Page 1

Issue no: 1005

• DECEMBER 8 - 11, 2017



In this week’s issue... Georgian Athlete Sets New Record NEWS PAGE 2

Georgian Parliament Adopts Draft on Gov’t Structural Changes



Green Technologies Introduced in Pavlodar, Kazakhstan


Saakashvili is declared a wanted man by Ukraine authorities as protests continue



Return to the Caucasian Cradle: The Major Georgian Qvevri Wine Varieties

Source: Reuters

Stoltenberg: Partnership with Georgia Very Important for NATO BY THEA MORRISON


ATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised the Georgian reforms and expressed his support at a meeting with Georgian Vice-Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, in Brussels, within the frames of the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting. Stoltenberg reaffirmed NATO’s support for Georgia, highlighting the importance of their partnership. “We provide strong political and practical support to Georgia; we support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and also welcome the reforms which Georgia is so focused on, in areas like the rule of law and building democratic institutions. We welcome these reforms and will continue to provide support,” the NATO Secretary General said. He noted the various NATO missions and operations Georgia participates in by contributing to the Rapid Response Force, highlighting that Georgia is one of the largest contributors to the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan with

almost 900 troops. “We’ll continue to work together and I look forward to the meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission now with the Foreign Ministers of the Alliance,” Stoltenberg said. The Georgian Foreign Minister thanked Stoltenberg for his support of Georgia’s integration with NATO, as well as its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Janelidze emphasized that Georgia, as an aspirant country, is making great progress on its path to NATO, progress achieved with the support of the Alliance and its member states.

“In our relations with NATO, we have a lot of substance and we work together in ensuring Black Sea and regional security. We are proud to contribute to the security of the Euro-Atlantic area, and we will continue our contributions,” Janelidze said. The NATO Foreign Ministers also reaffirmed their practical and political support for Georgia, as well as their commitment to Georgia’s eventual membership of the Alliance. The ministers discussed the ongoing NATOGeorgia cooperation, including the planning of a joint military exercise in 2019. According to Stoltenberg, “the Alliance is fully committed to providing Georgia with the advice and tools it needs to advance toward eventual NATO membership.” The Secretary General underlined NATO’s strong commitment to Georgia’s security and territorial integrity. “We remain concerned by the deepening of Russia’s relations with the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia. We call on Russia to end its recognition of these regions and withdraw its forces from the Georgian territory,” Stoltenberg said, following the meeting of NATOGeorgia Commission foreign ministers at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels.


Renowned Italian Chef Presents Chocolate Khinkali CULTURE PAGE 12

Russia Banned from 2018 Winter Olympics





DECEMBER 8 - 11, 2017

Violence & Making the Community Machine Work

Georgian Athlete Sets New Record & Becomes World Champion BY TOM DAY




ome nations of the world are demographically well-off, whereas some find themselves in an extremely detrimental situation. Regretfully, Georgia belongs in the latter category. Even more painful for us is that our population is dwindling. In addition to a plummeting birthrate, one of the biggest reasons for our demographic shortcoming is violence which takes the life of a considerable number of people. Cruelty among kids has lately become a very serious problem. It seems to start with elementary bulling, which turns into a crossing of words, which turns into a powerful muscle fight, and finally, knives, firearms and even bombs enter the incidentally begun youth fracas. The result? The dead bodies of the too-young-to-die, bereft parents left in incurable misery, disrupted academic processes and schools with low moral influence and palling educative potential. The State itself can do very little to save the day. Human aggression is everywhere; brutality characterizes every known culture; hostility is in the nature of man in general; and belligerence is descriptive of the young of any ethnicity. But for us the Georgians, all this is elevated into the rank of tragedy because we are in any case disappearing as a nation through not multiplying sufficiently enough. Each and every life is extremely valuable for us. We cannot afford to lose our young in wars, street fights or accidents. We need to keep every single boy and girl alive, thus strengthening our genetic fund and somehow boosting it, if possible at all with our minimized desire and readiness to survive. If this is all a given, let us now question the causes and grounds for the violence that is stealing away those valuable lives. There are many players in the vicious game: parents, schools, extended family, circles of friends, internet, the educational system in general,

freedom of speech and behavior, the State, the street, opposite sex, and, of course, the character: both individual and national. It would be unwise to blame just one of them. The rationale has to be sought for and found in the complex interaction of all the components together that forge a raw body and soul into a personality. The main question here is if we, as a modern, democratically-minded society, can manage to keep our kids so busy with academic demands and needs, with entertainment and attractive sporting opportunities, mildly and benevolently fed moralistic precepts and rational orientation on a future good life, that they are no longer preoccupied with distorted relationships or stupid street skirmishes and discussions, overbearing attitudes, muscle brandishing, cruel punishments for nonsense and a constantly misunderstood exchange of epithets. I understand that no society in the world is free and safe from psychopaths and the cruel creepiness of their behavioral paradigm. Victims of psychopathic assault have always been out there and will always be. I’m talking about the youth whose psyche is healthy and intact, whose character needs but a slight correction, whose parents are good citizens, and whose futures are at stake only because we have not been able to keep them busy in an affordably practicable way. The above enumerated components of our community, whose direct responsibility it is to produce and bring up a youth which is more constructive than destructive, are not working in unison. Those components are not capable of working in concert so that they represent a meaningful and effective power, directed towards one mutual and appreciable goal: giving a future to this nation. If we need to save the lives of our young men and women, our prospective moms and dads, then we need to make the machine work faultlessly, the machine that has all those components that I think can go in two directions: deadly or life-giving. I choose the latter for us. Otherwise, we can forget about demographic victory over our own selves!

eorgian weight-lifter Lasha Talakhadze has become the World Weightlifting Champion and has set a new world record. He lifted an incredible 220kg at the Weightlifting World Championship in the United States, improving his personal record by 4kg. Second and third place were taken by Iranian athletes. Overall at the competition, Georgia’s team of athletes gained third place; an historic result for the country. They won five gold medals, one silver and one bronze.

Georgian President: We Should Send Clear Messages to Russia



t the opening of Tbilisi Strategic Discussions 2017, a conference dealing with the issues of national and regional security, the key issue raised by the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, was Georgia’s relationship with Russia and the impact of Russia’s actions on the South Caucasus region. “We should consider Russia’s role in militarization of the region. Due to Russia's active involvement, our safety is gradually declining in terms of the Baltic, Black Sea and Central Asia. If we look at the Russian policies carried out over the years, we can see that theories based on a belief that Georgia or other countries of similar geopolitics can collaborate with Russia are groundless,” Margvelashvili told conference participants. The President stated that the security situation in the region escalated further

this year and terrorism has become an increasingly threat. “This is an ideological war; propaganda that is very actively carried out by the Russian Federation and that has become very clear particularly this year," he added. The President said that the West achieved success after the end of the Cold War not through a timid policy towards the Soviet Union, but through very specific military-economic development. This brought success to a free bloc of countries, as well as to those countries that later became NATO and EU members. “If the international community and Georgia’s partners do not adequately realize Georgia’s role in the protection of Euro-Atlantic and European stability and if they do not realize that Georgia's involvement in these structures determines the stabilization of European security, it will be equal to ignoring reality,” Margvelashvili noted. He also spoke about Georgia’s achievements of 2017 in terms of European and Euro-Atlantic integration. As he pointed

out, the visits of Mike Pence, John McCain and US senators, as well as the NATO Military Committee Session being held in Georgia, highlight the strong support that Georgia receives from its American partners. He also stressed that the decisions made in the US Congress, Bundestag and Council of Europe show support for Georgia’s European aspirations. "We should be honest and send clear messages to Russia and our partners. This sincerity and boldness will bring stability and solutions to important issues,” he added. The Tbilisi Strategic Discussions aims to offer to the representatives of the defense sector an inclusive format through which, as a result of professional discussions, priorities and challenges are identified with regard to the country’s policy of regional security. The December 4-5 conference was attended by around 100 guests from the Government and Parliament of Georgia, diplomatic corps accredited to Georgia and Georgian and international experts in defense and national security issues.



3 Awarded for Best Marketing Campaign of Tourism Destination BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


n December 6, the 3rd Official Ceremony of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards was held at Rustaveli Theater, where the 20 best companies among different nominations were named. The Official Award Ceremony hosted more than 700 guests, including the first Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Dimitry Kumsishvili; Tbilisi Mayor, Kakha Kaladze; Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, Giorgi Chogovadze; all nominees and project partners; and representatives of the government sector, private business, international and local media. The Award Ceremony was opened by Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, who noted that Georgia has high potential for raising awareness of its tourist destinations and the role of the each company involved in this field is vital for tourism development. Welcoming guests, Vice Prime Minister Kumsishvili spoke about the importance of the tourism industry for Georgia’s economy, latest achievements in the field and the significance of the project. He then awarded Saba Kiknadze for Contribution to Tourism Development. Co-Founder of the Award project, Maryna Chayka, also welcomed and thanked guests, partners and nominees for their participation in the Award Project and noted how each contribution to the Georgian tourism industry and its global aims.

