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Issue no: 979

• SEPTEMBER 8 - 11, 2017



In this week’s issue... Fires Still Rage around Georgia NEWS PAGE 2

Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey Hold Trilateral Meeting in Baku POLITICS PAGE 4

To Cross or Not to Cross: Saakashvili at the Border POLITICS PAGE 6

FOCUS ON THE EBRD Overwhelming support confirmed once more by the visit of the EBRD president PAGE


Cleric Sentenced to 9 Years for Murder Plot BY THEA MORRISON


Tbilisi: a Museum of Desolation SOCIETY PAGE 12

The Memorable Debut of ‘Flight Mode’ in Tbilisi CULTURE PAGE 13


ather Giorgi Mamaladze, who was arrested in February 2017, charged with planning a murder, has been sentenced to nine years in prison by Tbilisi City Court Judge Besik Bugianishvili. The Judge has re-qualified the accusation, lifting the charges for mercenary murder and declaring him guilty only for preparing to murder the Georgian Patriarch’s Secretary, Shorena Tetruashvili. The investigation established that Archpriest Mamaladze, aiming to improve his career prospects, decided to murder Shorena Tetruashvili by means of cyanide. The cleric was also sentenced to two years imprisonment for illegal purchase and storage of firearms, but under the principle of the concurrent sentencing, this minor penalty was absorbed by the graver one and in total he will spend nine years in prison. The detained denies all charges and refused to attend the trial. Continued on page 2

The President of Poland Supports Visa-Free Regime with Kazakhstan

Georgian Basketball Team Defeats Israel at Eurobasket 2017 SPORTS PAGE 15

Photo source: allnews.ge




SEPTEMBER 8 - 11, 2017

Euronews Reports on Georgia’s Black Sea City Batumi ings, and new ones in a similar style”. The program about Batumi was made within the scope of a media tour organized by the Department of Tourism of Adjara. The Euronews crew visited the region in the summer, during the active tourist season. The news agency also released another program about the Black Sea Jazz festival. The Head of the Department of Adjara Tourism, Sulkhan Ghlonti, said that Batumi has been the focus for many media publications and noted that the video clip about Batumi is also being shown by the BBC. “We have prepared some special promotional material about our city. Accordingly, in more than 200 countries, including our target countries, people are learning about our tourism potential and about Georgia and the region,” Ghlonti added.



opular media outlet Euronews has dedicated a story to Georgia’s Black Sea City Batumi, spotlighting it as Georgia’s third largest city and the capital of the autonomous Adjara region. “Its relentless 10-year urban transformation has helped turn the city into one of the Black Sea’s top attractions,” the article reads. Euronews says that Batumi Boulevard, fronting the main beach and stretching eight kilometers along the coast, is the “life and soul” of the city, while Europe Square shows the new face of old Batumi: “named after Adjara joined the Assembly of European Regions, it consists of renovated belle époque build-

Fires Still Rage around Georgia



ire has already destroyed around five hectares of forest on Shavnabada Mountain, Khulo Municipality, mountainous Adjara. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) reports that around 400 servicemen of the ministry have been sent to the disaster zone since the fire broke out last weekend. An MIA helicopter is also actively working on site. As reported, a helicop-

ter from Turkey is also to join the fire extinguishing efforts. The Head of Adjara Government, Zurab Pataradze, stated that a three-kilometer road has been cut to enable firefighters to reach the blaze. “The situation today is better than yesterday. The firefighters, foresters and servicemen are fighting the blaze together,” he stated on Wednesday morning. Another fire has been burning near Artana village, Telavi Municipality, Kakheti region, since last Saturday. Manpower and three helicopters are working to put it out.

Cleric Sentenced to 9 Years for Murder Plot Continued from page 1

The lawyers of the archpriest say the judge made an ungrounded decision and they will appeal the verdict in the upper instance, adding that they might take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg. “There was no plan to murder…The decision of the judge was shameless and unworthy…If the judge lifted charges for mercenary murder, then what can they say was the possible motive of murder? This is why I claim the verdict was ungrounded,” Mamaladze’s lawyer Giorgi Pantsulaia stated. The prosecutor of the case, Zviad Gubeladze, said that the investigators suspect the cleric did not act alone. "The investigators suggest Mamaladze had accomplices,” he said. “An investigation is ongoing in this regard. If certain individuals are identified, they will be charged. At this stage, I will refrain from naming this small circle due to the interests of the investigation”. The nephew of the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia, and Batumi and Lazeti Metropolitan, Dimitry, says there are too many questions surrounding the case. "The cyanide case is too vague. Now I have even greater suspicion that Archpriest Mamaladze did not buy cyanide. The Prosecutor's Office should show us proof of purchase if they have it,” he stated, adding that he had spoken to the patriarch regarding the issue. “The Patriarch said clearly that Father Giorgi would not have committed this crime,” he said. NGO Human Rights Center (HRIDC) does not agree with the verdict given by Tbilisi City Court and says their lawyer was directly involved in the case, defending Mamaladze’s interests. The HRIDC says that the case was closed to media and the public for six months: in their opinion, unnecessarily. “The Human Rights Center believes that by closing the trial, the Court helped to reduce the level of transparency of justice and public trust towards the Court. Moreover, when it comes to such highprofile cases, the interest of the public is heightened- as such, we believe the trial should have been open,” the NGO noted, also highlighting that the acquisition of cyanide had yet to be confirmed. “The right to a fair trial guaranteed by the European Convention on Human

Rights has been violated,” the NGO stressed. Georgia’s Public Defender, Ucha Nanuashvili released a statement regarding the notorious case, saying a number of violations were observed during the investigation that affected the court hearing and prevented the defendant and his lawyers from enjoying a proper defense. “Violation of the presumption of innocence and the right to equality of arms from the very first day of the investigation was only the beginning of a number of shortcomings,” the Ombudsman stated. He added that the investigative agency has not yet obtained any evidence proving the purchase of cyanide. Nor has the person from whom the archpriest allegedly bought cyanide been identified. “Taking into consideration this context,

it was even more unacceptable to fully close the trial, which deprived the public of the possibility to monitor the court hearings. Monitoring made it clear that the full closure of the trial was not necessary given the volume of confidential information in the case,” the statement reads. Archpriest Mamladze was arrested on February 10 at Tbilisi Airport. The clergyman was detained with cyanide en route to Berlin, where Georgia’s Catholicos-Patriarch was having a gall bladder operation. Shorena Tetruashvili was in the hospital with the Patriarch. The defense has reiterated many times that the Archpriest is the victim of a group of high-ranking people at the Patriarchate who wanted to remove him from the position of Head of the Property Management Department of the Patriarchate.

