Page 1 georgiatoday

Issue no: 807

• JANUARY 8 - 11, 2016



In this week’s issue... Hard Rock Café to Open in Tbilisi NEWS PAGE 4

USD 40 Million to Be Invested in Rixos Tbilisi Construction BUSINESS PAGE 6

THE NEW IN FOCUS A new Prime Minister welcomes 2016 and extols three years of the Georgian Dream

Government’s Three Years Report POLITICS PAGE 7


GNTA: Number of Tourists in Georgia Up BY TAMAR SVANIDZE


he Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), Giorgi Chogovadze, summarized tourism statistics from 2015 at a press conference held in Radisson Blu Iveria. According to Chogovadze there has been a rise in the number of international visitors and tourists as well as income from tourism. The number of international tourists has increased by 7%, more than 280,000 tourists in 2015 compared to the previous year. The top five countries where tourists came from were Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine.

Israel was in 6th place, where the Tourism Administration has carried out marketing campaigns. “Georgia underwent external shocks in 2015 caused by political and economic events in the region. We were able to not only overcome these external factors but also to increase the (number of) international tourists and visitors as well as increase the resulting income from international tourism in the country’s economy,” Chogovadze stated. He continued that the positive trend was maintained in terms of tourists from European countries such as Germany, Italy and Hungary. Visitors from countries of the Persian Gulf was also up. The GNTA, under the Ministry of Economy,

Russia Visa Facilitation for Georgians Only Worth the n? Paper it’s Written On? POLITICS PAGE 8

Awaiting the White Knight: Ogden on Equal Opportunity POLITICS PAGE 11

has carried out several marketing campaigns in various countries. According to the data on the first three quarters of 2015, the income from international tourism in Georgia amounted to around 1.5 billion USD.

Delicious Dishes to Delight Food Lovers

Dechert OnPoint: Georgia Launches First Technological Center SOCIETY PAGE 13

Your Last Escape: Svaneti SOCIETY PAGE 14

The Most Anticipated Movies of 2016 CULTURE PAGE 16

Play Your Part- Share Your Shakespeare Zandukeli Str. 27





JANUARY 8 - 11, 2016

Next! New Prime Minister Boasts Achievements While Critics Murmur of Instability BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA


ast week the Parliament of Georgia approved a new Cabinet headed by the new Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili. Eighty-six MPs voted in favor of the government, while 28 were against. The main parliamentary opposition, United National Movement (UNM) and the Free Democrats did not support the decision. In his comments at the parliamentary hearing, PM Kvirikashvili declared that the Georgian Dream has established a new culture in Georgian politics, demonstrating how a government should act in accordance with its population’s interests. PM Kvirikashvili named health reforms and others as an achievement of his government, adding, “We can name more

examples but the main thing is that the government listens to its voters.” He indicated that economic development, encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit and alleviating the bureaucratic burden for businesses will be among the government’s top domestic priorities. In his comments, PM Kvirikashvili affirmed the government’s “readiness for constructive cooperation” with opposition parties on policy initiatives. Regarding the Russian-occupied territories, he asserted, “We must double our efforts under the reconciliation policy...Once again, we reaffirm our commitment to sharing access to every benefit and success in the country with our Abkhazian and Ossetian brothers and sisters.” He also emphasized that a pragmatic approach toward Russia, including the Geneva International Discussions and the format of direct dialogue between

Former and new Prime Ministers of Georgia: Irakli Garibashvili embraces Giorgi Kvirikashvili

the PM’s Special Representative for Relations with Russia and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, aims at mitigating risks towards Georgia’s path of European integration. PM Kvirikashvili stressed the importance of establishing a strong culture of communication between the government and citizens and civil society. “In 2012 the Georgian people chose our government to serve them. A lot has been done by this government to demonstrate how it is possible for the government to listen to its people,” said the Prime Minister. Despite the new PM’s announcement regarding the possibility of changes in the Cabinet, the Cabinet members remain unchanged, except for the post of Foreign Minister, now occupied by Mikheil Janelidze. In ‘Georgia Analysis,’ a bi-monthly analysis of political and other major developments in Georgia by interna-

tional political analyst Lincoln Mitchell, the scholar says the resignation of Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili was to be expected. According to Mitchell, Garibashvili was always heavily dependent upon the good will of his predecessor, Bidzina Ivanishvili, and named him a protégé of Ivanishvili. Mitchell emphasized the appointment of the new PM indicated to governmental instability. “Kvirikashvili will be Georgia’s third Prime Minister since the 2012 election. While this is not, in of itself, a strong cause for significant concern, it suggests an instability in the government that has, and will continue to raise challenges related to governance,” Mitchell said.

AUTHOR OPINION Opinions around the new PM’s potential to succeed are disunited, as the opposition is concerned Kvirikashvili

will be controlled by Ivanishvili. Ivanishvili himself claims he has had no formal affiliation with Georgian politics since 2013 despite suggestions otherwise. Although PM Kvirikashvili at the parliamentary hearing was considered as more diplomatic and constructive than his predecessor, UNM was quick to remind him about the “unsuccessful three years of his government,” highlighting the issues of economic shock in the country, devalued national currency, and increased crime, claiming “these are GD’s key achievements during their governance.” For a professional observer or a commentator, the profile of Giorgi Kvirikashvili is hard to judge negatively; however, his direct link with Ivanishvili almost certainly eliminates the chance that the governmental leader will be independent in his decisions and policies.



Business Association of Georgia: Police Eviction Should be Reinstated BY ANA AKHALAIA


he Business Association of Georgia said that the bill to abolish police eviction should not be adopted, calling it “[a] case where the problem is not the lack of communication, but rather not taking into account or ignoring the obvious and generally known facts.” According to the bill, eviction from a residential area will only be possible following a decision from the Court. Paragraph 3 of Article 172 of the Civil Code was repealed, according to which eviction by police was possible. After the Parliament of Georgia adopted the bill, the Business Association of Georgia and Association of Banks of Georgia asked the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, to veto the Amendment. However, Margvelashvili had already signed the bill. The Business Association of Georgia introduced arguments to the President’s Administration as to why repealing the Police Eviction Institution was inadvisable at this stage. “Given the fact that the courts are very busy with civil cases, hearing deadlines

are systematically violated and making a decision often takes more than a year. These legislative changes only mean that today any owner in this country is at risk; the risk that they have to spend at least one year on disputes to defend and take their ownership back. This means that the government has violated its constitutional obligation to protect each person’s right to property and to offer owners effective mechanisms to defend their rights,” says the statement. The initiator of the bill, Deputy Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee, Paata Kiknavelidze, stated earlier that, according to Article 20 of the Constitution of Georgia, no one has the right to enter an apartment or other premises against the will of the owner if there is no court decision or urgent necessity to do so backed by law. He said police eviction was an unconstitutional concept. The Business Association of Georgia claims that the Amendment will negatively affect both the real estate market and financial sector. “The Business Association believes that all the existing legal mechanisms should be used and consultations launched with partner business associations to discuss the possibility of filing a lawsuit in the Constitutional Court,” the statement reads.


