Issue no: 851
• JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... An Excess of Political Product in Georgia POLITICS PAGE 5
Deeply Concerned: Ogden on the Contradictory Nature of Georgian Politics
ONE YEAR ON THE TRAGEDY REMEMBERED June 13th will see the one year anniversary of the Tbilisi flood. Georgia Today takes a look back
Begi the hippo. Photo: Joseph Alexander Smith
NATO to Offer Enhanced Package to Georgia at Warsaw Summit in July
POLITICS PAGE 6
British Embassy Celebrates Queen’s Birthday SOCIETY PAGE 8
Monsoon 5: A little Less Sugar, A Little More Cover, Yes Please
BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
ATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday met with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili at NATO’s Headquarters in Brussels for talks on the Western alliance’s partnership with Georgia. During a joint press conference with President Margvelashvili, Stoltenberg praised Georgia for its contributions to Euro-Atlantic security and its strong commitment to NATO. “At the Warsaw Summit next month, we will further strengthen our package of support for Georgia,” Stoltenberg said. Continued on page 2
CULTURE PAGE 11
Georgia Shock Reigning European Champions Spain with “Unbelievable” Victory SPORTS PAGE 15
JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
UN General Assembly Adopts Resolution for Refugees from Georgia
Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference PREPARED BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
G BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
he United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing the right of safe, dignified and unhindered return of all internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees to their homes in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) region on June 7. The resolution had 76 in favor to 15 against, with 64 abstentions. This is the first time that the number countries voting in favor stands at more than those who abstained. The resolution stresses the need for the uninterrupted implementation of humanitarian activities and to ensure unhindered access for all IDPs, refugees and other persons residing in all conflictaffected areas throughout Georgia. The resolution also refers to the need to develop a timetable to ensure the voluntary, safe, dignified and unhindered return of all internally displaced persons and refugees affected by the conflict in Georgia, to their homes. Kakha Imnadze, Georgia’s Ambassador to the UN, emphasized the recent murder of Giga Otkhozoria from Abkhazia who was shot by so-called border guards while delivering food to his family. The ambassador said it was a sad reminder of the
human cost endured by internally displaced Georgians. “This is why Georgia is submitting this resolution,” he said, noting that the dead man had been one of the 400,000 displaced persons and refugees of all ethnicities and religions uprooted from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, and South Ossetia. One of the countries which has voted against the resolution each year for the past eight years is Russia. According to its deputy envoy to the UN, Evgeny Zagaynov, it would not help to solve problems because its goal was not to improve the situation of those displaced. “Behind the initiative was a desire to divert attention from the real work of the region, using the Assembly to advance unilateral approaches and anti-Russian rhetoric. The resolution would have made sense if representatives of Abkhazia and South Ossetia had been involved,” Zagaynov said. Along with Russia, among those against the resolution were Vietnam, Venezuela, Armenia, and Cuba. Last year 76 countries were in favor to 16 against, with 78 abstentions. Georgia has been submitting the resolution about IDPs and refugees from Abkhazia and South Ossetia for the consideration of the UN General Assembly since 2009. The first instance saw support from only 14 countries with 11 against and 105 abstentions. Each year the number of the resolution supporters increases.
eorgia is hosting the eighth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference of the United Nations Economic Commission. The Ministerial Conference Batumi 2016 was organized by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia. In the frame of the Ministerial, Georgia is hosting approximately 600 delegates from 56 countries, ministers, representatives of the business sector, business associations and high-ranking representatives from 55 international organizations working on environmental issues. Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, Gigla Agulashvili, Executive Secretary of UNECE, Christian Bach, and Head of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara, Archil Khabadze, addressed conference participants. The eighth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference is a special format of cooperation between the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s member countries, United Nation organizations, governmental organizations, regional environmental centers, non-governmental organizations, private sector and other interested parties.