320 different companies representing the tourism and hospitality market from all over Georgia, including hotels, travel agencies, festivals and events, restaurants, cafes, wineries, and travel photographers held the status of Nominee of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards 2017. Each nominee was assessed in accordance with internationally recognized methodology by a Professional Jury Board consisting of experts of the international and local travel, culture and hospitality markets. As a guarantee of fairness and transparency, Independent Auditor “BDO Georgia” monitored all processes, calculated the results and, based on the points awarded to each Nominee, determined the finalists and the winners in each nomination. We spoke to George Sharshidze after he received THE BEST MARKETING CAMPAIGN OF TOURISM DESTINATION AWARD on behalf of the WHERE. ge team. “This is extremely valuable recognition for us, to have respected jury members, leaders and opinion-makers of Georgia’s hospitality industry, chose as the best of the best. The prize goes to the whole team of Where. ge and GEORGIA TODAY, our journalists headed by Editor-in-Chief Katie Davies, marketing team, designers, photographers, distributors and every single contributor. And of course, we appreciate the support of our partners’; companies and organizations which have found the cooperation mutually beneficial. The Welcome to Georgia National Tourism Award is becoming more and more popular and prestigious within the hospitality industry, motivating all stakeholders across the sector, which as the Minister of Economy said at the ceremony,

has a larger share in the Georgian economy than the aggregated export from Georgia. We will keep doing our best to achieve our goal of providing visitors from around the world with the most accurate information about Where to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink and Buy in Georgia and, through the recently launched web portal, providing a 24/7 travel service including tailor-made tours in Georgia, booking hotels, renting cars and more.” The main mission of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards is to encourage the development of the tourism and hospitality industry in Georgia and to promote awareness of the highachieving tourism businesses and brands that create a positive image of the country worldwide. For the third year, the Georgian National Tourism Administration, on behalf of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, was coorganizer of the Award Project. Tbilisi City Hall was the Official Supporter; Official Partner of the Award Project was Bank of Georgia. General Sponsor was Alliance Group. Sponsors were: Altido; Tbilisi Business Hub; Julius Meinl; Vesta; Ardi; Keune; Sarajishvili; The Department of Tourism and Resorts of Adjara; Dinehall; Vistoria Security; Iteq; Orient Logic; Elements Group; YanAir; UPS; Domson’s Engineering; Gagra Plus; Favorite Style; Profitex; STS Hospitality; Giffer; Megatechnica; Tbilvino; Budget; Lovely Roses; Hotel Partners: City Center; City Avenue; Lopota Spa Resort; Colosseum Marina; Grove Hotel; Coral Boutique Hotel; Divan Suites Batumi; Wyndham Batumi; and Chardonnay Boutique Hotel.


13. CONCEPT CAFÉ/RESTAURANT AWARD – Sirajkhana 14.THEBESTMARKETINGCAMPAIGN OF TOURISM DESTINATION AWARD – 15. THE BEST SPECIALIZED TOURISM SERVICES AWARD – Accessible Tourism Center PARSA 16. THE BEST HOTEL OF INTERNATIONAL CHAIN IN GEORGIA AWARD – Member of Acor Group Mercuri Tbilisi Old Town Hotel 17. THE FASTEST GROWING COMPANY OF THE YEAR IN THE SME SEGMENT AWARD – Best Western Kutaisi 18. THE BEST WOMAN ENTREPRENEUR IN THE TOURISM INDUSTRY AWARD – Founder of Accessible Tourism Center PARSA Tamar Makharashvili 19. THE BEST FESTIVAL OR EVENT AWARD – Tbilisi Open Air 20. THE BEST FESTIVAL OR EVENT AWARD – was also awarded to Kolga Tbilisi Festival for unique concept, this festival managed to mark Georgia on the Photo exhibitions’ map.




DECEMBER 8 - 11, 2017

Ukraine’s Prosecutor’s Office Declares ExPresident of Georgia Saakashvili Wanted BY THEA MORRISON


he Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine has declared that former Georgian President, a bitter rival of Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, Mikheil Saakashvili, has been put on the list of wanted people. Saakashvili is now facing three charges: Article 15 § 1 - criminal attempt; Article 28 § 2- criminal offense committed by a group of persons upon prior conspiracy; and Article 256 § 2 - assistance to members of criminal organizations and covering up of their criminal activity committed by an official. Before that, Saakashvili faced only one charge: cooperation with a criminal organization. The other charges came after the Ukrainian protesters and supporters of Saakashvili freed him from the police van in which he was put after Ukrainian law enforcers searched his flat and detained him this week. The van was blocked by protesters for hours, Saakashvili was eventually freed and repeated his

calls for the impeachment of the Ukrainian President. Before being detained on Tuesday, Saakashvili threatened to jump off the roof of his flat. He was later removed from the roof by Ukraine’s security service officers and taken to a van outside his apartment building. According to Ukrainian media outlet Kyiv Post, Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said that Saakashvili took $500,000 from fugitive Ukrainian oligarch Sergiy Kurchenko to organize protest rallies in Kyiv. Lutsenko also said that the state security service had found evidence that Saakashvili contacted Kurchenko through his representative Severion Dangadze, and negotiated for financial support in exchange for defending Kurchenko’s business interests in Ukraine. “Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office and SBU security service late on December 3 arrested Dangadze, who is the head of the Kyiv branch of Saakashvili’s Movement of New Forces,� Kyiv Post said. Lutsenko said Dangadze is accused of treason and cooperation with a criminal organization. Right after being released by his supporters, Saakashvili marched to the parliament and called on his supporters to oust President Petro Poroshenko.

UNM rally in Tbilisi in support of Saakashvili. Source: RFE/RL

Later, he called on the protesters to arrange tents and asked the population to join them. Kyiv Post reports that during the second effort to arrest Saakashvili, police on December 6 surrounded the protest tent camp. Law enforcers entered one of the tents, mistakenly thinking that Saakashvili was there, and beat the protesters within. The demonstrators fought back against the police, built barricades out of tires and wood and put piles of stones along the camp’s perimeter to resist further police attacks.

Ahmed the Dead Terrorist



FIRST BRAND HOTEL IN KUTAISI UNDER BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL Within the framework of the Georgian Hotels’ Regional Network Development Project “12 hotels in 12 regionsâ€? by GHYHORSPHQWFRPSDQ\Âł6LPHWULD´WKHÂżUVWEUDQGKRWHOKDV been opened in Kutaisi under the Best Western International brand. The hotel accommodates 45 guest rooms, including 40 standard rooms and 5 suites. The hotel was designed taking into consideration special conditions and safety for guests with disabilities.

Address: 11 Grishashvili Str., 4600, Kutaisi, Georgia TEL 219 71 00

Three mobile conference halls are available with a total capacity of about 100 persons. (XURSHDQFXLVLQHFDQEHHQMR\HGLQWKHJURXQGĂ€RRUFDIp and a grill-bar menu in the roof top restaurant with panoramic views over the city. The International Hotels Management Company “T3 Hospitality Management,â€? providing the hotel management, has 20 years’ experience in hotel management in different countries globally.

As Kyiv Post says, Saakashvili and a number of protesters later went to the building of the nearby Kyiv Hotel and barricaded themselves in. The police withdrew, having failed to arrest him. Saakashvili’s party in Georgia, the United National Movement (UNM), also organized a protest rally to support him on December 6. Party activists and supporters gathered outside the Rustaveli Metro station and marched to the Government Chancellery waving Georgian and Ukrainian flags.

he recent anti-terrorist operation in Tbilisi once again reminded us how fragile peace is for Georgia, even how fragile the statehood of Georgia itself is, considering the threats that hang over us as we survive amid dreadful beasts and never-ending wars. It’s been two weeks since the special operation on Monk Gabriel Salosi Street and the only think we know for sure is that weapons had been imported by terrorists and stored in the woods of Tbilisi. We also know that they trespassed illegally, which means they bypassed the border checkpoints. There were four terrorists, not six, as the media suggested initially. One of them was arrested and three killed, of the latter, one is Ahmed Chataev, organizer of the terrorist attack in the Ataturk Airport, Turkey. He is the one whose name has long been the reason of political conflict in Georgia, the former government having accused the current of freeing Chataev, who was detained five years ago during the infamous Lapankuri special operation. The GD returns accusations by claiming the UNM’s former government’s arrest of Chataev was ungrounded, which is why they say they had to free him. The other subject of conflict is the routes that Chataev took to enter Georgia. Political expert Tornike Sharashidze believes that the image of Georgia has been shattered significantly: “The country and its image has been seriously damaged, at least by the fact that Chataev was in the country and we still don’t know what happened in reality... If he trespassed, we have a problem in terms of border control... If the one-legged, wanted Chataev simply approached the border and was let in, it

means somebody was involved, who, I suspect, took money... and this man who lived here obviously had some guarantees. What happened next is unknown: something “blew up� at some moment and this special operation began.... My version is as destructive for our country as the official version about trespassing,� the expert said. Many questions and allegations have emerged around the fact that if the weapons and arms weren’t brought in by Chataev himself but somehow ended up in his apartment from the concealed place in woods, it means that somebody else brought them to him. Moreover, that somebody helped him find the apartment, and there are naturally a few questions to be asked to the owner. All other questions remain unanswered. The government keeps silent about why, how and for what reasons Chataev and his group were residing in Tbilisi. Although political experts comment on the event, their argumentation is mostly based on logic rather than fact. For instance, expert on Caucasus Affairs Mamuka Areshidze stated: “As far as I know, two months prior to the operation, Chataev contacted a specific group of people in Georgia and tried to find out if it was worth coming into the country. Some tried to convince him that it would pose no threat. I’m far from the idea that the phone calls weren’t monitored, so perhaps he who invited Chataev was working with the special forces. Chataev was not a person whom you could easily deceive, therefore quite possibly Chataev created a few “circles� of safety before entering the country,� the expert supposes. For now the non-existence of hostages is the only success of the operation. But whether this was the result of good planning from the Special Forces or just the will of God is still unknown, even though the government boasts it as its accomplishment.




