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Issue no: 1209

• DECEMBER 6 - 9, 2019 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... ICC: Georgia-Russia War Investigation May Conclude in 2020 NEWS PAGE 3

Georgian Politicians Slam Nino Burjanadze for Visiting Moscow POLITICS PAGE 4

Former President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan Charged with Corruption POLITICS PAGE 4

Image source: archive.gov.ge/

FOCUS

ON REDJEB JORDANIA The son of the first Georgian President nears his centenary year

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"Keep Georgia on Your Mind": MFA Zalkaliani at the NATO Summit 2019 BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

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he United Kingdom hosted NATO Heads of State and Government in London on 3-4 December. David Zalkaliani, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, made a speech during a session dedicated to safety in the territories of the Baltic and Black seas. While highlighting the importance and challenges to stability in the Black Sea region, Zalkaliani underlined Russia’s destructive policies and the outcomes of occupation, spotlighting the Vazha Gaprindashvili case as a “humanitarian catastrophe.” “The human rights and security situation on the ground remains extremely difficult. People are being persecuted and illegally detained. Renowned Georgian doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili remains in illegal custody. We have already consolidated the international community over this fact and continue to do so. We are faced with a humanitarian catastrophe,” Minister Zalkaliani said. Speaking about Georgia’s integration with NATO, the Minister underscored that Georgia’s

US State Department Officials, Senators Make Supportive Statements on Georgia

POLITICS PAGE 6

“In Honorem” of PhD. Professor & Academician Roin Metreveli SOCIETY PAGE 7

Cold Storage: Etseri, Svaneti SOCIETY PAGE 8

Zaza Burchuladze Receives Berlin City Scholarship for Literary Merit CULTURE PAGE 9 Image source: MFA Georgia

integration with NATO is aimed at ensuring the country’s security and its democratic development, rather than being directed against any third party. He told the high-ranking attendees of the NATO Summit that Georgia is a success-

ful aspirant country with all practical instruments for membership and is actively moving ahead towards the time when a political decision on its membership is taken. Continued on page 2

Special Offer for readers of Georgia Today -15% off all Diet Plans!

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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

Large-scale Demonstrations Planned in Regions of Georgia BY ANA DUMDADZE

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Tourist Visits to Georgia Reach Historic High in January-November 2019 BY ANA DUMBADZE

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n January-November 2019, visits of international travelers coming to Georgia reached a historic high of 8,690,352, which is 7.2% more compared to the same period of last year, reports the Georgian National Tourism Administration. The countries most international visits were carried out from in the first 11 months of 2019: Russia – 1,406,255 (4.9% increase) Azerbaijan – 1,404,028 (7% increase)

Armenia – 1,230,834 (5.9% increase) Turkey – 1,075,812 (4.3% increase) The countries most international visits were carried out from in November 2019: Armenia - 116,712 visits (+18.1%) Azerbaijan - 114,657 visits (+8.15%) Russia - 82,029 visits (+10.9%) Turkey - 81,736 visits (+25.3%) International visitors in November came mostly from Kazakhstan (169.3%), Kyrgyzstan (134.8%), China (52.6%), Saudi Arabia (46%), and Israel (36.3%). An increase in international visitors from EU countries was seen from Italy (84.8%), Poland (80.4%), France (35.5%), German (35.4%) and Latvia (26.6%).

he united opposition plans to launch large-scale demonstrations throughout the country, under the slogan 'All against One.' The representatives of the opposition parties claim that they, along with civil activists, will start marching on Rustaveli Street in Kutaisi and finish with a rally at Kutaisi City Hall on December 6. They agreed that the demonstrations will be held in all major cities of Georgia. In addition, a large-scale rally is planned in Georgia's capital Tbilisi for December 9. The protests in the country were sparked after the rejection of an election bill, proposed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, offering the transition to

a fully proportional electoral system from 2020 instead of 2024. The demonstrators accuse the current state leadership of "breaking its promise and cheating people" as the ruling party agreed to conduct the 2020 parliamentary elections using a fully proportional electoral system during the internationally renowned June protests in Tbilisi. Protesters demand the second hearing in

Parliament on the proportional elections, and some are pushing for snap elections. The united opposition has proposed its own model to Parliament for a new electoral system. The draft law, developed by 30 opposition forces, implies holding the 2020 parliamentary elections through a mixed electoral system. The new bill has already been registered in the Parliament.

OECD Student Assessment: Georgia 70th among 79 Countries BY ANA DUMBADZE

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he latest international student assessment from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has placed Georgia in the 70th place among 79 countries, ranking alongside Kazakhstan and Panama. The result is found in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Released on Tuesday, the

ranking presents results of tests on about 600,000 students aged 15 in 79 states across the world. Published every three years, the report follows a series of tests that students sit in volunteering countries or regions to identify their knowledge and skills in reading, mathematics and science. The test aims to identify what knowledge the students have as well as how they can use it for comprehension or finding solutions to scientific challenges. The national average score for Georgian students in reading was identified at 380, placing the country between

Kazakhstan (387) and Panama (377), with the top-ranked Chinese provinces of Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang at 555. Ranking in mathematics saw Georgia at 398 points compared to China's four regions at 591 and the bottom-ranked Philippines at 353. In science, the national score was 383, in contrast to the OECD average of 489. The scores show a decrease for Georgian students since the previous PISA report in 2015, where the country score was 411, 401 and 404 in the three categories respectively.

Opposition Registers Bill on Change of Electoral System he united opposition has registered a new bill in Parliament regarding the demanded change to the electoral system. The draft law, developed by 30 opposition forces, implies holding the 2020

parliamentary elections through a mixed electoral system. “The opposition parties have submitted a draft law to Parliament, which suggests the so-called German model. This is a project aimed at reforming the electoral system. It involves the German principle, which means that all parties will get seats in the parliament according to the proportional vote results and it also involves multi-mandate majoritarian constituen-

cies," said Sergi Kapanadze, a member of the European Georgia party. The bill was initiated by the National Movement and European Georgia parliamentary factions. The representatives of the opposition parties claim that there is complete consensus on the opposition wing regarding the bill, so now the ruling party Georgian Dream must find a solution "If they want to find a way out of this very acute political crisis.”

the UK’s firm support for Georgia, describing the country as a successful aspirant and a valuable, reliable partner for NATO. The parties highlighted the importance of the Strategic Cooperation Agreement between Georgia and Great Britain, which will be put to work following Brexit. The agreement is yet another indication that Georgia remains an important partner for the UK. Zalkaliani briefed the UK Minister of

State on the recent developments in Georgia’s occupied regions, highlighting the illegal detention of Vazha Gaprindashvili. He made sure to underline that the international partners must keep raising the issue of the occupation of the Georgian territories and the dire humanitarian situation on the ground in all formats of their relations with the Russian Federation. Congratulating Georgia on the CoE

Presidency, Christopher Pincher highly appraised Georgia’s priorities and wished the country success in its capacity as Chair of the international organization. The leaders of 29 countries gathered in London at the NATO summit on December 3-4, marking the organization’s 70th anniversary. The high-ranking attendees included the Presidents of the USA, Turkey, the Prime Ministers of the UK and Canada.