The doors of the Patriarchate. Source: 2.bp.blogspot.com




Georgian Government Officials Meet with EBRD President BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


rime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili met with Suma Chakrabarti, President of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), during his two-day visit to Georgia this Wednesday, in order to discuss the 25 years of successful cooperation between Georgia and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, with the Four Point Reform Plan initiated by the Government of Georgia being the main focus of the meeting. Kvirikashvili thanked the EBRD President for his continued support, through which more than 200 projects have been initiated in Georgia, amounting to almost €3 billion of investment. To date, the Bank says it has invested a total of €2.8 billion for 205 projects in the Georgian economy. When the PM of Georgia and the EBRD President met, they talked about the strategy of EBRD in Georgia, supporting the government’s Four Point Plan, which entails educational, spatial development and governance system reforms. Georgia’s progress in institutional and structural reforms was also discussed, with the PM highlighting the capital market and upcoming pension reforms, with the latter to come into force from the third quarter of 2018, with necessary legisla-

Suma Chakrabarti, President of EBRD and Giorgi Kvirikashvili, PM of Georgia

tive, technical and institutional infrastructure being prepared. Kvirikashvili pointed out the importance of EBRD issuing the first ever bond in local Georgian currency, which is said to be assisting the economic growth of the country, and encouraging investments. He added the EBRD is actively implementing innovative products within the Georgian economy. “EBRD is one of the key partners of Georgia, counting 25 years of successful partnership with our country, with over 200 projects financed and approximately three billion Euros invested, which truly is an unprecedented partnership with international financial institutions for Georgia,” the PM said, going on to mention the projects financed by the EBRD in the energy sector, municipal infra-

structure, and the investments in the country’s private sector. Kvirikashvili also highlighted the importance of EBRD's support to Georgia in the Euro-integration process and the DCFTA support program, which enabled Georgian banks to finance businesses in local Georgian currency. Kvirikashvili then underlined the support EBRD provides within the economic reforms in the country. The parties also talked about the work of the Investor’s Council, a platform established by EBRD and the Government of Georgia in 2015, during the EBRD annual meeting held in Tbilisi. Chakrabarti attended this meeting while on his recent visit to Georgia. The EBRD President expressed satisfaction about the productive and suc-

cessful meetings they had held with the Government of Georgia. "What we could sense is a joint determination to work towards further improving Georgia’s economic performance. This is also illustrated in the EBRD’s high volume of investments,” he said, adding the relations between the EBRD and Georgia is “really a benchmark”. “I strongly believe that where we are now with Georgia makes this country very much the leader of the next wave of transition countries,” which, he said, is due to “very good economic management”. “I’m pretty sure that our forecast for this year, which is about 3.8%, will be beaten, and I think Georgia will grow beyond 4% next year. We’ll have new forecasts in November to share with you, but I’m sure Georgia will be growing very, very fast,” he said. The President of EBRD emphasized the work of the Georgian government with the private sector, with the international institutions including EBRD, with the Investors Council, to encourage the reforms to the business climate in the country. “I’m really pleased to see how Georgia has moved up in all the international rankings in the last five years,” he said, noting that the context allowed EBRD to invest more, seeing a record year in 2016, with the financing of 17 projects for €250 million, with €80 million investments in a wide range of private sector

projects, healthcare, agribusiness, telecommunications, property and tourism, and in the power energy sector which launched the wind farm in Gori, which is the very first in the Caucasus region. The EBRD President also mentioned the infrastructure, municipal and transport sector projects financed, and in the financial sector, the DCFTA facility signed and launched together with the Bank of Georgia and TBC; which, according to Chakrabarti, will help Georgian SMEs to reach EU standards. “We’ve signed probably the most exciting country strategies, approved by our board last December. It has four main elements to it, all of which are very, very important; our aim is to make the Georgian private sector as competitive as possible. We want to do more in local currency landing, on capital market development. We want to help Georgia to take advantage of its geographical position, its international connectivity,” Chakrabarti said. “As I've always said, I think sometimes it’s quite fortunate that Georgia is not an oil and gas country, as that brings lots of pressure, but it has water and you need to maximize water as an economic resource,” he told those present, which included the Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Dimitry Kumsishvili, Minister of Economy Giorgi Gakharia, Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani and Minister of Energy Ilia Eloshvili.

Georgian President Receives Award at Krynica Economic Forum in Poland BY THEA MORRISON


ithin the framework of Krynica Economic Forum in Poland, the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, was given a special award during the Gala Awards Ceremony for High-Ranking Guests. The former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, handed the award to Margvelashvili in the Congress Center on September 6. The Georgian President thanked the heads of various states, representatives of local self-governments and the business sector for the award. He underlined that the Krynica Economic Forum has once again highlighted the common values of the Georgian and Polish peoples: freedom, human rights and legal state. “It is very important for me to receive this special award; an award which reflects the commitment of my people, diplomats and civil servants, who have worked hard to advance Georgia's European integration,” Margvelashvili stated at the ceremony. As a part of the forum, the Georgian president and the Ambassador of Georgia to Poland, Ilia Darchiashvili, hosted a special Georgian Evening, where Georgian products were exhibited, including wine, sweets, fresh drinks, and a variety of dairy products. At the exhibition, the Polish edition of the Georgian epic poem -The Knight in the Panther's Skin was also displayed. Margvelashvili addressed the audience and thanked the Polish people for their firm support of Georgia. “Georgia is one of the oldest winemaking countries in Europe and in the

President’s Press Office

world, and we share this tradition with our friends,” he stated. The 27th Economic Forum in Krynica Zdrój was opened on September 5 and closed on September 7. The largest conference of this type in Central and Eastern Europe, it was inaugurated by a plenary session attended by the presidents of Poland, Georgia and Macedonia. Andrzej Duda, George Ivanov and Giorgi Margvelashvili took part in the panel entitled “Unfinished Integration and the Aspirations of European Countries” where they debated the future of European integration and how to

reconcile the interests of member states with the aspirations of other European countries. Prior the forum opening, the Georgian and Polish presidents held a meeting during which they highlighted the importance of the joint Declaration signed on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Georgia and the Republic of Poland. They also discussed the situation in the occupied territories of Georgia. President Margvelashvili thanked his counterpart for his unwavering support of Georgia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-

recognition policy of the occupied territories and European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Sharing Poland's wide experience in terms of European and Euro-Atlantic integration and Poland’s support of Georgia in this process was also mentioned. Margvelashvili underlined the significance of NATO’s open-door policy and assessed the importance of the NATO Summit of 2018 in further advancing Georgia’s NATO integration. The sides also emphasized the significance of regional cooperation within the Visegrad Group format and spoke

about the prospects of expanding partnership between the V4 Group and the Black Sea region. The prospects of strengthening economic cooperation in order to fully use the potential of both countries were also discussed at the meeting. The Economic Forum in Krynica is the largest conference in Central and Eastern Europe. Every year the forum, organized at the beginning of September, brings together around 3500 guests: political, economic and social leaders, as well as around 500 journalists. The guests come from over 60 countries in Europe, Asia and America.




SEPTEMBER 8 - 11, 2017

Georgian Foreign Minister Holds Meetings in Belarus Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey Hold Trilateral Meeting in Baku BY THEA MORRISON


he sixth Trilateral Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey was held in Baku on September 6 at which Mikheil Janelidze, Elmar Mammadyarov, and Mevlüt Çavusoglu signed the ‘Baku Statement and Action Plan for Trilateral Sectoral Co-operation for 20172019’. The document sets forth specific projects and initiatives in the areas of economy, energy, agriculture, environment protection and innovative technologies. Georgian Foreign Minister Janelidze stated that it is a unique mechanism established among three neighboring countries. “We play an important role not only

in the region, but also globally. All the three countries connect Europe and Asia. The deepening trade and economic relations between Europe and Asia owe a great deal to this link,” he added. During the meeting, special attention was paid to the implementation of common transit and energy projects, in particular the need to open the Baku-TbilisiKars (BTK) railway in the near future. The importance of implementing the Southern Gas Corridor project was also highlighted. The BTK railway is being constructed on the basis of a Georgian-AzerbaijaniTurkish intergovernmental agreement. The peak capacity of the railway will be 17 million tons of cargo per year. At the initial stage, this figure will be one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo. During his official visit to Baku, Janelidze also held face to face meetings with his Azerbaijani and Turkish counterparts.



eorgian Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze is on an official visit to Belarus. On September 4, Janelidze was hosted by the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, in Minsk. The president underlined the longlasting friendly relations between the Georgians and Belarusians, adding they have common history from once being a part of the Soviet Union. “The Georgians are our brothers…You are well aware how we respect your country and nation,” Lukashenko told Janelidze. The sides spoke about the trade-economic cooperation between the two nations, adding that there is great potential for Georgia and Belarus to help each other boost their economies.

