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Issue no: 1157



ON ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNALISM We take a look at the failings in Georgian environmental journalism and what needs to be done


In this week’s issue... Ukrainian President Has “No Political Plans” for Saakashvili



School Killing Main Witness Sentenced to Imprisonment on Murder Charges POLITICS PAGE 4

Skills4Georgia - The Georgian-German TVET Days

Photo by Tony Hanmer

Newly Renovated Orbeliani Reopens Proposed Changes Related BUSINESS PAGE 6

to Ownership of Agricultural Lands by Foreigners



enovation works have been completed on Grigol Orbeliani Square, near 9 April Garden, in central Tbilisi. A re-opening ceremony took place on Monday evening to celebrate the completion of the two-year rehabilitation project. The works were supported by the Tbilisi Development Fund within the framework of the New Tiflis project. The rehabilitation includes the restoration of 20 buildings and the construction of an underground parking lot for 150 vehicles. Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, President Salome Zurabishvili, Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, Tbilisi Chairman Giorgi Tkemaladze and Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze addressed guests at the opening ceremony. “We have proven that when there is unanimity and motivation, we can implement large-scale projects in a short time,” said Bakhtadze on Monday. “Today it is a very important day for us. During the local self-government elections, I promised the population that Orbeliani Square and its adjacent streets would be rehabilitated. We have fulfilled this promise…Our main goal and objective is that the whole city will be like this – environmentally clean, well organized, with many green spaces. I'm sure we will be able to do it with unified effort,” Kaladze added.


H2O 2: Etseri, Svaneti SOCIETY PAGE 8

13th Black Sea Jazz Festival to Kick Off in Batumi Resort on July 18

Image source: Tbilisi City Hall

“This project was one of the most important goals for us in the pre-election period, and as soon as we had the authority, we started to implement it. Around 65 million GEL ($25.1 mln)

is being spent on the reconstruction of the square...with the aim of making it one of the best places in the capital,” Kaladze said last August. Continued on page 3





JUNE 7 - 10, 2019

UN General Assembly Passes Resolution on Georgian IDPs BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


n June 4, within the framework of the 73rd session, the UN General Assembly adopted the Resolution "Status of Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali Region/ South Ossetia, Georgia,” initiated by Georgia and, for the first time, co-sponsored by 44 states. The Resolution condemns the forced demographic changes in the regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia), currently occupied by Russia, and accentuates the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees to a safe

and dignified return to their places of origin, regardless of their ethnicity. The document also strongly emphasizes the need to protect the property rights of displaced individuals. The Resolution also has a practical significance, as it instructs the UN Secretary-General to prepare an annual report on the situation of IDPs residing in Georgia as well as on the implementation of this Resolution. In addition, the document calls upon the participants of the Geneva International Discussions to strengthen their efforts to ensure security and human rights protection in the occupied regions, which in turn will facilitate the return of IDPs and refugees to their homes. At the presentation of the Resolution, the Permanent Representative of Geor-

gia to the United Nations, H.E. Kakha Imandze, spoke about the current situation in the occupied territories of Georgia and outlined the challenges the residents of the regions have to face. “The Ambassador also stressed that it is heartbreaking to see the SecretaryGeneral’s latest report referring to the 'tragic loss of life' of the Georgian IDPs while in the detention of the occupying power. Such cases are far too often and far too many: Basharuli, Otkhozoria, Tatunashvili, Kvaratskhelia,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia reported. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia expressed its sincere gratitude to all states that supported and co-sponsored the Resolution on the right of return of the IDPs and refugees, and once again expressed their solidarity to each and

Image source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

every forcibly displaced person. The resolution was passed by a vote

of 79 in favor, 15 against, and 57 abstentions.

Helicopter Crashes in Kazbegi, 3 Dead BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


Image source: georgia.travel

n June 6, a helicopter, owned by the Adjara Group Company crashed in Kazbegi, Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, causing the deaths of all three individuals onboard – one pilot and two employees of the company. Expert crash investigators, rescue teams and emergency medical staff have been

working on site. An investigation has already been launched by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, under Paragraph 4, Article 275 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, involving the violation of safety regulations or procedures for operating air way transport traffic that results in the death of two or more persons. The Adjara Group company sent its deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and is cooperating with the investigation.




7 Georgian Governors Used Enough Fuel to Drive Around the Earth 14 Times BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia-based non-governmental organization Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) studied vehicles owned by regional governor administrations and the fuel they used, and found that in 2017-2018, the distance covered by seven governors on average equals twice the circumference of Earth, which means that the fuel used by them would be enough to circle the Earth 14 times. The report says the analysis of vehicles owned by regional governor administrations and related fuel consumption points to challenges related to rational and efficient use of resources. “The high overall number of vehicles owned by governor administrations, prevalence of expensive luxury models, and high fuel expenses demonstrate a necessity for optimization and stricter oversight mechanisms,” IDFI stated. Further, the NGO says that a serious concern is the practice of free-of-charge gifting of vehicles to governors by municipalities within the respective region, adding “this practice raises questions about the proper use of municipal assets, contradicts the process of decentralization of governance and undermines the independence of local government.”

Image source: Tabula

The IDFI noted that there is a need to consider the option of establishing a centralized service for state-owned vehicles and to introduce technological systems for stricter monitoring of state-vehicle use and their fuel consumption. During the study, the organization requested data from 9 regional governor administrations, asking for public information about the state vehicles and fuel

expenses in 2017-2018. The report reads that as of January 2019, nine regional governor administrations own a total of 78 vehicles, of which 49% are high-performance, and 46% are assigned to specific officials or employees. All regional governors use Toyota Land Cruisers, most of which were gifted to governor administrations free of charge. Further, 73% of vehicles owned by gov-

ernor administrations were not purchased with their budgets and were transferred free of charge from other public institutions. “There is a lack of transparency in this process, since information about the preconditions for these transfers is unknown,” the NGO noted. The IDFI says the problematic nature of the practice is well-demonstrated by the example of a Kvemo Kartli Governor, who in 2015 appealed to Rustavi Mayor to transfer a vehicle, that was purchased for GEL 71,373 on the same day, from the municipal budget to the governor administration. Moreover, each of the nine regional governors has monthly fuel limits which are not allowed to be exceeded, however, these limits are usually set by the governors themselves. The IDFI study revealed that in 2017-2018, the monthly fuel limits of governor administrations varied from 700 to 1,500 liters which amounted to GEL 534,015 in 2018 and GEL 481,585 in 2017. In the same period, seven governors used a total of 132,208 liters of fuel and drove 750 thousand kilometers in total, averaging at 52.5 thousand kilometers in 2017, and 54.7 thousand in 2018. It is noteworthy that in 2017-2018, vehicles assigned to governors drove an average of 150 kilometers per day, including weekends, and 215 kilometers per working day excluding weekends. Also,

in the same period, the average fuel consumption per 100 kilometers of vehicles assigned to governors ranged from 15 to 19.83 liters. The IDFI says the governor administrations of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Kakheti and Imereti regions were the highest spenders. Sozar Subari, Head of the Department of Regions of the Government Administration, says that the fuel used by the governors in the last two years is “not high at all.” He explains that the governors have a lot of work, thus they drive a lot. “The average amount of fuel used by governors a day is 25 liters. In addition, every governor must come to the capital once a week and attend the government meeting, which increases the distance they have traveled,” he said. The Head of the Department of Regions noted high fuel expenses means the governors really work actively. Regarding the IDFI recommendation about inserting special chips in the governors’ vehicles to better control their fuel expenses and travel purposes, Subari explains each car already has chips and the use of every liter of fuel is strictly controlled by the state. "I urge the governors to continue working very actively and to have daily communication with the population, including the remote areas and villages,” he said.