BY ANA DUMBADZE

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"Keep Georgia on Your Mind": MFA Zalkaliani at the NATO Summit 2019 Continued from page 1

“The Bucharest Summit decision clearly indicated that Georgia will become a member of NATO. All documents and declarations adopted following the Bucharest Summit reaffirm support for Georgia’s membership of NATO. We are fully aware of the existing situation and the fact that a political decision has not yet been taken. However, we are effectively implementing all practical instruments that lead us to membership. Georgia is already acting as an ally. We are doing our utmost to bring the country to the moment when it is ready for membership. Georgia’s contribution to NATO needs to be reciprocated by NATO,” Zalkaliani said, adding that Georgia is closely working with all partners and is taking active steps to prepare the coun-

try for its ultimate membership. The Minister ended his speech with a musical reference: “Keep Georgia on your mind,” Zalkaliani urged the attendees of the summit, connecting the country to Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell’s 1930 hit song. The closing of his remarks was greeted with applause. December 4 marked the second of the NATO 2019 Summits in London, the highlight of which, for Georgia, was Minister Zalkaliani’s meeting with UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State for Europe and the Americas, Christopher Pincher. The parties welcomed the Georgian Foreign Minister’s visit to London and his participation in high-level events on the sidelines of the NATO Leaders Meeting in London. The FCO Minister of State reaffirmed


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

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ICC: Georgia-Russia War Investigation May Conclude in 2020 BY TEA MARIAMIDZE

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he International Criminal Court (ICC) might complete the investigation into the 2008 Russia-Georgia August War next year, announced the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, whose term expires at the end of 2020. Bensouda had a meeting with the Justice Minister of Georgia, Thea Tsulukiani, in The Hague, on the sidelines of the18th session of the ICC Assembly of State Parties. During the meeting, Bensouda noted that the investigation is active and it is not excluded that the process will be finished before her term in the office expires. The Ministry of Justice press service reports that at the meeting Tsulukiani talked about the Russian-Georgian war investigation and noted that the population of Georgia, which was the victim of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war and witnessed ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and war crimes, is waiting for concrete results to restore justice. It was also noted at the meeting that the cooperation between the parties is at a very high level. Before meeting Prosecutor Bensuda, Thea Tsulukiani met with O-Gon Kwon, Chairman of The Hague Tribunal. The parties discussed Georgia's participation in the Assembly's activities and the nomination of Georgia as a judge for The Hague court.

Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda and Justice Minister of Georgia, Thea Tsulukiani

The elections of a judge to The Hague will be held in December 2020, with six judges from different regions to be elected. Georgia intends to nominate a judge for the Eastern European quota, as the Czech judge's term of office is expected to expire. During her speech at the 18th Assembly of The Hague Tribunal, the Georgian Justice Minister stated that Georgia has all the resources needed to nominate qualified and experienced candidates who can compete with the other Eastern European candidates. If successful, Georgia will have a judge

in The Hague for the first time, and for that purpose, a candidate will be selected nationally to comply with the Rome Statute and Assembly Resolution, which will launch an active election campaign internationally. In her speech, Tsulukiani publicly asked the representatives of more than 100 states to support Georgia in nominating a candidate from Eastern Europe in 2020. The investigation of the Russia-Georgia war has been underway since early 2015, after Bensouda requested permission from ICC judges to begin an inves-

tigation into alleged cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war in 2008. The ICC chamber authorized Bensouda to investigate the war at the end of January 2015 after examining the prosecutor’s request and supporting material, including testimonies by or on behalf of 6,335 victims of the conflict. However, Russia said they would not cooperate with the ICC to investigate possible war crimes committed during the 5-day conflict. "As of February 1, 2016, the Russia Federation has not ratified the Rome

Statute of the International Criminal Court and the document has not come into power,” Russia’s Justice Ministry said after Bensouda was granted the right to start the investigation. The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the ICC. It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on July 17, 1998, and entered into force on July 1, 2002. The ICC said the types of crimes allegedly committed in the 2008 war included: • Crimes against humanity, such as murder, forcible transfer of citizens, and persecution; • War crimes such as attacks against the civilian population, willful killing, intentionally directing attacks against peacekeepers, destruction of property and pillaging. It also noted that the crimes allegedly happened between 1 July and 10 October 2008. To note, eleven years after the August War in 2008, Georgia’s South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions are still occupied by Russia. The war, which lasted five days, brought Georgia a human loss of 412 persons, including 170 soldiers, 14 police officers, and 228 civilians. Three journalists were killed, while six were wounded. 1,747 people were wounded on the Georgian side, including 973 soldiers, 227 police officers, and 547 civilians. 130, 000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were created, of which 26,000 are still being denied the right to return. 35,000 houses were burned, ruined or destroyed on the territory of Georgia while 125 villages remain occupied.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

Georgian Politicians Slam Nino Burjanadze for Visiting Moscow BY TEA MARIAMIDZE

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eorgian politicians from both the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) and opposition parties slammed Nino Burjanadze, the leader of non-parliamentary opposition party Democratic Movement, for her recent visit to Russia. During the two-day visit in Moscow, Burjanadze held meetings with politicians and representatives of the media. Since the Georgian Parliament failed to approve the new election law, which would have introduced a full proportional system to the country, Nino Burjanadze, together with the United Opposition, has been taking part in protests to demand proportional elections. Burjanadze even joined the format created by the opposition forces regarding the election system, which unites various parliamentary and non-parliamentary parties. Tako Charkviani, the leader of the party Law and Justice, announced that because of Burjanadze’s visit to Moscow, she has quit the joint format established by the opposition. However, Charkviani says she will stay as a member of the United Opposition and continue asking for the proportional electoral system. “I continue demanding proportional elections. I like the German model we all [opposition] worked on together. I am in favor of the protests and I remain the participant of all the rallies. But I am

not going to sit together with Burjanadze who is accountable before Putin and lies to my people,” Charkviani said, adding the visit seriously damages Georgia’s image. She added that Burjanadze went to Russia to ask for funding for her party. David Usupashvili, ex-Parliament Speaker and now the leader of the opposition party Development Movement, says that he does not approve of Burjanadze’s move, but “every party has their plans and activities which no one should hinder.” Usupashvili noted that the opposition is united in demanding fair elections and differences in other issues should not affect their common goal. “All political forces and parties, in parallel, continue to take political steps, focusing on the topics that they previously did, and visit the countries which they used to visit before. I do not think that we should create any obstacle to this on the road to unity in our quest for fair elections,” he added. Meanwhile, Giga Bokeria, head of the political council of European Georgia, says that uniting the opposition does not mean that their political views have changed. He explained that all the parties knew before creating the format that Burjanadze sometimes visits Moscow. “The opposition parties united at one table differ in fundamental values, yet they share the common goal of holding proportional elections. We are as we were before and everyone knows that,” he said, adding that the “informal ruler of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili,” is the reason the opposition has united around the one goal – fair elections.