A Constructive Merger BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


he great English Language is making confident and vigorous strides into the life of our beloved Georgia. The nation is starting to speak English – slowly but unquestionably. One of the surest corroborations of this statement lies in the fact that our people – not just our foreign guests and friends – have started reading the English-language press and listening to the English-language broadcast media. The newspapers GEORGIA TODAY and GEORGIAN JOURNAL have been good and functional media for many a long year. Having been competitors in the most progressive and business business-

like meaning of the word, they competed respectfully, but never hated or wronged the other as often happens in the complex and vitriolic business world. As we well know, the marketplace has strict rules that usually dictate business behavior in general. It was exactly the dictate of the market and a healthy decision of Georgia’s businessmen that resulted in the smartest merger in the brief entrepreneurial history of this country: GEORGIA TODAY and GEORGIAN JOURNAL have now merged into one bigger and better publication, retaining the famous title of Georgia Today. Functionally, the newly renovated and revitalized edition will continue its main job of keeping the nation and the world informed on everyday happenings. Politically, it will promote our chances of integration into Euro-Atlantic structures, and in Euro A the long lo run, it will stimulate the creation of a cohort of Georcre gian journalists, writing in Engjo lish, w which should be extremely important for securing Georimpo gia’s Western image and future. W I have hav not seen a lot of business mergers merg lately in Georgia, but this one is very special because this particular niche in the Georgian media space has Geo now been filled by the edition of g great prospect. GEORGIA TODAY has always been a TO well-liked publication, and we it will w enjoy even more popularity from now on. If there ul is anything that this country needs more in order to get ne across local problems and a philosophy of life to the p rest r of the world, you could certainly count this Engc lish-language biweekly l which has now reinvented w and repowered itself in

this constructive and extremely practicable merger. Congratulations and cheers to every side of the merger and to the wonderful team of journalists who are going to keep up the good job they have been doing to date, and will continue to do in the future, strongly believing in the golden and most meaningful journalistic motto ever: Facts are sacred, comments are free. This nation truly needs to have a newspaper like this, and it has it indeed. Bilingual existence is Georgia’s destiny, and it needs careful and attentive treatment. Ignoring this historical exigency is not a good idea. Every single wasted day could result in an enormous social, political and economic loss. This is why the role played by GEORGIA TODAY, refreshed as it now is, is truly significant, and tomorrow it will even be more so. Nugzar Ruhadze, a Georgian journalist and interpreter, was born in Tbilisi. He graduated the Foreign Languages Institute in the faculty of English Language. At various times he has lived and worked in Egypt, England, and the United States. When Mr Ruhadze returned to Tbilisi he worked in the Georgian Foreign Ministry as head of the Protocol Department, but did not cease to engage in journalism. Following a creative assignment in the United States, he returned to his homeland with invaluable experience and here organized a radio program of English lessons for children and founded English-language newspaper Georgian Journal.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Georgia Today would like to welcome Mr Ruhadze to the Georgia Today team and to congratulate him for his long and much-loved service in writing and education. It is with great pleasure that Georgia Today publishes his 424th newspaper article and looks forward to many more wise words from him in future.



Abastumani Resort. Source:



he Abastumani resort, located in southern Georgia, will see GEL 13 million invested in 2016, newly appointed Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated at a plenary meeting. Abastumani, seen as one of Georgia’s most important resorts in Georgia, is a small town and


JANUARY 8 - 11, 2016

13 Million GEL to be Invested in Abastumani Resort spa in the Adigeni Municipality, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Georgia. The Georgian National Astrophysical Observatory is also located in Abastumani. The town possesses several landmarks and three hyperthermic springs, rich in sulfate-sodium chloride waters. This unique resort was always considered as a treatment place for people suffering from tuberculosis. Green Party leader, Giorgi Gachechiladze freely discussed the bad conditions in infrastructure, canalization and water supply in Abastumani dur-

ing the plenary meeting. He added that resolving these issues will have great importance in terms of domestic tourism. According to the Prime Minister, a general plan upholding modern standards will be prepared to make all the necessary infrastructure for the resort. “There is another serious problem we must consider- deforestation,” Gachechiladze told meeting attendees. “The dust pine trees emit has healing properties, beneficial for the treatment of tuber-

culosis. These trees are being replaced by spruce trees. Pines have been cut down. Please consider discussing this complex issue and take care of the resort. This will be a very important step for tourism development and treatment for our patients,” he said. PM Kvirikashvili denied that pine trees had been felled but recognised that, in general, the control on timber licenses and its enforcement is not as it should be and that more transparent and stricter mechanisms should be introduced.

Ministry of Finance: Excise Tax Not Related to Doubling the Price of Cigarettes BY ANA AKHALAIA


fter the New Year, following the approval of a bill on increasing excise tax on cigarettes and alcohol on December 11th by the Parliament of Georgia, the prices of several types of cigarettes, namely Parliament, Marlboro, L&M and Chesterfield, has doubled or even tripled. The Georgian Finance Ministry says the excise tax increase has no connection with the increased price of cigarettes mentioned above.

The updated price of Parliament is 10 GEL, Marlboro - 8 GEL, L&M and Chesterfield - 5 GEL. These are produced by the company Philip Morris and the official distributed in Georgia by Omega Group. This, however, may change with GDM Co. Ltd moving in to take over the distribution. Omega Group explains that raising the price of cigarettes produced by Philip Morris was a result of a deficit and due to which import was suspended. Therefore, the numbers are small and the demand is high. This, of course, reflected on prices. According to the company, everything will be clarified officially within a week. The bill approved by Parliament involves

The World Health Organization demands maximum limitation on consumption of cigarettes, and an increase of excise tax is one of the measures towards achieving this. Photo:

increasing the tax by 0.20 Lari on filtered cigarettes, and by 0.05 Lari on non-filtered cigarettes. The goal of the law is to tighten control on tobacco to better align Georgia with EU Direc-

tives. The World Health Organization demands maximum limitation on consumption of cigarettes, and an increase of excise tax is one of the measures towards achieving this.

Hard Rock Café to Open in Tbilisi BY ANA AKHALAIA


ard Rock Café is scheduled to open in spring 2016 in the heart of Tbilisi and will mark Hard Rock’s longawaited introduction to the city. Georgia Today met with the project manager of Hard Rock Café Tbilisi, Levan Karalashvili. “Negotiations with Hard Rock Café have been underway for over two years now. We have signed the agreement and Hard Rock Café Tbilisi is expected to open in May, 2016. We are in the process of hiring staff and training and preparing them. Reconstruction works on the intended location have already started,” Karalashvili told GT. The Café is to be located in the historical Vera district, at Petriashvili Str No.1, in a restored wine factory which boasts more than 1300 m2 of space with 260 seats spread over two floors. The first floor will be the main hall with a stage on which performances will be held while the second floor will be a lounge-type section with a veranda. “Hard Rock group has developed its own design format. It will be a traditional Hard Rock Café design with guitars of American and European musicians. We wanted to make a wall of Georgian performers and we already have their permission to do so. Now we are negotiating with several Georgian rock bands to put their belongings on the wall,” Karalashvili stated. Guests of Hard Rock Café Tbilisi will enjoy the Café’s exclusive dishes including Legendary Burgers and award-winning drinks. The Café will also have a shop offering music-inspired items, as well as collectible Hard Rock Café merchandise. Fans will be also able to acquire Hard Rock’s muchcoveted signature pins. “Prices will be adjusted to the local market. We will develop a medium price segment so Hard Rock

appreciators can come and enjoy. We also want Hard Rock Café Tbilisi to become a platform for Georgian bands to get experience and perform. This also is part of our negotiations- to find talent, and the strategy of our founders is to support this,” Karalashvili said. The founders of Hard Rock Café Tbilisi are TBC Holding, Goga Kalandadze, founder of Black Sea Group and Zaza Shengelia, founder of Bravo Records. Levan Karalashvili, who is a temporary representative of Hard Rock Café, also stated that after the interviews they will choose the General Manager of Hard Rock Café Tbilisi from the six candidates already selected. With a total of 204 venues in 64 countries, including 157 Cafés, 22 hotels and 11 casinos, Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognized companies. Hard Rock owns the world’s greatest collection of music memorabilia, which is displayed at its locations around the world. The company owns, operates and franchises Cafés in iconic cities including London, New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Dubai.




JANUARY 8 - 11, 2016

USD 40 Million to Be Invested in Rixos Tbilisi

Construction BY ANA AKHALAIA


SD 40 million is to be invested in the construction of RIXOS TBILISI, 1/3 of which is allocated by the Bank of Georgia

based on the guarantee of the owners, Georgian company City M, and the remainder by Israeli investors. Completion of the project has been postponed a number of times. According to the last government resolution, City M should complete the construction of the multifunctional complex before June 1st, 2016.