Minister of Education Visits San Francisco BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


eorgian Minister of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport, Mikheil Batiashvili, is currently on a trip to the United States. Specifically, he is visiting Silicon Valley, in California’s San Francisco Bay area, meeting with representatives from the World Economic Forum, Stanford University, and Silicon Valley companies. On Tuesday, June 4, Batiashvili met with Murat Sönmez from the World Economic Forum. Sönmez is a member of the Managing Board of the World Economic Forum, and Head of the C4IR Global Network. C4IR is the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an affiliated institution of the World Economic Forum. Its mission is to maximize the benefits of science and technology for society. C4IR is a selfproclaimed “global hub of expertise, knowledge-sharing and collaboration, based in San Francisco.” The center works

closely with governments, leading companies, civil society, and experts from around the world to, they say, “co-design and pilot innovative new approaches to policy and governance in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” The World Economic Forum explains the Fourth Industrial Revolution as having “the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world.” C4IR has formal partnerships with the governments of Azerbaijan and Turkey, among others, but so far not Georgia. The center works with governments to test and scale the projects developed in the Centre Network. Global local and national governments send fellows to be imbedded in C4IR project teams for 12 to 18 months. “Fellows act as a bridge to their governments, to help co-design new policy frameworks to be piloted in their home countries,” says the center. During their meeting, Batiashvili introduced the directions of Georgia’s complex education reform plan. The discussion focused on the ongoing

transformation of Georgia’s education system, in particular, the introduction of technological and innovative approaches to the learning process and the importance of quality education for the country's economy, the ‘new school’ model, and changes in higher education. The sides discussed opportunities for future cooperation on technology. Sönmez told the Georgian delegation, "I am excited about your reforms. In the direction of education, Georgia will become a success story for the rest of the world. As a citizen of this world, I am motivated by the fact that Georgia is a leader in rapidly developing reforms. That's why we believe in the success of education reform in Georgia and we will support it as much as possible…our door is open for Georgia's government, for Georgian people and we have strong cooperation.” Batiashvili is accompanied by Mikheil Chkhenkeli, former Minister of Education and Sport, and current Advisor to the Prime Minister of Georgia on Education.

Image source: Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport

On Tuesday, Batiashvili met with Pete Ingram-Cauchi, CEO of Silicon Valley company iD Tech. iD Tech is a summer camp for youth ages 7 – 18, focused on computer technology education in a fun, engaging setting. They organize camps at more than 150 US universities and several international locations. The meeting between Batiashvili and Ingram-Cauchi focused on technical education and the importance of applying modern technological methods to education. Ingram-Cauchi explained that the ongoing reforms in Georgia allow

for effective transformation of the whole education system. “Here at Silicon Valley, we are known as the creators of effective transformation. Based on what I have learned, you have a huge opportunity to effectively transform the entire education system in Georgia. You start your pilots, and after their success, they will spread, and become a strategic advantage for your country. I think when the government is investing in education and technology, it's a guarantee of a successful future for a country,” said IngramCauchi.

Newly Renovated Orbeliani Reopens Continued from page 1 Work on historic buildings included the removal of irreparably damaged sections, constructive reinforcement, removal of unregulated structures from facades, such as air conditioning units, cleaning and refining brickwork, restoration of architectural details, and repairing damaged roofing. 13 monuments of cultural heritage were preserved. In 2017, water, sewage, and natural gas lines were completely renovated on Orbeliani Square, as they had not been functioning properly for some time. Tbilisi now has another pedestrian zone, which includes parts of Pkhovi and Atoneli Streets, neighboring Orbeliani Square. The rehabilitated area stretches from Dry Bridge, via Atoneli and Pkhovi Streets, to Alexandre Pushkin Street, including Khazina and Purtseladze streets, as well as part of Grigol

Orbeliani Square and 9 April Garden. It is a continuation of the greater tourist route from Mushtaidi Garden to Freedom Square via the renovated David Aghmashenebeli Avenue. The renovation of Orbeliani Square began in mid-2017 and was initially scheduled to be completed by the end of that year. When discussing the project in December 2017, then-Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said of Orbeliani, “This place instils a special feeling of harmony which sets Tbilisi apart from every other city; a place where the past and present come together. New Tbilisi is what unites the old and the new…Given new developmental requirements and the pace of growth, we are obligated to ensure that every ornament in Tbilisi, every building – each worth a whole city – is preserved, restored, cherished, and rejuvenated. This project will put into place a new investment platform in

Tbilisi, and the resources invested by the state will be complementary in breathing new life into the area…There must be a place for everyone in renovated Tbilisi, our most beautiful and cherished capital. I once again congratulate you on the beginning of this important project.” In a December 2015 interview with GEORGIA TODAY, then-head of the Tbilisi Development Fund, Giorgi Baidarashvili mentioned the importance of preserving the Orbeliani Square area for Tbilisi’s historic district. He projected then that a plan for the renovation of Orbeliani and surrounding streets would be completed in 2016. Several major infrastructural projects are planned for the city in 2019-2020. Large projects are being implemented by Tbilisi City Hall’s Infrastructure Development Department, while small and medium projects are implemented by the governments of Tbilisi’s districts.

In a January announcement of the infrastructure plans, Kaladze said, “The everyday routine of our work is a stepby-step approach to building a European, modern, orderly, comfortable and safe city…These are the issues we have accumulated over three decades, and each of us is puzzled. Of course, it is impossible to solve all the problems with one hand, but I am sure that we will solve everything with a united effort.” Now that the Orbeliani Square renovation is completed, some of the major project remaining on the plan through 2020 includes the recently initiated renovation of Chavchavadze Ave., the ongoing renovation of the Dry Bridge and Saarbrucken Square area, renovation of Pirosmani, Gudiashvili, and Purtseladze streets, and a 110 million GEL ($40.15 mln) development of the Mtkvari River area. “Every house on [Pirosmani] street is in a state of emergency,” Kaladze said

in January. “Within the framework of the project, all this will be sorted, starting with underground communications which need to be entirely replaced and repaired. I'm sure local businesses will be involved in the process. The renovation works on Gudiashvili and Purtseladze streets are important projects that will be completed in 2020.” In the 2015 interview, when Baidarashvili was asked what his ideal Tbilisi would look like, he responded, “It would be a city loved by people, in which each street, house, garden, square, entrance or elevator is an object that is handled just like our own homes... A place where people care for their city.” Looking at the already chipping paint, stained and graffitied facades, and broken sidewalks on streets renovated just a few years ago, such as Aghmashenebeli Ave., the question of city maintenance and public respect and care for infrastructure is still as relevant as ever.




JUNE 7 - 10, 2019

Ukrainian President Has “No Political Plans” for Saakashvili BY AMY JONES


he President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, has stated that he has “no political plans” for ex-president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. The comments come after Zelensky restored Saakashvili’s Ukrainian citizenship on 28 May. Speaking with Current Time TV, the newly elected President said he has simple plans for Saakashvili, not political, insisting that he only returned Saakashvili’s citizenship as he believed that it had been illegally canceled. Although Zelensky insists Saakshvili’s return is not political, Saakashvili stated that he came back to Ukraine “to help Zelensky fulfill his election promises.” “I have not come to Ukraine for revenge or destruction: I came here to build,” Saakashvili told the media upon arriving in Ukraine on May 29. Georgian academic Elizbar Javelidze questions the political authority of Zelen-

Image source - Kyiv Post

sky, accusing him of being a puppet of Komoliski, a Ukrainian billionaire with a large influence in Ukrainian politics and media. “Saakashvili’s citizenship was not restored by President Zelensky, but by

his boss, billionaire Kolomiski,” he said in an interview with Asaval Dasavali newspaper. “Saakashvili was allowed into Ukraine as a political prostitute of Kolomiski.” Since returning to Ukraine just two

days after receiving his citizenship, Saakashvili has immediately involved himself in politics, setting his eyes on the parliamentary elections in Ukraine to take place on 21 July. Saakashvili stated that his Ukrainian political party The Movement of New Forces would not be running in the parliamentary elections in Ukraine on 21 July. The Mayor of Kiev, Vitaliy Klitschko, then invited Saakashvili to become Chairman of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR), therefore enabling Saakashvili to participate in the elections. “If I accept the offer, we will have to completely change the UDAR party as there are many people who were loyal to Petro Poroshenko [former Ukrainian President] and several others who are involved in corruption,” said Saakashvili. Speaking in a video address on 4 June, Klitschko proposed “joining hands for quick and effective changes.” “Today, I saw an appeal by Saakashvili, whose political force’s participation in the elections has been blocked,” he said. “Therefore, I am ready to lend my political shoulder. I am convinced that our

alliance will double efforts to change the country.” Saakashvili, who served as the President of Georgia from 2004 to 2007 and 2008 to 2013, reinvented himself as a Ukrainian politician following criminal charges against him in Georgia. In Georgia, he is accused of violently dispersing anti-government protests on 7 November 2007, carrying out an illegal raid on Imedi television, and unlawfully acquiring property owned by the media tycoon Badri Patarkatishvili. In 2018, he was sentenced in absentia for abuse of power. Despite these accusations, Saakashvili was granted Ukrainian citizenship in 2015 by Petro Poroshenko, the President at the time. He was then appointed the regional governor of Odessa, the Ukrainian region on the Black Sea. However, after resigning from his position in 2016, Saakashvili fell out with Poroshenko, causing him to lose his Ukrainian citizenship in 2017. He then illegally crossed back into Ukraine, where he held protests in Kiev against Poroshenko until his deportation at the beginning of 2018.