GD ruling party faction head, Mamuka Mdinaradze, says that Burjanadze’s actions require no comment, adding everything is clear. “These parties are so called pro-Western or pseudo-western forces, which once gave our territories to Russia and then justified this action. They now are sitting with Nino Burjanadze and setting common goals. They seem to have difficulty finding their way to the neighboring country and they cannot properly explain it,” said Mdinaradze. Gigla Baramidze, political secretary of the United Georgia-Democratic Movement, explains that Burjanadze's visit to Moscow was planned about a month and a half ago and is not related to the current developments in Georgia. According to him, Burjanadze will speak about the details of her visit after returning to Georgia. “As for the political forces with whom we sit at one table, we only discuss with them one issue – the proportional elections. It is just this issue that connects us, because we have very different visions in every direction, especially with some political forces,” he said. Baramidze added that the temporary union of the opposition has its coordinator, who was informed about Burjanadze’s visit to Moscow. “Several opposition leaders were also aware of this visit. Everyone should understand that no one has the right to prohibit us anything. We do not go there [Moscow] to have fun, but to discuss issues,” he added. This is not Burjanadze’s first visit to

Nino Burjanadze, source: Flickr

Russia. The leader of the Democratic Georgia has always claimed that in order to solve the problem of the occupied

territories, the Georgian government needs to have ongoing dialogue with Russia.

Former President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan Charged with Corruption BY KAREN TOVMASYAN

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he Armenian Special Investigation Service (SIS) released a statement on Wednesday about corruption charges against the third president of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan (also known as Sarkisian- 20082018), who resigned as a result of the Velvet Revolution last year. SIS alleged that Sargsyan “organized the embezzlement by a group of officials” of 489 million drams (over $1 million) in government funds allocated in 2013 for the provision of subsidized diesel fuel to low-income farmers. According the investigation, the former president interfered in a government tender for the fuel supplier to ensure that it is won by the company owned by his classmate and close friend Barsegh Barsegian. The government paid 1.8 billion drams ($3.8 million) to the fuel supplier Flash company, as part of the government program to subsidize the fuel expenses of thousands of low-income farmers in Armenia, while another company Maxhur, which was suggesting a cheaper price for the same purposes, lost the tender. The price suggested by Maxhur would have allowed the government to save about half billion drams, but the government rejected the suggestion, giving preference to the company owned by the close friend of the president. Sargsyan denies the charges but had

to sign a formal document preventing him from leaving the country pending the trial. During the parliamentary Q&A session with the government, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke about the corruption charges against the former president, saying he doesn’t know more than is written in the official statement of the SIS and the press. He said that his government ordered a stop to the

program to subsidize the fuel expenses of low-income farmers, as they saw numerous corruption risks in that program, and that the low-income farmers in reality were not benefiting from the program. He added that his government was much criticized for terminating that program by their opponents, who claimed the government was ignoring the needs of low-income farmers and villagers.

"Now it is evident that this was indeed a corrupted program, and that the government gave the tender not to the company which was suggesting the best price, but to the company which Serzh Sargsyan ordered them to; according to the investigation, a company belonging to his close friend," stated Pashinyan. However, the former ruling Republican Party, which is now out of Parliament, released a statement calling the corrup-

tion charges against the former president of Armenia “fabricated and ludicrous”. The former ruling party, well-known for its long-term tradition of conducting political prosecutions against its political opponents, says the charges against Sargsyan are a manifestation of “political persecution aimed at silencing political opponents.” However, Sargsyan is not the only high ranking former official charged after the Velvet Revolution. His predecessor, the second president of Armenia Robert Kocharyan (1998-2008), has been imprisoned since December 2018 for overthrowing the constitutional order in 2008 by releasing an anti-constitutional top-secret order 0038, commanding the army leadership to bring the army units to the capital and then using them against the opposition movement lead by the first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan (1991-1998). The current PM Nikol Pashinyan was one of the most prominent members of that political movement until 2013, when he left and organized his own political party “Civil Contract”. Pashinyan is known for his uncompromising position regarding corruption. Since taking the position of PM of Armenia, he has been running an uncompromising campaign against corruption which involved even the leading members of his team, such as the head of State Supervision Service and the Deputy Minister of Health. On December 4, the National Security Service charged the Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Sport and Culture, Gevorg Loretsyan, with corruption.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

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Every Woman Has A Story: A Study on Violence & Bystanders

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he Embassy of the Czech Republic in Georgia hosted an event ‘Every Woman Has a Story,’ dedicated to the results of the new research conducted by the UNDP in partnership with the UN Women and the Embassy. The research presentation was a part of the larger UN undertaking, a broad campaign titled “16 Days of Activism” running from November 25th through December 10th and focused on nearubiquitous violence against women. In the opening remarks, HE Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Georgia, Petr Mikyska, addressed the troubling statistics. “One in seven women in Georgia reported having experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. This research presents some answers on what can trigger bystanders to take action, what may be stopping them from intervention and how they can help gender-based violence survivors,” he said. Funded by the Czech and Danish governments and conducted jointly by two UN agencies, UNDP and UN Women, in partnership with the UK’s Behavioural Insights Team and the Public Service Development Agency at the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, the research covered the capital, Tbilisi, and two rural regions, Kakheti and Guria. The selection of the research area was determined not just by the geographic East-West spread, but by the statistics on reported cases of domestic violence across Georgia: the highest in Kakheti, and the lowest, in Guria. Jumping ahead, we need to mention that, strangely enough, this made

no difference in the engagement rate of the bystanders: 11.5% in Kakheti and 11% in Guria. In both instances, the numbers are shockingly low, and UNDP Head Louisa Vinton is right to express her concerns that this attitude is costing lives. “The research confirms our assumption that a large share of the public still views domestic violence as a private ‘family matter,’ rather than a crime that merits police intervention,” she said. Indeed, with the places where such violence occurs identified as predominantly family abodes, many of the 400 responders felt that “it wasn’t their place” to