The President of Israel-Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Itsik Moshe, explained the reason for the delays to the project as the fact it coincided with a time when problems arose in the world economy. Moreover, the construction of this kind of hotel is not possible at high speed as it takes time to work on precise design and planning. The cost of the hotel chan-

delier alone, which is exclusively produced for RIXOS, is USD 1 million. “Almost all the large-scale projects were affected by the world [financial] crisis and there are many factors in this. We hear every day about companies collapsing. The crisis has led to the point where the world economy ‘died.’ RIXOS TBILISI hasn’t stopped for almost a sin-

gle day. In addition, we need to analyze what kind of project will be built, with what kind of technologies, and this takes exactly the same amount of time in more developed countries,” Moshe said, adding that the hotel will have no competition on the market because it will be the most luxurious hotel with a unique service. 100 people are to be employed there.

Deputy Minister of Regional Development, 60,000 GEL will be spent in 2016 and 100,000 GEL in 2017 under the Mountains Law. A number experts don’t expect these costs will have adequate effects. Economists believe that the government should take action to ensure a limited number of people receive the status of Mountains Law beneficiary in order to avoid increased costs. Under the law, people can register in the mountains, but then do nothing there. In this case, the state will have to take on additional control mechanisms. “The work force is lower in mountainous regions, with a high elderly population,” Rati Kochlamazashvili, Interna-

tional School of Economics (ISET) researcher, told “So this law may have a social purpose rather than business development. In general, someone will open a hotel, someone will build something, but the question is how corresponding the effect will be to State costs. Overall, this is a political decision made for the elections, rather than for the development of entrepreneurship.” Mountains Law first was adopted in 1999 and ceased functioning in 2009. Making a new Mountains Law was the pre-election promise of coalition Georgian Dream, now the ruling party of the Georgian Government.

Mountains Law: Political Decision or True Aim to Boost Entrepreneurship? BY ANA AKHALAIA


usinesses in the mountain regions of Georgia were released from taxes from January 1st, 2016. According to the Mountains Law, natural persons who start business in the mountain regions will be exempt from income tax for 10 years and legal entities will not pay property and income taxes for 10 years. The Mountains Law also offers social benefits to pensioners, doctors, nurses and teachers who live in the mountains. In particular, pensioners who are permanent residents in the mountains will receive 216 GEL from September, 2016, while other pensioners will receive 180 GEL. Medical staff of the mountainous regions- nurses and doctors- will get supplemental pay. Teachers will receive at least an additional 35% of their basic salary.

The Mountains Law also includes benefits for child birth. The first and second child born after January 1st 2016, to at least one parent being a permanent resident of a mountainous region, will receive at least 100 GEL a month for a year; while the third and each subsequent child will receive at least 200 GEL monthly allowance for two years. The Law also provides for the winter period (from October 15 to April 15 of the following year) to pay for electricity from the state budget for permanent residents of the mountainous regions. The government has already approved the list of mountain settlements. 1,582 mountainous settlements were granted the status, including Khevi, Mtiuleti, Pankisi Gorge and Gudamakari Gorge, mountainous Adjara, Pshav-Khevsureti, Tusheti, Upper and Lower Svaneti, Racha and Lechkhumi. The Mountains Law aims to develop businesses and encourage people to stay in mountainous regions. “This Law aims to determine benefits

to stimulate social and economic progress of the mountainous regions guaranteed by the Constitution, to ensure the welfare, raise living standards, support employment, and to improve social and economic conditions of the people living in mountainous regions,” state the objectives of the Law. Some experts, however, see risks in the Mountains Law. One such risk is that there is a chance of corruption; any governor can help people or their relatives to register in the mountains and get the needed status. “We don’t have an institution of registration,” said Vato Lejava, Free University Chancellor. “People can be registered wherever they want. If there are some benefits somewhere, no one would prevent it, for example, all the pensioners could register in Oni district (located in mountainous north western Georgia), so a part of the costs cannot be controlled. This Law will lead to a pseudo migration process,” he said. According to Tengiz Shergelashvili,




Government’s Three Years Report BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


ormer Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili considered the absence of fear among citizens, the settled prison system, freedom of the media and courts and the European Commission’s positive report on Georgia’s visa liberalization as the most important achievements of the Government in the past three years. On December 23, Garibashvili resigned from office but a few days prior to doing so, presented the three years report of the Government’s activities – covering the period from the victory of the Georgian Dream Party in the elections to present. “When we started leading the country three years ago, we aimed to make Georgia a strong, developed and united country which would become part of the global community. And I am pleased that Europe has recognized our achievements and given the highest reward in the opening of the border for our citizens,” Garibashvili stated three days after the publication of a positive report from the European Commission. The Government the past three years has focused on people, the former PM noted, dedicating particular care to their comfortable living conditions, freedom, and rights, creating a peaceful environment, favoring development and ensuring protection. For this reason the government created a General Health Care System; as well as increased healthcare funding for mothers and children, which reduced mortality amongst this group. Each municipality is now able to boast clinics, and salaries for rural medical staff have increased.

Separately, Garibashvili highlighted the Hepatitis C elimination program, which has made Georgia one of the first countries in the world to defeat the disease. The first phase began in April 2015, and already 1720 patients have recoveredtentatively, 90% of the patients will be able to overcome the disease in the next stage. According to preliminary calculations, the program will save more than 200 thousand people’s lives. “We have made medicine affordable for everyone. It is no longer a business – it is for the public good,” Garibashvili declared. Large investments have been made in the education sector – research funding saw an 82% increase, scientists’ salaries were more than doubled, and the best research projects were financed with 60 million Lari. Teachers’ salaries increased by 65%, and in 2016 this will rise to 70-80%. “We understand that this is not enough, but the government will continue to work hard to give a decent evaluation to the work of the people entrusted with the education and development of our children,” said the former PM of Georgia. Today, half a million students use free student books and 1150 schools have free transport services. According to a study by the World Bank, this program reduced family expenses on education to 60%. The third priority for the Government, along with healthcare and education, is social support, Garibashvili stated. Within three years, general pensions increased by 80 Lari. The pension will reach 180 Lari in July 2016 and 216 Lari in September. The pensions of people with disabilities have increased by 28-45%. The Government pays particular attention to refugees from Abkhazia and South Ossetia: 15 thousand refugee families

were provided with housing in the last three years. “For the first time in 22 years, 1061 refugee families will be provided with apartments in new buildings, and 630 families will be accommodated in the Olympic Village,” Garibashvili stated. “We are also developing territories near the occupied zone; in particular there is a multidisciplinary hospital and shopping center in the Ruhi village, Zugdidi district.” The Mountains Law was created to support the population living in the Georgian mountains, which according to the former PM are Georgia’s treasure and the place which has by tradition protected and preserved the Georgian national identity and tradition. . The Government will pay 100 Lari monthly for one year for the first and second child born in a mountain region and 200 Lari monthly for two years for the third and following children. “The state has always relied to an extent on the wealth of village products,” Garibashvili noted, highlighting the importance of Georgian honey, nuts and wine. The harvests in the Kakheti and RachaLachkhumi regions earned 400 million Lari over the past three years, an unprecedented result in the last 25 years. Georgian wine was represented in more than 100 international exhibitions, and sales have increased in both China and Europe. The ‘Produce in Georgia’ State Program also gave a significant boost to Small and Medium Businesses, with an expected investment of 345 million Lari. It already financed 139 new enterprises and a further 665 enterprises have been expanded and strengthened. Garibashvili noted that, following the signature of the Association Agreement with the EU, a new great market has opened for Georgian

companies and exporters. The Georgian railway received its first cargo train from China, with a final destination in Turkey, on December 2015. The former PM officially stated that Georgia had become a part of the New Silk Road. He also recalled the success of the Silk Road Forum in Tbilisi and the benefits reaped from free trade with China, Turkey, the EU and CIS countries. The great force of the Georgian economy, however, is the energy sector, especially with the construction of new Hydro Power Plants (HPPs). Recently, 10 HPPs came into operation and 104 projects are currently at various stages of implementation. “First of all, I want to stress that we care about our nature and these HPPs do not harm the environment,” said Garibashvili. “We need more energy to be independent and to keep up with the developing world. That is why we need more HPPs, but HPPs which are built wisely.” Over the last three years, income from tourism amounted to more than 600 million USD, making it one of the main drivers of the Georgian economy. Since 2012, 17 million tourists visited Georgia, as compared to just 12 million between 2005 and 2012. 120 types of hotel have been built and ski resorts have been developed, some being equipped with snow machines that extend the winter season by five months. The Government carried out major infrastructure projects like the construction and rehabilitation of roads, bridges, enterprises, schools and residential buildings. Among them were cultural monuments such as Muco, Chachashi, the Svan towers, Vardzia, Gelati, Anchiskhati and a number of Georgian monuments abroad such as the Ishkhan monastery in Turkey.