School Killing Main Witness Sentenced to Imprisonment on Murder Charges BY THEA MORRISON


ikheilKalandia,themain witness of the so called Khorava Street case, was sentenced to imprisonment as a preventive measure by Tbilisi City Court on June 6. On June 5, the detainee was charged with the murder of 16-year-old Davit Saralidze. He was charged by the Prosecutor’s Office under Subparagraphs “B” and “E”, Paragraph II, Article 109 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, involving intentional murder of a minor committed by a group of persons in aggravating circumstances. The decision of imprisonment was announced by Judge Ekaterine Kululashvili on Thursday. Kalandia was a minor on December 1, 2017 when the incident took place in central Tbilisi, seeing two teenagers, Davit Saralidze and Levan Dadunashvili, stabbed to death in a street brawl.

THE CASE TO DATE. On May 31, 2018, Tbilisi City Court charged two minors: one for the premeditated murder of Dadunashvili and the second for the attempted murder of Saralidze; however, the court could not say who had killed Saralidze, which sparked mass protests in the capital

organized by his father, Zaza Saralidze. Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze resigned amid the protest rallies, while then-Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili ordered a re-investigation of the case to answer the many unanswered questions. The police also detained former highranking officials of the Prosecutor’s Office, Mirza Subeliani and Merab Morchadze, on charges of failure to report a crime and exertion of influence on a witness, respectively. In June 2018, a fact-finding commission was set up in Parliament to investigate the now-notorious Khorava Street case, which delivered its conclusion in September 2018. Although the opposition and majority MPs have diverged in their vision of the case, the final resolution requested the Interior Ministry launch a criminal investigation against Mikheil Kalandia. The Ministry said then that the commission recommendations had no obligatory character but stressed that investigation was indeed underway. In total, 10 people have been charged for various offenses connected to the case, among them for giving false testimony and failing to report a crime. On June 3, 2019, the Court of Appeals announced that the sentence of one of the convicts (G. B.), who was found guilty of the premeditated murder of Levan Dadunashvili, had been reclassed as “aggravated” and that he would remain

in prison for 11 years and three months. Second convict G. J., saw the Court partially taking into consideration the prosecution’s arguments and re-qualifying the initial charges of the attempted murder of Davit Saralidze to a charge of “partaking in group murder.” He was sentenced to 11 years and three months in jail. The next day, Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), arrested the key witness of the case, Mikheil Kalandia and on June 5th he was officially charged for the murder of Saralidze.

WHAT DO THE SIDES SAY? Mikheil Kalandia’s family says his detention is a “political motivated” step. The detainee’s father Tengiz Kalandia claims that if his son was guilty, he would have been detained when the crime was committed. He also accuses police of physical abusing he and his son, adding they made Kalandia write the testimony under pressure and threat of violence. Tengiz Kalandia spoke about the time he was detained on charges of concealing the crime and noted that he was forced to give testimony under pressure. “Police officers physically abused me. They wrote the testimony themselves and forced my children and I to sign it. They threatened my children by saying they would arrest their mother and younger sister. They ate me and my children. Our testimonies were not written by us. They are fabricated by high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs so they can keep their posts,” he said. The father of the detainee says he and his elder son might have been arrested to “silence them.” Kalandia’s lawyer, Ana Kotetishvili, says the information that was spread claiming her defendant was planning to leave the country is not true. “We have not seen anything on the list of evidence so far that would confirm Mikheil Kalandia committed the crime. He does not plead guilty,” the lawyer says. Zaza Saralidze, who has been holding protests since May 2018, welcomed Kalandia’s arrest, however, he noted there are more people involved in the

Image source: IPN

case. He said justice has “been partially restored” but added “the struggle for justice goes on.” “I will see how everything develops…I always knew the police would arrest him because his participation in the crime was obvious from the beginning,” the man said. Saralidze’s lawyer, Nestan Londaridze, claims there are still many unanswered questions which need to be dealt with. "We cannot say this case is over, because we have many questions, including a civil offense - why this case was brought so far and who is responsible?" she said.

THE NGO POSITION. Public Defender of Georgia Nino Lomjaria believes the investigation “failed to reveal all allegedly responsible individuals for the murder of a juvenile on Khorava Street.” Lomjaria said that a year ago, she examined the mentioned case materials and discovered that the murder of David Saralidze had not been fully or effectively investigated, adding that the recent developments, including the verdict of the Court of Appeals, also show the case was not fully and effectively investigated. The Ombudsman called on the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the General Prosecutor's Office to identify and institute criminal proceedings against all individuals who were involved in the gang murder of Davit Saralidze, and for an investigation to be launched regarding facts of civil offense, in particular against the employees of investigative bodies regarding alleged destruction of evidence and delay to the investigation. NGOs also say investigation should show those whose investigative actions went in the wrong direction and led to them being unable to discover the truth. Sulkhan Saladze from the NGO Georgian Young lawyers Association says it is obvious the investigation was undertaken

with flaws. “It is important that society knows what actions were taken this this year and a half by investigators, and if it will be followed by the responsibility of these individuals,” he added.

MP COMMENTS. President's Spokesperson Khatia Moistsrapishvili said at a briefing that the President of Georgia believes restoration of justice is of utmost importance. “The President believes families must have answers to all their questions and there should be no doubt regarding injustice. Let’s wait and see. The main thing is restoration of justice – this is the position of the President of Georgia,” she said. Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze noted the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) always believed the situation would change when the case went to the second instance court. "When discussions were launched in different formats, we always said we should wait for an investigation and resultant decisions. This case was discussed at the first instance and you see that there is a change at the second instance. Of course, the changes result from additional information that the court received in relation to the case,” he noted. Member of the opposition party European Georgia and member of the parliament’s fact-finding commission Elene Khoshtaria said during the investigation that MPs had found 11 people responsible in relation to the case. “It is sad that it took eight months to do what was clear from the work of the Commission…However, this is a very important step…The decent developments show that some people were covering for the guilty persons for specific interests. This also needs to be investigated,” she said.



Church vs Church

Novoafonsky (New Athos) Monastery in Abkhazia. Source: 02varvara.wordpress.com



nce again, after a 6-month break, the Church becomes again a major puzzle in Georgian politics. The events surrounding the Davit Gareja monastery complex were still hot when a religious hassle developed in occupied Abkhazia, seeing supporters of Russian Patriarch Kiril confronting those of Bartholomew I of Constantinople. Most important in the whole story is that where the Davit Gareja problem is more or less resolvable, the dispute in the breakaway region goes beyond the capabilities of Georgian political officials and the clergy. Nevertheless, in order to discharge the current situation, Moscow is demanding a sacrifice from the Georgian Church. Moscow demanded a straightforward answer to the ecclesiastical wrangle last year, when Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk visited Tbilisi for a few hours. During his meeting with Ilia II, he made sharp statements against the so called “ecclesiastical separatists” of Abkhazia. He said, “The group which has conquered the monastery of ‘New Athos’ is still holding its position and nothing has changed in this regard.” With this meeting, he once again proved that the top ecclesiastical hierarchy of the Russian Church is concerned about the fate of the New Athos Monastery named after Simon Kananeli, especially that the latter is considered one of the Holinesses of