DECEMBER 8 - 11, 2017

Putin Announces Presidential Ambitions Georgian Parliament Adopts Draft on Gov’t Structural Changes BY THEA MORRISON


he Parliament of Georgia adopted the draft on the structural reorganization of the government with the first reading on Wednesday. The draft consists of 99 projects and was supported by 82 MPs against two. As a result of the structural changes, the number of ministries will be reduced from 18 to 14. The Ministry of Environment will now form part of the Ministry of Agriculture, while the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection will merge with the Sports Ministry. The youth component from the Ministry of Sports and youth will move to the Ministry of Education.

Furthermore, the Energy Ministry will form part of the Ministry of Economy, which will also include the Natural Resources component of the Ministry of Environment Protection. After the changes, the Security and Crisis Management Council will be abolished, and under the supervision of the Prime Minister, the Emergency Situations Management Service will be created. The government has withdrawn the project on the merger of the State Security Service and the Foreign Intelligence Service, meaning the two structures will continue working autonomously, as before. The government reorganization does not imply optimization of employees, as only six civil servants have been dismissed in the wake of the structural changes. This means that the reorganization will not bring the economic benefits, as announced by the Georgian Dream (GD) ruling team.

Photo source: timedotcom



ussian President Vladimir Putin announced on December 6 that he intends to run for a new six-year term following the March 2018 presidential election. The announcement took place in Nizhny Novgorod, where Putin said, “I will put forth my candidacy for the post of President of the Russian Federation". The move was widely expected as Putin made announcements in similar fashion in his previous campaigns. His fourth term could potentially be his last as he is now 65 and will be prohibited from seeking reelection in 2024 since the Russian constitution does not allow presidents to hold their position for more than two consecutive terms. When he made his previous announcements, however, the overall mood inside Russia was different, with fewer problems both internally and externally. Relations with neighbors were more stable and the EU and the US were not considering Russia as a direct security threat. Inside the country, the Kremlin had widely managed to persuade the population of the need to have a strong Putin presidency. And there was no viable competitor to Putin. However, after Putin took over presidency for the third time in 2012, things began to change. Putin’s government has been facing major challenges both at home and abroad. In terms of foreign policy, Russia experienced several serious failures. In 2014, when the Euromaidan took place and Russia grabbed Crimea and supported separatists in Donbass, Kyiv became unequivocally pro-western in its foreign policy course. In the same year, Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia all signed EU association agreements and stepped up military cooperation with NATO members and other western states. The EU even managed to sign an agreement with Moscow’s closest ally Armenia. Although much smaller in scale, the signing is nevertheless important. To make matters worse, Russian foreign policy setbacks are not limited to the western borderlands or the South Caucasus. Over the past few years of Putin’s rule, it has become clear that Russian influence in the strategically important Central Asian region is receding. Russia remains a predominant military power with military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, but on the economic front, China has cemented its dominance. China has even made

inroads into the security realm by holding exercises with the Tajik and Kyrgyz militaries. Beyond that, Moscow’s plans to enlarge its Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) have notably failed as Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan are not willing to become members of the project. What was created to counter the western influence (EU’s eastern enlargement) in the former Soviet space the EEU so far has remained an underdeveloped project. On a broader geopolitical level, Russia is feeling pressure from the US and the EU. It is unlikely that the sanctions imposed on Russia will be lifted any time soon and Washington’s overall foreign policy thrust is decidedly anti-Russian. US military aid to Ukraine and Georgia is increasing, while cooperation with Moscow around Syria, North Korea and other hot spots has notably failed. The EU is now much invigorated, as Putin’s gamble to revive far-right parties across the continent largely failed with Emmanuel Macron’s victory in France. There is an even more fundamental issue. It is getting more and more difficult for Russians to understand why Putin’s presidency should go on for another six years. Next year, Putin’s rule, which has already lasted 17 years, will become the longest since Stalin’s. There is already an entire generation of young Russians who have known only Putin as the country’s leader. This is very worrisome for the Russian government, as it is the younger population that is the most opposition-minded. This was well reflected in the composition of the countrywide protests that have hit Russia since 2016. Over the past two years, there has been a consolidation of power in Putin’s hands. Laws were introduced limiting internet freedom and the work of foreign and local NGOs. Putin also created a powerful National Guard of up to 300,000 troops, essentially under his control, to snuff out future resistance. Further limits have also been placed on regional governments to solidify the Kremlin’s control over remote regions. For instance, Moscow chose not to continue its power-sharing agreement with Kazan. This ended the concept of Russia as a federation state, as Tatarstan was the last region (out of 46 in the early 2000s) to have its own somewhat autonomous powers. Putin’s Russia in 2017 is in a much different position than in earlier decades. He will have to solve several fundamental problems in foreign policy. While at home he will tackle an increasing number of youngsters thinking differently.




DECEMBER 8 - 11, 2017

Green Technologies Introduced in Pavlodar, Kazakhstan BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE

T European Commission Punishes Ukraine over Timber Export BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


he refusal of the European Commission to transfer to Kyiv a third tranche, under the assistance program, for EUR 600 million is expected to affect social targeted assistance, the salaries of public sector employees, the reform of the management system and obligations to service Ukraine's external debt. The assistance program for EUR 1.8 million was approved by the European Commission in 2015. During this time, Kyiv received two tranches of EUR 600 million each, but was denied the last. The European Commission announced that this was due to the fact that Ukraine has not been able to fulfill a number of conditions, the most important of which is connected with the lifting of the ban on export of wood a moratorium on the supply of which was introduced almost immediately after the signing of the memorandum with the European Union. In Brussels, however, this denial of funds was considered a violation of the Association Agreement which had as an indispensable condition the issuing of tranches. The bill to lift the moratorium even went to Parliament, but the ban was never cancelled. Among other outstanding conditions for obtaining a tranche was the creation of a Supreme Anti-Corruption Court, introduction of a law on the credit registry of the National Bank, and disclosure of information about ultimate beneficiaries of companies. "The EC's refusal to transfer the tranche

can cause serious problems for Ukraine,” said Andranik Migranyan is an Armenianborn Russian politologist. “The bulk of the financial resources received from external creditors, including the EU, are directed to servicing the budgetary sphere, and it may result in difficulties for the Government of Ukraine in its ability to fulfill its obligations to the population.” Problems will be seen with social targeted assistance, payment of salaries for state employees, maintenance of the state apparatus, financing of the management system reforms, anti-corruption and other programs actively financed from the EU, “but,” Migranyan says, “to a greater extent the situation will affect obligations to service Ukraine's external debt. Kyiv traditionally uses tranches to repay interest on debts.” He added that this situation cannot be called catastrophic, and that we should not expect to hear any loud statements from high-ranking officials about the loss of solvency and financial stability of Ukraine, as “Kyiv receives parallel financing from other external sources, including domestic financing, albeit to a much lesser extent,” the expert said. The EC has also reassured Ukraine by announcing a successor program according to which Brussels is ready, if necessary, to provide new macro-financial support in early 2018. "It is impossible to talk about changes in financing if a new program appears until its content is presented. It is necessary to examine in detail, under what conditions, as well as for what purposes and activities, the new EU projects provide funding," Migranyan said.

wo hundred containers for the disposal of mercurycontaining bulbs are to be installed in the cities of the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan, Pavlodar, Ekibastuz, and Aksu, at no cost. In the regional center, there will be 160 containers, in Ekibastuz 30 and 10 in Aksu. According to specialists of the Pavlodar Regional Administration of Subsoil Use, Environment and Water Resources, locations for containers were agreed with the departments of housing and communal services. An orange container for collecting used fluorescent bulbs consists of four compartments designed for bulbs of different sizes. Two for linear lamps 600 mm and 1200 mm long, and two more for bulbs with a conventional cap. To prevent the bulbs from bleeding, the bottom of the compartments is lined with isoplene. Each compartment is locked with a key, securing it from potential thieves. The first such container in Pavlodar appeared two years ago on the private initiative of an entrepreneur from Ekibastuz, the Director of ElectroTrans Reelto, Vladimir Kolesnikov. “My attempts to get the regional authorities involved [at the time] yielded nothing and the pilot project of the enterprise started in Astana showed that it is efficient: three hundred containers, which

were installed there saw up to 500 thousand bulbs collected over a year,” Kolesnikov said. “For three consecutive years, Pavlodar region will now have funds allocated for the recycling of 20 thousand bulbs, with the aim of increasing that to up to 1 million units per year.” On the premises of ElectroTrans Reelto, there is a facility for the processing of mercury-containing waste, purchased in the Russian city of Dubna for 30 million Tenge ($89.697). It is based on the method of cryogenic demercurization, which is considered to be the safest and most effective today. No disposal carried out at this facility requires separate burial due to an active recycling process, for example, the glass crumb is used as

building material. Moving this project forward is the fact that containers have now been donated by LLP Operator ROP’. "At the beginning of the year, we requested all areas to be supplied with such recycling containers,” said Timur Ismanov, manager of ROP Operator. “As part of the tender, purchases were made, and now we are at the finish line. The contractor is installing containers on the ground in the regions, and these will be transferred to the balance of local executive bodies under a gift contract. This action is stipulated by the Environmental Code and our investment policy. Across the country, in 10 regions, 1,951 containers will be installed."

