Kvemo Kartli region, the former ‘Katharinenfeld,’ to mark the 200th anniversary since the arrival of the first German emigrants. On October 20-21, the long-awaited concert tours of ‘Sasha Waltz and Guests’ will present the performance ‘Conitu’.




OCTOBER 6 - 9, 2017

Chinese Embassy Marks 68th Anniversary of Foundation of People’s Republic of China BY MAKA LOMADZE


n September 29, the 68th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China was marked by the Chinese Embassy to Georgia at Hotels and Preference Hualing Tbilisi. In addition, the 25th anniversary from the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations with Georgia is celebrated this year. Therefore, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia, also attended the occasion. The Ambassador of China H.E. JI Yanchi opened the reception, starting with a historical journey into Chinese history. “For 68 years, the Chinese people waged an arduous struggle, moved forward and transforming the poor and backward country into a rising world power with increasing comprehensive national strength and international influence. We successfully explored the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics”. He then went to economy: “During the 39 years of reform and opening up, China has maintained an average economic growth rate of above 7%. Last year, the GDP reached $11 trillion, accounting for 14.84% of the world’s GDP, foreign exchanges reserve reached $3 trillion, taking up 30% of global reserves, foreign trade turnover reached $3.7 trillion. This year, the Chinese government has carried forward the “Four Comprehensives” strategic blueprint, promoted advance modernization in the state governance system and governance capability, sped up supply reform, encouraged “mass entrepreneurship and innovation,” carried out a new round of high level opening-up, so that China keeps prosperity and peace, and our economy is stable and improved. In the first half of this year, the GDP growth stood at 6.9%, foreign trade increased by 19.6%, and China’s contribution to the world economic growth is above 30%.”

Of scientific achievements, the Ambassador announced that China has launched the first Quantum Space Satellite, built the largest and the most sensitive radio telescope array in the world, and successfully extracted the Methane Clathrate for the first time. “China’s self-developed Jumbo Jet test flight was a success, the first self-constructed aircraft carrier was smoothly launched into the water, the Tianzhou 1 cargo spacecraft successfully docked with the Tiangong 2 space laboratory and, before the end of this year, China will launch lunar probe ‘Chang’e 5,’ which will bring back the first samples of lunar soil for Mankind this century,” he said. This year, China successfully hosted the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, as well as the BRICS leaders’ summit in Xiamen. This year is the 25th anniversary of the establish-

ment of diplomatic relations between China and Georgia, having seen ever increasing high level political exchanges, exchanges in various fields, and economic and technical cooperation. “China has already become a major investor in Georgia, is the third biggest trade partner and the second largest exporting market for Georgian wine. The free trade agreement was officially signed and will come into force soon. Cultural exchanges are also becoming more and more active. Cooperation

in the spheres of culture, education, social sciences, healthcare, tourism, and environmental protection is rapidly expanding and the Belt and Road cooperation is constantly deepening,” the Ambassador said. “Georgia cherishes the fact that the People’s Republic of China was one of the first to recognize its independence and opened an embassy in Tbilisi in 1992, giving a strong impetus to the development of existing historical and cultural ties,” the Georgian Prime Minister told guests. “Georgia is lucky to count China among its friends and partners. We attach great importance to our existing friendly and prosperous relations in various spheres. Over the years, our partnership has grown and continues to grow stronger in all fields from trade and economy, to culture and tourism. We have already achieved significant progress in many directions and we see many more opportunities ahead, in particular, in the context of the outstanding Belt and Road initiative, as well as the most recently signed Free Trade Agreement, which we can consider a historic document and an important milestone in bringing our successful cooperation to a higher level”, Kvirikashvili noted. “China is playing a major role in the development of many countries in our region,” the PM added. “This should be welcomed, as China’s aims of promoting peace, stability and prosperity are shared by everyone. When it comes to working with China, there is no country in the region more open than Georgia: open to Chinese business and investment; open to the Chinese people; and open to Chinese innovation and ideas”. On November 28-29, the second Tbilisi Belt & Road Forum will be held in Tbilisi.