Georgia made a name for itself in sport, too, especially in 2015. Garibashvili noted the success of Georgian rugby players, wrestlers, chess players and Paralympic athletes in particular. Georgia was also chosen to host the European Youth Olympic Festival, UEFA Super Cup and other international competitions. The former Prime Minister in his report noted the changes in the structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Court, Prosecutor’s Office and the new rules governing elections for local self-government. He noted that there are no violations of prisoners’ rights, as there were prior to 2012. The Government introduced and created a number of laws aiming to ensure the protection of human rights: the Human Rights Strategy, the new Labor Code, the Code of Local Government and the Office of the Personal Data Protection Inspector of Georgia. Against a complex and challenging global background, Georgia managed to adopt a rational approach to foreign policy. In addition to the above-mentioned visa liberalization with the EU, the country has made considerable progress with its strategic partners on NATO integration issues and strengthened political and economic relations with the US. The Government actively cooperates with Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Moldova. The former Prime Minister also welcomed the decision of the Russian authorities on visa facilitation for Georgian citizens. In conclusion, former PM Garibashvili said that this report is the result of hard work. “We know that our people do not like an empty government which is content with advertising on television - we will not do so. Our main objective is to work for the future generations,” he concluded.




JANUARY 8 - 11, 2016

Russia Visa Facilitation for Georgians Only Worth the Paper it’s Written On? What is the purpose of the Russian visa-liberalization, since the same government was responsible for the deportation of thousands of Georgians from the country in 2006? Photo:



ate December, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said Russia is ready to restore diplomatic relations with Georgia, following a positive report by the European Commission of December 18th on Georgia’s visa liberalization with the EU. Karasin said Georgia’s ex-President Saakashvili decided to cut diplomatic ties with Russia after he was forced to ‘cope with aggression and the recognizing of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.’ According to the Russian official, the initiative to cease diplomatic relations came from the Georgian President. “We were ready to restore relations, but they demanded that Russia withdraws its recognition of the sovereignty of Abkhazia and South Ossetia first.” Prior to Karasin’s proposal, Russia announced that from December 23 a visa-regime will be facilitated for Georgian citizens. The statement published said that for business, working, educational or humanitarian purposes in Russia, multiple entrance visas will be granted. In response, the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said no interagency negotiations concerning the issue are underway. The Russian MFA said Russia is committed to encouraging the maintenance

of relations between citizens of the two states, which may in the future be reflected in introducing rules for visafree travel. The Georgian PM’s Special Envoy in relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, stated that simplification of the visa regime for Georgians is the right step for Russia to take and will solve problems that many Georgians face. Russian President Vladimir Putin early December at his annual pressconference stated that “Georgia’s former adventurist government should carry the historic blame for the country’s break-up. Russia did not initiate

the degradation of Russian-Georgian relations.”

ANALYSIS Russia occupies one fifth of Georgia’s sovereign territory – Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia). After the Russian aggression of 2008 in Georgia and the recognition of the two breakaway regions as independent states, the then Georgian government cut diplomatic ties with the Russian government. The majority of pro-westerners in Georgia consider the Russian initiative a meek diplomatic trick to gaining the favor of the Georgian people and mak-

ing them forget about the aggression and occupation that has claimed the lives of thousands of Georgians and left hundreds of thousands homeless in their own country. The official position of the previous as well as the current Georgian Government articulate that diplomatic ties between the two countries will remain cut until Russia takes back its recognition of the two Georgian territories as independent states and fulfills the Sarkozy-Medvedev 6-point Agreement of August 2008. At the same time, the Russian Government remains unwavering regarding the

recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, having signed military agreements with the de-facto governments of both regions. Could diplomacy between Russia and Georgia have any palpable aftermath? Otto von Bismarck once said: “Russia will sign any agreement, but the value of the treaty will be lower than that of the paper on which it is drafted.” Could Georgians employ this principle in dealing with Russia? What is the purpose of the Russian visa-liberalization, since the same government was responsible for the deportation of thousands of Georgians from the country in 2006?




Astrologers warn us that lies, scandal and conflict are the active characteristics of this zodiac sign

2016: The Year of the Red Monkey OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


ccording to the Chinese calendar, 2016 will be the year of the red monkey. Astrologers warn us that lies, scandal and conflict are the active characteristics of this zodiac, therefore this year we should be more careful than we were in the past years of the snake and the dragon. In short, and at a glance, it seems as though there is nothing good ahead of us, however, astrologer’s warnings alone can’t do much, unless we lie to ourselves in autumn. This year there are parliamentary elections, remember? And elections without lies, scandals and conflicts, as they say, do not exist, just like a Georgian Supra without a toast. This year is indeed decisive for polit-

yet decided which political union they will vote for. This means that they do not trust the Government anymore. Indeed, the ruling coalition Georgian Dream isn’t so well off, though that it still leads the rating by 16%, a decrease compared to previous polls, is still obvious. This does not in any way imply that GD will need to think of new lies for autumn in order to improve the situation, however, if the government continues losing its electorate at this rate, it can be surely said that not a single lie will be able to help them out, regardless of who is thinking them up. As founder of GD, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, says, he is going to get involved in the pre-election campaign with ‘all his resources.’ “I will, of course, take part in everything and will interfere very actively. I declare once again that I will help my team with all my resources, so that it can convince soci-

ety that it is still irreplaceable today and that it should be the leader. Those ways, outlined after we came; those values that we have established, still need to be deepened and strengthened. Therefore, I am interested in being mobilized, together with society, to the maximum and to take relevant decisions,” Ivanishvili declared. Which resources the billionaire plans to use, intellectual or financial, has not yet been specified. It is likely that he will use both as a support to the coalition, as both are needed during elections. Therefore it cannot be ruled out that in autumn we will witness a new series of “free money and free loans.” By the way, if we look at the history of lies of the government, President Shevardnadze’s pre-election promise, in 1995 about 1 million jobs, keeps the leading position. Georgian Dream’s promise about free money cannot even


get close to that one, not to say anything about the promises from the National Movement’s time: “There’s a lot more to be done” or “Deeds instead of words.” As for the National Movement, according to the same NDI poll, its rating has statistically risen from 7%-10%. Like a poet once wrote, the National Movement caws like a black raven behind Georgian Dream’s Merani, which, on their side is followed by the Free Democrats of ex-defense minister Irakli Alasania. But the main thing is to be able to tell truth from lies in this year’s elections, so that in the next four years we will not blame the worsening of our country, or our own lives, on the government again. Otherwise, we will have to live with the idea that we are so used to lies that we can’t even imagine living without them. And the year of the red monkey will have nothing to do with it.

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ical parties. Parliamentary elections will be held in autumn. Some will try to retain authority, others to regain it; the goals of some will probably be more modest and these be satisfied by a couple of parliamentary mandates. It depends on the resources and fantasies they have. During previous elections Georgian Dream (GD) truly made wonders, otherwise who would imagine that ballads about free money, cheap loans and halved tariffs would work to such extent that even the National Movement, being noticed for spreading “lies,” would be surprised? After the elections, the UNM government started to cry “Ivanishvili and the Dream lies to people”, but of course by then it was too late. Voters brought the GD coalition to power but where these voters went after 4 years is proven by the December polls of NDI in which 35% of voters have not






JANUARY 8 - 11, 2016

Georgia to Receive Gas from Iran



he Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA says Iran is planning to export its gas to Georgia through Armenia. According to IRNA, the managing director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) said that the plan will be implemented according to talks between Iranian and Georgian officials. The official emphasized the gas export plan to Georgia should be pursued when it is economically lucrative.