Janelidze announced that in 2018, Tbilisi will host the Belarusian Culture Week. He also thanked Lukashenko for his help during the Borjomi Gorge forest fire in Georgia earlier this August when Belarus sent a helicopter to join firefighting efforts. The Georgian minister also met the Vice Prime Minister of Belarus, Mikhail Rusiy where it was emphasized that Belarus considers Georgia a reliable partner and is interested in the growth of trade, as well as in the development of sectoral co-operation in the priority areas defined in the Commission’s roadmap. Special attention was paid to the high potential of co-operation in such areas as agriculture, machine building, tourism and sport infrastructure. The sides also expressed their interest in cooperation in the area of high technologies. The technological park of Belarus is one of the leading parks in Central and Eastern Europe. Furthermore, Janelidze and his Bela-

rusian counterpart Vladimir Makei signed a Program of Cooperation between the Georgian and the Belarusian foreign ministries for 2018-2019. The ministers expressed hope that this program will contribute to the development of both bilateral and multilateral co-operation and said they welcome the activities of the inter-governmental economic commission and the growth of trade turnover which increased by 25% over the past seven months. Janelidze stated that the economic cooperation between Georgia and Belarus will bring benefits not only to the two countries but will also contribute to ensuring the development and stability of the region. He also thanked his Belarusian counterpart for his government’s support of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Vladimir Makei expressed his readiness to participate in the Silk Road Forum scheduled in Tbilisi for November.

On the Road to the Black Sea: China in Central Asia selves as major constructors of large infrastructure projects in Central Asia. Mutual state visits often occur, and Central Asian countries are beginning to cooperate more with China on security and military issues.



ast week I wrote on China and its interests in the South Caucasus. Beijing’s ambitions in the region have been driven by its Road and Belt initiative which spans tens of states to directly link west China with the European market. The road to the South Caucasus, however, is not an easy one and runs through the no less strategically important Central Asian region. China has made significant progress in increasing its economic and political leverage in Central Asia over the past decade. Central Asia, with more than 65 million in population, is essentially a landlocked region consisting of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. From the Chinese perspective, these five countries, along with Mongolia, represent those two major transit routes which will make a large part of Beijing’s One Belt One Road initiative operational. China's economic plans in Central Asia include numerous spheres but most notably involve a range of industrial zones alongside the construction of railways, pipelines, etc. Connectivity, the lack of which the region has been noto-


rious for historically, is the cornerstone of Beijing’s actions. China already constructed a 3,666-kilometer pipeline from Turkmenistan. This, in turn, made Turkmenistan dependent on the Chinese market, as Ashgabat currently has no other exporters and the price for Turkmen gas is nearly $165 per 1000 cubic meters (actually one of the lowest prices). As said, Central Asia is now the location of the major Belt routes, most of which run through Kazakhstan: the ‘China-Central Asia-West Asia Corridor,’

the ‘Eurasian Land Bridge’, and the ‘Khorgos-Aktau Railway’. These routes are a powerful alternative to sea trade routes, with railway alone able to significantly reduce transit times. As a further sign of the importance of the railway, China plans to restart talks with Uzbekistan to start work on a 270-km-long line which will link China and Uzbekistan via Kyrgyzstan. After becoming a major trade partner and investment source, the Chinese are now more and more positioning them-

Russia officially endorsed the Eurasian Economic Union-Belt initiative in May 2015. However, Beijing's growing economic and security involvement in Central Asia may endanger the Kremlin’s efforts to keep its influence in the region. Central Asia currently serves as a playground for Russian and Chinese interests and how the two powers can cooperate with each other to confront common threats amid allegedly rising Central Asian militancy is under question. From the Russian perspective, cooperation with China in the economic realm in Central Asia serves Russian interests as investments from Belt and Road could alleviate the region’s low economic development and mitigate security problems. However, Russia is also worried that as China reaches economic success in Central Asia, the more likely it is that Beijing will get more involved security-wise to protect its vital infrastructure. Indeed, China has reasons to be concerned as Xinjiang remains a problem and Central Asian fighters are returning home from

the Middle East. There were already signs of deeper problems when in August 2016 a Uighur national attacked the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Moscow should also be concerned as there were reports in 2016 that the Chinese were building up to 10 defense infrastructure constructions on the TajikAfghan border. Beijing has also increased its security cooperation with Kyrgyzstan through joint border control exercises and has even held joint military trainings with the Tajik army. That said, despite losing its primary economic position in Central Asia, Russia still retains a strong military position as it is the only foreign power which has military bases in the region. The Central Asian region is an important space for Beijing in its Belt and Road initiative. And before solidifying its influence in the South Caucasus, Beijing will work further to expand its assets in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and other countries. Although conflict between Russia and China is unlikely to take place, tensions could at times rise. Meanwhile, Russia will be trying to further strengthen its military position through exercises or even talks to open new military bases. China, on the other hand, will try to improve Central Asia's connectivity problems through large infrastructure projects.



Money vs Man in the Mayoral Race

Source: clarencecaldwell.com



odern political philosophy has it that self-government as such is one of the principles of constitutionality which is generically observed and maintained by western political culture, based on Man’s free will and democracy. I have the temerity to appertain Georgia to this type of world community, grounding my optimism on the fact that we are currently running a national campaign of selfgovernment elections. Naturally, we are spending on this cheerful political event a lot of our tax-payer’s money, and other people’s cash, too. We are also spending our valuable time on it, the remnants of our national energy, and many other resources. The famous good question is if this is all worth it. There is a battalion of mayoral wannabe’s in Tbilisi, saying nothing of other local election hot spots, each of them bending over backwards to get up there, and carrying their own portion of sizable electoral expenditure. I just wonder if any of those candidates and their ardent supporters has even an elementary ability to recognize that there cannot be a good mayor in nature without a good budget; in other words, if you do not have enough material capacity in the city’s coffers, you cannot be an efficient mayor no matter how talented, educated, experienced, patriotic and charismatic you happen to be. This is no longer about good men and women; this is about money. To put it a little quizzically, even I could be a good mayor of my town, even without any administrative or engineering background, if I had a chance to garner and mobilize enough funds to build and rebuild it; change its dilapidated infrastructure, create additional traffic patterns and new parking spaces, build new squares and recreational facilities, maintain better inner-city schools and kindergartens, construct powerful smoke-arresters to save lives

from pollution, to keep a police force that could guarantee that modern vandals in expensive cars learn to park correctly and drive defensively, to protect the city from flagrant architectural terrorism and to liberate it from dust, dirt and litter. None of this can be done by a person without money. All that we are trying to do during mayoral and other campaigns is a futile job. None of the current campaigning big mouths, full of endless empty words and a ton of sweat, will ever be able to change much in their cities unless they have the resources to do so. Any mayor, be they democratically elected or assigned from above, would most likely do the same job if they had at their disposal ample material resource to make a difference. I understand that in our times of democracy, a mayoral posting is a political position, and elected mayors then simply hire good managers to do the actual job. In our Georgian reality though, politically elected mayors are the managers themselves as a rule: yes, they have deputies and assistants, and many aides of other categories, but all the credit for doing something good and valuable will still go to that elected mayor, though all the lumps for a bad job will fall on his or her poor head, too. The bottom-line is that it is not the elected mayor who does the job but the money and the army of aides and specialists who are hired by that money. Any mayor, even the most popular, beloved and appreciated, is a sheer zero without enough money in the city budget. And the proverbial moral here is that we the people do not have to be so terribly overexcited about whether the mayor of our beloved capital city, or any other city or town, or borough or village, is Nick, Rick, Jack, or Jill: they will never make a difference in anything that concerns this city and its tired-ofelectoral-endeavors population unless they are equipped with appropriate financial potential. It is the money that matters in creating a better standard of living, not even the best of the mayoral candidates that are eligible to be elected.