interfere. The goal of the study was to gauge the range of responses of witnesses to the instances of domestic violence, and to dissect them further, in order to understand why some chose to remain mere bystanders while others actively engaged and spared no effort in trying to assist victims. Somewhat counterintuitively, females were responding to instances of domestic violence more actively than males, indicating that it was “the right thing to do”, the research shows. Very few feared for their safety; moreover, the rate of engagement was higher when the

respondent was the only witness to the incident – probably, feeling more of a personal responsibility for the victim’s well-being, as opposed to a somewhat diluted one, in a collective setting. The socio-demographic profile of those who tend to engage the most mirrors the Georgian equivalents of “wokeness”: educationally, a Master’s degree; financially, a monthly income of 3,000 GEL or more (for comparison, average salaries hover around 500-700); a self-identified lack of formal religious affiliation, as in church-going. Not surprisingly, the highest level of witnesses who refuse to be passive bystanders is observed in the

capital, at almost 45%. The panelists, representing both academia (ISET, GIPA, CRRC, IliaUni) and agencies (MIA, ATIP Fund), along with the UNDP and ServiceLab staff, spoke of the community engagement that tends to be predominantly female, shaping up the informal network of support. They emphasized the need to use the existing framework and build upon it to ensure the higher engagement with the victims themselves, who often refuse to cooperate with the police called to the scene. Overall, the findings are sure to provide a wealth of opportunities to improve the current state of affairs, to all the actors, both state and civic organizations. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, despite making considerable progress in approaching domestic violence issues, could take heed from the statistics showing respondents taking on the abusers themselves, choosing to confront them and citing “not knowing what else to do.” Field workers have provided a feedback that shows police officers less versed in communicating all the available options and recourses to the victims than one would hope, after all the trainings and educational effort in this direction. As the UNDP Head Louisa Vinton indicated, this study is a part of the continued cooperation effort that is not limited to a research, but has overarching impact in policy-making support. The panelists echoed her positive outlook, noting the state agencies’ openness to have academia actively participate in shaping policies regarding domestic violence.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

US State Department Officials, Senators Make Supportive Statements on Georgia

BY ANA DUMBADZE

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he senior officials of the US State Department and senators made supportive statements towards Georgia at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on ‘The Future of U.S. Policy Towards Russia’ on Tuesday. US Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman

of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, convened a full committee hearing on the future of US policy towards Russia, with a witness testimony from David Hale, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs at the US Department of State, and Christopher A. Ford, Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation at the US Department of State. Risch stressed in his speech that "the world today is more dangerous and less

free because of the Russian Federation." "Of course, we all know about the invasions of Georgia and Ukraine over the years, and about the poisoning of Russian people on other sovereign soil. The world today is more dangerous and less free because of the Russian Federation. As a result, the US relationship with Russia is at a low point. During the height of the Cold War, our leaders had a lifeline to ensure that neither side made a disastrous miscalculation – the

famous red phone. Today, our engagements with Russia are few, and there is a growing risk of a strategic miscalculation on the seas, the ground, or in the skies." Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered opening remarks noting that Kremlin aggression since the invasion of Georgia in 2008 is unacceptable. "First, we must make very clear that so many examples of Kremlin aggression since the invasion of Georgia in 2008 are simply unacceptable and cannot become the norm in international affairs. The invasion of Ukraine and illegal occupation of Crimea, the attempted assassination of regime opponents with chemical weapons on foreign soil, committing war crimes in Syria, the attack on our 2016 election. These are just some," he said. Christopher A. Ford discussed Russia’s troubling diplomatic campaigns, noting that formidable challenges in the current security environment are the result of Russian behavior. "Nor have I yet mentioned Russia’s troubling diplomatic campaigns to undermine institutions of transparency and accountability in controlling weapons of mass destruction at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the United Nations. "All of this would add up to a very grim picture even if Russia were not continuing its aggression and territorial seizures against Ukraine and Georgia, undertaking expeditionary warfare on behalf of

the murderous regime in Damascus, and working to subvert democratic processes in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. "Since 2014, in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine and Georgia, the United States has dramatically increased security assistance across the region, which signifies our steadfast commitment to collective defense under the North Atlantic Treaty and our continued support to European Allies and partners to counter Russian aggression and malign influence," he noted. In its immediate neighborhood, Russia seeks to dominate, as demonstrated by its ongoing aggression against Ukraine and Georgia. In Ukraine, Russia must end its belligerence and implement its Minsk agreement obligations," David Hale noted. "We are encouraged by the positive steps Ukrainian President Zelensky has taken to resolve the Russiainstigated conflict in eastern Ukraine; thus far, we are disappointed by Moscow’s response. The December 9 Normandy format summit provides an opportunity to test Russia’s willingness to reverse its harmful behavior. "We condemn Russia’s continued militarization of Crimea and in July 2018, the Secretary of State issued a Crimea declaration stating that the United States will never recognize Russia’s attempted annexation of the peninsula. "The construction of the Nordstream 2 pipeline and Moscow’s unhelpful approach to trilateral gas negotiations with the EU and Ukraine give Russia a new instrument for its strategy of using energy as a political weapon," Hale stressed.

Georgia’s Integrity via Education OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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he Soviet Union, the weirdest political protuberance on Mankind’s body, disappeared after it turned into a lethal cancerous growth. The monstrous empire vanished from the world map after 70 years of wretched social and glorious military existence, having disintegrated into 15 independent states, Georgia one of them. Sakartvelo won independence, but not without paying a price: it forfeited onethird of its historical lands for the reasons that be, and acquired a new archenemy in the person of the newly created Russian Federation – the official inheritor of Soviet legacy. In a nutshell: the ruined USSR triggered the ruin of Georgia. Was the soviet debilitating but not so funny socio-economic conglomerate good or bad for us? There is no straightforward and single-meaning answer to this traumatizing question, but the irrefutable fact is that the country used to be wholesome, with a secured peaceful existence as well as guaranteed territorial integrity and inviolability of frontiers. Thirty years have passed and the problem of Georgia’s territorial integrity is still on the agenda of the Republic’s unsolved dilemmas. Moreover, it looks like the issue will stay there until the end of time. But there are some wise heads operating in the country that are gingerly nursing the cherished idea of the feasibility of reinstating our territorial integrity. I was lucky enough to have recently encountered one of those bright heads at one of the conferences in town, organized by a certain segment of Georgia’s intellectual elite. There, I heard a succinct speech by the current rector of Sokhumi State