Head of National Iranian Gas Exports Company, Ali Reza Kameli, told the news agency that exports of Iran’s gas to Europe through Georgia via the pipeline is less profitable, underlining it is prioritizing Liquefied Natural Gas’s (LNG). “At present, Turkey is a major buyer of Iranian gas, importing daily 30 million cubic meters of gas from Iran,” Kameli said. According to Kameli, in the Caucasus region, Azerbaijan and Armenia are also interested in buying gas from Iran. The Iranian official added that Georgia is the last country in the Caucasus region that has asked Iran for gas, and that implementation of the above-said project will make the entire Caucasus a consumer of Iranian gas.

Invitation to Participate in the Sales Procedures Announced by the Embassy of the Republic of France in Georgia on the Sale of 3933 sq/m Land Plot Located in the Center of Tbilisi The Embassy of the Republic of France in Georgia has announced a Sales Procedures on the sale of land plot located adjacent to the Rustaveli Avenue at 4 Khazina St., Tbilisi, Georgia. The land plot has the following characteristics: cadastral code –; total area of the land plot - 3933 sq/m. The land plot qualifies as type 2 recreational zone with the following coefficients: K1= [0,2], K2=[undefined] and K3=[Undefined].

First Head of Georgian Government ‘Returns’ to Georgia BY TAMAR SVANIDZE


ead of the first government of Democratic Republic of Georgia, Noe Ramishvili, who was in exile after the Soviet Union forces occupied the country, symbolically visited Georgia 95 years later. Michel Ramishvili, a grandchild of the late Georgian politician, paid a visit to Georgia and brought along his grandfather’s passport. According to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Giorgi Mgebrishvili, a Georgian stamp was put symbolically on Ramishvili’s passport at Tbilisi International Airport. Noe Ramishvili was one of the leaders of the Menshevik wing of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party.

On May 26th 1918, Georgia gained independence. Ramishvili was elected as a chairman of the Government and was replaced by his close associate Noe Zhordania on July 24th 1918. In the new government, Ramishvili accepted the post of Interior Minister. From March 1919, he simultaneously held the posts of Education Minister and Defense Minister. In February 1921, after Soviet Russian forces occupied the country, Ramishvili was exiled to France but did not cease his efforts to undermine the Bolshevik dictatorship. In 1930 he was assassinated in Paris by a Soviet foreign intelligence agent. “This is a symbolic return of my grandfather to his homeland,” Michel Ramishvili stated, holding aloft his grandfather’s passport. Descendants of Noe Ramishvili will stay in Georgia for the next few days to visit the Ministry of Internal Affairs and meet Minister Mgebrishvili.

Russian Occupants Detain Georgian in Gori District

Please, take into account that the Sales Procedures n will be conducted in accordance with the Rules for Submission of Offers available on the web-page of the Embassy:, or by e-mail request at The interested Parties shall submit their Expression of Interest in a form and to the addressee(s) envisaged in the Rules for Submission of Offers. In case of additional questions, please, contact [the consul or hes representative] at the following e-mail [] or call at [(00 995 32) 272 14 90] from Monday to Friday from 9:30 AM till 12:30 PM. The Expression of Interest shall be submitted to the Contact Person indicated above no later than 15th of October 2015.



ussian Occupants, or so-called border guards, have arrested two Georgians near the village of Bershueti in the Gori District. According to reports, Saba Sekhniashvili and Lasha Glurjidze were going to a local church when they were taken into custody. Sekhniashvili, who escaped the so-called border guards, claimed that about eight gunman appeared when they were about to enter the Trinity Church.

According to Sekhniashvili, his friend Glurjidze was taken to Tskhinvali. Glurjidze’s mother stated that her son’s phone was switched off a few minutes after he was detained. A representative of the Governor of Gori said that the territory around the Trinity Church is controlled by the central government. Similarly, the young men had not passed the occupation line. The representative continued that both law enforcement agencies and the EUMM have already been notified. At time of going to press, Glurjidze’s family has not yet been contacted by anyone from Tskhinvali.



Awaiting the White Knight: Ogden on Equal Opportunity Game of Thrones. Perhaps a mysterious stranger will join the ranks of the political hopefuls, a Georgian Luke Skywalker who can fix it all?



he swaggering arrogance of American politicians or the British MP’s snobbish disdain for the people he rules are more than enough to make the sensible Westerner stop caring about his politics and turn to drink. Russians, Georgians and Ukrainians complain about corruption in their own parliaments, apparently under the impression that things are rather better in the West. Not so, says I. America, that pinnacle of liberty which seeks to spread its democracy through occupations by the United States Marine Corps or McDonald’s and KFC, has had a President who was the son of a former President, whose brother helped him win his election while governing Florida, as well as a Secretary of State who is the wife of another former President (and is considering a run for the White House herself). So much for the republic of equal opportunities. Not that Britain is any better. Instead of the drawling George Bush we have the weak rasp of Hilary Benn, the spawn of Tony Benn, an MP Cabinet Minister for the Labour Party. Oddly enough, Labour was once a working man’s party, but now its MPs are sons and daughters of other MPs, having entered politics after attending the same schools and universities as their ‘posh’ Conservative counterparts. Personally, I think we should abandon our current political titles and settle for the styles of Middle Earth and Westeros, with things like ‘Hilary, son of Tony, of Tribe Benn’ becoming the norm. This boring predictability is common to the West, but not in Georgia. Not, of course, that it means Georgian politicians are more likeable or any better at their jobs, but given the choice between listening to the faceless mass of Western government or watching a fistfight between MPs on live television, then I’ll be shouting ‘Go on, Gio! Give to him! Left hook, that’s the way!’ along with everyone else. However, Georgian politicians can have too much personality for their own good. Nobody can fail to notice that usually people speak of ‘Saakashvili’ and ‘Bidzina’, and rarely ‘the UNM’ or ‘Georgian Dream’. The political importance of public popularity is how Kakha Kaladze, formerly a confused-looking footballer, became Georgia’s first confused-looking Minister of Energy; people follow the man, not the party,

and that carries a very obvious problem. I recall that in 2013, people were stunned when Bidzina Ivanishvili abruptly quit his post as Prime Minister, announcing that he was finished with politics. I’m not entirely sure why people were surprised; it was, after all, what he had said he would do. Yet even those who remembered his pledge to quit still had no idea as to who was to replace him. Enter Irakli Garibashvili, a man who had not even been able to vote for half of his life when he became Prime Minister, and who became famous for being the world’s second-youngest national leader, just edging behind North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. It should be remembered that if you’re ever in second place behind North Korea in anything, it might not be the sort of race you want to run in, seeing as the things that Pyongyang excels at (human rights violations, threatening to start wars and famine) are looked down upon in polite society. Garibashvili’s own recent resignation has fuelled speculation that the Georgian Dream coalition is still controlled by Ivanishvili, which is likely given Ivanishvili’s recent comment of ‘We need to have consultations over who will be the next Prime Minister’. It seems unlikely that the party would consult with him if he still had nothing to do with them. After all, Manchester United don’t consult me for anything. Garibashvili’s replacement has further confused the public. Recent polls have revealed that few Georgians have any idea who to vote for. Georgian Dream’s former faithful are disappointed and disillusioned, their hopes of being made rich by Ivanishvili’s billions having been dashed. Garibashvili subsequently beating the drum of EU agreements and Chinese friendship while the Lari’s value continued to fall just prior to his resignation had the air of a beggar with a spoon and a pan being moved on by the police. Not that the UNM’s supporters have fared any better. Some pine for Saakashvili, in exile in Ukraine, continuing to fight his war (which makes him sound far more like Aragon than he really is). Others hope that the remnant of Saakashvili’s government not in exile or prison can point to Georgian Dream’s failures and win over the undecided public before the elections this year. But who knows? Perhaps a mysterious stranger will join the ranks of the political hopefuls, a Georgian Luke Skywalker who can fix it all? I jest, of course. Luka Skywalkeradze is yet to emerge.