SEPTEMBER 8 - 11, 2017

To Cross or Not to Cross: Saakashvili at the Border OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


he increasing number of fires in Georgia might get a new addition. This time, not a natural but a political disaster is oncoming, but of a scale that would bring even more damage to the Georgian Dream (GD) government than the real fire did to the Borjomi and Abastumani forests. What Mikheil Saakashvili plans to do on September 10 at the Polish-Ukrainian border checkpoint is set to bring about a real heat, the flames of which will undoubtedly reach Tbilisi. Especially seeing as the government has reissued a request for Saakashvili’s extradition and the cell is ready and waiting for him in “Matrosov” prison. The pompous ceremony at Tbilisi City Council celebrating Ukraine’s Independence Day and attended by Prime Minister Kvirikashvili further proves that the expected “fire” has brought official Kiev and Tbilisi closer. The PM’s attendance was not accidental, with the reason for the closeness of the two countries their common enemy, Saakasashvili. The GD government has been asking Ukraine for the extradition of “Poroshenko’s Favorite” for some five years, yet, instead, he was promoted to the post of Governor of Odessa. Throughout that period, the once-partner countries nearly

Saakashvili: watching and waiting. Source: ft.com

became foe, even sinking to addressing each other in official notes alone. Kiev reprimanded Official Tbilisi for ignoring the country on the international arena, while Tbilisi accused it of protecting “criminal” Saakashvili. Now, everything has changed, with the ex-President of Georgia suffering major problems from the Ukrainian side: dismissed from his post, deprived of citizenship and banned from entering the country. Tbilisi and Kiev reconciled in the unity of one dream: keeping Saakash-

vili as far away from their countries as possible, because him showing up in either of them is dangerous for the respective political elites. However, GD is well-aware that a Saakashvili in prison is far more dangerous than one free in Poland, Brussels, New York or even Kiev. President Poroshenko also knows that Saakashvili in Kiev would mean at least a new Meidan, or could even result in losing the majority in Rada. Naturally, Saakashvili is using this situation to his advantage

and, as political analyst Gia Khukhashvili said, is getting both governments to play his own game. “Both Ukraine and Georgia are playing according to his plan, thus finding themselves in an idiotic situation. Ukraine has gone beyond crazy and is acting quite inappropriately by setting up barriers on the border... Saakashvili is quite amused with all of this. Instead of marginalization, both governments are holding PR campaigns for him. They don’t know the rules of this game. I believe it was Ukraine that

addressed Georgia with the purpose of frightening Saakashvili so that he would change his mind and not bother to come,” Khukhashvili told Metronome.ge. So, what will happen on September 10 at the Polish-Ukrainian border? Will the third president of Georgia cross into Ukraine? The answer to this question is unknown. Before the local parliamentary elections in 2016, Saakashvili promised his electorate that he would be back in Georgia “no matter what,” but he failed to meet expectations. Therefore, there’s no way to guess this time round. Georgian political analysts are sure of the future for Saakashvili if he doesn’t cross the Ukrainian border: “I believe that Saakashvili’s political career will be over if he doesn’t enter Ukraine. If he dares to do so, he has a chance of becoming one of the most important politicians in Europe. However, it’s hard to say which powers are supporting him in Ukraine and what he can rely on,” Politologist Khatuna Lagazidze told Metronome. There is also the legal nuance: Saakashvili has appealed Kiev’s decision about his citizenship in the European Court of Human Rights. If the latter finds the decision illegal, as it did regarding Rustavi 2’s famous case, and this happens before September 10, Saakashvili will have the green light not only at the Krakovets border checkpoint, but everywhere in Ukraine. And then there’s the Georgian border…

Thank You for Your Trust: All Green Diamond Complex First Stage Apartments Sold 9 Months Before End of Construction



n unprecedented result from the largest building complex in Tbilisi: the first stage, consisting of 731 apartments, sees them all sold ahead of construction completion and the grand opening scheduled for May 2018. Green Diamond is the second residential complex of MAQRO Construction, which began after the first successful project, Green Budapest. According to the Deputy General Director of MAQRO Construction, Mr. Oguz Kaan Karaer, the uniqueness and quality of the project, as well as a lot of satisfied residents, led to the success. "We had expectations that sales would be successful,” Kaan Karaer says. “We were convinced that all the apartments would be sold before the end of the project. But we really didn’t expect it to happen nine months before. We thank all existing and future residents of MAQRO Construction’s projects. They played a huge role in this success. Residents of Green Budapest recommended and shared their experience and that was largely why there was a high demand for Green Diamond flats. “Foreign investors from various coun-

tries see the great opportunity investing in Georgia’s real estate brings, and especially in project Green Diamond, and they didn’t miss the chance,” Kaan Karaer adds. “This was also one of the reasons we had such fast sales. High ROI, 12-14 % in only 7-8 years, is an unbelievable opportunity as the project is unique in Georgia and renting or reselling can provide a big income. “Green Diamond is a project that has no analogue in Georgia; a unique project where inhabitants will be surprised how their lifestyle will change. Their hardworking days will end with calm and fresh air, their mornings will start with healthy activities. Green Diamond is a project where they can fulfill such needs easily, and without leaving the territory. Also, the location and flexible payment terms play a considerable role," he concludes. Green Diamond is the first large-scale complex located in a convenient loca-

tion near the city center. In this regard, MAQRO Construction was a pioneer and this novelty was fully justified. More and more people are interested in moving away from the center, noise, and the polluted air. Green Diamond residents have the opportunity to enjoy fresh air and calm. Karaer says that people were uncertain about the new location at the initial stage, however, after realizing the advantages, demand for the apartments is on the rise. As the Deputy General Director, the flexible payment terms have played a great role in encouraging sales: the down payment is only 10% of the flat price. Karaer says he is proud to announce that with only 10%, you can become the owner of an apartment. On the Georgian market, this is quite a favorable offer. In addition, the company offers special discounts in case of full payment. Green Diamond's construction quality is also special and the company offers

detailed surveys of apartments to potential buyers. "At first glance, customers cannot determine the quality of building materials, but clients notice it's a very wellorganized and clean process of construction. The complex is very beautiful even at the construction stage,” Oguz Kaan Karaer says, adding that, “Green Buda-

pest inhabitants received everything as promised. Afterwards, they recommended their close friends and relatives to buy apartments in MAQRO Construction complexes. Due to this, Green Diamond is a very successful project. Soon, the second stage of construction is to start. We’re grateful to all the existing and future residents for their trust and we are confident that the project will continue to be successful". The area of the residential complex is 70,000 square meters, of which 23 000 square meters will be a green area allows residents a lifestyle different from most in Tbilisi. 23 residential blocks will comprise 1772 flats. There are 3 swimming pools, 4 basketball courts, 4 outdoor fitness areas, 4 playgrounds, 7 pergolas, indoor fitness center, walking and running tracks, commercial facilities, social terraces, a kindergarten and a school. Green Diamond is a three-stage project. At the first stage, all 731 apartments have been sold and will be available in May 2018. Soon, the second stage will begin, followed by the third. The second stage includes two high-rise building with 244 fully renovated units from 31-250 sq.m with 26 commercials that will fulfill residents’ daily needs, including shops, markets, café, restaurant, pharmacy, bank, beauty salon, etc. The complex is all set to be a unique and marvelous feature in the city of Tbilisi.