Zurab Khonelidze speaks in front of Sokumi State University

University, Professor Zurab Khonelidze, who constructively managed to brief the strained audience in an exclusively educated fashion on the possibility of seeing Georgia put back in its previous territorial shape. The professor’s outof-the-ordinary geopolitical concept was presented in plain, easily understandable language, and dwelt upon

the issue against the background of the so called University Diplomacy, one of the trendiest means of executing one’s diplomatic and political aspirations. The main allusion was made towards the fact that Georgia’s international image and its recognizability mostly depend on how much the world wants to continue the discussion of its

territorial problems. In any international format, and those are very few, Georgia’s future attracts serious attention only when the runaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia are squeezed into the narrative. Otherwise, there is not much to deliberate on Georgia’s fate. The conflict that Georgia has found itself stuck in for decades will have to

be solved only on a peaceful basis. Time is relentlessly passing by and hope for the solution remains as bleak as it has ever been. The situation becomes even worse because the world is getting used to the dire reality, plunging our most acute national pain into oblivion. International formats are being depleted of their geopolitical potential to help Georgia out, with the fact that Russia dominates the arena not in our favor. New generations are coming of age whose indifference towards the issue is simply frightening. As Professor Khonelidze makes clear, the topic has to be kept alive and permanently discussable both internally and externally, but not without relevant education for the coming generations of Georgians, Abkhazians and Ossetians, scientifically elucidating every aspect of the depressing situation and looking for new forms of conflict resolution. And nothing can do this better than University Diplomacy, with its modernized technique and strategy of getting down to the nitty-gritty of the extant geopolitical problem which has put all of the conflict sides on the verge of misery and misfortune. One of the most daring ideas that sounded in the professorial speech was a thought about the possibility of reuniting the once split Sokhumi University, which suffered the pains of compelled dissection as a consequence of the stupid internecine the 1990s war, managed and manipulated by the big northern brother of all of the suffering losers. It is exactly University Diplomacy that carries the educational and scientific power to bring up young people of thought and reason who can and would rightfully handle the damage, once brought about by their angry and not very intelligent ancestors, who have deliberately or unwittingly succumbed to the evil imposed on their unfortunate heads.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

“In Honorem” of PhD. Professor & Academician Roin Metreveli

Professor and academician Roin Metreveli, Vice President of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences

OP-ED BY PHD. PROF. ACAD. NICOLAE V. DURA, ROMANIA

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t is indeed commendable the initiative taken by the President of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences, Acad. Giorgi Kvesitadze, together with his distinguished colleagues, and co-workers, to publish the papers sent by the members of the Academy “in honorem” (in honor) of our distinguished colleague Academician Roin Metreveli, the Vice President of the Academy, on the occasion of his 80th anniversary, in a special volume. I have to confess to fact that I received the announcement from the Secretary of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences concerning said 80th anniversary with both great pleasure and with great emotion, since, just at that moment, I was working on a book concerning the Prefaces of Hyeromonk Mihail Stephanishvili, the Romanian typographer, the spiritual son of Saint Antimoz Iverieli, who printed the first books on the Georgian land, and, as it has to be known, these two outstanding personalities of the Romanian and Georgian cultures contributed forever to the brotherhood of relations between our nations. Personally, I met the Academician Prof. PhD. Roin Metreveli, Vice-President of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences, about ten years ago in Tbilisi, on the occasion of some international congresses organized under the aegis of the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate and with the blessing of His Beatitude Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to participate in some symposiums and conferences organized by the tutorial forum of the Georgian culture, i.e., of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences, in which the erudite historian, an internationally renowned specialist in the Georgian and Caucasian history and European medieval culture, organized and chaired their work sessions. Thanks to the Acad. Giorgi Kvesitadze, President of Georgian National Academy of Sciences, I had the happy occasion to speak about Antimoz Iverieli and about Mihail Stephanishvili, not only in Tbilisi, in the Hall of Georgian National Academy, when I had also a beneficial discussion with Acad. Metreveli, but also in Constanta and RâmnicuVâlcea (Romania), dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the martyrdom death of Saint Antimoz Iverieli. On other occasions, in Tbilisi, I had the opportunity to discuss with Acad. Metreveli topics of common interest (history, culture, religion, academic life, socio-politics, etc.). All the discussions with him were always a real intellectual feast, which can be likened to Plato's Banquet. At the same time, all these happy occasions gave me the opportunity to find out that Acad. Metreveli is a perfect host, who knows how to welcome his guests in accordance with the ancient Georgian custom, i.e., in the spirit of Christian hospitality, an exceptional one, of the Georgian people, and a research historian of caliber, who, through the extent of his knowledge and his pedagogical tact, makes one decipher the millennial history of the Georgian people and wish to become a broadcaster

of his great deeds not only in one’s country, but also in the entire world. By his entire academic and scientific activity, Acad. Metreveli has proved to be a real servant to the culture of his nation, to which our forefathers, Antimoz Iverieli and Mihail Stephanishvili, laid the bases of the Georgian culture expressed in printed books. Since I am one of the “Foreign Members” of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences, who had the honor to be invited to send a such paper, with this happy occasion, that is “in honorem” of Academician Roin Metreveli, who becomes 80 years old on 7th December 2019, I would like to say some words both about his personality, as I perceived and understood it myself, and about his outstanding academic and scientific activity. Acad. Roin Metreveli is one of the first publishers and editors of the ‘Georgian National Universal Encyclopedia,’ and that from October 2013 to present day, he is the Vice President of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences. I am also acquainted with the fact that Prof. Acad. Metreveli is a member of different national academies, among them the International Academy of Art, Science and Education of California (USA), the International Academy of Higher Education of Moscow (Russia), and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts of Salzburg (Austria). I know also that Acad. Metreveli is not only a great scholar with international recognition, as proved “à l’évidence” the fact that he was honored as a Scientist by different countries, such as the Abkhazian Autonomous Republic in 1996; he is also recognized a specialist not only in the history of his country and the Caucasus region, but also in the history of Christianity, which brought to him also the highest rewards of the Georgian Patriarchate, namely St. George’s Gold Order, in 2011. I know also the fact that, as a parliamentarian, Professor Roin Metreveli signed the Act on the Restoration of Independence of Georgia (9th April 1991). As a professor (from 1977) and as academician (from 2005 until present), Roin Metreveli became famous in the universal and academic world (national and international) both for his academic and scientific works (more than two hundred), mostly in the historical field, and by his competent activity as editor: the editor of Georgian National Academy of Sciences’ Journal “Matsne” (Herald) (Series of History); the editor-in-chief of Annuals “Kartuli Diplomatia” (Georgian Diplomacy) (17 volumes published) and “Kavkazika” (Caucasica) (7 volumes published). Certainly, speaking both about his outstanding scientific activity and about his remarkable university and academic activity, I hope that even by the means of my few words I have managed to convey to our distinguished colleague a sincere message of consideration and friendship, accompanied by my good wishes for his health, which will continue to permit him to bring other cultural and spiritual contributions both to his great and beloved Georgian nation and to the European history. Ad Multos Annos, dear professor and academician Roin Metreveli, Vice President of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences!