the Russian Orthodox Church. It was exactly in the garden of said Church where the main drama took place this week: the so-called Abkhazian clergy gathered once again and discussed the letter addressed to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. The meeting ended with a confrontation. For years, the church of the occupied Abkhazia has been divided between the Abkhazian ecclesiast Dorothei Dbar, who represents the “main church” of Abkhazia and supports Bartholomew I of Constantinople, who opposes the head of the pro-Russian church group Besarion Aplia. Dbar and his supporters believe that the autocephaly of the de-facto Abkhazian church should be restored, even though they will need to take a long and difficult road to get there. Contrary to that, Aplia and his group think that they will be much safer in the bosom of the Russian Church. The opposing “gangs” have a history of silent confrontation and tensions, it was this March when the first meeting between the parties was finally held in the New Athos, where they discussed the reasons for the conflict and elaborated on the need for mutual cooperation “to attain the independence of Abkhazian Orthodox Church.” The meeting proved unfruitful and the parties remained on opposing sides, as before. Naturally, the de-facto government of the occupied Abkhazia backs Dorothei Dbar’s group, as their major goal is not joining Russia. At every demand from Moscow asking them to hand over the New Athos to Russia, the heads of separatist regime wave their hands theatrically, saying: “What can we do, we can’t

enter the holy Heaven with tanks and throw out the priests, can we?” A former thief-in-law and an active participant in the genocide against the Georgians, Besarion Aplia has formally kept relations with the Georgian Church, but arbitrarily declared himself “Leader of the Church of Abkhazia" and the Abkhazian Diocese as the “Abkhazian Orthodox Church.” But the Georgian Church did not excommunicate him for reasons of diplomacy. For the last 25 years, Moscow has been asking Georgia to give up the New Athos. Although all they got was refusal, in 2011 the parties were able to come to an informal, undocumented agreement which stated that the New Athos would be under de-facto double ruling, which meant that The Russian Patriarch, who recognizes the inviolability of the canonical ecclesiastical territory of Georgia, would send a Russian clerk as the leader of the church, and the Georgian side would not object. The Holy Synod will meet in a few days and open up chances for Georgian national interests, based on the idea of weakening the Abkhazian separatism as far as possible and creating as many problems for them as possible. Hence, the issue deserves a cautious approach: there aren’t many issues in which Tbilisi can place its own conditions to Moscow, and this threat is clear for the Abkhazian separatists too. Therefore, if we examine the most recent statements, we will see that their stakes lie on the “beneficial idiots,” who are busier puffing out futile emotions rather than taking cynical and pragmatic political action.

Georgian Officials Join the Ramadan Bayram Celebration BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


n June 4, the Muslim World closed the celebration of Ramadan Bayram, also known as Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of fasting from dawn to dusk for the Holy Month of Ramadan, which lasts either 29 or 30 days, according to the first sighting of the new moon. Muslims have represented part of the population of Georgia for centuries and

have lived with Orthodox Christians in peace. The tolerant attitude towards the religious minorities of the country also continues today. Therefore, a number of Georgian Officials joined this year’s celebration of Ramadan Bayram. The Prime Minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze hosted the representatives of the Georgian Muslim community at the Iftar dinner – an evening meal, eaten after the sunset. The Head of the Government wished them spiritual peace and happiness. Salome Zurabishvili, the President of Georgia, joined the special prayer at

Juma Mosque in Tbilisi earlier today and congratulated the Muslim population of the country on this important religious holiday. The President also posted a congratulatory message on her official Twitter page. “I want to wish a joyous and peaceful Eid al-Fitr to all Muslims celebrating in Georgia and around the world! #EidMubarak #Georgia remains one of the few places in the world where #Shiites and #Sunnites pray together, a show of the tolerant nature of our nation,” reads the President's post.





JUNE 7 - 10, 2019

Skills4Georgia - The Georgian-German TVET Days


nJune15and16‘Skills4Georgia – The Georgian-German TVET Days’ will take place in Tbilisi, hosted by the representatives of the Georgian and German governments. The more than 8000 visitors and 20 education experts from Germany make it the biggest event on vocational education in Georgia ever. Skills4Georgia consist of three parts: A public event, Expert-to-Expert talks and the Skills4Georgia talks. The public event will take place on Rose Revolution Square on June 15, seeing multiple thematic zones that showcase different jobs

and different educational institutions. On top, there will be various food spots and a publication zone. From 4pm, Elis Band will perform on the big stage. After that, at 7pm, Helen Kalandadze will perform followed by a DJ Party at 10pm. The Expert to Expert talks will also take place on the 15th, in the Republic Event Space right next to Rose Revolution square. Around 150 experts and guests will jointly discuss relevant topics on TVET. Renowned experts from Germany will share their experiences. This more academic format will facilitate a knowledge-exchange for the further modernization of the Georgian

TVET system. The Skills4Georgia Talks will happen on Sunday June 16, again in the Republic Event Space. The format of this event will be a talk-style: Open, fancy and engaging. Multiple Georgian experts and representatives of the German company Studio2B will put the focus on skills and their relevance for everyday work. The Georgian-German TVET Days will not only celebrate the bilateral cooperation and long-standing partnership between the two countries, but it will also be a great opportunity to promote the relevance of TVET for employment and economic development

Proposed Changes Related to Ownership of Agricultural Lands by Foreigners


G Law Office, through the contribution of partners Archil Giorgadze and Nicola Mariani, joined by senior associates Ana Kochiashvili, Tamar Jikia and associates Ana Chikovani, Vakhtan Giorgadze, and Mariam Kalandadze 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. Over the course of recent years, the issue of ownership of agricultural lands by foreigners has sparked heated discussions. On 16 December 2018, the new Constitution of Georgia (the “Constitution”) entered into force, which determined that agricultural land, as a resource having significant nature, shall only be owned by the state, self-governing entity, citizen of Georgia or unity of Georgian citizens. The Constitution also states that the exclusions may be determined by the organic law, which shall be adopted by at least two-thirds of the members of the Parliament of Georgia (the “Parliament”). As set out in the Constitution of Georgia, the Committee on Agricultural Issues initiated a new draft of the Law of Georgia Agricultural Lands (the “Draft Law on Agricultural lands” or the “Draft Law”), which sets out specific exceptions to the constitutional ban. On 3 May 2019, the Parliament approved the Draft Law on Agricultural Lands at the first hearing and further hearings are pending. This article provides an overview of the Draft Law on Agricultural Lands.


Photo by Katie Ruth Davies

PERSONS AND LEGAL ENTITIES According to the Draft Law, agricultural land is a land parcel within a category of a pasture, a hayfield, arable land (including plot of land covered with perennial plants) and homestead lands, which are used (or may be used) for agricultural purposes, with or without buildings and constructions located on it. As set out in the Draft Law, in addition to the persons/entities entitled to own agricultural land as set out in the Constitution, the foreigners may be entitled to own agricultural land in exceptional circumstances. The Draft Law sets out the notion of a “dominant partner”, which is a partner or group of partners of a legal entity of private law registered in Georgia, which owns more than 50% of shares/stocks and/or represents the majority of partners (General Partnership (GP) and Limited Partnership (LP)) or majority of founders/members (Non-entrepreneurial (Non-commercial) Legal Entity) and simultaneously has a practical opportunity to make a decisive impact on the decision of a legal entity. The legal entities of private law registered in Georgia

and associations/partnership not registered as legal entities, are authorized to own agricultural land if a foreigner does not represent such dominant partners of an entity. In addition to the above listed entities, natural persons who obtain agricultural land in Georgia as an inheritance, may also own such land without any restriction. The Draft Law does not allow foreign-registered legal entities to own agricultural land in Georgia. The Draft Law prohibits change of a partner of a legal entity, which holds the right to ownership of an agricultural land plot in a way that a foreigner, a legal entity registered abroad and/or a legal entity registered in Georgia (whose dominant partner is an alien/legal entity registered abroad) becomes a dominant partner. The Draft Law does not in any manner impede with the rights of the foreign owners who obtained ownership rights over the agricultural lands before its adoption.