Georgian Wine Export Increases in Last 8 Months



or the period of January-August, 45.3 million bottles of wine were exported to 44 countries, the Georgian National Wine Agency (NWA) claims, making it a 61% increase compared to the same period in 2016. “From January to August 2017, the exported wine came to a value of $100.3 million, a 55% increase compared to the same period last year,” the NWA reports. “Wine sales have increased in the markets of the EU, South-East Asia, US and other countries, as a result of the coordinated efforts and precisely planned marketing activities of the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, Georgian National Wine Agency, and of the wine-making sector,” George Samanishvili, Head of National Wine Agency noted. Georgian wine export increased in China (51%), Russia (94%), Ukraine (42%), Poland (19%), Latvia (25%), Bela-


SEPTEMBER 8 - 11, 2017

Russia Supplying Oil to North Korea? No Problem, Says Putin's Press Secretary BY DAVID DRUMMERS


orth Korea is likely buying diesel from Russian oil companies via trading companies in Singapore, and, should the US cut off all oil flows to Pyongyang, it would serve as the regime’s lifeline - senior-level North Korean defector Ri Jong Ho told the Voice of America Korean Service in his first interview since he defected in October 2014. “Trade turnover between Russia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is minimal, so it is hardly advisable to talk about the cessation of Russian oil products to it,” Russian pres-

idential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said, adding that President Putin has repeatedly stated that the supply of oil and oil products to North Korea is negligible. "The President of Russia repeatedly, including at a press conference in Beijing, said that the volume of trade and economic interaction and supplies of oil and oil products to Korea are at an insignificant level, at a miserable level," Peskov said, underlining that Putin is “serious about the situation on the Korean Peninsula and strongly condemns the provocative actions of Pyongyang,” which is almost weekly seeing some form of nuclear weapon test. However, the Russian president, Peskov said, is not an advocate of driving the DPRK into a corner - it is “necessary for

the North Korean authorities to conduct a constructive dialogue that would help overcome the current crisis,” since actions “against the North Korean authorities from the position of power will not yield positive results,” meaning that they would not stop the nuclear tests, even if largescale sanctions were imposed on them. "On the contrary, Pyongyang needs to be involved in dialogue, conditions created in which Pyongyang will feel secure, and thus seek ways out," said Putin's spokesman, adding that the Russian leader has not yet planned any contact with DPRK representatives in the framework of the Eastern Economic Forum, nor does he know of any plans by Russian representatives to hold meetings with economic representatives of North Korea.

rus (35%), US (67%), Germany (39%), Israel (232%), France (378%), Azerbaijan (170%), with Russia, China, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Poland being the top exporters. Kindzmarauli Wine, with 7,752.470 bottles exported, leads the list, followed by Mukuzani, (2,478.937 bottles), Tsinandali (1,959.406 bottles), Akhasheni (861,185 bottles exported), Khvanchkara (451,034 bottles), Tvishi (172,358 bottles) and Napareuli (121,986 bottles). 9,758.746 bottles of brandy were exported to 20 countries, which is 103% more compared to the same period in 2016, with a $21,85 million export, an increase of 98% y/y. 132,746 bottles of Georgian Chacha were exported to 17 countries, a 153% increase in export, making a $367,757 million income from Chacha alone, amounting to an 85% increase y/y. The overall income from exports of wine, brandy, Chacha, wine material and brand alcohol amounted to $165,34 million, a 52% increase as compared to the same period of 2016.

No Fundamental Macroeconomic Basis for Significant Devaluation of Lari


here is no fundamental macroeconomic basis for the significant depreciation of the Georgian Lari, - declared the Chairman of Budget and Finance Committee, Irakli Kovzanadze. “The economic data that we have today does not give any basis for it”. He went on to point to the fluctuating exchange rate regime in Georgia, a rate defined by the demand and supply of the market. This means that movement

10 Galaktion Street

can take place in both directions. “Throughout the summer, we saw the GEL strengthening. In recent months, in order to avoid further strengthening of the GEL, the NBG bought $110 million, increased FX reserves and managed to maintain monetary stability in the country,” Kovzanadze said. “The recent depreciation of the GEL could be explained by both expectation as well as psychological factors. At the end of August, when the exchange rate

was slightly depreciated, this was a sign for those who had expected a relatively low exchange rate in August to buy foreign currency, which increased demand and was reflected on the exchange rate. I would like to point out again, that nowadays, there is no fundamental macroeconomic basis for the significant depreciation of the GEL. Accordingly, the fluctuation of the exchange rate is temporary and is expected to be shortterm,” Kovzanadze concluded.

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




SEPTEMBER 8 - 11, 2017

The President of Poland Supports Visa-Free Regime with Kazakhstan BY DAVID DRUMMERS


olish President Andrzej Duda on Wednesday began an official visit to Kazakhstan to meet the country’s leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and attend a Polish-Kazakh business forum. Once there, President Duda voiced his support of President Nazarbayev’s proposal that there be a mutual visa-free regime between the countries. "Polish companies have been present on the Kazakh market for several years now,” President Duda stated. “The abolition of the visa regime for Polish citi-

zens up to 30 days would facilitate not only business contacts, but also tourist visits, as does the launch of a direct air service already implemented by the Polish airline between Warsaw and Astana. Mr. President, you can count on the support of representatives of the Polish State. Our position here is unambiguous," he told Nazarbayev. President Nazarbayev suggested that Poland also introduce a visa-free regime for the people of Kazakhstan. "We are also ready to help each other in the formation of modern transport infrastructure for the accelerated delivery of goods from Asia to Europe and vice versa. The long-awaited event was the opening on May 28 of a direct air

service between Astana and Warsaw and the fact that we removed the visa regime between our countries; now we ask the same of the Polish side,” he said during a press statement following the talks in Akorda. At the same time, the President of Kazakhstan expressed confidence that the visit of President Andrzej Duda would give new impetus to Kazakh-Polish relations and serve the benefit of the two peoples. President Duda’s trip to Kazakhstan is a return visit after Nazarbayev visited Poland in August last year, according to the Polish president’s foreign policy adviser Krzysztof Szczerski. “Polish-Kazakh trade has increased by 90% since that visit,” Szczerski claims.