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

Cold Storage: Etseri, Svaneti

BLOG BY TONY HANMER

N

o danger of forest fire here now! After a ridiculously mild November, including unheard of rain instead of snow, winter has settled in for the long run. Our first two falls of white stuff are here to stay, and a clear cold snap is making everything sparkle. The school’s outdoor sports arena is snowed under. Now the choices for activities are either the indoor sports hall, or what you can do with snow: Sledding or tobogganing! Locally made wooden vehicles are very popular, with metal runners. Plastic bought ones need to be able to cope with temperatures down to minus 15 C, without getting brittle and breaking far too easily in the punishing treatment they receive. My sisters and I had tough plastic disks, lightly concave, in our early Canadian years, and they worked great in any direction, even while spinning. Skiing! The road running past our house is very popular for this as it’s a nice downhill run. Sorry, no uphill lifts, you just have to walk back up and start again. Some children start this soon after they can walk, when their fears of speed and falling are as yet undeveloped. There’s hardly any crosscountry skiing here; I suppose it’s considered too placid for most. The small training run with its own lift built on the edge of the village has turned into a bit of a fiasco, though, as its location gets maximum sun, and thus will retain minimum snow over the season. (The selling price of our house here nearly doubled on rumors that then president Saakashvili, an accomplished winter sportsman, and a team of experts were considering a ski resort above Etseri. The price went down again after they decided against it, but many locals still feel that it would be a great location.)

Snowboarding! I’ve never tried this, but my nieces and nephews in Canada are experts at it. Building an igloo! There are many plans and teaching videos for this online, and it does draw my interest. A full-on winter carnival! Snow and ice sculpting in addition to the above ideas. Hot foods and drinks served outside as part of it, and prizes for winners in all categories of events. Making sure your house and livestock are winterized! Food for them; extra preserves of fruit and vegetables for you- I make chutneys and liqueurs; my wife makes pickles and we both make jams. Water set up so it can’t freeze, because this would (and has been) a disaster for morale; winter tires for the car, and chains to boot. Firewood aplenty. This winter, for the first time, I have a trapdoor to the crawlspace under the floor, and ALL my winter wood stored there, for easy access. No more going outside and digging down to reach the tarpaulin under snow, hauling out wood, and bringing it in! Luxury, an idea long overdue. I also gathered up all scraps from chopping the firewood, put them into 15 sacks of kindling, and have been storing them in the barn and garage to dry out. They make ideal starter fuel: I hardly need paper, let alone diesel, though both are at hand if necessary. Simple determination not to let the short daylight hours and cold get you down! It can do, but if you plan to find the best in it, and to fight the rest, you can cope. Get enough sunlight when you can, and enough exercise. Winter here is unavoidable, so one might as well jump right in and relish it! Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 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

CULTURE

Zaza Burchuladze Receives Berlin City Scholarship for Literary Merit BY ELENE DZEBISASHVILI

Z

aza Burchuladze, a postmodern Georgian novelist and dramatist, has been granted Berlin’s work scholarship for 2020 as a distinguished foreign-language writer. Burchuladze will benefit from the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe Scholarship, granted to a mere 10 Berlinbased authors of non-German literature. In selecting their recipients, organizers seek works that feature "quality, viability and continuity" from authors looking for benefits to their artistic advancement. The scholarship also aims to "keep alive the literary scene of Berlin by promoting innovative texts and their authors". Born in 1973, Zaza graduated from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts before commencing his route as a novelist and a short prose writer. He has translated numerous Russian contemporary novels and classics, including authors like Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Vladimir Sorokin. Burchuladze’s narratives often startle the audience with his experimental way of writing and the provocative themes he takes up. Burchuladze has won steadily increasing recognition for his inspired writings which, while

growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the eccentricity of being and high qualities of style. Primarily in recognition of his fruitful, varied and outstanding production in the realm of dramatic art, Burchuladze has been esteemed by many as the most outstanding Georgian writer of contemporary post-Soviet literature. Zaza received last year's Brücke Berlin Literary and Translator Award for bringing the acclaimed novel A Tourist’s Breakfast to the German-speaking audience. The novel follows the protagonist in his wanders around Berlin, playing with obscurity and humor to unearth new aspects of the human psyche. The novel has been praised as a ‘masterpiece’ by Levan Berdzenishvili, a well-known Georgian literary critic.


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

Batumi International Festival of Theater 2019 BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

T

he Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Ajara is granting the world of theater a great gift: the Batumi International Theater Festival. On December 7-20 the theatrical festival will take place for the first time in the coastal city of Georgia. Launching an international festival of theater was the idea of Andro Enukidze and his foreign friends, made into reality with the support of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Ajara. Enukidze is a Georgian theater director and currently an artistic director in the Batumi Ilia Chavchavadze State Theater. The Batumi International Theater Festival has a few ambitious aims. First, it seeks to mark Batumi on the world’s theatrical map, and establish the city as place rich in theatrical culture and traditions. While doing that, the festival also aspires to raise the popularity of the region of Ajara in Europe and the rest of the world. Second, culture is a two-waystreet: as the festival is expected to introduce Georgia to the outer world, by bringing the international plays to Georgia, the Batumi International Festival will also bring the outer world to the country. The Georgian audience will

become more aware of the current world trends in theater, and get more acknowledged in the leading and best global theatrical companies. The festival will further work as a networking opportunity for those in the field, making it easier than ever for Ajarian theater professionals to find partners for their co-productions and international projects. And last but certainly not least, the Batumi International Theater Festival aims to popularize the modern theatrical forms and tendencies in Ajara, and in this way nurture the professionalism and qualifications of the creative minds employed in the field in this region. The festival has a council of international

directors/experts, made up with influential theater producers, professionals and festival directors from all around the world. The council members are: Roman Doljanski (Israel), Dariush Kosinski (Poland), Jacek Glomb (Poland), Asta Kazlauskiene (Lithuania), Lucian Baleanu (Romania), Andro Enukidze (Chairperson, Georgia). The participants of the first-ever Batumi International Theater Festival will be renowned theater companies and troupes from Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland, Ukraine, and Turkey who were selected through a careful judging process by the festival council. Within the frames of the festival, a ‘show-case’ will take place where the audience will be able to attend the local plays. The Batumi International Theater Festival 2019 kicks off on Saturday, December 7 with a German production of ‘Medea’. The other highlights of the festival are ‘The Devils,’ based on a book by the same name by Dostoevsky, remastered by the Polish, scheduled for December 13, and an Italian production of ‘Divine Comedy’ on December 19-20. La Repubblica has written about the latter: “Angels and Devils clash in spectacular duels. Acrobatic lights, flying actors, souls that fall like leaves in autumn… It could be the description of a painting by Hescher or Bosch, but it’s an Emiliano Pellisari show.” The tickets for the festival are on sale on biletebi.ge.