4th MEETING ROOM Conference by PASHA Bank


n December 6 in Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel Tbilisi, PASHA Bank hosted its fourth business conference in the scope of the MEETING ROOM series of events, with the topic “Capital Raising Alternatives for Agricultural Projects”. MEETING ROOM brought together interested parties from both the public and private sectors to discuss major issues concerning agricultural project management in Georgia. The MEETING ROOM covered, among other things: an overview of agribusiness development in Georgia, capital raising options, insurance tools for the sector, and specific considerations for financ-

10 Galaktion Street

ing agro-projects. Presentations were delivered by: Giorgi Jibladze, Deputy Director, Agriculture Projects Management Agency; Giorgi Danelia, Head of Investment Department, CIO, Partnership Fund; Ani Kobalia, Associate Director, Agriculture & Logistics, Georgian Co-Investment Fund; Zviad Kajaia - Head of Business Development Department, PASHA Bank; and Vladimir Gugushvili, Partner/CEO, Georgia’s Natural. The meeting was moderated by George Sharashidze, General Manager of the Georgia Today Group. “We have gathered once more under the auspices of the MEETING ROOM to discuss the major issues concerning

the implementation of agricultural projects in Georgia,” said Goga Japaridze, CCO, Member of the Board of Directors at PASHA Bank. “Since 2013, we have been engaging with a wide range of sectors in Georgia, with agribusiness one of our major areas of interest. We hope that this conference was interesting and informative for current and prospective investors in this field.” MEETING ROOM is a project initiated by PASHA Bank, a cycle of business conferences that aims to bring together participants from various industries, providing a platform for the sharing of ideas and best practices, as it relates to raising the capital for a wide range of business sectors.

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The Importance of Civic Education: Students Present Projects & Results BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


t the presentation held in Tbilisi’s Public School N186 on Wednesday, students presented their projects realized within the school’s civics club Delta, attended by representatives of the PH International Georgia office, and Laura B. Berger, USAID Georgia’s Democracy, Governance and Social Development Office Director, who, after being introduced to the students projects, answered their questions about the importance of civics education, sharing with them the existing practices, examples and experiences of civic participation of youth in the US. The event was part of PH International Georgia’s ‘Future Generation’ (Momavlis Taoba) program, operating with the financial assistance of USAID and implemented in collaboration with the Center for Training and Consultancy, Civics Teachers’ Forum, a number of regional partner NGOs, and the Ministry of Education of Georgia. The program aims to promote the concept of civics education in the country, which is now being implemented in school curricula nationwide. The goal is to strengthen and achieve greater civic engagement among Georgian youth and enhance the role of civic society as a whole. GEORGIA TODAY had a chance to see the variety of projects students of public school N186 had created in their

Delta Club within the Future Generation program, witnessing firsthand their involvement, motivation and enthusiasm while advocating for issues from environment protection to anti bullying, defending pedestrian rights, or helping the elderly, proving how successful civic education can be, and above all, how important it is to engage more young people in it. “The project I’m introducing is ‘Safe Road to Pedestrians’ which we implemented to address road safety rules,” Nino Kevkhishvili and Irakli Managadze, members of Delta civics club told us. “We contacted the city municipality and now we have zebra crossings near the school and children are able to cross the road safely.” “Civic education helps us to become more active and engaged, as citizens who are well informed and able to make the right choices,” Irakli added. “One of our projects is about bullying, called ‘Treat others as you want to be treated yourself’ with which we tried to explain to the students what bullying means, and how they should act if they are witnessing it. We’ve worked on anti-bullying and bullying prevention regulations, and the school psychologist did a talk on the nature of bullying. Although it’s a large and rather complicated subject, we managed to raise awareness about it,” Irakli said. “Children should be engaged in civic education from an early age at school and in that case they will be more aware of the problems society is facing and will

try to seek ways to solve them,” Nino added. Students also presented an eco project on the environment which focused on taking care of the plants in the Digomi area, followed by several competitions on recycling possibilities, and advocating environmental issues. Students participated in a Model UN program which gave them a chance to discuss the environmental problems of their respective countries: Georgia, Ukraine, Kenya, Bra-

zil and Japan. Within the anti-bullying project, almost 400 students from different schools in Tbilisi participated in a survey, and the results showed that many of the students had either experienced or witnessed bullying and that a number of them were unaware what bullying implied. It was noted during the meeting that the research conducted by the students is currently regarded as the largest initiated by youth so far in Georgia.

‘Happy New Year to Everyone,’ was a project aimed at helping homeless elderly and children, through which students did fundraising, organizing an exhibition of paintings and then selling them for a symbolic price. The money was then used to help homeless youth and elderly. Students from N186 public school in Tbilisi also helped elderly living in a shelter, bringing them food, clothing and gifts. “I think civic education is important because it helps students understand where they fit in a democracy and he power they have as citizens within that democracy” said Laura B. Berger. “These types of activities not only teach students through a book the type of power they have in their communities, but also through projects where they can get out and make a difference, changing the way they think about their role in society, what they can be when they grow up and the power they have as individuals within their country,” she added, noting the maturity the students had shown in their understanding of the things happening in their communities and the amount of research they had carried out. “All the projects we’ve seen here today address extremely critical issues within our society. I think that many of the problems, such as bullying at schools, can not be solved without students themselves being actively engaged in solving them, and today’s meeting was very important in that regard,” Marina Ushveridze, Chief of Party, Momavlis Taoba program. told us as the event came to end.




DECEMBER 8 - 11, 2017

‘Tis the Season: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER


t’s been a strange year for weather up here in the high Caucasus, one must say. A cold, wet spring delayed potato planting until much later than usual. The summer was hotter than most people remember. Autumn seemed far too short, though mild. Snow has come and gone several times; we had rain yesterday evening, in early December! It changed to snow overnight, as the forecast and I both expected, and now temperatures are set to fall. A bit, to -7 C. We might get away with the mildest winter in decades here. Weather is such a chaotic thing, both poetic-descriptively and in the mathematical sense of the word, that I’m not surprised we can’t predict it more than a few days in advance. The famous hypothetical example of a butterfly’s wingflap in America “causing” a hurricane in Shanghai, known as the Butterfly Effect, is often misunderstood. Not that that tiny puff of air will be amplified to destructive gale force half a world away;

rather, its effect is to shift an existing tendency to a new location. The point is that a planet’s or province’s weather system is vast and complicated enough that adding more decimal points of accuracy to predictions only makes them more, but never 100%, accurate, especially the farther one moves into the future. There are too many variables, and it’s not a closed system: even the planet is affected by incoming meteorite dust, sunlight, and so on. Conditions can be changed by the tiniest of factors, on the molecular scale. We can never achieve that perfect result. Global warming seems to be a thing; news online this week was abuzz with changes in numbers for ocean rises. We wouldn’t be able to adapt fast enough as a species, and all, yes all, of our coastal cities could vanish under new sea levels in mere decades. Take out or download a world map and you’ll see how many cities that is, and then start adding up their populations. Offset this, though, by the possible effects of a major volcanic eruption, such as the one brewing in Bali at the moment. In the early 19th century, such an event spewed

things on a global scale, through our industries and their effects. With 7 billion of us and more, this should not come as a surprise. It also seems to be a time of superhuman potential, arising from sheer numbers of people and their computers, together achieving seeming miracles in materials technology and so much more. Are we balanced on a knife edge? Can we clean up the mess we’re making and have made, or do we think it’s too expensive to do so? I, for one, believe that for all our genius we have enough flaws and blind spots that we cannot “save” ourselves. As both weather and general world news ratchet up in degrees of “interesting”, time will tell.

enough ash into the air to affect world temperatures by several degrees colder, blocking out the sun and giving Europe a snowy summer in 1816. Mount Tambora on the Island of Sumbawa in present day Indonesia was the culprit. Nowadays, of course, enough ash in the atmosphere would not only cool the warming planet

for a while; it would also ground air traffic (as Iceland did briefly some years ago) and thus hugely affect the economy of the world. Delicate thing, weather. This point in human history is being called by many scientists the Anthropocene. Defined as the first time that we as a species have the potential to affect

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 1800 members, at He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

Return to the Caucasian Cradle: The Major Georgian Qvevri Wine Varieties


he current craze for organic, natural and culturally authentic food products has a mirror in the wine world – natural wine. This trend has fostered increased interest in wines produced without additives and using ancient implements. Georgian clay-pot-aged wines are the simplest way to drink to one’s health, while getting to grips with the ancient mysteries of winemaking. In the first part of my two-part series, I will look at how the natural wine movement fits into ongoing larger political, culinary and aesthetic trends. Part I will also examine Georgia’s premier wine region, Kakheti, and the vinification processes used for the country’s signature orange wine. This background will set the table for us to feast on the white wines of acclaimed Kakhetian winemaker, Kakha Tchotkiashvili in Part II. We will study Kakha’s wines to understand how each of his orange wine types can serve as a benchmark for the main varieties used in Georgian clay-pot winemaking. Part II will conclude our survey of clay-pot-aged wines by examining other producers and the two most famous red wine grapes of Georgia, Saperavi and Tavkveri, focussing on their unique flavour profiles. The last three decades have witnessed many interconnected revolutions: globalisation, the internet, the fall of communism, the Arab Spring and most recently, the rise of neo-populist movements. These revolutions have been spurred by, and in turn promoted, the ability of the individual to express himself. Linked to these sometimes-disturbing political upheavals has been the beneficial rise of the empowered, cognisant consumer - ushering in the Golden Age of Wine. This silent revolution’s underpinnings have been increased worldwide demand, technological