International Music Festival 2017 Opens in Telavi BY THEA MORRISON


he International Music Festival will open in Telavi, Kakheti region, on October 7 and will last until October 15. Of the six concerts in the schedule, five will be held in the Telavi State Drama Theater and one in the Alexander Chavchavadze House Museum in Tsinandali. This year is the 55th anniversary of the concert career of famous Georgian musician, founder and art director of the festival, Eliso Virsaladze. The 100th anniversary of the Tbilisi State Conservatoire is also to be celebrated within the festival. In parallel with the concerts, an exhibition of posters of Eliso Virsaladze's concerts will be exhibited in the Telavi theater foyer, among which will be Anastasia Virsaladze's classical concert posters, dated 1940-1950. Master classes will be also held during the festival by Eliso Virsaladze, Khatuna Kokochashvili, Giorgi Kobulashvili and Daniel Austrich. The festival is held by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, organized by Center for Protection, Development and Promotion of Classical Music. The supporters of the festival are: Alexander Chavchavadze House Museum in Tsinandali, Telavi City Hall, Telavi Vazha Pshavela State Drama Theater, Telavi Niko Sulkhanishvili Music School, Hotels "Chateau Mere" and "Alazani Valley". Media supporters: Radio Fortuna, Magazine Culture, TV Imedi, Radio One, Georgian Public Broadcaster, Radio Imedi, News Agency GHN, Advertising Company Alma - Alma, Georgia Today and TV company ARTAREA. 7 OCTOBER 19.00 OPENING OF THE FESTIVAL The Festival Orchestra Conductor: Ariel Zuckermann Soloist: Lukaš Vondracek: piano, winner of the International Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition 2016, Antonín Dvorák: Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88 Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 8 OCTOBER 19.00 CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT In Memoriam of Eduard Brunner Eliso Virsaladze - piano

David Oistrakh String Quartet Andrey Baranov - violin Rodion Petrov - violin Fedor Belugin - viola Alexey Zhilin - cello • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 E minor K.304 • Ludwig van Beethoven - Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 4 in C Major, Op. 102 • Robert Schumann - Adagio and Allegro op.70 • Robert Schumann - Sonata for Violin and Piano no 1 in A minor, Op. 105 • Antonín Dvorák - Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81 10 OCTOBER 17.00 Alexander Chavchavadze Museum in Tsinandali Piano Recital Boris Berezovsky 12 OCTOBER 19.00 Concert dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire Concert is led by Professor Revaz Tavadze 14 OCTOBER 19.00 The Festival Orchestra Conductor: Ariel Zuckermann Georgian Sinfonietta Soloists: Giorgi Kobulashvili, oboe Jiyoon Lee, violin Daniel Petrica Ciobanu, piano • Kakha Tsabadze: "Epitaph" for oboe and chamber orchestra (dedicated to Eduard Brunner) • Max Bruch - Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor Op. 26 • Sergei Prokofiev - Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major Op. 26 15 OCTOBER 19.00 CLOSING CONCERT OF THE FESTIVAL The Festival Orchestra Conductor: Ariel Zuckermann Soloists: Eliso Virsaladze, piano Mamikon Nakhapetov, piano Dmitri Prokofiev, cello • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Concerto for two pianos and orchestra No.10 in E-flat major K.365 • Robert Schumann - Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in A minor Op. 129 • Ludwig van Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor Op 37 Tickets are available online www.biletebi.ge Price range 15-35 GEL



World-Famous Young Georgian Tenor’s Home Debut BY MAKA LOMADZE


ikheil (Misha) Sheshaberidze is a worldfamous young Georgian tenor. Recently, he took the lead roles at the Arena di Verona in Verdi’s two major operas, ‘Nabucco’ and ‘Aida’, as well as in Puccini’s ‘Tosca’. After Italy, he departed for Greece where, in Corfu, at the Dionysia Opera Festival, he took part in ‘Aida’ and ‘Carmen’. His debut on the Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater stage will take place on October 7 after which, he’ll be heading to Estonia, Romania and Italy where he’ll perform in Aida, Tosca and La Fanciulla del West. Meet him below.


WHAT ARE YOUR EMOTIONS BEFORE YOUR DEBUT IN YOUR BIRTH COUNTRY? They’re so huge that words are almost powerless and not enough to express them. I think it’s the greatest joy to step before your native audience and offer them the production that you've been offering abroad for years.



able [laughs]. Radames is much closer to me. As for ‘Carmen,’ I’ve participated in five different performances. Levan Tsuladze’s staging of ‘Carmen’ will be my first Georgian performance.

I only studied here for four years and was 21 when I left for Italy. At such an early age, a male singer cannot say that he is an established vocalist here. Therefore, I would say that my whole professional growth is connected with Italy. Of course, I’m really grateful to Guliko Kariauli who made me fall in love with this profession. As for different schools, I believe that there is only one school for an opera singer: an Italian school.