OWNERSHIP OF AGRICULTURAL LAND BY INVESTOR Legal entities of private law registered in Georgia which are owned by a foreign dominant partners or the dominant part-

nership of which may not be determined, may also own agricultural land on the basis of a decision of the Government of Georgia (the “GoG”) upon submission of a respective investment plan. An investment plan is a documentation reflecting the use of agricultural land, which considers relevant investments to make agricultural products, implement innovative activities, arrange touristic infrastructure, implement international projects and/or projects of state or local importance that promote the protection of national security and the creation of new jobs. A legal entity which obtains agricultural land on the basis of an investment plan, shall be obliged to alienate such land within one year from the failure to comply with investment obligations. In case the foreigner is unable to sell the agricultural land, the State of Georgia shall acquire ownership.

OWNERSHIP OF AGRICULTURAL LANDS BY FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND USAGE AS A COLLATERAL Restrictions set out in the Draft Law do not apply to an international financial institution defined by the decree of the Government of Georgia or a financial institution defined by Georgian legislation, whose dominant partner is a foreign and/or a legal entity registered abroad, or whose dominant partner cannot be established if a right to ownership of an agricultural land plot originates as a result of activity permitted by Georgian law for international financial institutions and financial institutions, including in case of acquisition of collateral by a creditor. The Draft Law also restricts the use of an agricultural land as a collateral in favor of a foreigner, a legal entity regis-

tered abroad and/or a legal entity registered in Georgia (whose dominant partner is a foreigner/legal entity registered abroad or whose dominant partner cannot be established) with a precondition of transfer of ownership rights. The Draft Law also prohibits transfer of a right or a claim in favor of a foreigner that ultimately considers origination of ownership rights on the agricultural land. *** The state policy regarding ownership of agricultural lands in Georgia is still in a stage of development. However, adoption of the Draft Law, which allows ownership of agricultural lands by foreigners in exceptional circumstances, represents a positive step forward. *** Note: this article does not constitute legal advice. You are responsible for consulting with your own professional legal advisors concerning specific circumstances for your business. MG Law is the first full-service law firm in Georgia to be founded by international partners. The firm advises a diverse group of Georgian and foreign companies, financial institutions, investment funds, governments and public enterprises. Among many other areas, the firm primarily focus on the following sectors: Banking & Finance, Capital Markets, Arbitration & Litigation, Labor & Employment, Infrastructure and Project Finance, Energy Law, Real Estate, Tax and Customs, Investment Law, Corporate Law, Real Estate, Infrastructure & Finance Projects, and Cryptocurrency & Blockchain. For more information, please visit www.mglaw. ge or contact Archil Giorgadze at archil. giorgadze@mglaw.ge and Nicola Mariani at Nicola.mariani@mglaw.ge

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Photo Project Launched within the Scope of the ‘Together for Each Other’ Campaign



he presentation of the photo project ‘Life with Multiple Sclerosis’ was held at the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, marking the World Day of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). It was launched within the scope of the ‘Together for Each Other Campaign’ and aims to raise public awareness about MS and increase the spread of information about the illness. Photographer Goga Chanadiri is the author of the project, reflecting the feelings of MS patients in his images. The presentation was attended by the representatives of the Union of Patients with Multiple Sclerosis and Lead Neurologists, who delivered speeches for the audience, pointing out the significance of the active involvement of the government, as well as the public in the project, and accessibility to the right treatment. Representatives of the Ministry of Healthcare, Tbilisi City Hall, Tbilisi Assembly and Parliamentary Committee on Health were also present at the event. Goga Chanadiri spoke about the process of implementation of the project and expressed his support towards individuals suffering from MS. “With this project, we would like to deliver the most accurate information regarding the illness to the public and to tell them that multiple sclerosis is not a generally known type of sclerosis and it has absolutely different causes and symptoms. For example, a patient feels a feeling similar to the movement of many ants on the body. We have reflected it on our pictures and delivered it to the audience in an exaggerated form. Financial aid for the patients from the State is also vital, in order not to force them into a sedentary lifestyle all for our indifference,” noted Chanadiri. Marina Janelidze, Neurologist, Professor of the State Medical University, Head of the Neurologic Department of the Simo Khechinashvili University Hospital, briefed the audience on the causes of the illness and its symptoms focusing on the differences between multiple sclerosis and atherosclerosis. She also noted that multiple sclerosis is a chronic, progressive disease, but early diagnosis and receipt of the relevant treatment may help in curing the patient. “Multiple sclerosis is a disease which is mostly spread among individuals between the ages of

20-40, and even younger, when patients are mentally, physically and economically active and are in much need of help to be cured,” Janelidze noted. “It has been proven that it is possible to be fully cured through adequate medications and therapy courses at the early stage of the illness. We hope the government will launch programs for these individuals and finance them for treatments and further rehabilitation.” The patients attending the event spoke about their cases and explained the importance of the disease. They stated that financial assistance from the government is vital for treatment, as it is impossible to forecast the quantity need and added that few can afford the cost of treatment. Giorgi Chikvania, Executive Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Fund Georgia, expressed his hope that such events will contribute to raising public awareness and helping patients overcome the stigmas and better integrate into society. “I hope such projects will help the public to change their attitude, and result in fewer patients suffering difficulties in socialization,” he noted. “This photo project intends to inform the public about multiple sclerosis in the very best way,” said patient Marika Qajaia, a marketing specialist. “What we, the patients, feel is not just typical fatigue, headache or dizziness. This is an indescribable feeling, which Goga managed to reflect perfectly in his images. The photo project exactly displays our problems, which I believe will once again make the government think and make treatment more widely available.” The ‘Together for Each Other’ campaign, after Tbilisi, will be hosted in Batumi on June 7. The world MS Day is marked on May 30, which was joined by Georgia for the first time last year. A special video was prepared, seeing patients and public figures untied to call upon the government to increase the availability of treatment for patients to help them improve their living conditions and decrease the progress of skills reduction. The patients are still waiting for financing a year later.

ABOUT MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS: Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, progressive neurological disease. 2.3 million people worldwide suffer from it. The first symptoms are predominantly observed among those 20 to 40 years and it is the main cause of non-traumatic disability in young people.





JUNE 7 - 10, 2019

Environmental Reporting Can Help Protect Citizens in Emerging Democracies

Photo by Tony Hanmer / GT



hat happens when an illegally logged tree falls or poachers kill endangered brown bears in the forest, but there’s no journalist to report it? That’s the situation in the Republic of Georgia, which faces challenges that include poaching, deteriorating air quality, habitat disruption from new hydropower dams, illegal logging and climate change. The effects cross national borders and affect economic and political relationships in the Caucasus and beyond. I researched environmental journalism in the Republic of Georgia as a Fulbright Scholar there in the fall of 2018. I chose Georgia because many of its environmental and media problems are similar to those confronting other post-Soviet countries nearly 30 years after independence. As I have found in my research on mass media in other post-Soviet nations, journalists risk provoking powerful public and corporate interests when they investigate sensitive environmental issues.

But when the media doesn’t cover these problems, Georgians go uninformed about issues relevant to their daily lives. Eco-violators operate with impunity, and the government and Georgia’s influential private sector remains opaque to the public. At a time when government hostility to journalists is rising in many countries, Georgia illustrates how environmental damage, pollution and ill health can spread, and go unpunished, when powerful interests are unaccountable to the public.

AN UNSTABLE MEDIASCAPE Levels of press freedom, autonomy and media sustainability have fluctuated since Georgia became independent in 1991. The latest constitutional change greatly strengthened Parliament and eliminated direct election of the president, whose office is primarily ceremonial. The governing Georgian Dream coalition has become increasingly anti-press over the past two years. Georgia’s mediascape is fairly diverse but dominated by its two largest television channels. The 2019 World Press Freedom Index ranks Georgia 60th out of 180 countries, a substantial improvement from 100th in 2013. However, it notes that media

owners still often control editorial content, and threats against journalists are not uncommon.