improvements, a movement from bulk to quality and the ability of the consumer to obtain information instantly about thousands of wines with the click of a mouse. In this everchanging world of iTunes, Tinder and Trump, two countervailing trends are noticeable: hypermodern, technology-influenced developments in food and fashion are simultaneously being opposed by a corresponding obsession with a return to period pieces and authenticity in décor and design. As gourmet restaurants are falling prey to fads of molecular cuisine and every sort of fusion, trends in the wine world are, fortunately, pushing in the other direction. A natural wine renaissance is underway. Winemakers are returning to older methods of vinification - predicated on fewer interventions and delivering a wider range of tastes. As we enter this new golden age of wine, the wine world’s cutting edge is paradoxically also its birthplace; some of the newest tastes available are also the oldest. As a historian, I’ve long had a fascination with the food and drink of the Romans and Greeks. Today, the closest we can come to approximating the flavours of these ancient wines is to explore the Qvevri-aged wines of Georgia. Qvevri are a form of clay-pot which originated in the Caucasus more than six thousand years. Qvevri are distinct from amphorae (which were invented much later, and used primarily for the transportation and storage of an already fermented liquid; Qvevriare not designed to be moved and are too large for a single person to do so.) Yet both amphorae and Qvevri share a broadly similar shape, with a tapered tail, moving to a subtle bulge that closes off at the neck opening.. Seeking to discovery the mystery of how Qvevri-ageing affects the flavour

of wine was the goal of my trip to Georgia. Having conducted that research, my self-appointed task for this article is to introduce readers to the major Georgian grape varieties for Qvevri -aged still wines: Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Khikhvi and Kisi for white, and Saperavi and Tavkveri for red. Part I will set the stage interlacing philosophy and travel, while Part II will delve deeper into tasting notes explaining why various Qvevri wine styles taste the way they do, by focussing on an archetypical producer Tchotkiashvili. Over the last 18 months, due to connections forged in my ‘real career’ in journalism and international relations and my ‘hobby’ as a high-stakes professional backgammon player, I’ve had the pleasure of being a guest of the Georgian government three times. In between briefings and bus tours, I enjoyed my travels across the Caucasus immensely -- discovering a land of hundreds of languages, snow-covered mountains, perfect sandy beaches, mediaeval monasteries, rusting Soviet factories and radioactive spas. And yet, my most rewarding explorations and epiphanies were found inside the wine glass. This May, I was fortunate enough to travel with an old colleague of mine from Oxford, James Flewellen, one of the world’s few authorities on the discipline of blind wine tasting. I also travelled with my American assistant, a budding North Africa expert, Lydia Jabs. We met many of Georgia’s top winemakers, and learned how clay-pot-aged wines are made and why they taste the way they do. Surprisingly, given Georgia’s fame as the likely birthplace of wine, there is very little in the way of popular writing in English surveying its vast array of wine styles or explaining how Qvevri ageing imparts its characteristic notes of nuttiness, restrained florality, honey and lingering chalky tannins. Alice Feiring, a famous advocate of natural wine (i.e. wine produced with as few additives or cellar interventions as possible) explains the health advantages of Georgian Qvevri wine - especially its avoidance of sulphites and other stabilisers - in her books ‘For the Love of Wine’ and ‘Naked Wine’. Yet, she does not seek to explain the difference in flavour between

an oaked Saperevi and a Qvevri-aged one or between a Mtsvane and a Kisi. To most Western wine connoisseurs, Georgia is most famous for its ‘orange wines’. These are unfiltered white wines made with lasting skin contact inside Qvevri, and despite being bone dry, they are amber or golden in colour similar to that of a Sauternes or Tokaji. The wine acquires an amber hue as the clear grape juice takes on colour compounds from the grape skins, pips and stems. In addition, the unique shape of the Qvevri creates a different temperature gradient profile in the fermentation vessel compared to that found in stainless steel vats or oak barrels. These features, combined with the partially oxidative winemaking practice, ensure a Qvevri wine ferments with a different trajectory than whites made using the sorts of modern techniques you would typically find in France, California or almost any other winemaking region around the world. Thanks to this process, orange wine is a unique combination of flavours that the Western palate associates with sherry, oxidative white wines such as Savennières or Vin Jaune and even those of tannic ciders. These orange wines are typically the only Georgian wines that grace the pages of high-end wine lists in London, NYC and Continental capitals. On even rarer occasions, Qvevri-aged reds appear on Western wine lists. Conversely, in Russia and Eastern Europe, the most popular Georgian wine types are semi-sweet non-Qvevri-aged reds. And yet in Georgia itself, full-bodied, dry, non-Qvevriaged reds probably account for the majority of domestic consumption. So Georgian wine is many things to many people. But the best boutique Georgian wine seeks to be produced ‘authentically’ - deriving from methods of winemaking that are millennia-old, like Qvevri ageing, rather than merely centuries old, like oak ageing. These ancient wine styles were largely eradicated by the Soviet preference for factory production and quantity over quality. Fortunately, due to the sophisticated demands of the knowledgeable, globalised consumer, who rules the roost concerning the trends of the ‘Golden Age of Wine’, they are making a comeback. Hence, in part II, we will only be discussing the Qvevri-aged types most prized

by an adventurous Western palate. The country’s most prestigious, wine region is undoubtedly Kakheti – located to the east of the capital, Tblisi. It is a long, narrow strip of land through which the Alazani river passes, creating a valley floor littered with many small streams and nestled between the Greater Caucasus mountains to the north and smaller foothills to the south. Kakhetian wine exhibits a great variety of production styles, but the region is arguably the spiritual birthplace of orange wine. When it comes to orange wine, Tchotkiashvili (the producer we will highlight in Part II) produces three of the four most widespread white varietals: Khikhvi, Kisi and Mtsvane. Georgia’s most widely planted white grape, Rkatsitili, tends to exhibit the winemaking technique rather than its varietal characteristics – think of it as the Chardonnay of Georgia. It is more of a neutral workhorse grape with thick skins and a touch of varietal bitterness. On the other hand, Khikhvi, Kisi and Mtsvane are more challenging to grow, have lower yields, greater elegance/florality and more prominent varietal characteristics. Because orange wine comes from white grapes aged on their skins, it has a tannic, drying quality just like red wines derive from their skin contact. In its finer examples, the tannins are mouth-filling and firm. More chalky than chunky, they provide structure to each sip, coming together as part of the finish and lingering on the sides of the mouth. Fans of high-end boutique still cider, particularly those from southern England, will recognise and appreciate this interplay of taste and mouthfeel. These wines tend not to be too acidic or citrusy and the mouthfeel is unlike any other white wines on earth. Come explore them with us in Part II. Jason Pack is a former competitor on the University of Cambridge's Blind Wine Tasting Team, Executive Director of the U.S.-Libya Business Association, Founder of Libya-Analysis® and a frequent op-ed writer covering issues of geopolitics, culture and wine. First published on, a leading online magazine focusing on Eastern European wine.




Hungarian Cultural Days Dazzle Tbilisi BY MÁTÉ FÖLDI


arlier this week, Tbiliselebi were afforded a taste of authentic Hungarian folk culture. Indeed, December 4 - 5 saw the Government of Hungary organize the Hungarian Cultural Days in the capital. With this celebration of Georgian-Hungarian cultural ties dedicated to the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two states, locals and foreigners alike were exposed to various elements of Hungarian culture, including gastronomy, history, art, literature, religious traditions, music and dance. On Monday, people were able to experience a Roman Catholic Mass at the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, orchestrated by H.E. Monsignor Giuseppe Pasotto, Bishop of Tbilisi, father Adam Ochal, and H.E. László Kiss-Rigó, Bishop of the Szeged-Csanád diocese, Hungary. Subsequently, at the Zurab Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art, the works of 23 contemporary goldsmiths were displayed at an exhibition titled, “From Silver to Iron,” showcasing Hungarian goldsmithry at the turn of the 20th-21st centuries. Moreover, guests were also afforded a unique history lesson, “Hun-

gary in Georgia”, that offered proof to the theory of Hungarian-Georgian coexistence and relations in the Caucasus dating back to ancient times. To conclude the first day, Szalonna Pál István and his band, with the Saint Ephraim Male Choir, delivered an amazing concert at the Tbilisi State Conservatoire. The following day, with Maia Tsinadze, wife of the Prime Minister, amongst others in attendance, opened an exhibition of the artworks of Mihály Zichy, the most well-known Hungarian painter and graphic designer in Georgia, who, it should be known, was also a key illustrator of the Georgian classic epic poem, Knight in the Panther’s Skin, at a reception at the Art Palace. Moreover, to much fanfare and enthusiasm from the audience as they flocked en-masse to grab a copy of the Georgian translation, the exhibition included a presentation on Imre Madách’s landmark and internationally acclaimed poem, The Tragedy of Man, with the illustrations done by none other than Mihály Zichy himself. Later in the day, Hungarian writer and historian Péter Pál Kránitz gave a lecture to students of Tbilisi State University about the life and work of Miklós Misztótfalusi Kis (16501702), the Hungarian letter cutter, typeface designer, typographer and printer, who was apparently the first print and letter cutter of the Georgian alphabet, thereby

helping lay the foundations of book printing in Georgia. The crown jewel of this mini-cultural festival for this author though, aside from a nostalgia-inducing trip down memory lane to those blissful childhood summers spent at my grandparents’ reunion with Hungarian charcuterie, has to be the penultimate event. Indeed, as the old adage goes, the best was saved for last.

For the Hungarian National Dance Ensemble and Orchestra delivered a truly unforgettable and virtuoso performance, titled, “Dazzling the Sun”, which, with the sun long since set, went above and beyond to dazzle the audience. For those who missed the event, and those who have yet to satiate their appetite for Hungarian produce, if you are looking for more than just the Hungar-

ian bacon available on Carrefour shelves, worry not, for Hungary is this year’s Guest of Honor at the Tbilisi International Film Festival, where audience members will be given the chance to watch the latest greats of Hungarian cinema, including last year’s Oscarwinner “Son of Saul” and this year’s Berlin Film Festival-winner “On Body and Soul”.