JANUARY 8 - 11, 2016

Because the Beauty is Already in You…


hiseido, the Japanese cosmetic house, launched the new fragrance Ever Bloom in October 2015. SENSITIVITY IN BLOOM, it all starts with a black-and-white photo of a flower, the expression of timelessness and eternity. A photo of a flower. A simple flower, the eternal feminine symbol. Ever Bloom fragrance is built from the heritage of the house on the contrast between East and West, and represents universal femininity. The composition is signed by perfumer Aurelien Guichard who wanted to create a natural, airy, floral fragrance as a balance between delicacy and power. “When creating Shiseido Ever Bloom, I wanted to bring a new fresh sensuality, a new petal blooming sensation that will leave an unforgettable impression. I imagined a transparent floral heart, clean and natural. An abstract flower that you can’t quite identify, a flower with a “blurred” outline… I think this fragrance is about serenity, happiness, sensuality.” Created in a unique Shiseido olfactory structure, Ever Bloom is a musky white floral fragrance that diffuses a radiant but enveloping scent. One single drop of this delicate fragrance has the power to fill in an entire room. The composition of white flowers and musk was built as a linear structure rather than a pyramid. The upper accords includes a blend of lotus, transparent jasmine and Bulgarian rose oil. The center includes Tunisian orange blossom, gardenia and Sylkolide molecule. Together they create a sensual, musky white floral fragrance. The bottle has the density of a fine object. Its free, undulating and caressing lines make you want to hold it in your hand. Light, the symbol of inner beauty, enters the bottle and sets it aglow. Ever Bloom by Shiseido is now available at Ici Paris stores as 30, 50 and 90 ml Eau de Parfum. Since 1917, Shiseido has been a pioneer of fine perfume, creating fragrances that are based not only on ingredients, but on modern women and artistic sensibility. You are unique, radiant and graceful. When you enter a room, you don’t need to be noticed. You will be remembered.




Dechert OnPoint: Georgia Launches First Technological Center


echert Georgia, through the contribution of partners Archil Giorgadze and Nicola Mariani, joined by senior associates Ruslan Akhalaia and Irakli Sokolovski, as well as Ana Kostava and Ana Kochiashvili, is partnering with Georgia Today on a regular section of the paper which will provide updated information regarding significant legal changes and developments in Georgia. In particular, we will highlight significant issues which may impact businesses operating in Georgia. Dechert’s Tbilisi office combines local service and full corporate, tax and finance support with the global knowledge that comes with being part of a worldwide legal practice. Dechert Georgia is the Tbilisi branch of Dechert LLP, a global specialist law firm that focuses on core transactional and litigation practices, providing worldclass services to major corporations, financial institutions and private funds worldwide. With more than 900 Lawyers in our global practice groups working in 27 offices across Europe, the CIS, Asia, the Middle East and the United States, Dechert has the resources to deliver seamless, high quality legal services to clients worldwide. For more informa-

An aspect differentiating the Tbilisi FIZ from existing free industrial zones, which concentrate on manufacturing and processing industries, is a focus on the research and development of various technologies and innovations

tion, please visit or contact Nicola Mariani at On 30 November 2015 Georgia’s thirdlargest free industrial zone opened for operation at a 17 hectare non-agricultural land plot located in the Gldani district of Tbilisi, Georgia. The zone, named Tbilisi Technological Park Free Industrial Zone (the “Tbilisi FIZ”), will be functional for 49 years under the management and administration of Georgia Technology Park LLC (the “Administrator”), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dutch company BitFury Holding B.V. An aspect differentiating the Tbilisi FIZ from existing free industrial zones, which concentrate on manufacturing and processing industries, is a focus on the research and development of various technologies and innovations. In this regard, the first project implemented in the Tbilisi FIZ is the construction and exploitation of a data center. The center is equipped with an innovative 40 MW energy efficient cooling system and aims to attract international IT companies to the Georgian market. The Administrator is already in talks with several foreign pharmaceutical and light industry companies which have expressed interest in entering the Tbilisi FIZ. The Tbilisi FIZ is conveniently located near Tbilisi International Airport and major land transit routes. The free zone offers 26 land plots to potential investors, with the Administrator offering potential investors a comprehensive package of services covering all stages of operation, including the possibility to join and merge land plots according to the investor’s needs. The Administrator intends to invest USD 30,000,000 in the Tbilisi FIZ. It is expected that the aggregate volume of investment in the Tbilisi FIZ will amount to USD 100,000,000. Except for the benefits offered by the Administrator, the Tbilisi FIZ enjoys further benefits applicable to free industrial zones under Georgian legislation. In particular, benefits provided for free industrial zones under Georgian legislation include the exemption of free industrial zone enterprises from the obligation to obtain licenses/permits for the following activities: • production and packaging of infants’ food products; • production and packaging of children’s food products; • production of electricity; • transmission of electricity; • distribution of electricity; • distribution of natural gas; • transportation of natural gas; • transit of products subject to veterinary control;

• exploitation of hazardous industry objects; • local urban regular transportation of passengers; • international transportation of cargo (above the quota defined in an international agreement) from the territory of Georgia by a foreign carrier; • clinical research of pharmacological substances; • production of pharmaceutical substances (medical treatment substances, except for drug substances); • setting up of a group I pharmacy; • setting up of a group II pharmacy; • setting up of a pharmacy point; • import of non-iodized salt. A simplified procedure also applies to permits issued for construction in free industrial zones. Namely, the construction permit is used by the Administrator with a single-stage proceeding upon submission of project documentation elaborated in compliance with the parameters of the plan for developing the free

10 Galaktion Street

industrial zone territory. Further advantages of free industrial zones include the absence of limitations on the currency used in payments. More importantly, the following tax exemptions apply to free industrial zones and FIZ enterprises: • Profit from business permitted in and gained by a free industrial zone enterprise within the free industrial zone shall be exempted from profit tax, except in the cases provided in the Tax Code of Georgia; • Import of foreign goods in a free industrial zone shall be exempt from value-added tax; • Transactions within a free industrial zone shall be exempt from value-added tax; • Property within a free industrial zone shall be exempt from property tax; • Import of foreign goods in a free industrial zone shall be exempt from import tax; • Supply of good and delivery of services between free industrial zone enter-

prises shall be exempt from VAT; and • Import of goods produced within a free industrial zone to the territory of Georgia (outside the free industrial zone) shall be exempt from import tax. For the purposes of exemption from import tax, the Ministry of Finance sets detailed criteria by a separate order. The activities restricted in free industrial zones include: (a) construction and residential use of buildings and capital and temporary facilities of dwelling and hospitality designation; (b) production of or trade with weapons and ammunition; (c) production of and trade with nuclear and radioactive substances; (d) import, storage, production and/or realization of drug and psychotropic substances; and (e) import, storage, production and/or realization of tobacco products or tobacco raw materials, unless designated for local use. Other restrictions and limitations of the Georgian legislation also apply to operations on free industrial zones.

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




JANUARY 8 - 14, 2016

Your Last Escape: Svaneti BY TONY HANMER


t’s been an interesting Christmas/New Year season thus far in our winter mountain fastness, with two of the mentioned events already having happened and their Orthodox counterparts still to come. We still let out the cows every day from midday onwards for a brief sojourn in the fresh air, no matter how cold, and a drink form a nearby trough meant for them. This being midwinter, we don’t expect them to wander far: there’s not much vegetation to find and eat, and they “know” they’ll get good portions of hay and salt in the barn anyway, something to return to. But the bullock... he still, occasionally, does a teenager thing, and stays away. Like he did a few days after Western Christmas. His “niece” had been born on that holiday, a white heifer to a white mother (her first), and the latest in our unbroken string of unassisted births for which we are so grateful; see the photo. She was doing well since I had found her that morning, drinking from her mother and gaining weight. Why

he decided not to return was a mystery and a major stress. We were readying to kill him in the coming spring anyway, after he turned two years old. That evening turned up nothing, so he would be out for the night: not the coldest on the calendar at minus 6 degrees C, but worrying enough.