SHALLOW, UNINFORMED COVERAGE In addition to my own observations during 3 ½ months based in Tbilisi with visits to other cities, my findings draw on input from 16 journalists, media trainers, scientists and representatives of advocacy groups and multinational agencies whom I interviewed or who spoke to my media and society class at Caucasus University. Source after source bemoaned what they saw as generally shallow, sparse, misleading and inaccurate coverage of environmental topics. In their view, the legacy of Soviet journalism as a willing propaganda tool of the state lingered. Tamara Chergoleishvili, director general of the magazine and news website Tabula, put it bluntly: “There is no environmental journalism… There is no professionalism.” One major complaint was that journalists lacked knowledge about science and the environment. “If you don’t understand the issue, you can’t convey it to the public,” said Irakli Shavgulidze, chair of the governing board of the nonprofit Center

for Biodiversity Conservation & Research. Another concern was that journalists often failed to connect environmental topics with other issues such as the economy, foreign relations, energy and health. Sophie Tchitchinadze, a United Nations Development Program communications analyst and former journalist, said the Georgian media was just starting to view itself as “an essential part of economic development and equally important to social issues.”

seeking independence, and vehemently opposes Georgia’s efforts to join NATO and the European Union. Tabula’s Chergoleishvili asserted that Georgian journalists could not distinguish fake news from legitimate sources. As an example, Gvasalia described planted reports on Facebook that claimed a hydroelectric project would “elevate local people” and provide “great social benefit.” “Seventy percent of this needs to be double-checked,” she warned.



Lack of access to information was also a common complaint, despite transparency laws entitling the public and press to government documents. For example, when Tsira Gvasalia, Georgia’s leading environmental investigative journalist, reported on the nation’s only gold mining company, she was unable to obtain full information on possible government actions from the local prosecutor, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture or the courts. “The company has a close connection with the government,” she noted. Georgian citizens weren’t much help either. In the small mining town of Kazreti, Gvasalia saw thick layers of dust on roads and bus stops from uncovered trucks transporting ore to the company’s processing facility. When she asked residents how pollution affected their everyday lives, people were “very careful. Once I mentioned the name of the company, everybody went silent. … Everyone worked for the company,” she said.

Although Georgia’s media sector remains politically and economically vulnerable, I see two encouraging signs. First, young journalists are increasingly interested in covering the environment. Second, Georgian leaders strongly desire to join the European Union, where multinational eco-issues such as curbing climate change and building a pan-European energy market are priorities. This step would be significant for Georgia, given the trans-border nature of environmental problems, the country’s progress toward energy self-sufficiency and its strategic location. In the meantime, more support for independent fact-checking could improve Georgian environmental coverage. Some already occurs: For example, FactCheck. ge, a nonpartisan news website based in Tbilisi, critiqued a claim in 2016 by Tbilisi’s then-mayor, who had campaigned on a promise of bolstering the city’s green spaces, that the city had planted a half-million trees. The larger truth, it reported, was that many planted saplings were extremely small and closely packed. A large fraction had already dried up and were unlikely to survive. Another partial solution would be for environmental nonprofits to offer the Georgian media more press tours, trainings and access to experts. However, eco-NGOs also have agendas and constituencies, so this type of outreach can’t substitute for informed professional journalism. Covering the environment is challenging and can be dangerous in any country. But fostering environmental journalism in emerging democracies like Georgia is one way to hold government officials and powerful businesses accountable.

WHO SETS THE PRIORITIES? In my sources’ view, environmental coverage was not a priority for Georgian journalists and media owners, especially at the national level. Lia Chakhunashvili, a former environmental journalist now associated with the nonprofit International Research & Exchanges Board, observed that covering the environment “is not as glamorous as being a political reporter or on TV all the time or having parliamentary credentials.” “If the environmental sector becomes a priority for the government, journalists will try to cover it better,” Melano Tkabladze, an environmental economist with the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network, predicted. What coverage exists is weakened by misinformation, disinformation and “fake news.” Much of it originates from Russia, which briefly invaded Georgia in 2008 to support two breakaway provinces

Republished with permission of the author. Originally published on theconversation.com. Eric Freedman is a Professor of Journalism and Chair, Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, Michigan State University

H2O 2: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER


o, not H2O2, because that would be hydrogen peroxide: useful for other things with that extra oxygen atom, but not as a replacement for good old water, comprising most of the bodies of every living thing on earth and something we all just like to drink and can’t live without for more than a few days. Just part 2 of last week’s dive into water renovation at Hanmer Guest House. The two workers, actually come to stay for a few days, were greeted with 12 other guests and my wife and me as well, so, almost a full house. This, like nothing else, showed them the importance of what they were to do: we were all using one bathroom, with an outhouse for overflow as required. True, five of the guests left the next morning after breakfast; but still, they could see how having several more bathrooms

would be vital if the whole summer saw as many people coming through, which bookings indicate it might do. Having established our policy of “Buy expensive, buy seldom”, and come back with a carload of new supplies and materials, it was time to assemble some new systems to replace old. What plastic pipe-welders can do with a set of pipes and joints always amazes me. Sometimes the setup is complicated enough to boggle my mind, but once they explain its parts and functions to me the logic snaps into place. You turn on these two taps to get water via the motor-pump; or with them off, use that one to bypass it completely. This is the filter. Here we’re digging nice and deep, below the frostline. And so on. Several times the first day, water was shut off as parts were installed. Once a mouse-sized mole made himself evident, coming out to investigate why in the world his tunnel-home was being flooded: just temporary, Mr Mole, sorry and it’ll soon be over! The old 1000-liter water tank will move

to the barn once we’ve drained, cleaned and plugged it, and if a neighbor wants to buy it, they can, as it’s still in good working order. Inside the house, too, more flexibility, with off-taps for each bathroom separate. That way, if one of them has a problem, we can isolate it to work on it easily. Most importantly perhaps, we also now have the ability to open a pipe leading outside into the garden for winter, to keep a bit of water running and thus help the whole system not to freeze. This is really the first time that this setup has been made so easy; in winters gone by it has always been something which I jury-rigged, which either didn’t work, resulting in frozen pipes and much frustration, or (uniquely last winter) did save us but was far from ideal. Finally, silicone sealing and a bit of re-tiling in the upstairs bathrooms, followed by a period of some teasing to make sure we’re leak free. Replacing the dug-out earth outside to cover the newly laid pipes. Restoring order and

function. The great thing about these particular workers is that they’re doing a big job, and small hotel, in Mestia for a couple more years. So, if tweaking is needed, as well as other larger jobs like floor replacement elsewhere, which we plan, they’re available for these things too. Meanwhile, we remain open and ready for guests, complete with five bathrooms!

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






he medical sphere is one of the most rapidly-developing fields in the busy and ever-changing modern world, enabling individuals to fight serious illnesses, live and enjoy a ‘full’ life. Georgia is on the list of those countries making major steps forward in the medical sector, with a number of modern clinics having been launched in the country in recent years, boasting teams of experienced professionals. Innova In Vitro, a multidisciplinary and customer-oriented clinic, is one such medical institution, which with the hard work of the management team, professionalism of its experts, and comfortable and high-quality services offered to clientele, has already strongly established itself on the market. This is a clinic launched in partnership with IVI, the world’s largest network of assisted reproduction clinics, specialized in reproductive health, one of the fields of paramount importance in today’s world. Innova In Vitro is equipped with the latest technologies, in accordance with internationally recognized standards, and offers services in various fields, thus representing a significant platform in terms of development of the medical field countrywide. Prior to introducing the services offered by the Innova In Vitro clinic, which we will come back to in a moment, we’ll brief you about in vitro fertilization (IVF) itself. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. During IVF, mature eggs are collected from a woman’s ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs are implanted into the woman’s uterus. One cycle of IVF takes about two weeks. IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology and Innova In Vitro is the one providing the

best services in this regard. Innova In Vitro has been collaborating with the world’s leading clinics and laboratories for a number of years, adapting the ultra-modern and timesaving methodologies of infertility treatment in Georgia, and has proved to be very successful so far. The team at the Innova In Vitro clinic, formed with highly-trained experts in the spheres of Gynecology, Biology, Genetics and Surgery, with 15 years in vitro fertilization experience, led by Ketevan Osidze, and with Spanish embryologist Garcia Jordan as IVF Lab Director, have set the requirements of the patients and achieving the most fruitful outcomes as their main priorities, synthesizing their brilliant theoretical knowledge with innovative treatment methods. At the clinic, patients are offered complete diagnostics and management of all infertility abnormalities, followed by application of the relevant treatments. What is most important, the team spares no effort to ensure the completion of this process in the shortest time possible and also offers a genetic study of the embryo, much facilitating the procedure. The Innova In Vitro clinic specializes in various directions related to the field: In vitro fertilization; Insemination; Donation-Surrogacy Programs; Gynecological Endocrinology; Neuroendocrinology; Conservative Gynecology; Establishing the causes of miscarriages and their appropriate treatment, as well as Contraception. Each client of the clinic is treated with special care, accentuating the significance of individual factors. The reproductologist individually evaluates the chances of success in each case. Through the high-quality of services, transparency of procedures and individual approach to the clientele, the Innova In Vitro clinic is now welcoming local, as well as international patients from various countries worldwide. Z. Anjafaridze Str. 1 turn #6 Tel: 2-232-232 / 596-232-232 Mail: osidze_k@yahoo.com FB: Innova Invitro/ინოვა ინვიტრო