There are some that I can’t talk about yet, as they are in the process of negotiation. From here, I’m flying to Milan and then to Estonia. There, I’ll play in two ‘Aida’s. From Estonia, I’m going to Romania, where I’ll sing ‘Tosca’. On November 4, I leave for Lucca, Livorno, Pisa, Ravenna, and Modena, for my debut in the role of Dick Johnson in the La Fanciulla del West. It’s a splendid joint performance of Cagliari Theatro Lirico, the New York City Opera (USA), Teatro del Giglio di Lucca, and Opera Carolina di Charlotte (USA). Then, I will sing ‘Aida’ at Astana Opera Theater. Next year, I’ll be back at the Arena Di Verona.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR DEBUT ON THE ARENA DI VERONA STAGE? It took place in 2016. It was in ‘Aida’. Within 5 days, I had two debuts, the second in ‘Carmen’.

YOU HAVE TAKEN PART IN NUMEROUS PERFORMANCES OF ‘CARMEN’. WHICH DON JOSE IS SPECIAL FOR YOU? ‘Carmen’ has brought a lot of success for me. This is a performance that helped me meet more Georgians than elsewhere. In Italy, I met Giorgi Andghuladze. In Bulgaria, I sang with Anita Rachvelishvili. As for Don Jose, I would say that he is close to me from a vocal point of view rather than personally. I’m not that piti-






OCTOBER 6 - 9, 2017


TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 00 44 66 October 7, 11 CARMEN Georges Bizet Starring: Irina Aleksidze, Mikheil Sheshaberidze, Tinatin Mamulashvili, Beso Gabitashvili, Givi Gigineishvili, George Tsamalashvili, Nino Chachua, Nutsa Zakaidze, Tamaz Saginadze, Irakli Mujiri. Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater Choir, ballet dancers, orchestra. Conductor- Zaza Azmaiparashvili Stage Director- Levan Tsuladze Set Designer- Irakli Avaliani Costume Designer- Polina Rudchik Choreographer- Gia Margania Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-60 GEL TBILISI INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THEATER October 8, 9 THE CHERRY ORCHARD Anton Chekhov Directed by David Doiashvili Composer: Nikoloz Rachveli Memanishvili National Theater of Bucharest (Romania) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 35 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 October 6 KRIMANCHULI Vazha Pshavela Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Pantomime theater Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL October 7 HOST AND GUEST Vazha Pshavela Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Pantomime Theater Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 20 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260

October 6 SILENCE, REHEARSAL Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL October 6 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Kakha Bakuradze, Sandro Nikoladze, Irakli Menagarishvili, Simon Bitadze, Dato Kakulia, El banda del “მუდო” Special guest: Levan Berdzenishvili Start time: 21:30 Ticket: 10 GEL October 8 LABYRINTH Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Composer- Sandro Nikoladze Choreography- Lasha Robakidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL October 12 SIMBIOSIS One-act choreographic sketch Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 October 7, 12 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 20, 30 GEL October 6 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 20, 30 GEL TBILISI SPORTS PALACE Address: 1, 26th May Sq. Telephone: 2 33 33 11 October 8, 9 CIRCUS EXTREME An unforgettable adventure in the circus world with animals, acrobatic and air tricks Start time: 13:00, 17:00 Ticket price: 10-25 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge

Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL October 6-12 BLADE RUNNER 2049 Directed by Denis Villeneuve Cast: Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 13:00, 16:00, 22:00 Ticket: 9-14 GEL BORG VS MCENROE Directed by Janus Metz Cast: Stellan Skarsgård, Shia LaBeouf, Björn Granath Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport Language: Russian Start time: 19:10 Ticket: 13-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL October 6-12 BLADE RUNNER 2049 (Info Above) Start time: 13:15, 15:30, 19:00, 22:30 Ticket: 10-14 GEL MARK FELT: THE MAN WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE Directed by Peter Landesman Cast: Liam Neeson, Diane Lane, Maika Monroe Genre: Biography, Drama, History Language: Russian Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE Directed by Matthew Vaughn Cast: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 16:45 Ticket: 10-11 GEL AMERICAN ASSASSIN Directed by Michael Cuesta Cast: Dylan O'Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan Genre: Action, Thriller, Adventure, Fa Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL


GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge May 18 – November 18 EXHIBITION GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES Georgian National Museum and Korneli Kekelidze National Centrer of Manuscripts present the exhibition MEDIEVAL TREASURY Permanent Exhibition EXHIBITION NUMISMATIC TREASURY MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 March 6 – December 31 EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 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. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 15 73 00 www.museum.ge October 5 – November 30 Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery is to host two Italian exhibitions: UNIVERSAL VALUES: BOTTICELLI, THE BEAUTY AND CARAVAGGIO, THE LIGHT, DISPLAYING