Thunder on the Mountain to darken, and the winds grew stronger. The temperature plummeted and the previously mild air now sent a terrible chill down my spine. The thunder grew louder and louder. I was torn. my caffeine fueled heart wanted to keep going and romantically challenge the elements. ‘Maybe it will pass quickly,’ it insisted. My brain, on the other hand, was adamant I head down instantly, noticing I was entirely alone on a large mountain several hours from civilization in a country where I could not speak the language. The two vital organs battled valiantly. Romanticized ideals fought tooth and nail with logical intellect. Then the rain started. Thrown by the wind, stinging droplets pelted me from all directions and my previously comfortable clothes now soggily clung to my body. The brain won. I needed to get off the mountain. Fast. I turned and ran down with all the speed my legs could muster. The snowy, rocky ground had turned into a dirt soup, causing me to slip and fall face-first. I got up. My light blue shorts were now unrecognizable, caked in mud. Could this be the end? With every flash seemingly right on top of me, I thought the next one could be it and some unfortunate hiker would come across my siz-



ousing myself out of bed, I stood up and walked over to the window. Many clouds blotted the sky, but I was still just able to make out the sun peering over the horizon. It was 7:00 in the morning and I was about to do something I never ever could have imagined. I had arrived in town just yesterday to a clear sky and warm sun. But yesterday was irrelevant because today was my day to climb Mount Kazbek. The few people I had mentioned this to already thought I was completely nuts, as I didn't have any mountain climbing experience or equipment, and my shoes were cheap slip-ons that I'd bought at a Russian thrift shop. I dismissed this negativity. Even if the peak was unachievable, I was determined to reach, at least, the mountain’s glacier and nothing, come

hell or high water, was going to stop me. After a quick breakfast and three hefty cups of coffee, I left the guesthouse and set out for the mountain with a fourth coffee in hand. The forecast had called for a chance of rain, but the mostly clear sky seemed to suggest it would hold off for the time being. Nonetheless, I had a full day ahead, so I needed to make every second count. Like a spider powered by chemically induced adrenaline, I climbed up the steepest face of the mountain, ignoring the gradual walking paths laid out for the standard hiker. Those are nice for someone on a stroll, but not for me. I wanted to pierce the clouds, stand in the June snow and tower over the green planet below! After a little while of slopes practically staring me in the face and trees so green they would make Ireland blush, I reached an old stone church that had stood on the mountain for centuries. I felt a desire to stop and marvel at the architecture,

but I resisted. The sky was turning darker as more clouds appeared overhead, adding to my ever-present sense of urgency. Quickly, I snapped a few pictures and continued my ascent. Soon, I was above the tree line. The landscape opened, revealing the mountain and all its glory. I'm coming for you, I thought to myself as my nose started to drip from my excessive caffeine intake. The air seemed fresh, the grass vibrant and untouched. I was a man in wild nature, and I wanted more. I wanted it all. I wanted to face the wildest elements Kazbek had to offer. After four hours, I began to see snow. First, there were just a few patches, but soon there was snow and rock everywhere. The grass had called it quits by this point and refused to keep growing, and civilization below was no longer visible. I was unstoppable…I thought. As I arrogantly took a picture of myself in the snow, I heard something off in the distance: thunder. Quickly, the sky began

zling corpse a few days later. No. I couldn’t think like that. I had to focus and use everything I had to get down. Again, I fell. Soon I was back in the trees. I couldn’t tell if it had been ten minutes or two hours since I turned, but that no longer mattered: I was getting closer and I needed to persist. The storm, still ever present, hung overhead and spouted water and electricity. I continued, and soon saw the church. More importantly, I saw a car. There’s a dirt road that goes from the village to the church, and for some odd reason, somebody had made the journey in these conditions. I ran over to the car and knocked on the window, which lowered to reveal a man of about 40 with graying stubble. In broken Russian, I explained my situation hoping he would understand. He paused. “I do not have and space in the car.” He replied. “But maybe… here?” He opened the trunk for me to get in. I had a choice: either get in the trunk of this unknown man’s car, or continue running down the mountain in the freezing cold rain for another hour. I chose the car. I wasn’t bothered by the small space, nor by the fact I didn’t get as high as planned. I was out of the storm and had not been struck by lightning. That was enough for me.




DECEMBER 8 - 11, 2017

Georgian Ensemble’s EU Anthem in Strasburg Captivates Int'l Audience BY LIKA CHIGLADZE


eorgian polyphonic music and its ancient culture have once again come into the world’s spotlight and captured the admiration of an international audience. On 8-10 November, at the headquarters of the Council of Europe in Strasburg , famous Georgian folk ensemble Shavnabada had the honor of opening the ‘World Forum for Democracy’ and performing the anthem of the European Union. Georgian men’s choir presented Beethoven’s symphony No. 9, known as Ode to Joy, that was adopted by EU as an official anthem, in Georgian style. The amazing performance of Georgian singers left the hall speechless while their footage published on the Facebook page of the Council of Europe broke alltime records. Apart from the EU anthem, Shavnabada performed well-known Georgian folk song Chakrulo, one which was sent to space in 1977 on a Golden Record on Voyager 2 by NASA, along with 27 musical recordings including pieces by Mozart, Beethoven and Louis Armstrong. In order to gain deeper insight into world famous Georgian folk music, and

to uncover Shavnabadas’s performance in Strasburg, GEORGIA TODAY attended the rehearsal of the ensemble and spoke to the Director of Shavnabada, Dato Tsintsadze. The ensemble counts 15 members who share a love of Georgian traditional songs. Even though each member has a different profession and background, every week after work they gather at their studio to rehearse. As the founder of Shavnabada told us, he and his group members grew up together and almost all of them used to sing in folk music ensemble ‘Martve’ which has brought up generations of musicians and singers in Georgia. “Almost everyone in this ensemble was taught how to sing in Martve,” Dato Tsintsadze told us. “After we grew up and realized that we were not kids anymore, we decided to found our own ensemble. I discovered old records of Georgian folk music made by famous British studio Patefon Records, which traveled throughout Georgia in 1901-1914 and recorded songs characteristic to the country’s different regions. This was the very thing that fueled my lust to revive traditional centuries-old Georgian folk music. Georgian chants and polyphony have undergone times of hardship; during the Soviet Union, the churches were closed that hindered the development

of Georgian gospel. That was followed by a dark period in the history and culture of Georgia in the 1990s, so traditional music was forgotten and put in the shadow for some time. That is why the restoration and the preservation of our culture and songs became the core aim of our ensemble”. Tsintsadze explained that originally there were only five people in the group. “We started at my house, studying old recordings of Georgian songs and teaching each other how to sing. We practiced a lot and gradually expanded and reached success not only on the local scene but beyond the country’s borders. I was 19 when we first performed at the Tbilisi Conservatory on behalf of Shavbanabda. Over the years, we have recorded a number of songs, produced nine CDs and delivered many concerts. We’ve toured throughout Georgia and brought Georgian culture to different countries around the world. We also produced a CD with Georgian chants and lyrics so that anyone can learn how to sing on his/her own. Currently, there are 15 members, the youngest of which is 24 and the oldest 34,” Tsintsadze elaborated. When attending the rehearsal, you feel it is more than singing; it’s the art of communication and a big family where the members are connected with close

ties, friendship and love. “Georgian folk music enables me to be the link between past and future. Through singing traditional Georgian music, that comes from our ancestors, and transferring it to the new generation, you become a connecting bridge between past and future. Georgian music is really special, since it’s an integral part of Georgian culture, like winemaking, Georgian national dances, architecture etc.,” he said. The performance by Shavnabada of the EU hymn Ode to Joy, which is about love, brotherhood and unity of Mankind, was quite symbolic, because these are the very principles on which the ensemble stands. “We opened the forum in Strasburg and it was a really big honor and responsibility for us, since we represented the Georgian nation in culture, history and values. The person behind the idea was Armaz Akhvlediani, founder of Tbilisi Political School, who suggested the Council of Europe that we perform at the Democracy Forum. So, together with composer Misha Mdinaradze, we presented a Georgian version of the classical piece which includes elements of both choral and folk music. The attendants were really surprised and impressed when they saw us in traditional Georgian men’s wear and daggers entering the hall. We opened the forum with distinguished Georgian composer Djansugh Kakhidze’s version of Mravalzhamier (May You Live A Long Life) , which was

followed by an Abkhazian song, quite symbolic since Abkhazia is part of Georgia, then we performed Chakrulo and ended with Beethoven’s 9th symphony. At first, the audience did not realize what we were singing but then everything became clear and they were really amazed,” Tsintsadze said. He also spoke about the history of Georgian songs and unveiled some interesting details, telling us that Georgian singing tradition has its roots in the 8th – 7th centuries BC. According to Greek sources, when they first invaded Georgian land, the Greeks said that the native people were famous for cultivating grapes, setting up irrigation systems and singing cheerful songs. As for gospels and polyphony, the earliest written information appears in chronicles of the 4th -5th centuries. “All of which serves as proof that Georgia songs come from ancient times,” Tsintsadze elaborated. To summarize the story and give a general impression of Georgian songs, famous composer Igor Stravinsky’s quote suits quite nicely: “Recordings of Georgian folk polyphonic songs make a great musical impression. They are recorded in a tradition of active reproduction of Georgian folk music, the origin of which begins from ancient times. It is a wonderful finding and can give to the performance much more than any modem music can... Yodel, or "Krimanchuli," as it is called in Georgia, is the best song I have ever heard. ["America" magazine, No 23, 1967]”

Renowned Italian Chef Presents Chocolate Khinkali beloved profession. “Eating in a restaurant is not just about sitting at a table and enjoying what the hosts have prepared, but it is also a time of sharing, an exchange of palates and words, a promise of intimacy. It is not just a biological necessity but a true 'metaphor of existence,' where you can look at food as an entity in constant motion, which is formed and transformed,” Neri said. “I am a guy who decided to change his career at the age of 29 and start from scratch. I was an IT specialist in bio-medical engineering services, and I used to work in hospitals. I completely changed my path, founding my life’s passion in the culinary art- and as my motto goes: “cooking has never been my ambition, just the way I express myself”.