Next day, after school my wife, a neighbor and I all continued separate searches around the village and its considerable outskirts. It wasn’t until about 5 pm, light getting ready to start fading, that I spotted a hopefully colored bovine across a nearby stream, fenced in. It wasn’t until I approached right to it that I could see that it was indeed Mr Meat, his face obscured by the fence from easier identification. Indeed, he was stuck in that field, having entered it by what means I knew not, and I had to open a gate to let him out and start towards home. So the Svans hadn’t poached him after all! This was the clincher for me, though: Mr Meat, you’ve run your last away, and it’s time for you to go under the knife. We don’t plan to need a pair of massive but docile castrated oxen years down the road for plowing, which is a twice-yearly minor event anyway, and also there’s no partner for you in that. Sorry, but there it is. I enlisted my neighbor’s help, because although I’ve passed the “carnivore test” of seeing an animal go from alive to meat on the table, I’m still nowhere near knowledgeable enough to slaughter and butcher one. He obliged, and on December 30, we did the deed, snow coming down, in our yard. Be warned, from now on the details get a bit more grisly. This neighbor is actually refreshingly concerned about doing things like this as humanely as possible. To this end he used his sledgehammer to bang our bullock hard on the head, effectively putting him out before cutting his throat. So this part was over quickly and with little if any suffering. Then he really was just meat, and we began the long job of butchering, which here signifies a job

properly done as opposed to one badly botched! Skinning... removal of lower legs... organs... head. Although he hadn’t eaten for 24 hours prior to the event, his stomachs were still, for me, shockingly full of stinking matter. Intestines too. Now that I’ve seen what’s left in a stomach before it becomes the “delicacy” called tripe, I’m doubly determined never to eat a single mouthful of the stuff again, including the Georgian version with trotters and garlic and milk called khashi. Thinking twice about the intestines which case sausages too, thinking hard. For my wife, however, these things are important and wonderful delights. She’s welcome to them. I assisted where I could, as did my wife and a Korean lady who was our guest, who has studied farming but not had enough hands-on experience. She was right in there, despite the cold. And because this was my animal, I also had the freedom to cut some steaks off him, of which Georgians are sadly ignorant in general but by which I intend to educate a few of them at least. If she can have her head cheese and tripe, I’ll have my bit my way too! Now that the house is more or less freed of what I consider to be the disgusting cooking smells of the above mentioned items, we can move on as we wait for January 7th and 14th, when the festivities will start all over again. Twice-blessed! Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1250 members, at He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:



Victory Partnership Alliance Brings Christmas to Families of Wounded Georgian Soldiers BY MERI TALIASHVILI


n January 5th, the Victory Partnership Alliance (VPA), Volunteers from VPA, the Georgian Rugby Union, and C4iD visited ten families of Georgian soldiers wounded during the mission in Afghanistan and Iraq to give Christmas gift baskets for families in Gori and rugby balls and toys to the children. The gifts were given personally by Sean Mulcahey, the Founder and CEO of VPA, Alexander Japaridze, Country Director, and Army Rugby Club captain David Daushvili. “This was a really great experience,” Sean Mulcahey said during the visit. “It demonstrates how the partnership approach can deliver a positive impact at low cost. We are very grateful for the contributions of all the volunteers, especially the wounded soldiers themselves.”

Sean Mulcahey, the Founder and CEO of VPA give a gift to a son of a wounded soldier

The project was funded through contributions made to VPA. In the project, all participants were volunteers, which allowed 100% of the donated funds to go directly to the families. Additionally, the Rugby Union provided balls and shirts to the families. The festive spirit shared during the event made it especially rewarding. “We have met with more than 50 organizations from all sectors of society over the past several months and nearly all of them have expressed a desire to work together in partnership to improve the lives of wounded soldiers,” Mulcahey said. “This is just the beginning of creating a better future in Georgia.” Victory Partnership Alliance is an independent non-profit organization registered in Georgia, designed to advocate for and conduct activities to support and enrich the lives of wounded Georgian soldiers and their families and assist them with the challenging task of reintegrating back into society as productive, proud citizens of Georgia.

Guardian Lists Georgia in Holiday Guide 2016


Alexander Japaridze, VPA Country Director



he Guardian, a British Media outlet, has recommended its readers the top holiday destinations for 2016. According to the Guardian, since the collapse of the USSR 25 years ago, Georgia has emerged as a promising destination for the off-thebeaten track adventure in a landscape of mountains and lakes.

“Georgia is less crowded than much of Europe but offers much more bang for your buck. Flights are cheap and Pegasus’ route to Batumi makes access to the Caucasus Mountains much easier,” Imaginative Traveller’s Helen Youngman stated. The Guardian highlights that the capital, Tbilisi, is on a roll, with several new five, four and three-star hotels, revamped restaurants and a burgeoning hip wine bar revolution with the likes of Bottle Shock and Vino Underground room showcasing Georgia’s famous viticulture.

Damaged Book Store in Batumi gets Support from People BY ANA AKHALAIA


Walking in Georgia: From the Winelands to the Caucasus. Photo:

ollowing heavy snow in Batumi, Georgia, the tenth floor of a building collapsed on January 4th, damaging a book store. More than half the books were damaged or destroyed. The store was planning to launch an educational project in the schools of mountainous villages. Many people expressed their support on the Books in Batumi Facebook page. Some even suggested just buying the wet books. “I bought one book, a little dampened. Dried it and it can be read normally,” one Facebook user commented. There is currently a fundraising campaign on to help Books in Batumi. Already $1814 has been raised by just 104 people. The campaign will continue as the damage amounts to around $5000.




JANUARY 8 - 11, 2016

March 25 is the official release date of the much-anticipated Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

The Most Anticipated Movies of 2016 BY BEQA KIRTAVA


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ast year was a great year for the movie industry; the top ten highest grossing films alone managed to earn a combined total of more than $10 billion and 5 of them managed to cross the $1 billion mark. Although we have yet to find out who’ll end up taking home trophies at the 88th Academy Awards, let’s leave the past behind and take a look at what the next 366 days have to offer. 2016 is set to be a super year; as nearly all of the most awaited films are either produced by DC or Marvel. The latter will kick off the superhero film cascade with Deadpool. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool is set to be the company’s most daring, R rated feature and will hit theatres February 12. Up next is the big battle on the DC frontier. March 25 is the official release date of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. With an all-star cast and over $200 million budget, the movie is expected to break numerous records at the box office and might even take the throne as the highest grossing film of 2016. Captain America: Civil War will arrive on May 6. Since the Avengers series have shattered many records worldwide, the aforementioned release should have no problem racking up hundreds of millions. The X-Men series is set to return on May 27. Featuring all of your favorite megastars, X-Men: Apocalypse will be released both in 2D and 3D and will undoubtedly land a #1 spot in both the US and international box office. Last but not least, Suicide Squad will launch on August 5. Jared Leto’s debut as the Joker is a big enough reason to see this movie, but then Warner Bros. decided to add Emmy winner Viola Davis and two-time Academy Award nominee Will Smith to the list, too. However, if you’re not into superhero

Jared Leto, Emmy winner Viola Davis and two-time Academy Award nominee Will Smith star in this summer wowzer

Potterheads be ready! Starring Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne, the Harry Potter prequel will make its big screen debut on November 18

movies, 2016 still promises not to disappoint. The Coen Brothers return in February with a star studded comedy – Hail, Caesar! Moreover, we’ll finally get a chance to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the Snowden biopic, which will probably be the most controversial film of the year, and one of the most beloved animated pictures of all time will launch a much awaited sequel – Finding Dory.

Finally, if you’re a Harry Potter fan then mark your calendars for November 18, as the prequel to the series – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, starring Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne, will make its big screen debut on that very date. So, which film are you most excited to see in 2016? Make sure to let us know on our Facebook page.