JUNE 7 - 10, 2019


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 04 56 June 8, 9 CARMEN Georges Bizet Conductor- Zaza Azmaiparashvili Choreographer- Gia Margania Starring: Tea Demurishvili, Anzor Khidasheli, Siphamandla Moyake, Gocha Abuladze, Givi Gigineishvili, Otar Shishinashvili, Nino Chachua, Mariam Baratashvili, Tamaz Saginadze Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre Choir Orchestra and Ballet Company Start time: June 8- 20:00, June 9- 15:00 Ticket: 20-200 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 13 Shavtelis St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 65 93 June 7, 8 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL June 9 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL June 11 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL June 12, 13 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL

MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 June 7 FAUST Based on the works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Language: Non verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL June 13 DIVINE COMEDY Based on the works of Dante Aligieri Three 20-minute choreographic statements (two 10-minute intervals) Language: Non verbal Director: Ioseb Bakuradze Composer/Arranger: Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 37 Rustaveli Ave. TEL 595 50 02 03 June 7 REFLECTION Love triangle: a successful artist and a ballerina love each other, but a businessman and owner of the gallery is in love with her too. Dedicated to Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL MUSEUM


National Museum and Georgian Post, Exhibition: STORY TOLD BY POSTAGE STAMPS Dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the first Georgian stamp. Until August 31 Multimedia technology exhibitionIMMAGICA. A JOURNEY INTO BEAUTY An impressive journey within time, introducing us to Italian paintings of the XIV-XIX centuries; a combination of voice, lighting, immersive visual and multimedia. Giotto– ‘Ognissanti Madonna’ and the ‘Scrovegni Chapel,’ Leonardo da Vinci– ‘Annunciation,’ Botticelli– ‘The Birth of Venus’ and ‘Spring,’ Raffaello– ‘The Madonna of the Goldfinch, Bellotto– ‘Piazza San Marco,’ ‘Castello Sforzesco,’ Canaletto– “The Chapel of Eton College”, Canova– ‘Amor e Psyche’ and ‘The Graces’. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 May 16 – June 10 Georgian National Museum in the framework of The Museum Festival presents the photo exhibition “1993” of Swiss artist – Daniel Spehr, showcasing photo-shoots taken during his stay in Georgia, reflecting the political, social and cultural reality of Georgia in the 1990s, reflecting the complicated, contradictory and historical reality. Until June 18 KAKO TOPURIA’S SOLO EXHIBITION The exhibition represents Topuria's recent works, revealing nostalgia, ironic motives, feelings of closeness and more. Implemented within the project ‘Contemporary Art Gallery’ Until June 10 Exhibition SUMMARIZING CITIES. EUROPEAN SQUARES AND THEIR HISTORIES The exhibition proposes a change of perspective regarding European urban squares. The project is supported by the

Georgian National Museum, Embassy of Romania in Georgia, The Order of Architects in Romania - OAR and Romanian Presidency of the Council of The European Union and is implemented in several European cities.

Venue: June 7- 10 Erekle II Sq., Tekla Palace Hotel, June 8- New Tiflis, 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’, June 12- Corner of 2 Turgenev Str., and 37 Javakhishvili Str. June 13- Europe Square, 2 D. Megreli Str., Hotel “Nata”



Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave enough to jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in a Mirror Room, be free in the Infinity room, resist the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms, and discover optical illusions. MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS 10 Betlemi Str. THE MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS The unique collection of the museum aims to provoke feelings of understanding among individuals and serve as some kind of therapy for those who have experience break-ups. GALLERY


SOUNDS OF GEORGIA June 7, 8, 12, 13 SING AND DRINK Mini concerts in the cozy atmosphere of Old Tbilisi, a mix of traditional Georgian music of different genres: folklore, a capella, guitar, and Georgian pop and city songs. Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 24 GEL

June 7 Artists Union ConceptART and Foundation “Iavnana” present New Generation Music Festival CLOSING GALA CONCERT Sandro Nebieridze (Piano), Sandro Sidamonidze (Cello), David Khrikuli (Piano), Lizi Razmadze (Piano), Anna Tchania (Violin), Anastasia Aghladze (Violin) Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 15-35 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8/10 A. Griboedovi Str. June 7 Classical music cognitive program: FINALE CONCERT Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 10 GEL June 12 MANANA MENABDE’S CONCERTYOU’LL SEE ME THROUGH THE WINDOW… Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-30 GEL June 13 Book Presentation- Concert GRIMAUD AND GEORGIAN SONG Ensembles: Adilei, Ensemble Anchiskhati, Basiani, Chant University choir, Ialoni, Kimiliya, Mtiebi, Mtcheli, Sakhioba, Shilda Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-10 GEL TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Rustaveli Ave. June 11 GOLDEN WAVE 2019 An Award Ceremony as a tribute to the legendary rock band ‘Queen.’ Mark Martel, as a special guest, will present a Queen Show at the award ceremony. Start time: 18:30 Ticket: 50-150 GEL TURTLE LAKE June 7 DECODER: GIEGLING (CONCERT) Transforming Hierarchy Concert A concert night dedicated to the interaction between audio and visual, performer and audience. Could our paradigms shift through selfawareness of one’s perception? Birds & Tapes LIVE, Leafar Legov LIVE, Otto Hernandez Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL June 8 DECODER: GIEGLING (BIRTHDAY PARTY) DJ Dustin, Elli, Konstantin, Leafar Legov LIVE, Molly, Schaaly Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 30 GEL ELECTRO CARRIAGE BUILDING FACTORY 4 K. Cholokashvili III Turn June 8 Popular Georgian band MGZAVREBI Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL GALLERY TBILISI 2 Rustaveli Ave. June 7 WHITE PARTY DJ SANYA DYMOV Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25 GEL




13th Black Sea Jazz Festival to Kick Off in Batumi Resort on July 18 BY LIKA CHIGLADZE


he summer season in Georgia is rich in cultural and entertaining events taking place across the country. The Black Sea Jazz Festival, annually organized by Eastern Promotions and TBC Status, is one of the pioneer outdoor events, taking place in Batumi Seaside Resort and bringing together the world’s most acclaimed artists from different genres. The Black Sea Jazz Festival has become one of the leading events in Georgia, significant for both the economic and tourism development of the country. This year, Batumi is to host the 13th Jazz Festival from July 18 - 20. The concerts will take place in the Batumi Tennis Club. The lineup is as follows: July 18 - CORY HENRY & The Funk Apostles (USA), July 19 – MOKUMOKU (Geo) and (AMP FIDDLER ft.: special guest Drummer From Detroit (USA), July 20 - (INCOGNITO (UK)). The official resident of the festival is DJ Davita Machaidze, known by the stage name DJ. MACHAIDZE. At different times, the Black Sea Festival has hosted such big names as HUGH MASEKELA, SERGIO MENDES , TANIA MARIA QUARTET, LISA STANSFIELD, SNOOP DOGG, AL JARREAU, MACY GRAY, JAMIROQUAI, Ms. LAURYN HILL, ROBERT PLANT and even THE PRODIGY: historic days for the festival. Giorgi Kereselidze, Director of Eastern