nzo Neri, famous Italian chef and the creator of the nowpopular Chocolate Khinkali is in Georgia exploring its cuisine, culture and landscapes. The charismatic chef settled in Tbilisi last May in order to bring his dream to fruition and run his own authentic Italian restaurant in Georgia. The culinary expert has the ambition to produce a sweet version of Georgian dumplings and sell his Chocolate Khinkali on the Georgian market. “I see Georgia as a country that is growing towards Europe. It’s a kind of fertile field to build a business in. I could start up something great,” Neri told GEORGIA TODAY. As the popular chef promises, he will bring new flavors to the city and present food in a new and creative way. And he will definitely include his signature avantgarde Chocolate Khinkali on the menu. “A few months ago, when I was living and working in New York City, I came up with a variation of Khinkali (Georgian dumpling) and created a dessert option. Khinkali are dumplings like Italian ravioli that can be offered with so many different fillings and sauces. I want to include my Chocolate Khinkali in my menu and develop it using beautiful products from Georgia. Every single ingredient here is organic and naturally biological; from great village chickens, lamb and vegetables rich in flavor. The tomatoes grown here remind me of the ones we have in Italy. When I was living in the USA, even if I was buying tomatoes from South America or Florida, they were never as good as the Georgian ones,” the famous chef explained. During his previous visit to Georgia, Enzo delivered a speech before students at the Culinary Academy, part of the Free


University, in Tbilisi. Afterwards, he said, “It was a great opportunity to talk to the next generation of chefs, to share my experience and passion with them. I found the students were quite inspired by what I said, people were very attentive and responsive and asked many questions. The management approached me later about collaboration with the Academy, an opportunity for me to share my knowledge of Italian cuisine”. When speaking with Enzo, you envi-

sion culinary art in a new way; you feel that it is more than simply cooking; it is a sort of art that gathers people around one table and brings them pleasure. Most importantly, you understand how significant is to have a

“I get inspiration from many things: from culture, music, history, art or simply from everyday life and people itself. Making a dish is like doing a painting: you play with colors, form shapes with flavors and smells. When I experimented with Khinklai, I decided that it would be dark as chocolate, with the original shape but sweet, with an Italian flair. I got back to the tradition, I studied and understood the dish; I wanted to evolve it in a different way and that was it I’m still working on it and trying to push it into the market. I would love to start production and sell them in local supermarkets”.

HOW DID THE GEORGIAN PUBLIC REACT WHEN YOU CAME UP WITH CHOCOLATE KHINKALI? “Some were shocked to see their own food transformed by an Italian chef, but I also remember some Georgian girls coming to my restaurant in Manhattan specifically to sample my Chocolate Khinkali after reading an article online. I think it’s great to love the traditional food, but it’s also great to look at the tradition without nostalgia and to reinvent it and add a contemporary twist”. Neri visited Georgia for the first time in summer 2015 and organized an Italian evening for Georgian guests and food enthusiasts in the country’s eastern Kakheti region. The chef prepared unique Italian dishes with Georgian products at Chateau Mere in Kakheti, which “reminded him of his home in Umbria”. During his visit, Neri visited the local market, sampled Georgian produce, and explored Georgian cuisine. “My favorite Georgian dish is Khinkali: I simply love it! For me, it’s like a hangover cure: fun and a joy to eat. Drinking the juice inside is probably the best part of the whole process. I also enjoy Georgian salads with local tomato, cucumber, spring onions, spicy peppers and walnuts. I’m also a big fan of bean pie (Lobiani) and Khachapuri (cheese filled bread) and I like the variety of cheeses and soups like Kharcho or stews like Chakapuli and chicken Satsivi, too. I’m here to embrace the culture, and food is a predominant part of it. I’m an Italian guy who came to Georgia because I embrace the culture and because I want to be part of the development. Apart from the capital, I have been to Kakheti few times, I love the outskirts, but I definitely want to explore more of Georgia, go to the mountains and to the beach in Batumi. I want to see all the regions of the country,” Neri said.



British Council Brings Cinderella to Batumi


n December 12, the British Council-Georgia invites Batumi residents and visitors to experience an emotional and visually captivating story about family, love and growing up, as seen from a new angle. British theater director, with the actors of the Batumi State Drama Theater, present “Cinderella: a fairy tale” by Sally Cookson and Adam Peck. This is a contemporary version of one of the most popular fairytales, “Cinderella”. The audience will be part of Cinderella’s grief, as well as parental love, parental cruelty, sibling rivalry, jealousy, isolation, revenge, survival, falling in love and of course – magic! As Sally Cookson writes: “this very simple tale, actually addresses fundamental questions about […] what it is to be human.” Join us in the world of the fairytale at 7PM on 12 December and become a part of an unforgettable show at the Batumi State Drama Theater. The performance is a part of the Performing Arts Support Program successfully implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Adjara Autonomous Republic in Georgia.

EU Declares that Culture is Important not only Aesthetically, but also Economically



n November 30, at the NATO and EU Information Center in Tbilisi, Mr. Yanos Herman, Ambassador of EU, and Mr. Levan Kharatishvili, Deputy Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, met with the media to discuss the contribution of the EU on the subject of culture in Georgia. The purpose of the EU-Eastern Partnership Culture and Creativity Program is to support the cultural and creative sectors’ contribution to sustainable humanitarian, social and economic development in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. “The EU is providing significant support to Georgia within different projects. The EU is important for us because of its organizations and institutions. We

constantly feel its support at every single stage. Culture is not an exception. Several important reforms have taken place in the area of culture in Georgia, thanks to the help and technical assistance of the EU. It is of the utmost importance to mention the cultural strategy – the first ever long-term cultural document in the history of Georgia. This is the largest scale document of its kind” Levan Kharatishvili, Deputy Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia said at the start of the meeting. “We have already implemented 10 successful projects.” he mentioned. Thanks to Creative Europe, the European Commission program, the process of creating new industries has begun in Georgia. As Kharatishvili clarified, this is the ground for the future of culture, a kind of ‘cultural industrialization’, making it an important mechanism for the social and economic development of the country. Janos Herman, Ambassador of the

European Union, talked generally about the participation of EU in the field of culture in Georgia: “The EU has been evolving in the last decade the areas which are crucial for our common future. Definitely, culture is one of the main areas. The first step was to develop mechanisms, to provide financial and professional support to develop culture, which is not easy. We have realized that culture can also be an area which generates resources in a way that no other area can, because it generates activities which are linked to the future. Especially in times of transformation, adjustments to the demands of the future; culture is proving itself to be a crucial area”. Cultural and creative industries amount to 4.5% of the whole GDP of the world. They develop faster than other industries and the service sector. Purportedly, culture is the area which shows the best pace in terms of employment and economic growth in EU countries. Cultural and creative industries give jobs to 8.3 million citizens of the EU. The research on UNESCO development indicators conducted in Georgia, reveal that 5.5% of the local population is employed in the field of culture, which forms about 2.8% of the whole GDP of Georgia. Georgia was the first country from the list of the Eastern Partnership countries that became a member of the Creative Europe, European Commission program. According to Ketevan Shengelia, Head of Creative Europe Desk Georgia, all publishers are welcome to apply for literary translations. She named Cinedoc, International Documentary Film Festival based in Georgia, and Kote Marjanishvili State Drama Theater among the successful beneficiaries of Creative Europe program.

2017 Baroque Festival Closes BY LIZA NADIBAIDZE


he Tbilisi Baroque Festival, establishedbytheTbilisiState ChamberOrchestraGeorgian Sinfonietta, with the help of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection, in 2015, was held for the third time this year. Partners of this year’s festival were Check in Georgia, Tbi-

lisi City Hall, Goethe Institute, the Embassy of Italy, the Tbilisi State Conservatory and several privately owned companies. Six concerts were held during the festival, giving the Georgian audience the chance to see world renowned performers, Georgian and foreigner stars, among them: orchestra Akamus Berlin, the Anchiskhati Choir, Ketevan Kemoklidze (mezzo soprano), Salome Jicia, (soprano), Ana Tsatrsidze (soprano), Sergey Malov (violin/cello da spalla, Austria), Jean

Rondeau (Harpsichord, France), Davide Amadio (cello, Italy) and others. Along with the concerts, some of the open rehearsals-workshops and scientific & cognitive lectures were held. The Tbilisi Baroque Festival came to an end on December 7, at Rustaveli Theater, with a grandiose concert featuring Georgian Sinfonietta, Sergio Azzolini, Giovanni de Angeli, Priska Comploi, Ai Ikeda and Davide Amadio. Drezeden’s (Royal Wind Musicians) was performed.