British Embassy Bids Farewell to Latest Chevening Scholars BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


ritish Ambassador Justin McKenzie Smith this week hosted a reception to bid farewell to Georgian scholars selected for scholarships provided by the Chevening program for the 2017-2018 academic year who will be flying off to continue their education in leading UK Universities. Chevening is the UK Government’s international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders. Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and partner organizations, it offers a unique opportunity for future leaders and influencers from around the globe to develop professionally and academically, network extensively, experience UK culture, and build lasting positive relationships with the UK. The annual event at the British Embassy celebrated the Chevening scheme which has been operating in Georgia for almost 25 years and has so far offered one-year fully funded scholarships to almost 250 Georgian professionals, many of whom are in leadership positions in Georgia today. The Ambassador began by congratulating the winning applicants to the program. “The program began 25 years ago, and since then, almost 250 students have been sent from Georgia to study through the Chevening program. This event is one of the highlights of the British Embassy’s calendar: saying farewell to the brilliant Chevening scholars and welcoming back many of our friends who have studied in the UK. This year, we are sending 14 scholars to various universities around

British Ambassador to Georgia Justin McKenzie Smith with Kakha Kiknavelidze, CEO at Bank of Georgia

the UK, including in London, Birmingham, Belfast, and Kingston. It takes a lot of work and resources to do so and I would like to offer our very special thanks to the Bank of Georgia and BGEO Group for their continued support of three Chevening scholarships. A second ‘thank you’ goes to the Lord Mayor of the City of London, who has agreed that for the first time since 2003, he will award a Mansion House scholarship for study in the financial sector”. He then encouraged past beneficiaries to give their own ideas and recommendations to help the system bloom, and guests to spread the word on the great opportunity the Chevening scheme offers. “We joined the scholarship scheme four years ago; at the beginning of every September since, sending the best minds of Georgia to the best universities in the UK,” said Kakha Kiknavelidze, CEO at Bank of Georgia. “Bank of Georgia and BGEO are proud to do so and see education as the most important part of our Social Responsibility and a key factor in the development of this country. Bank

of Georgia is committed to the future of this program,” he said. Irina Surmanidze, who worked in the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Adjara as the Head of the Culture Department, is one of the lucky 14 who will be sent to study for a year in the UK. “I felt I needed an upgrade on my academic education,” she told GEORGIA TODAY. “I wanted to learn new skills in the direction of culture and entrepreneurship and applied to Goldsmiths University of London”. Following extensive application processes and interviews, Surmanidze was offered a Chevening Scholarship and says she feels “excited, happy, and proud” and is “looking forward to new adventures during this upcoming fruitful year”. The Embassy event was attended by Chevening alumni, government officials, civil society and members of the business community. Applications for the Chevening program 2018-2019 academic year close on November 7.




SEPTEMBER 8 - 11, 2017

Tbilisi: a Museum of Desolation INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE


hen you’re a wellestablished European journalist and you visit Tbilisi and then write a blog about your impressions, it’s supposed to be a glowing review of the city, praising it’s beauty and authenticity. But one Swiss Journalist had other things to say. “Tbilisi – a Museum of Desolation,” Bernhard Odehnal writes, followed by the notion that you’d need a rather thick pair of pink glasses to not notice just how neglected the city is, administering further salt by stating that most foreign “reviewers” and Tbilissians themselves are rather happily sporting abovementioned pink glasses. Needless to say, the blog didn’t sit well with the Georgian audience, so GEORGIA TODAY and Panorama TV Show tracked down “the culprit” for further questioning.

WHY DO YOU THINK THE TBILISI YOU SAW WAS SO DIFFERENT FROM WHAT OTHER JOURNALISTS DESCRIBE? I got a lot of criticism for this blog in my newspaper and also among my friends. I’ve many friends who have traveled to Georgia and who are actually very big fans of the country. And truth be told, it even caused some disturbance in my relationship as even my wife doesn’t seem to agree with what I’ve writtenand she was with me in Tbilisi. But you know what? I think it was just about disappointed expectations. I’ve read a lot about the city and I’ve heard a lot of good things about it from friends who spend a lot of time there, so, naturally, I expected a lot – but when I got there for a family holiday, I was left disappointed. And I expressed my disappointment in a blog that has apparently caused so much stir in Georgian and Russian circles. It wasn’t a report about the city, it was a blog of my personal experience and impressions.


OTHERS DON’T SEE? Well, I think you can look at the glass and it’s either half full or half empty. So maybe it was just me having a negative attitude and I saw a glass that was half empty. I really expected more, I didn’t expect this kind of neglected city. I felt a kind of depression there, it was a hopeless place. This hopelessness permeated the whole atmosphere of the city. Take the buildings for example, they are extremely neglected and that was a very disappointing thing to see.

HAD YOU BEEN TO GEORGIA BEFORE? No, it was my first trip there. I wanted to go in the 90s, but the civil war there made it impossible.

YOUR WORDS WOULD BE VERY MUCH ON SPOT HAD YOU BEEN DESCRIBING TBILISI ABOUT 15 YEARS AGO – BUT TODAY? CITY OF DESOLATION? REALLY? THERE ARE LOTS OF CONSTRUCTION WORKS ONGOING IN TBILISI I saw the city from the perspective of 2017. And truth be told, when I arrived it was like stepping back to the beginning of the 90s. You say there are reconstruction works going on – I’m sorry but I didn’t see any of that. What I saw, most of Old Tbilisi looked like a warzone. Or the aftermath of an earthquake. And I asked myself how come people don’t care about this historically valuable part of their city becoming a ruin? And the most shocking part of this was that some people still live there, putting their lives at risk.

WHO DO YOU THINK IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT? Good question. I guess the city council has some responsibility. I don’t know if these buildings are private or public, but my guess is that the authorities have to do something about it. I don’t know if you can rebuild them or if they are lost forever. But they look like nobody cares about them and that they’re beyond any repair.


Source: theitinerant.co.uk

beauty when I came here. And that was the main source of my disappointment. What I want to stress though is that people were extremely friendly – So I don’t have anything bad to say about Georgian people. It’s just I came with big expectations and then felt rather shortchanged. But perhaps when I come to Tbilisi next time, I’ll leave with more positive impressions.

YOUR WAY FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE CENTER, BUT WHAT ELSE DID YOU SEE IN TBILISI TO RESULT IN SUCH A DEPRESSING IMPRESSION? The surroundings of Freedom Square, Sololaki and Kote Abkhazi Street. Can you see this picture (holds up a picture with a ruinous, neglected house in Tbilisi)? It’s not only one street, but the whole quarter looks like that. I’ve been to warzones, I’ve been in Bosnia, in Kosovo, and didn’t see much difference between this quarter in Tbilisi and what there was after the war. Tbilisi looked like the war ended just weeks ago.

THIS IS A POST-SOVIET STATE THAT EXPERIENCED WAR LESS THAN 10 YEARS AGO, YET YOU SEEM TO JUDGE IT BY EUROPEAN, MAYBE SWISS OR AUSTRIAN STANDARDS I’m not judging it by Swiss standards. Or German standards for that matterthere are some amazingly ugly cities in Germany. Tbilisi is not an ugly city, I’m not saying that, it’s just neglected. And it’s hurts to see that, because you also see that with proper care, this city would be really beautiful. Unlike cities in Ger-

Swiss blogger Bernhard Odehnal was not impressed with what he saw in Tbilisi, comparing some areas to post-war zones

many where this beauty is long gone, in Tbilisi it wouldn’t require much effort to restore it. The more you neglect your city, the more effort you’ll need to restore it and I’m afraid for some quarters it might already be too late for that. Another thing I didn’t like was to see how pedestrian-unfriendly the city was. You literally cannot cross the street –it’s full of cars. The city is too car-focused and it really isn’t best for tourists. That’s probably one of the things that doesn’t get mentioned often enough in articles about the city – I was hoping to enjoy a beautiful city, but I couldn’t find this

WHAT WAS YOUR INTEREST IN WRITING THIS BLOG? SOME IN GEORGIA CLAIM YOU WERE PRO-RUSSIAN IN DOING SO, YET WE CAN SEE FROM YOUR OTHER MATERIAL YOU ARE ANYTHING BUT. DID YOUR ARTICLE HELP TBILISI BECOME A BETTER CITY? I think so. If people only focus on positives and never write about problems, then these problems will remain unresolved forever. Had I written yet another article about the beauty of Georgia, about the beauty of Tbilisi, I think nobody would’ve cared about it. Whereas now we’re talking about these problems, people who read my blog are talking about them, discussing, so it might serve as an impetus to make things better, right? One certainly hopes so.