Ministerial conferences are held once every 3-5 years as a high-ranking platform that facilitates discussion on environmental issues between interested parties in order to identify priorities and to plan joint activities for sustainable development. The main topics of the conference are: Green Economics Development in the Pan-European Region, Air Quality Improvement for Better Environment, and Human Health. In the frame of the conference a high-rank meeting will be held on the topic of Education for Sustainable Development. Countries and stakeholders from the pan-European region have already agreed on a roadmap to speed up the transition to a Green Economy between now and 2030 and have begun to make an array of pledges translating this into action, reports unece. org. The Batumi Initiative on Green Economy (BIGE) was also launched today, made up of voluntary actions from more than twenty countries. “We are pleased to see so many concrete pledges coming directly from ministers, to put the Green Economy transition in motion in our region,” said Jan Dusik, Head of UNEP’s Regional Office for Europe. The first Ministerial Conference Environment for Europe, initiated by the Ministry of Environment Protection of the Czech Republic, was held in 1991 in Dobris. Since then, seven ministerial conferences have been held in Lucerne (Switzerland, 1993), Sofia (Bulgaria, 1995), Aarhus (Denmark, 1998), Kiev (Ukraine, 2003), Belgrade (Serbia, 2007) and Astana (Kazakhstan, 2011).
NATO to Offer Enhanced Package to Georgia at Warsaw Summit in July Continued from page 1
Stoltenberg highlighted that Georgia is the thirdlargest contributor to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and welcomed Georgia’s impressive defense reforms. “Georgian troops have been standing shoulder to shoulder with NATO for many years,” he said. “Over the past two years, we have put in place a Substantial NATO-Georgia package of support to strengthen Georgia’s defense capabilities...Its implementation is on track,” he added, referencing the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Center located outside the Georgian capital Tbilisi.
Stoltenberg reiterated that NATO would continue to support Georgia in moving closer to the alliance with further training and joint missions. In early May, more than 1,200 troops including, 500 Georgian, 650 US and 150 British took part in the NATO-led Noble Partner exercises hold in Georgia. The exercises were seen as a major step towards boosting the small South Caucasus nation’s defensive capabilities against its giant neighbor Russia to the north. Moscow was outraged by the drills and described the exercises as a provocative move by NATO that was aimed at destabilizing the Caucasus region and an attempt to check Russia’s interests in what it sees as its traditional sphere of influence.
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
A Year on From the Tbilisi Zoo Disaster and Dozens of Questions Still Remain BY VAZHA TABVERIDZE
he image of Begi the hippo waddling through Tbilisi’s muddy streets with a puzzled expression on his face became an iconic image of the devastingly deadly floods that swept through the Georgian capital’s streets a year ago. The June 13, 2015 disaster turned the international media’s attention to Georgia after the flood claimed 20 lives, caused millions of dollars in damage and nearly wiped out the Tbilisi Zoo. A year on from the tragedy and it has become apparent that most of the damage could have been avoided if only Tbilisi’s city planners had been less reluctant to listen to those who opposed building a highway where the Vere River ultimately spilled over its banks with devastating consequences taking lives such as that of Guliko Nozadze, a much-beloved zoo caretaker, who with her husband and an elderly watchman, perished in the flood as they worked to release dozens of animals trapped in their cages. Days after the flood, as the shock of the devastation set in, panic spread throughout Tbilisi as word came that an escaped tiger had attacked and killed a man. The incident happened almost immediately after both the government and zoo authorities assured Tbilisi’s residents that all of the animals that were still loose had been either captured or eliminated. Outraged, the public demanded an explanation as to how a tiger could still be on the loose after the authorities had
guaranteed that all threats to the local population had been eliminated. According to the zoo’s director, Zurab Gurielidze, the surviving animals had been counted and zoo officials discovered that a single tiger was still missing. They quickly concluded that the unaccounted for big cat had perished and was washed away in the flood. The government, however, refused to take responsibility for the mistake and promptly took Gurielidze in for questioning. He was later released without any charges being brought against him. Many unanswered questions still remain regarding the unethical behavior of dozens of law enforcement agents who decided to play the role of national hero by shooting and killing many of the zoo’s most beloved animals who could have otherwise been neutralized by professional handlers. This is the most likely what led to the death of beloved lion cub Shumba, who was shot and killed by a police officer before anyone could ascertain whether or not the cub was dangerous. Tbilisi Zoo’s inhabitants were not the only animal victims of the flood as the country’s largest dog shelter, founded by businessman Tamaz Elizbarashvili, was completely washed away with most of the dogs still in their kennels. In the year since the flood, Georgia’s civil society has become emboldened due to the incompetence of the government and city authorities. Immediately after the tragedy, hundreds of young volunteers worked diligently to clear away the debris that clogged the river in the aftermath of the events of June 13. Many in Georgia still blame the gov-
ernment for their inexcusable handling of the rescue operations and immediate clean-up as a result of the flood. Only footballer-turned-minister Kakha Kaladze recieved a nationwide thumbs-up as he took to the streets to help with the relief effort. A photo of mud-spattered Kaladze sitting wearily among debris, garbage, and splintered trees instantly went viral. In the wake of the disaster at the zoo, city officials decided to relocate the city’s new zoo to a safer locale outside the city center near the Tbilisi Sea reservoir. Most originally interpreted the decision as being one that was meant to safeguard against a similar tragedy being repeated in the future. However, it now appears that the zoo’s future remains up in the air