DECEMBER 8 - 11, 2017


SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 December 8, 9 LIKE THIS Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Comedy Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 598 19 29 36 December 9 THE TEMPEST Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL December 14 IGI Jemal Karchkhadze Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-15 GEL

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery Language: Russian Start time: 13:15 Ticket: 12 GEL ALL I SEE IS YOU Directed by Marc Forster Cast: Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Ahna O'Reilly Genre: Drama, Mystery Language: Russian Start time: 19:30, 22:15 Ticket: 13-17 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL December 8-14 FLATLINERS Directed by Niels Arden Oplev Cast: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 17:00, 22:00 Ticket: 8-14 GEL


AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL December 8-14 JUSTICE LEAGUE Directed by Zack Snyder Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Amy Adams Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 10-14 GEL BREATHE Directed by Andy Serkis Cast: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Hugh Bonneville Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 19:10 Ticket: 10-14 GEL MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS Directed by Kenneth Branagh Cast: Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench

BREATHE (Info Above) Start time: 21:45 Ticket: 13-14 GEL JUSTICE LEAGUE (Info Above) Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 16:30, 22:30 Ticket: 13-17 GEL HAPPY DEATH DAY Directed by Christopher Landon Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 17:15, 22:15 Language: English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 14-17 GEL COCO Directed by Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina

Cast: Edward James Olmos, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 12;00, 14:30 Ticket: 10-12 GEL THE LITTLE VAMPIRE 3D Directed by Richard Claus, Karsten Kiilerich Cast: Jim Carter, Rasmus Hardiker, Alice Krige Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 12:45, 15:15 Language: Russian Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-13 GEL JUSTICE LEAGUE (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 13:30, 17:00, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket: 13-17 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 Exhibition GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES Georgian National Museum and Korneli Kekelidze National Centrer of Manuscripts present the exhibition MEDIEVAL TREASURY Permanent Exhibition Exhibition NUMISMATIC TREASURY November 25 – December 14 Exhibition FROM TRAVELLINGS MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 March 6 – December 31 EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION November 14 – December 9 Exhibition

CROSSROAD RELIGIOUS & ETHNIC DIVERSITY OF GEORGIA IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 November 24 – December 12 CHINESE CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITION ART AND PEACE November 28 – January 10, 2018 GNM Tbilisi History Museum Contemporary Art Gallery will host the exhibition STATE OF PLAY: ART IN GEORGIA IN 1985-1999 The exhibition will present works by 24 Georgian artists from the 1980-90s, among them:: Gia Edzgveradze, Guram Tsibakhashvili, Iliko Zautashvili, Karlo Kacharava, Koka Ramishvili, Kote Sulaberidze, Keti Kapanadze, Kote Jincharadze, Levan Chogoshvili, Lia Shvelidze, Luka Lasareishvili, Maia Naveriani, Maia Tsetskhladze, Malkhaz Datukishvili, Mamuka Japaridze, Mamuka Tsetskhladze, Misha Gogrichiani, Murtaz Shvelidze, Niko Tsetskhladze, Oleg Timchenko, Tea Gvetadze, Temo Javakhishvili, Vakho Bugadze and Ushangi Khumarashvili. The exhibition will also showcase photo documents depicting 8090s Georgia created by Guram Tsibakhashvili. LITERATURE MUSEUM Address: 8 Chanturia Str. November 17 – January 25 (2018) 200TH ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION OF FAMOUS GEORGIAN POET NIKOLOZ BARATASHVILI GALLERY

ERTI GALLERY Address: 19 Ingorokva Str./5 9 April Str. Building B. Space 1 December 2 – January 15 Tato Akhalkatsishvili's solo show NEVER SLEEP UPSIDE DOWN A multimedia installation related to the galaxy.

PROJECT ARTBEAT Address: 14 Ingorokva Str. November 24 – December 30 Project ArtBeat presents MAKA BATIASHVILI’S SOLO EXHIBITION Of artworks made in different techniques in 2015-17. Black and white sketches and canvases TBC GALLERY Address: 5 Marjanishvili Str. Telephone: 227 27 27 November 30 - December 17 PETRE OTSKHELI'S 110TH ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION MUSIC

TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 December 10 VOCAL MUSIC EVENING Daniela Capiello (soprano) Dario Di Vietri (tenor) Zaza Azmaiparashvili (conductor) Tbilisi Z.Paliashvili Opera & Ballet State Theater Orchestra Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-40 GEL December 12 ENSEMBLE SHAVNABADA Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 5-20 GEL MZIURI Address: Mziuri Cafe December 10 SAKVIRAO Entertainment program for children Start time: 12:00 TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. December 12, 13, 14 GEORGIAN NATIONAL BALLET SUKHISHVILI Georgian National Ballet ‘Sukhishvili’ Presents 2017 summary performance With the renewed program and new dances. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 35-50 GEL December 14 The legendary Turkish show FIRE OF ANATOLIA which is twice recorded in the Guinness Book of Records This year`s tours celebrate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Georgia and Turkey. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 30-185 GEL TBILISI EVENT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. December 8 KORDZ / L8 / MACHAIDZE Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL RUSTAVELI THEATER Address: 17 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 72 68 68 December 14 Mikeladze Center and Nikoloz Rachveli Present the Concert of the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra Directed by Kakhi Solomnishvili, Program: Josef BardanashviliSymphony N3 ‘Bameh Madlikin’ and Wolfgang Amadeus MozartREQUIEM Participates- Festival Choir Directed by Giorgi Margvelashvili Soloists: Irina Sherezadishvili, Nutsa Zakaidze, Giorgi Davitadze and Giorgi Chelidze. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 15-35 GEL




The Future of Ballet in Georgia: Join the FGB! BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


he Friends of the Georgian Ballet held their annual Scholarship Awarding Ceremony and Reception at the Tbilisi Opera House on Sunday, December 3, seeing Prima Ballerina and Artistic Director of the State Ballet of Georgia, Nina Ananiashvili, with her Friends of Georgian Ballet colleagues and Company Soloists, present 16 talented new students of the V. Chabukiani Tbilisi Ballet Art School one-year scholarships, including those sponsored by the Friends of the Georgian Ballet. Attendees were then treated to a heartwarming short performance by the students. The Friends of the Georgian Ballet (FGB), a nonprofit organization, was founded in 2006 with the aim of supporting the initiatives of the State Ballet of Georgia under the artistic directorship of Nina Ananiashvili and contributing to the development of ballet art in Georgia. It has over 200 members worldwide, the majority of whom are non-Georgian. The FGB is looking to expand its membership, especially within Georgian society, in order to be able to provide more for the future ballet stars, many of whom come from the regions of Georgia from disadvantaged families- having been head-hunted by Ananiashvili for their talent. Enid Burki, FGB board member, whose husband works within the Swiss Embassy, has been here two years. “It is so touching to see the talent of these

young people, some of whom are from disadvantaged families: it just begs supporting,” she told GEORGIA TODAY. “As a board member, I encourage guests and those living abroad to support this young Georgian talent by joining the FGB and coming to the performances. The more members the FGB has, the more scholarships we can give!” Alied Douma, FGB Board Head, came to Georgia

in 2015 as the wife of the Ambassador to the Netherlands in Georgia. She told us of the benefits of being an FGB member in exchange for the very worthy cause of supporting the ballet art in Georgia. “Members of the FGB receive invitations to special exclusive events, such as after-show galas, the opportunity to get 4th row tickets in the theater at every ballet performance, the chance to participate

in Q&A sessions with the ballet dancers, and exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences. We have some 200 members from the diplomatic corps, representatives of organizations and the business community in the FGB so far, providing ongoing support, some of whom no longer live in Georgia. It would be wonderful to have more Georgian members, supporting this initiative,” she noted.


Russia Banned from 2018 Winter Olympics BY TOM DAY


ussia have been banned from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics, following a decision earlier this week by the International Olympic Committee. “Clean” athletes will still be allowed to compete individually, though. The IOC also banned the country’s deputy Prime Minister, Vitaly Mutko, for life, from any future involvement with the Olympic games. He is currently helping to orchestrate the football World Cup to be hosted in Russia in 2018. This is an historic decision, making Russia the first country to be banned from competing in an Olympic tournament for doping. Over the last few years, the country has faced multiple accusations that officials helped athletes to take performance-enhancing drugs, while government officials allegedly assisted in covering up failed tests. Over a year after refusing to throw Russia out of the Rio 2016 games, following the publication of a World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned report that found Russia guilty of a cover-up, which included an FSB-assisted sample-swapping scheme, the IOC has finally taken action against what is said to have been cheating by the nation at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Olympic games. The IOC also corroborated the findings of another investigation led by Richard McLaren, a Canadian law professor, unearthing the many years of where this had been taking place. The incredible findings even suggested that the Russian secret service worked to swap dirty urine samples of athletes with clean ones. Many Russians have voiced their opinions that the ban stretches beyond mere allegations of doping. They say that this ban is an attempt to keep

the winter sport powerhouse down, declaring that the ban is “war” and “racism.” “They are so scared of us,” tweeted Irina Rodnina, the former Olympic skating champion who is now a pro-Kremlin MP. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of a pro-Kremlin ultra-nationalist party, called the decision “political and sporting racism”. Konstantin Kosachev, chair of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s parliament, said the decision was “part of the general Western policy of holding Russia back.” “They are always trying to put us down in everything – our way of life, our culture, our history and now our sport,” wrote Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, in a Facebook post. The ban left athletes the option to compete neutrally, under the Olympic flag, meaning that their “uniform, flag and anthem” will not be used. The decision that many sporting officials and politicians are now burdened with is whether to avoid the Winter Games completely, or to allow individual athletes to make the decision themselves. Vladimir Putin has, of yet, refrained from comment, but he has previously stated that this decision would be “humiliating.” Aleksei Durnovo, a Russian commentator said “some people think it’s humiliating to participate like this, others think that we should allow the athletes an opportunity to compete.” Athletes themselves expressed mixed opinions. Ice hockey star Ilya Kovalchuk said that Russians need to compete. “Refusing means surrender! All clean athletes should go. It’ll be the last games for many, and they won’t have a chance to go to the Olympics again.” Figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva said she would not participate under a neutral flag. “I’m proud of my country, it’s a huge honor for me to represent [Russia] at the Games. It gives me strength and inspires me when I perform.”



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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1005  

December 8 - 11, 2017

Issue #1005  

December 8 - 11, 2017