Signals: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER


ighter than last week’s- that story still working its way through the system, there’s not much to report. When I was finishing my last year of high school in Canada, aged 18, in 1985, summer work came and found me in my usual hangout, the Art Room. Coolest place in the building, the only room where radio was allowed during lessons (Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” conjures instantly that era for me). Would I be interested in doing some screen printing with Solid Rock Signs? The owner shook my hand, having liked my work in a recent school exhibition which I’d curated, and had an opening. I could hardly believe my luck, as this very type of thing was what I’d been hoping to find before the Alberta College of Art took me as a student that fall. The ACA rejected my application, however, and my summer at SRS turned into over four years. Initially, we worked from Terry’s garage, with him teaching me the printing and George (RIP) doing most of the artwork. Then we moved to new premises above an auto dealership and repair shop; but the business was never financially very successful. Yet I went on to become irreplaceably good, they later

told me, at hand-printing up to eight perfectly registered colors of ink, mostly on small, highly detailed stickers or baseball cap crests as advertising for provincial companies. George’s artwork was always a pleasure, and I still have an album of my best work. We later also got into larger cut vinyl signs, for small volume or oneoff orders, and even some sandblasted and varnished cedar signs. The smell of the lacquer thinner cleanup fumes! That, too, will send me back there, as long as those fumes haven’t done permanent damage to my memory cells of the time… I reminisced on all of this as I was working on a couple of vinyl signs for my own guest house in our village in Svaneti. My brother-in-law had had them printed (not cut, as we used to do) on the sticky-back substrate, and had also helped me weld the framework for the larger sign, which would go in our yard. I’d sanded and spray-painted it in final preparation. The secret to getting a smooth, air bubble-free laying on the sticker is this: you wet the receiving surface with water and a few drops of liquid dish detergent, apply the sticker, then smooth out everything with a squeegee, sponge or towel. Otherwise, dry, it can be really tricky. It’s also important to have everything dust-free, of course. I dug holes where my wife and I had agreed it would go, put the sign in place, wired it down to a couple of pegs, checked

for straightness and good visibility from all sides, and mixed my cement with sand and gravel. This was the first time I ever made it without using a container, on a flat metal surface. Ever try mixing cake ingredients on a counter-top, with no pan or bowl? The experts make it look easy, but there is definitely a knack to it, which I seem to have learned as well. You make a “volcanic caldera” of the dry ingredients with a hole in the top, pour in the water, fold the stuff in with a shovel, and repeat until it’s the right consistency. But it does look a bit like builder’s magic. Add the cement around the sign’s post holes, and then let it dry, which is a chemical reaction rather than a process of evaporation, so it will happen even in the rain. Those skills I learned some 32 years ago are still useful today, and the years of memories with my bosses, great friends and mentors at my first full-time job, also echo forward into now. 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 1700 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Iskari hamlet of Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti




The Memorable Debut of ‘Flight Mode’ in Tbilisi



he band ‘Flight Mode’ consists of two violinists, a guitarist and a pianist and presents with no exact genre, combining jazz, post rock and ambience elements. On September 2, they held an event at ‘Backstage 76’ in Tbilisi. This genre is quite a rarity for the Georgian audience. I would say that their sound bears a lilac-purple color, hinting at freedom floating nearby. One can travel in a boat on the river of their tunes. It is something new, at least among those musicians that I have heard in

Tbilisi. Even the band members confess that they do not know anyone else playing the same mixed genre. “We formed the band two months ago. Two of us are still students. There’s always a risk how the audience will take our music, but it’s sort of our obligation to play whatever we like,” Sandro Butikashvili, violinist, told GEORGIA TODAY. “We, the band, have been united thanks to our common musical taste. Two violins give the band a classical hue, adding an academic trait to music which is not completely academic.” “We didn’t want to play outdated, oldfashioned genres- we’d rather play something new,” Rati Gvalia, pianist, told us. “That’s why we chose ambience, post rock and jazz. If you make music

that is obsolete, you should do much better than the contemporary musicians did. It’s extremely difficult to achieve it, as the history of music knows a lot of brilliant works. A musician should search for a different path to offer something new and tasteful to listeners.” Their music is as saturated in Georgian as in Asian and Egyptian folk tunes. Their debut in Georgia happened recently in Tserakvi village, Marneuli municipality, at the festival ‘One Caucasus,’ alongside other musicians from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan performing their creative works. The festival aimed at making friendly ties between the Caucasian nations. The public took the ‘Flight Mode’ performance very positively.

New Theater Production Based on Stalin's Gulag Camps BY TAMZIN WHITEWOOD


new theater production entitled 'Aljiri' took place in Batumi on September 6. Chiatura is to host the next performance of the show on September 9 at the State Drama Theater. Aljiri (Algeria) is Avtandil Varsimashvili's narrative drama, a revived story is based on a true story, written about a 'Gulag', one of the worst aspects of Stalin's epoch. The term 'Gulag' is com-

monly used to refer to any forced-labor camp in the Soviet Union The performance in Griboedov Theater was the first to be held in Georgia, and depicts the terrible events that took place in the 20th century. 8,000 women were sentenced to the camp in total, including 281 women from Georgia. Actors participating in the production include: Lyudmila Artomiova-Mgebrishvili, Ina Voobiova, Natalia Voroniku, Nino Kikacheishvili, Mariam Kitia, Sophie Lomjaria and Ana Nikolava. The tour is supported by the company "Somari".




SEPTEMBER 8 - 11, 2017


GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 September 8 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 20, 30 GEL September 9, 10 DIAMOND OF MARSHAL DE FANTE Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 20, 30 GEL TBILISI NODAR DUMBADZE STATE CENTRAL CHILDREN'S THEATRE Address: 99/1 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 95 39 27 September 12, 13 South Caucasus Contemporary Dance & Experimental Art Festival in Tbilisi JÉRÔME BEL - GALA Conception: Jérôme Bel Assistant: Maxime Kurvers Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 16-25 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL September 8-14 September 13 Event Cinema DAVID GILMOUR: LIVE AT POMPEII Directed by Gavin Elder Cast: David Gilmour Genre: Documentarydventure, Fa Language: English Start time: 20:30 Ticket: From 20 GEL

JOUR J Directed by Reem Kherici Cast: Reem Kherici, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Julia Piaton Genre: Comedy, Adventure, Fa Language: Russian Start time: 19:10, 21:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL TULIP FEVER Directed by Justin Chadwick Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne Genre: Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 21:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL September 8-14 LOGAN LUCKY Directed by Steven Soderbergh Cast: Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum, Katherine Waterston Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket: 10-14 GEL BABY DRIVER Directed by Edgar Wright Cast: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm Genre: Action, Crime, Musical, Fa Language: Russian Start time: 13:50 Ticket: 9-10 GEL JOUR J (Info Above) Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 13-14 GEL 7 SISTERS Directed by Tommy Wirkola Cast: Noomi Rapace, Marwan Kenzari, Willem Dafoe Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller

Language: Russian Start time: 19:15, 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL ANNABELLE: CREATION Directed by David F. Sandberg Cast: Alicia Vela-Bailey, Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Fa Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge

(‘The rupture’) - a group of artists reflecting the transition from modernism to postmodernism in Mexico. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 August 30 – September 20 EXHIBITION THE BORDER Curated by Inke Arns and Thibaut de Ruyter (Dortmund and Berlin), Production: Liaison des Arts, Karola Matschke (Berlin), Project co-ordination in Tbilisi: Lasha Khvedelidze (Goethe institute Georgia)


MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge



NUMISMATIC TREASURY THE TESTAMENT OF DAVID THE BUILDER AND NEW EXHIBITS OF THE MEDIEVAL TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA May 18- November 18 EXHIBITION GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 299 99 09 August 10 – September 20 EXHIBITION EDEN BY ROGER VON GUNTEN ‘Edén’ is a visual journey through the works of the artist. Roger Von Gunten is a member of ‘La Ruptura’

SVANETI MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND ETHNOGRAPHY Address: 7 A. Ioseliani Str., Mestia Georgian National Museum and Project ArtBeat present HERE A solo exhibition of New York based Georgian artist LEVAN MINDIASHVILI GALLERY

Guangle, Wang Sishun, Wang Yuyang, Xie Molin, Xu Qu, Xu Zhen, Yan Xing, Zhang Ding, Zhang Zhenyu, Zhao Yao and Zhao Zhao. MUSIC

HOUSE MUSEUM OF ALEKSANDER CHAVCHAVADZE Address: Tsinandali, Kakheti September 14 TSINANDALI FESTIVAL Performance by MAESTRO ZUBIN MEHTA, KHATIA BUNIATISHVILI AND THE ISRAEL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA Program: George Enescu- Voix De La Nature, Robert SchumannPiano Concerto in A minor, op. 54, Pyotr Tchaikovsky- Symphony No. 5 in E minor, op.64 Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 5-40 GEL BATUMI MUSICFEST 2017 Venue: Batumi Music Center September 8 GALA OF FOUNDATION SOS TALENTS Special guest: MICHEL SOGNY Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MUSIC FESTIVAL SAIRME 2017 Address: Sairme Resort

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge Telephone: 215 73 00

September 9 ENSEMBLES IAME & KUTAISI STATE ENSEMBLE Start time: 17:00 Ticket: From 20 GEL

EXHIBITION CONSTELLATION Artworks by Chinese contemporary artists- Ai Weiwei, Hu Xiaoyuan, Li Shurui, Liu Wei, Lu Pingyuan, Lu Shanchuan, Ma Qiusha, Wang

September 10 ENSEMBLE BASIANI Start time: 17:00 Ticket: From 20 GEL




Land of Colorful Birds, Disobeying Gravity BY MAKA LOMADZE


n September 1, at Art Palace (State Museum of Music, Film, Theater and Choreography), the solo exhibition of Mariam Kandiashvili titled ‘Bird Land’ was opened. The exposition showcases paintings, installations, drawings and illustrations that the author has painted since 2010. Kandiashvili is a 24-year-old artist who received her education in Visual Art and Illustration Direction in England and The Netherlands. She has participated in numerous collaborative expositions in Georgia and overseas (Florence, Budapest and Amsterdam). She is also the author and illustrator of the Englishlanguage art-book ‘A Place for Us’, which was published in 2016. Kandiashvili’s creative mediums are painting, drawing, illustration, installation, and text. The main topics of her creativity are interpretation of dreams and visions, illustrations of world mythology, literature and poetry, Christian mysticism, phantasmagorical worlds and characters, abandoned spaces, expressive portraits and the aesthetics of Rock & Roll culture. “This is my third solo exhibition in Tbilisi,” she told GEORGIA TODAY. “The bulk of the scenes and characters I paint on canvas come from my dreams

and visions. The topics of the transcendental world and Christian mysticism are very interesting for me and I always use them in my work. I dream a lot, so I always have something to paint,” she added. For her, this is a process of searching within herself. “I don’t yet know what I’m searching for. But one of the paths for me is to paint more and explore myself in this way,” she explains. “The Georgian Art Palace, which counts 200 years, and the museum, which is around 80 years-old, is hosting a very young but extremely talented artist, Mariam Kandiashvili,” Art Palace director Giorgi Kalandia said. “She also participated in the commemorative exhibition of the 850th anniversary of Shota Rustaveli, organized by British Council and Georgian Art Palace. I first saw Mariam’s works in a small Tbilisi gallery and at once decided to invite her to the Palace. Her works show the world as perceived through the eyes of someone with great talent who deserves a special narrative.” The narrative, in this case, is birds and eggs. “The egg is an archaic symbol, important in alchemy, literature, various mythologies, religions and philosophical schools of thought,” Mariam says. “It symbolizes life reborn, regeneration, the beginning, creation of the universe, a container of space, the womb accommodating a divine embryo…Birds represent the soul. Feathered, singing crea-

tures of heaven not obeying the same laws of nature as us. With mesmerizing graciousness, they disobey gravity, living their life on earth and in the sky and some can even live in water. Birds know what we cannot.” She also remembers a number of philosophical lines: “‘The function of the wing is to take what is heavy and raise it up into region above where the gods dwell,’ Plato said. Wings are a subject of desire for mortal human beings. Deco-

Tbilisi Photo Festival Kicks off on September 13



ounded in 2010 in partnership with Les Rencontres d’Arles by French Photographer Lionel Charrier, who now happens to be photo editor of the French Newspaper Liberation, and Nestan Nijaradze, Georgian photographer and journalist, the Tbilisi

Photo Festival is to open this year in its 8th edition. Running from September 13 to 20, it will showcase the works of over 350 photographers, transforming Tbilisi into the photography capital of the Caucasus region for the duration of the event. The world of fashion photography is to be the major focus of the program of the Tbilisi Photo Festival 2017, “exploring the connections between fashion, the tradition of identity representation,



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ideology and the photographic image”. The two central events of the Tbilisi Photo Festival are to introduce the works of megastars of the photography world: for the first time in Caucasus, the visitors will have a chance to see the works of French photographer Guy Bourdain and Viviane Sassen, an artist from the Netherlands. For more information and the detailed program of the festival, go to: www. tbilisiphotofestival.com/en/the-festival

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

rated with colorful feathers, wings give us a possibility to fly, a chance to be free. Bird land is the land where no airplanes are needed. It’s the place of a million songs, and dances performed by birdlike humanoids who are desperately trying to fly,” Kandiashvili says to explain her exhibition. “It is an indisputably interesting exhibition,” said Lelo Chichinadze, art critic, Head of the Exhibition Programs of Art Palace. “It is rare for someone Mariam’s

age to have so many successful exhibitions to her credit. I would point out her series ‘Land of Sparrows’. I think that these works are one of the main facts of modern culture. They represent Mariam’s phantasmagorical and psychedelic works. Gray, blue and black colors prevail, leaving viewers with strong impressions”. The exhibition ‘Bird Land’ will last for two weeks. WHERE: Art Palace, Kargareteli Str. 6, Tbilisi


Georgian Basketball Team Defeats Israel at Eurobasket 2017

Photo source: www.fiba.basketball



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

he Georgian National basketball team defeated Israel at the Eurobasket match held in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, scoring 104-91, in the Group

B category. Tornike Sharashenidze collected 25 double-double points with 19 rebounds, while Zaza Pachulia, Georgian Basketball Team Captain, got 19 points and 11 rebounds. Georgia played against Italy at 18:30 local time Wednesday, just missing a chance to be in the playoffs, with a final score of 69-71 to Italy.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #979  

September 8 - 11, 2017

Issue #979  

September 8 - 11, 2017