Natakhtari Platinum - Taste of 4 Grains Limited Edition! BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI

A

new brand has appeared on the Georgian beer market. Natakhtari always strives to offer its customers a brand new recipe. In this case we are talking about special bottling. This is a new taste for beer drinkers, Natakhtari Platinum - 4 Grains Taste, made with four types of specially elected malts (barley, wheat, rye, oats). The new brand has already been launched and is being sold throughout Georgia. Although limited in quantity, consumers have already begun sharing their impressions with the company. After tasting this beer, a few artistic references came back to the company. This is one of them: "The lightness of oats blends harmoniously with the flavor of the special common hop and, together with Natakhtari's natural water, creates a diverse and completely new flavor for beer lovers." As Anna Qarchava, Senior Brand Manager at Natakhtari explains: “Natakhtari Platinum is made from seasonal ingredients (four kinds of malt) which are an autumn crop. This is why it is only available in limited quantities and therefore will be on sale for a limited time. We recommend everyone act quick to taste high quality Georgian beer made from four types of selected malt. "

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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. December 6 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL December 7 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL December 8 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL December 12 REZO Animated documentary film Directed by Leo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL SHALIKASHVILI TEHATER 37 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. December 6 STOP AIDS Genre: Pantomime Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Agmashenebli Ave. December 6 INTRO Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Genre: Musical Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 25 GEL December 8 TEMPEST Based on William Shakespeare’s "The Tempest" Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Music: Sandro Nikoladze Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL

December 12 SILENT REHEARSAL! Performance of various short novels: "Good Morning", "Cinemat", "Welcome-Host", "Shirley Beis", "Painter", "Bohemian Rhapsody" Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL CINEMA

THE 20TH TBILISI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL www.tbilisifilmfestival.ge/ Venue: Amirani Cinema December 1-8 Language: Georgian, English, English Subtitles See the program: www.kinoafisha.ge MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS Until December 10 An international-scale archaeological exhibition THE COLORS OF ANCIENT ROME. MOSAICS FROM THE CAPITOLINE MUSEUMS The exhibition features 21 mosaics found in Rome, covering a wide chronological period ranging from 2nd century BC until 4th century AD Until December 15 The first-ever exhibition of a remarkable coin from the time of King David the Builder The coin shows Kind David IV dressed in Byzantine imperial attire, wearing stemma, and holding a Globus cruciger. On the reverse is an invocation in Georgian surrounding a cross and listing the extent of David's

kingdom: 'Lord, aid David, king of Abkhazians, Kartvelians, Rans, Kakhs, Armenians.' Until December 9 Exhibition MUSEUM OF CERAMICS Eight artists united around the idea of creating a museum of ceramics to describe the history of ceramics: Malkhaz Shvelidze, Nato Eristavi, Lia Bagrationi, Gigisha Pachkoria, Lali Kutateladze, Otar Vepkhvadze, Merab Gugunashvili, Ilia Biganashvili. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 Until January 19 Project "Contemporary Art Gallery" presents the exhibition "How to Catch up with a Dead Hare" by Georgian contemporary artist ILIKO ZAUTASHVILI MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors, where visitors can see documentaries of various historical events. MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave and jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in the Mirror Room, free yourself in the Infinity Room, resist the laws of gravity and size, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms and discover optical illusions. THE BOOK MUSEUM 5 Gudiashvili Str., National Parlamentary Library +995 32 297 16 40 The Book Museum holds a unique collection of items, including private libraries of Ilia Chavchavadze, Dimitri Bakradze, Giorgi Chubinashvili, the recently recovered book collections of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich Romanov and Brothers

Zubalashvili, as well as books with signatures of Ilia Chavchavadze, Ivane Machabeli, Victor Hugo, Dmitri Mendeleev and AntoineAugustin Renouard, etc. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY TBILISI DIGITAL SPACE Tbilisi Mall The first museum of digital art in Tbilisi, where you will meet three different spaces: Vazha-Pshavela's "Dried beech", the world of torches, and a digital space decorated with various graphic and visuals effects. In the main hall decorated with video projections and mirrors you will discover that there is no boundary between Man and nature. Ticket: 10-30 GEL MUSIC

DJ. KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE 123a D. Agmashenebeli Ave. December 7 THE CONCERT OF TBILISI CENTRAL MUSIC SCHOOL STUDENTS The program includes chamber works of Georgian and foreign composers performed by students of different faculties Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 20-50 GEL MONOHALL 2 D. Bakradze Str. December 6 UNIEQAV, ALVA NOTO Live, SAMUEL KERRIDGE, NIKAKOI Live, SAPHILEAUM Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30-50 GEL December 7 VENDREDI SUR MER Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 40-70 GEL DEDAENA BAR Dedaena Park December 7 CAS Special Guests: CRUSHER, Sf-X, Kriss, Kay-G, Koa Mohawk, Pele Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Grioedovi Str. December 10 SOLO CONCERT OF GIGI PIANOMAN Program: Works by Gigi Pianoman Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-20 GEL TBILISI BAROQUE FESTIVAL December 7 BALÁZS MÁTÉ AND GEORGIAN SINFONIETTA Performers: Tbilisi State Chamber Orchestra, Georgian Sinfonietta