as dozens of local businessmen squabble over the future site. Construction has not yet begun and the zoo will be operating at its current location for at least the next three years, according to its administration. Most outside observers now wonder what the status of the Tbilisi Zoo is today. The partially rebuilt site reopened its gates on September 13, 2015, three months after the flood. At the time, visitors were surprised by the condition of the renovated upper half of the zoo. However, the lower part was completely destroyed by the flood and remains closed to this day. The area now has new apartments, grass, roads and trees that reveal no trace of the
disaster that occurred in the city a year ago. Tbilisi Zoo is currently home to an albino lion family and the main attraction, Begi the hippo, who is oblivious to his own superstardom. He remains as cheerful as ever no matter how many visitors he receives. Fortunately, the zoo still retains the majority of its winged inhabitants, as well as diverse non-predatory fauna. 22 new animals from European Zoos have been donated, including wildebeests, mongoose and a charming yet gruff group of porcupines which have quickly become crowd favorites. Tbilisi Zoo, though almost halved in size, remains open for business as it awaits word on its fate in the coming year.
JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
MFA Report Reveals Human Rights Violations on Occupied Territories BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA
n June 6, the Georgian Foreign Ministry (MFA) released its first quarterly report of 2016 assessing the human rights situation in the occupied regions of Georgia. The document highlights that two Georgian territories, Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, still remain under Russia’s occupation and Georgians living on the ground face gross violations of their fundamental rights. “The ethnic Georgians still living in Abkhazia are often subjected to restrictions on their freedom of movement, restrictions concerning receiving education in their native language, as well as forced passportization.” Since January 2013, the Russian occupation forces have intensified the process of installation of razor wire and barbed wire fences and other artificial obstacles along the occupation lines in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions. Currently, the total length of artificial barriers along the occupation line in Tskhinvali Region is nearly 51 km. Razor and barbed wire fences cover a stretch of more than 12 km in the Abkhazian region, the document emphasizes. The report underlines the fact that in the reporting period, February this year, de-facto president of Abkhazia Raul Khajimba signed a so-called “law on the legal status of foreign citizens in Abkhazia.” The MFA is concerned that the regulation is aimed at qualifying ethnic
Georgians living in Abkhazia as foreign citizens and discriminating against them in numerous ways. “There is a threat that such so called “laws” can become grounds for another wave of ethnic cleansing,” the MFA warns. “The adoption of the above-mentioned so called “laws” are directly linked to the new illegal wave of “passportization” on the occupied territories.” The report mentions that over 300,000 documents, including passports and residence permits, were processed in the Russian Federation to be distributed throughout the two occupied regions. Additionally, the MFA document states that the practice of torture and ill-treatment in the occupied regions remain an issue of concern that has been attested to by various sources made available in the reporting period. “Individuals detained in the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali Region, who later returned to undisputed Georgian territory, reported incidents of mistreatment and abuse in Ossetian detention centers. Mistreatment included inflicting cigarette burns, and beatings.” Restriction on freedom of movement is one of the core topics included in the account. “A recently published report of Amnesty International states ‘movement in and out of the breakaway territories Abkhazia and South Ossetia remained restricted.’” According to the MFA document, violations of the right to property occur systematically in the occupied regions of Georgia. “It should be noted that according to the Country Reports on
Occupation line separating Abkhazia and Georgia’s unoccupied territory. Photo: Nana Kikalia
Human Rights Practices for 2015 recently published by US Department of State, in Abkhazia, the so-called “legal system” prohibits property claims by ethnic Georgians who left Abkhazia before, during, or after the 1992-93 war, thereby depriving all IDPs of their property rights in Abkhazia.” The MFA also claims that at the end of the 2014-15 academic year, 11 schools in the lower zone of Gali district (Abkhazia) had the status of Georgian schools teaching subjects in the Georgian language. However, by the following September 2015, drastic changes had been
made to the curriculum in those schools. Namely, classes in the first four grades are now conducted in the Russian language, with the perspective of full transition into the Russian education system within the next two years. The Foreign Ministry is appealing to the international community, as well as international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, to continue recognizing the occupation of the territories of Georgia by Russia. The MFA calls on the international community to continue calling on the Russian Federation to bear responsi-
bility for human rights violations in the occupied regions of Georgia. Georgian government forces fought three wars against Russian-backed separatist forces in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions 1991-2008. The wars left thousands dead and led to the ethnic cleansing of a quarter of a million ethnic Georgians. Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions were recognized as independent states by Moscow following the 2008 war. International law and the United Nations continue to state that the regions remain parts of Georgia.