MASTERPIECES OF ITALIAN PAINTING The Venus Pudica exhibition is organized in co-operation with Turin Royal Museum and cultural association Metamorphosis, displaying the original Botticelli’s Venus, usually housed in the Sabauda Gallery, in Turin. Caravaggio’s exhibition: Opera Omnia initiated by Rai.Com and organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, unites forty reproductions of real size, digital, high resolution masterpieces from Caravaggio. MUSIC

TELAVI INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL October 7-15 Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 15-25 GEL Venue: Telavi Vazha-Pshavela State Drama Theater October 7 OPENING The Festival - Orchestra Conductor- Ariel Zuckermann Soloist- Lukáš Vondrácek /piano October 10 PIANO RECITAL Boris Berezovsky Venue: Alexander Chavchavadze Museum in Tsinandali CONSERVATOIRE - GRAND HALL Address: 8 Griboedov Str. October 6 II STAGE MORNING AUDITION Start time: 10:00 III STAGE EVENING AUDITION Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 10 GEL October 7 III STAGE MORNING AUDITION Start time: 10:00 II STAGE EVENING AUDITION Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 10 GEL October 9, 10 IV STAGE EVENING AUDITION Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 15 GEL October 9, 10 GALA CONCERT OF THE WINNERS Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 5-20 GEL HARD ROCK CAFÉ Address: 1 Petriashvili Str. Telephone: 2 40 14 01 October 6 VAKIS PARKI LIVE Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 10 GEL INTERNATIONAL MUSIC

FESTIVAL AUTUMN TBILISI Venue: Djansug Kakhidze Tbilisi Center for Music and Culture October 6 THE CONCERT OF SYMPHONIC MUSIC Violinist- Natalia Gabunia and Storioni Trio Conductor- Vakhtang Kakhidze Program: Mozart, Casella and Respighi Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL October 8 CONCERT OF SYMPHONIC MUSIC SWEDISH MEN’S CHOIR ZERO 8 Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL October 11 CONCERT OF POPULAR MUSIC World famous ensemble from St. Petersburg TEREM-QUARTET Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL




Polyphony & Georgian Audio Archives Presented in the British Library



f ever there was an event designed to celebrate 25 years of formal diplomatic relations between the UK and Georgia, then this was it: a collaboration presented by the Embassy of Georgia to the United Kingdom in tandem with the British Library, the most comprehensive stockpile of information in the country. It launched the British Library’s Season of Sound series beginning with a series of talks on Georgian culture, musicology, and the history of recorded music in the region, culminating in a performance by the Rustavi Choir. We were welcomed by Ambassador to the UK, HE Tamar Beruchashvili, who gave an overview of the day’s proceedings, and managed to elicit an actual cheer from the audience with the announcement of khachapuri and Georgian wine to be served in the interval between the lectures and the concert before we heard from the library’s Sound Curator Will Prentice. Prentice told the little-known story of the British Gramophone company and its short-lived yet

prolific work collecting and recording the folk music of the Caucasus in the early 20th Century. It is thanks to the company that there is such a well-preserved archive of recordings, even more remarkable considering the delicate and precarious nature of recording onto wax cylinders. Gramophone opened their first Tbilisi (then Tiflis) office in 1901 and continued expanding across the region until 1915 when WWI necessitated its closure. There followed a brief talk by Baia Zhuzhunadze on the work of the Georgian Chanting Society, supporting the proliferation of Georgian music, dance and culture; a talk by the former chair of the British Georgian Society Jason Osborn, who gave an overview of Georgian polyphonic singing and announced the next Life Through Film Festival to be held in London on 26 April 2018; Prof. Anzor Erkomaishvili (founder of the Rustavi Ensemble) complemented Prentice’s history of phonographic recording and explained the influence of Georgian Polyphony on composers like Stravinsky; and Prof. Revaz Kiknadze set himself the apparently impossible task of giving a history of Georgian music in 15 minutes. I cannot think of a better justifica-