Balázs Máté- cello, Hungary Program: I Henry Purcell- Abdelazer Suite, Z 570, Arcangelo Corelli- Concerto Grosso Op. 6, N 9, George Frideric Handel- Concerto Grosso Op. 6, N 10 II Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Cello Concerto in A, wq. 172 Symphony N 5, wq. 182 Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL Venue: Rustaveli Theater, Small Stage CLASSICAL MUSIC IN ALTERNATIVE ENVIRONMENT December 6 CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT Kolja Blacher (violin), Ozgur Aydin (Piano) Program: Ravel- Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major, Bartok- Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1, BeethovenKreutzer Sonata As a soloist Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 35 GEL Venue: Art Palace, 6 Kargareteli Str. December 8 LAUREATES OF THE BRUSSELS QUEEN ELISABETH VIOLIN COMPETITION Opera Camerata Concertmeister– Lela Mtchedlidze Conductor: Revaz Javakhishvili Soloists: laureates of the Brussels Queen Elisabeth Violin Competition 2019 Júlia Pusker (Violin), Eva Rabchevska (Violin), Program: Mozart– Violin Concerto Np. 1 in B-flat major, Mozart– Violin Concerto Np. 5 in A major, Bach- Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra in D minor, Sarasate– Navarra Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 35 GEL Venue: Writers' House of Georgia, 13 Ivane Machabeli Str. December 10 PIANO RECITAL DANG THAI SON Program: C. Debussy: Six Preludes, Brouillards, La porta del vino, La danse de Puck, Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir, Ondine- Feux d’Artifice I. Paderewski: Four pieces Chopin: Polonaise in C minor op. 40, Barcarolle in F sharp major op. 60, Four Mazurkas op. 24, Rondo a la Mazurka in F major op. 5, Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor op. 31 Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 35 GEL Venue: Art Palace, 6 Kargareteli Str. MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Agmashenebli Ave. December 10 JAM SESSIONImprov played by different Georgian and foreign musicians and instrumentalists. Musical art director- Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 5 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

11

The Most Interesting Man in Springs

Redjeb Jordania at the Georgian National Archives at an exhibition dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the independence of Georgia

BY NINA CHANNING

R

edjeb Jordania would be the first to tell you that he has lived a good life so far, though it may be more accurate to say he's lived several good lives. Jordania, who will be 98 this December, has been, at various points: a pianist, a sailor, a barkeep, an academic, an author, a boatbuilder, and something of a celebrity. He has hunted boar in Dagestan, played music on a barge on the Seine, spent time in jail in San Sebastian, composed symphonies in Munich and sailed the Turkish coast on a catamaran. As he nears the summit of his first cen-

tury - a period spanning I7 US presidencies, World War II, Hiroshima, the Civil Rights Movement, the moon landing, the advent of color television, the jet plane, the computer, and the internet (more things, he jokes, than could ever be kept track of), Jordania reflects on the choices, chance encounters, and twists of fate that led him, at last, to the East End. Charming in conversation, always ready to laugh, he has expressive blue eyes that twinkle as he talks about his boyhood in Paris. His voice is warm, with a deeplytextured French accent. Jordania speaks English, Spanish, French, a bit of Georgian, and "a few choice words" of Russian. Sitting down in the sunny living room

Redjeb Jordania and friends on deck of the schooner Spirit of Massassuchetts

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of his house on Driftwood Lane in Springs, Redjeb begins by saying, with a wry halfsmile, “Whenever people want to talk to me about my life, I first have to ask, Which one?" To begin at the beginning, Redjeb comes from interesting stock. His father, Noe Jordania, was the President of the shortlived but politically significant pre-Soviet Democratic Republic of Georgia. Redjeb's birth coincided with a moment of crisis, both political and personal, for the Jordania family. As the Soviet Union gained power, the young country was taken over by the Bolshevik Army, and the family was exiled to France. Redjeb was born in Paris in 1921. As a boy, he spoke French and received a formal European education, studying classical music, literature, and mathematics. He was a good student and excelled particularly at the piano. As a young man, he taught music composition and traveled widely through Europe, enjoying many adventures. Once, while visiting a friend in Spain, he was mistaken, due to a similarity in name, for a K.G.B. general and spent several nights in jail in San Sebastian (an experience he recalls today as "not so bad" and "actually sort of interesting"). Upon his release, he went to Ibiza, where, inspired by the area's natural beauty and low cost of living, he decided to open a bar. The bar, which he named “The Oasis,” quickly became a haunt for expats and artists. One of his regular customers was a young American woman, with whom, in 1960, he moved to New York. A lifelong man of letters, he studied for a master's in French Literature at Yale in the 1970s, but, while writing his dissertation, found himself growing frustrated and distracted, eager to leave the

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Beka Alexishvili, Tea Mariamidze, Ana Dumbadze, Nini Dakhundaridze Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

library and get out into the world, to do something with his hands. "It was too heady," he reflects. "All those years with my head in a book finally got to me, so I decided to ditch school and build a boat that I could travel around on." Having never built a boat before, Jordania committed himself with newly revitalized academic zeal to learning everything he could about the subject. With the Yale library at his disposal, Redjeb scoured the stacks for books on boatbuilding and embarked on the construction of a sailboat, which he built in the living room of his student apartment in New Haven. While his intention had been only to build one boat, in the process, he fell in

love with the art of boatbuilding. The craft. The solitude. The feel of the wood in his hands and the bright, muscular smell of resin. Every new design was a puzzle to solve. After graduating, he took a job at the South Street Seaport Museum in Manhattan, where he taught classes and frequently sailed in New York Harbor. In 1984, at the age of 63, Redjeb was living in Lower Manhattan with his partner, Peggy Backman, when he heard about a job opening for a boatbuilder at the Marine Museum in Amagansett. "I drove out to see the place and it was a beautiful old barn right near the water," he says. "I accepted the job immediately. It was a dream. My title was 'director' but I was the only employee, so I spent my days alone building boats and occasionally teaching students. It was wonderful." Jordania has hardly slowed down since moving to the East End 35 years ago. He has written two books: ‘All My Georgias,’ a memoir about returning to his family's homeland, and ‘Escape from the South Fork,’ which is a sort of a hodgepodge collection of essays and short fiction. The latter contains several heartfelt essays about his life on Long Island as well as a meditation on the thrill of young love and a short story titled ‘My Mother Was a Cat.’ As a writer, Jordania is quickwitted and lyrical, qualities that reflect his personality, and he demonstrates keen literary instincts. Another story, ‘Closing the Circle,’ tells of his visit to the Jordanias' hometown in Georgia in 1990. Reflecting on his experience in Georgia, Redjeb says, "It is a complicated feeling. Longing and connection for this place where I never lived but where my roots are nonetheless very deep. It wasn't an easy feeling, but it was meaningful. So it goes." So it goes. One gets the impression that this easygoing attitude may be a key to Jordania's vitality, and longevity. He is uncommonly loose-limbed for a man so near his 100th birthday. Jordania claims never to have followed a strict diet or workout program of any kind. When asked what he does to maintain his health, he responds, "I drink a lot! I'm joking. But really, I used to drink a huge amount. And smoke, too. But those days are behind me. In truth, I think I have always had a good understanding of my body and its limits." When asked what is next for him, he says, "We'll see. Life is long."

Redjeb Jordania, Mirza Papuna Davitaia, Mamuka Kudava and Artchil Davrichachvili in Leuville-sur-Orge, 2011

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1209  

December 6 - 9, 2019

Issue #1209  

December 6 - 9, 2019

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