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
An Excess of Political Product in Georgia OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
don’t know how much the world has come to know Georgia as a new independent nation in the wake of the clamorous soviet collapse a while back, but before this ‘Geopolitical Catastrophe,’ we were identified as Russians, which made us angry and miserable because national identity has always meant something painfully important to us Georgians. Today, we are open to the world in the full sense of our national freedom and independence, although still fragile and fledgling. And the world is learning little by little who we are and where we are coming from. The world has already learnt that we love abundance. Suffice to say that our sumptuous festive tables with layers of food, wine pouring from jugs like rivers and numerous toasts in a prolonged and exhausting process of eating and drinking have become a part of our everyday lifestyle. Even the youth who have had a chance to taste and adopt the western table manners and habits would cling to those overwhelming traditions of deep roots all over Georgia. Even the kids whose moms and dads are celebrating birthdays for them, would elect a toastmaster, called ‘Tamada,’ to lead the table with traditional wordy toasts. Abundance is all over the place – abundance in everything. We are only forgetting here one con-
siderable field of activity where abundance is even more striking than in other walks of life. Politics! I don’t think there is another country in the world with a multitude of political parties comparable to ours. Georgia has more than 200 officially registered political parties who claim participation in the political game. Although their actual clout on our life varies from none to very little, they still want to be registered and desperately try to be functional to some notable extent. This is a real mania, but this is our nature – we want to be in politics, head over heels. As curious as this political phenomenon seems to be, it must have some sociopsychological grounds. Why should we be so terribly preoccupied with what is called politics? Is this a malady? Could it be a national hobby? Some freaky infatuation? Inflated love for politicking? Attempt to survive? Desire for popularity? For a better life? It is well known that Americans are rationalists and pragmatic thinkers, if not doers, and they have made a historical choice to let only two parties build the political process in the country, formally admitting to table one more party, commonly called Independent. America, with 400 million people, has only two major and about 40 minor political parties, Four-million strong Georgia has about 10 major and 220 minor ones. Isn’t this something? Thank God not all of them are participating in the elections. Just imagine hundreds of
political parties in the electoral marathon in our miniature Georgia. That would be the laugh of the century. Even if only 10-15 parties show up and win enough votes to get through, it will still create a gruesome overall impression, and also, the due predicament in the parliament if all of them get into it by hook or by crook. On the other hand, the political showground might become the next comedy show, what with the regular fist fights likely to become the part with the highest ratings, leaving the verbal altercations and vilifications far behind. On a more serious note, questions coming to mind include, why are we so badly obsessed with politics and politicians and their parties? Could the reason be our public opinion that our quality of life is in their hands? Or could it be the expectation that politicians and their parties might change something to the better so that we can finally relax a little?