tion for the music’s inscription on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity than the subsequent performance: after a brief introduction by GeorgianBritish singer Katie Melua, we were treated to superb live examples of the music we’d been discussing all afternoon. It is unlike almost anything immediately familiar to the Western ear and doesn’t invite immediate comparison with the Renaissance polyphony of Palestrina (for example), but nor does it have the unpolished, rough quality of much folk music. The music often takes a strophic form common to folk but the harmonic language is incredibly sophisticated. The choir’s vocal and rhythmic control was impressive as the tenors demonstrated their ability nimbly to flit around the top of their range in close thirds over long drones from the basses. Seemingly disparate motivic cells appeared cyclically in a way that meshed together to create a cohesive whole. With no recognisable system of dissonance and resolution, tension and release was achieved by the seemingly contrasting melodic lines naturally coming together before branching out. Often the lack of a clear rhythmic pulse gave the music an ethereal quality that leant itself particularly well to the delicate occasionally melancholic religious and harvest songs, especially considering the parallel intervals and deep resonance of the harmony. In inexpert hands, the whole thing would run the risk of either falling apart or becoming too regimented, but this just worked. Their authentic performance comprised music from all areas and traditions in Georgia. If the intention was a sharing of culture, then one would be hard pressed to think of a more fitting space than the entrance hall of the British Library in London in front of the tower housing King George III’s personal book collection. The event’s partners and sponsors were: The British Library, the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, Georgian ‘Chanting Foundation’, Ensemble "Rustavi", Winery ‘Shilda’, Georgian Wine Club in London and the British-Georgian Society.

Deaf Men Dancing Debut Performance at Tbilisi International Theater Fest BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


s part of its ‘Culture & Development: Unlimited’ project, British Council Georgia brought Deaf Men Dancing, an all-male deaf dance company, with their new outdoor performance called TEN, to the Tbilisi International Festival of Theater on September 30, in the New Tiflis area on Agmashenebeli Avenue. The new show was inspired by double acts like Laurel & Hardy, Flanagan & Allen, Morecambe & Wise, Abbott & Costello and Gilbert & George, as it represented a fusion of different dance styles, incorporating British Sign Language into a 30 minute performance

Textile from Georgia - New Album on Georgian Costume Published BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


extile from Georgia is a new 400-page bilingual (Georgian-English) album, published on the initiative of Art Palace, (Museum of Theater, Music, Chorography and Cinema) with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia (MoC), featuring over 200 frescoes and more than 300 textile examples, including Byzantine textiles from Svaneti of the VIII -XI centuries. The publication introduces the history of textile from Georgia, from VII up to the beginning of the XX centuries, displaying clothing reproduced from that

worn by Georgian noble men and Georgian kings throughout the centuries. For the first time, we can see, in bold color, the costumes of Georgian kings David Agmashenebeli (David the Builder), Queen Tamar, and George III Aside from a historic textile and costume overview, the album also presents textile samples reconstructed from Georgian church and monastery frescoes, brought to life from ancient manuscripts and the walls of Georgian places of worship. These have been restored on the highest quality silk material by textile artist Ekaterine Geguchadze. The album also showcases textile kept in the Art Palace fund, the Georgian National Museum and in private collections throughout the country. The team, made up of Giorgi Kalandia,



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Salome Vashalomidze



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Director of the Art Palace; Irine Saganelidze, Department Head of Art and Theater at the MoC; Irakli Zambakhidze, designer and graphic concept author; Guliko Kvantitdze, Scientific Editor; Katie Davies, English Editor; and many others, spent over six months preparing the ‘Textile from Georgia’ album. “This is the very first attempt to make a visual encyclopedia of textile from Georgia,” Kalandia said at the launch on Monday. “It was a unique process as, together with our experienced textile specialist Ekaterine Geguchadze, and with the participation of Eka Javakhishvili and Bachana Chanturia, from the National Costume House, we managed to restore textile examples from the frescoes of almost all churches and monasteries in Georgia”.

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

which attempts to raise awareness of individuals with hearing disability. “The show is about the Ten Commandments for Deaf Awareness, which make it easier for us to connect with individuals who have hearing impairment,” said one of the performers. “Once again, continuing our tradition, we brought a very interesting DeafMen Dancing company from UK, focusing on promoting British arts and culture here in Georgia, the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in arts, and creating a platform for their professional development,” said Zaza Purtseladze, Director of British Council Georgia. “This show is about inclusion of individuals with disabilities into society, and the things we all need to know while we connect with them,” he added.

Mikheil Giorgadze, Minister of Culture and Giorgi Kalandia, Director of the Art Palace launch the new album

After copying the patterns from the clothing displayed in frescoes and manuscripts, the details were made into sketches and put onto textile and then photographed for compilation in the album. “But the album presents not only restored textile examples; it also displays the photos of the original costumes kept in our museums and the frescoes on the walls of our churches,” Kalandia added.

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

“This is one of the many projects we’ve worked on in partnership with Art Palace, and yet it’s one of the most important ones,” said Mikheil Giorgadze, Minister of Culture. “This is by far one of the best examples of how our extensive cultural heritage can be promoted and transformed into a modern application. This is not just a high-quality album, it is already a cultural asset”.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #987  

October 6 - 9, 2017

Issue #987  

October 6 - 9, 2017