Promotions and organizer of the Festival, talked to GEORGIA TODAY about this year’s program and performers: “As always, this year we aim to offer the audience an interesting and varied program. Over the years, the Black Sea Jazz Festival has become ever more diverse. We always try to include “happy” music in our program, since this is what holidaymakers need and expect when they come to the seaside. We do our best to meet their needs and provide quality positive music to guarantee them a good time. While Tbilisi Jazz Festival is more conservative and is where jazz enthusiasts can enjoy relatively serious jazz music, the Batumi Black Sea Jazz Festival is more fun, incorporating various genres like rock, funk, electronic music, soul and hip hop. The concerts last longer, and after performances guests can stay and dance until late,” he told us, adding that currently their aim is to stick to this format and expand it even more. “This year’s program is energetic, diverse and fun. We were eager to invite Corny Henry to perform in Georgia. He has become one of the top-most acclaimed musicians in demand, so has a very busy schedule. Luckily, he was free on July 18, so we planned the entire program around this date. He will open the festival with his group The Funk Apostles. The next day we have two more amazing performances. On July 19, we present a very interesting Georgian musical group MokuMoku, that is made up of young gifted musicians. I think through a good marketing strategy they can go beyond the borders and perform at international

festivals in different countries. Although it is difficult to enter and establish oneself on the international stage, their music is so good and different that I think it is achievable. The second performer that day is an American musician AMP FIDDLER, who is notable for his innovative approaches to music. He has very distinctive projects, I have attended two of them and I was impressed. He feels the audience and knows how to direct his music. The Georgian audience is so energetic and expressive that the artist will feel it and we hope that evening will be unforgettable. On July 20, the festival closes with legendary British group Incognito on its jubilee tour, and we are happy to have put Georgia on that list. Every evening, the concerts will be followed by DJ sets which sometimes go on till sunrise. Jam sessions are no novelty at the festival, as well as the participation of many interesting local musicians,” the festival organizer said. Program Black Sea Jazz Festival 2019

CORY HENRY & THE FUNK APOSTLES (USA) Cory Henry is an American jazz pianist, gospel musician, music producer and Grammy Award holder who started his music career in 2006 by touring with various mainstream and gospel artists such as (Snarky Puppy, Michael McDonald, P. Diddy, Boyz II Men, Kenny Garrett, The Roots, Israel Houghton, Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin, and Yolanda Adams). Over the course of his career, Henry has released three

albums, Gotcha Now Doc (2012), First Steps (2014), and The Revival (2016), that very soon charted on the Billboard charts. His songs have charted on the Top Gospel Albums and Top Jazz Albums.

AMP FIDDLER FT.: DRUMMER FROM DETROIT (USA) Joseph Anthony "Amp" Fiddler is an American singer, songwriter, keyboardist, and record producer from Detroit, Michigan. His musical styles include funk, soul, dance and electronica music. Since the 80s, Amp is considered one of the leading funk performers. He has collaborated with a number of celebrated artists including Pri Fiddler, George Clinton, Moodymann, Stephanie McKay, Jamiroquai, and Prince. Within the frames of the Black Sea Jazz Festival, the artist will present his new project AMP FIDDLER ft.: Drummer From Detroit. He will perform together with his old friend Andrés known as ‘Drummer From Detroit’. Since the 1990s, he has been creating funk music, incorporating hip hop and other music genres.

INCOGNITO Incognito is a British acid jazz band. Their debut album, Jazz Funk, was released in 1981. Since then, for over 40 years the band members have released more than 15 albums. The band members

have changed time to time, yet Jean-Paul 'Bluey' Maunick, the band's leader, singer, guitarist, composer, and record producer, has remained. The band has featured Linda Muriel, Jocelyn Brown, Maysa Leak, Tony Momrelle, Imaani, Vanessa Haynes, Mo Brandis, Natalie Williams, Carleen Anderson, Pamela (PY) Anderson, Kelli Sae, and Joy Malcolm.

MOKUMOKU The group was established in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 2014. Their music embraces elements of hip hop, jazz and funk. To date, the band has released three albums: Blues Build The Temple (2015), Black Heaven (2017), Chicago Marinade (2019) and several singles including Sugar Glider”, “Hako is Alive and She Is 59” and “Filip. Besides MokuMoku has been part of such international festivals as MadCool Festival 2018 and Bristol Upfest (2017). Currently the band is working on their fourth studio album named Feast.

DJ. MACHAIDZE Georgian pioneer DJ MACHAIDZE is well known to the audience. His music incorporates Funky House, Disco House, Jazz House and Soulful House sounds. Tickets for 13th Black Sea Jazz Festival are available online at TKT.GE. The festival is supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Ajara. The festival is carried out within the frames of the Check in Georgia State Program.

‘Keto and Kote’: Vulnerable Children Discover the Magic of the Opera



ast weekend, the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater welcomed this season’s ‘Keto and Kote,’ the famous Georgian Opera by Victor Dolidze. On Saturday, they celebrated International Children's Day with a very special event for children with complicated social back-

grounds or disabilities, hosting around 500 children from various Georgian regions through theater Social-Cognitive programs. Together with the staff of the Opera and Ballet Theater, members of the Youth Club LATAVRA actively participate in organizing the event. The club aims at encouraging the interest of young people towards the arts, at the same time developing their sense of civic responsibility. “The social-cognitive program is one



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of the priorities of the theater,” says Badri Maisuradze, Artistic Director of the Theater. “The program is oriented on the future generations and is aimed at promoting interest in the classical arts among the younger generation. Of course, the theater is not an educational organization and we do not insist on this, but we want to make our activity interesting for any member of society and this is our main message – The theater serves and exists for society.” ‘Keto and Kote’ was definitely a great choice of opera for these children. This Georgian piece of art has been one of the most famous and appreciated comic operas since its premier in 1919. From the beginning to the end, the public had no time to be bored. The opera is full of action, twists, turns and absurdities. The comic is based on the grotesque, with vast exaggerations of the characters and situations. The actors were excellent: very lively, relating to the public, making the audience feel like they were entirely part of the show. The performance featured soloists, the choir and orchestra of the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theater and National Ballet Company Sukhishvilebi. The remainder of the team included conductor Revaz Takidze, director Ioane (Vano) Khutsishvili, set, costume and

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Samantha Guthrie, Amy Jones, Thea Morrison, Ana Dumbadze, Ketevan Kvaratskheliya Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

lighting designer Georgi Alexi-Meskhishvili, and chief choreographer, Iliko Sukhishvili. After the special Saturday show for children, GEORGIA TODAY went to speak to the team behind the project. Rusudan Matsaberidze, Project Manager (Head of the International Relations and Development Department of the theatre), explained how special the day had been. “The theater welcomed socially vulnerable people, Internally Displaced People and children with disabilities. All of them greatly appreciated the show and left the Opera with happy and enthusiastic faces. The main goal of the project was met, which gives a great motivation for further such projects.” “Art and culture can shape young people,” Amiran Kristesiashvili, Deputy State Representative of Shida Kartli, told us. “This kind of project is interesting and original for youth. I’m more than ready to build further collaboration and I live in hope that each child who has been displaced will one day soon be able to go back to their homes.” “On June 1, to celebrate International Children’s Day, 23 beneficiaries of alternative care of the SOS Children’s Villages Georgia Program were given the chance to see ‘Keto and Kote’ for the first time,” Mariam Akhvlediani, Youth Care Spe-

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cialist of SOS Children's Villages Georgia, told us. “Rusudan Matsaberidze organized the day, a lady who has been actively collaborating with the administration of the Children’s Villages. The kids were excited by the theatrical, as well as visual sides of the play and they enjoyed listening to the arias from prominent Georgian film. Such activities positively reflect on the emotional and social development of our beneficiaries, contributing a lot to raising their awareness of this significant field of art and positively impacting on the formation of their classical taste. Maia Chitaishvili, head of Kojori Disabled Children’s Home told us of her gratitude to the Georgian National Opera Theater and the Head of the project Rusudan Matsaberidze. “The children were very happy after the performance,” she said. “I would also like to thank them for such organization, cooperation and especial attention. We have been to the opera for the first time and are looking forward to further collaboration.” All participants gained a lot from the show, and the partner organizations were very enthusiastic about organizing such projects again in future. It seems like the magic of ‘Keto and Kote’ worked for everyone last weekend!


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Issue #1157  

June 7 - 10, 2019

Issue #1157  

June 7 - 10, 2019