Art-Time Displays Watches Made by Georgian Designer BY NINA IOSELIANI


number of impressive watches by famous Georgian designer Zviad Tsikolia are being displayed at ArtTime. According to the designer, who began watch-making five years ago, his watches are sold all over the world including in Georgia and Switzerland and take on various themes: military, avia-

tion, cars and a neutral design for mass-consumers. Tsikolia’s watches are made in limited numbers, at a rule there are often only 300-500 in each collection. The designer also plans to make accessories and equipment for kitchens, with the products produced in Georgia and exported, though he emphasized the reality of such a project depends much on business interest and the involvement of the government. Prices for a Tsikolia watch vary throughout the world, while in Georgia they begin at around 800900 GEL.

Telegraph Names Georgian Prima Ballerina Among Greatest Dancers

Georgian prima ballerina Nina Ananiashvili has been named among the top ballet dancers in the world by the a UK newspaper



rominent Georgian prima ballerina Nina Ananiashvili has been named among the top ballet dancers in the world by the Telegraph, a UK newspaper. The British media outlet published the list of 12 of the greatest ballerinas of all time and

the Georgian prima is among them. “Alluring grace, enticing mystique, personal magic, instinctive expressiveness and the technical wizardry to draw the public with her into unvoiceable passions and dreams - these qualities separate the handful of true ballerinas from the legions of mere female ballet-dancers,” the Telegraph stated. TheGeorgian-bornBolshoi-trainedNinaAnaniashvili is Artistic Director of the State Ballet of Georgia, as well as continuing to wow audiences with her dancing.





JANUARY 8 - 11, 2016


Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 January 8 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari

GRIBOEDOVI THEATRE Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 January 9, 10 THE HUMPBACKED HORSE Directed by Pyotr Ershov Musical Language: Russian Start time: January 9 - 12:00, 15:00, January 10 - 12:00, 15:00, 19:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari TBILISI CIRCUS

January 9 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari January 10 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari TBILISI NODAR DUMBADZE STATE CENTRAL CHILDREN’S THEATRE Address: 99/1 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 95 39 27 January 9 NEW YEAR’S EVE AND COSMIC ALIENS Tale Directed by Dimitri Gvtisiashvili Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:00 Ticket price: From 6 Lari January 8, 9, 10 NEW YEAR SHOW Directed by Vakhtang Nikolava Start time: January 8 - 15:00, 17:00, January 9, 10 - 13:00, 15:00, Ticket price: From 10 Lari

Address: 1 Heroes Sq. Telephone: 298 30 35 January 8 NEW YEAR’S TREE Start time: 16:30 Ticket price: 15 Lari CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 January 8-14 THE REVENANT Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter Genre: Adventure, Drama, Thriller Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 20:15, 22:45 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari THE HATEFUL EIGHT Directed by Quentin Tarantino Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh Genre: Comedy, Drama, Mystery Language: English Start time: 15:30 Language: Russian

Start time: 19:00, 22:40 Ticket price: 9-14 Lari STEVE JOBS Directed by Danny Boyle Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen Genre: Biography, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 22:35 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari BRIDGE OF SPIES Directed by Steven Spielberg Cast: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda Genre: Biography, Drama, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 14:30 Ticket price: 9-10 Lari KRAMPUS Directed by Michael Dougherty Cast: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror Language: Russian Start time: 17:15 Ticket price: 11-12 Lari

THE HATEFUL EIGHT (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 15:30, 18:50, 22:30 Ticket price: 10-14 Lari POINT BREAK (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 22:15 Ticket price: 11-14 Lari BRIDGE OF SPIES (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: 9.50 – 12.50 Lari



GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 ARCHAEOLOGICAL TREASURE Permanent Exhibition

POINT BREAK Directed by Ericson Core Cast: Édgar Ramírez, Luke Bracey, Ray Winstone Genre: Action, Crime, Sport Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: 8, 9 Lari


RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave.

January 8-14 THE REVENANT (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 12:30, 15:40, 22:40 Ticket price: 10-14 Lari

EUROPE HOUSE GEORGIA Address: 1 Freedom Sq. Telephone: 2 47 03 11



TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 January 9 NINO SURGULADZE’S INTERNATIONAL CHARITY FOUNDATION “WISH TREE” PRESENTS A GRAND CHARITY CONCERT The participants: Tenor, Alessandro Safina; Miss Hollywood 2005, Opera and Pop diva Angel Blue; cellist Ana Rucner; prodigious pianist Oliver Poole; son of Sophia Loren, Junior; and conductor, Carlo Ponti Jr. and Nino Surguladze. Tbilisi State Opera Symphonic Orchestra, Abkhazian Capella and Instrumental Band will contribute to the concert. Start time: 21:00 Ticket price: 40, 50, 80, 100 Lari January 10 TEMUR KVITELASHVILI ANNIVERSARY EVENING Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari January 14 BANK OF GEORGIA PRESENTS: CHRIS BOTTI Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 40, 50, 80, 100 Lari






hakespeare is studied in school by over 50% of the world’s population. No other creative figure from history is studied by more than 1% or 2%. As the world marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, we ask: what is his extraordinary power? His power lies in his mastery of the dramatic, not the literary - of human experience rather than scholarship. We misrepresent him when we call him our greatest poet or writer. Theatre can only be created of the here-and-now and so is necessarily contemporary. However ancient the text, it can only be presented by real people in specific places in actual time - and it can only be given life by a receptive audience. This is what makes any Shakespeare play contemporary, and what accounts for millions of people finding relevance and personal truth in what they see. And what contemporariness! In 2016 we can list most of the global issues of our times and find deep Shakespear-

ean resonance: - Refugees (from Comedy of Errors to The Winter’s Tale) - The clash of civilisations (from Troilus and Cressida to Antony and Cleopatra) - Gang warfare and urban fracture (from Romeo and Juliet to Coriolanus) - Tyranny (from Richard III to Macbeth) - Just war and the just assassination (from Henry V to Julius Caesar) - Racism and prejudice (from Merchant of Venice to Othello) - Inequality and poverty (from King Lear to Timon of Athens) - Imprisonment and punishment (from Measure for Measure to Two Noble Kinsmen) - Servitude and slavery (from Taming of the Shrew to The Tempest) - Debt crises (from Timon of Athens to Merchant of Venice) And we could add: explorations of government, leadership, law, justice, corruption, diplomacy, social mobility and - certainly in every comedy - how to make communities work. Even the narrative of contemporary British identity is marked out: from Lear’s division of the kingdom to the

Paul Smith, Director of the British Council to the United States

restoration of Scotland in Macbeth, from the panorama of Welsh, Scottish, Irish and English viewpoints in the history plays to what characterizes “this England” in Richard II. “The world must be peopled” and Shakespeare was the most intense analyser of the vital importance of tolerating people’s differences. A contemporary take on diversity emanates from all his plays – gender (women solve most of his comedies), class, age, ethnicity, sexuality, disability and religion. Above all we celebrate Shakespeare’s awesome human insight, recognised by

Shakespeare’s power lies in his mastery of the dramatic, not the literary - of human experience rather than scholarship

every commentator since Ben Jonson championed him as “not of an age but for all time”. Shakespeare is the world’s voice for greed, lust, anger, jealousy, hypocrisy and betrayal - but also for mercy, loyalty, justice, friendship, honour, respect - and for love, which is the most fundamental dynamic of the worlds that he created.



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Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Tamar Svanidze, Zviad Adzinbaia, Beqa Kirtava, Meri Taliashvili, Eka Karsaulidze, Zaza Jgharkava, Ana Lomtadze, Maka Bibilashvili, Nina Ioseliani, Tatia Megeneishvili, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Nino Japarashvili, Maka Lomadze

Photographer: Zviad Nikolaishvili Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

And in this commemoration year, we remember that Shakespeare was also our greatest explorer of the “undiscovered country” of mortality. Actors, audiences, “this great globe” itself will “fall and cease,” leaving “not a wrack behind”. But Shakespeare himself will survive – the man who, somehow, left us everything.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #807  

Jan. 08 - 11, 2016

Issue #807  

Jan. 08 - 11, 2016