Do we seriously think that politicians are the people they try to make us believe they are – caring, loving, laborious, intelligent, faithful and patriotic? Do we really think that this hilarious abundance of political parties makes any sense in this nation’s life? Such an abundance of political parties and hundreds of thousands of citizens, clad in the hides of political animals, perpetuate the everpresent political hysteria in Georgia which only uses up our money, time and energy with no tangible result to count on. The most central of all questions, how come we have this much time to spend on politics? If there are 220 political parties to constitute our ideological infrastructure, then presumably all of them have the followers. Multiply the number of parties by the average number of their adherents and you will get a figure which goes beyond any understanding of participation of the public
in a political process. When are we working on our economy, if we are doing so at all? How do we manage to create the material strength for the survival of our families? For how long are we going to be buried in political fuss, farce and vanity? It is the weird and permanently growing abundance of political parties that yields fruitless verbiage and gets us nowhere. It is the irrelevance of the good-for-nothing political groupings and associations that make our wits blunt and immobile. We need hands, not parties, in abundance. Working hands! We don’t need to talk this much, we need to be doing. The first and foremost thing that our Western friends prompt us for – not demand from us, though – is to learn how to labor with a maximum result in a minimum amount of time. Political parties cannot do this. They can only talk, and very often, only up to a point. Then why such an abundance of a product we can’t use or sell?
JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
Deeply Concerned: Lt. Col Robert Hamilton on Georgia’s NATO Expectations Ogden on the
Contradictory Nature of Georgian Politics
BY NANA SAJAIA, VOICE OF AMERICA GEORGIAN SERVICE
ew nations are expecting the NATO Warsaw summit with the same anticipation as Georgia, with its foreign vector ever pointing towards deeper integration into the North Atlantic Alliance. It can be easily surmised that Georgia will not be given a much-coveted membership action plan in Warsaw, but it is expected that Georgia will not be left entirely empty-handed, either. Robert Hamilton, Lt. Col., US Army talked through Georgia’s NATO expectations in a chat with Voice of America’s Georgian bureau at the Security and Defense Summit organized by the Georgian Ministry of Defense.
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE GEORGIA’S RELATIONS WITH NATO AND WHEN WILL IT BE FULLY PREPARED TO JOIN THE ALLIANCE? My estimation is, and it was shared by a lot of guests and high-level speakers at the Summit, that Georgia is fully prepared for NATO membership, Georgia has done a lot politically and militarily to prepare for the Alliance- it is a very large contributor to NATO in Afghanistan, was involved in Kosovo, which was a NATO mission, and also contributed in Iraq, which was not a NATO mission but nevertheless a lot of NATO partners participated. During the first day of the Summit, a Noble Partner, which was a US-British-Georgia exercise, wrapped up. In that exercise, a Georgian Unit was certified as fully meeting NATO
OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN
I “Georgia’s NATO membership [has become] a political question”
standards, and recognized as fully interoperable for all NATO missions.
WHAT IS THE MAIN VALUE OF THIS EXERCISE FOR GEORGIA’S ARMED FORCES? I think the real value and importance of this exercise was the certification that came at the end. The Georgian unit is now fully interoperable and fully qualified for other NATO operations in the future- fully meeting NATO standards in all areas. Georgia, as you know, has participated in a lot of NATO missions but in an exercise like this NATO was able to assess a unit against a specific set of criteria. Looking forward, GeorgiaUS and Georgia-NATO exercises will continue, but the goal is to certify more military units to NATO standards and qualify them fully for further operations.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE UP-COMING WARSAW SUMMIT
WILL BRING TO GEORGIA? It’s hard to predict what will happen at the Summit and as you know, all members of the Alliance have to agree to bring in a new member. I know that the US policy on NATO has been that Georgia belongs in the Alliance as it has met all the necessary criteria. It is also official NATO policy- that Georgia and Ukraine will become members of NATO-Alliance, as said during the 2008 Bucharest Summit. It is now more of a political question and no longer an issue of military interoperability, no asking whether Georgia has done enough as far as its defense reforms, or building its military forces to meet NATO standards or whether Georgia meets the democratic form of government that NATO requires as a standard. It now becomes a political question of how NATO will follow through on its pledge that Georgia and Ukraine become members of the Alliance.
wasn’t a very big fan of the former government – I’m not a big fan of any government, since governments are invariably made up of politicians, and politicians are tricky beasts at best and downright villains at worst. I know that the United National Movement was responsible for filming the intimate lives of rivals and citizens, but seeing as the British Parliament is under scrutiny for participating in organized paedophilia since the 1970s, why, what’s a sex tape more or less? (It’s true, too; Google Jimmy Savile and you’ll see what I’m talking about. No mad conspiracy theories in my Op-Eds, no sir.) However, neither am I particularly enamored with the current parliamentary infestation; making a footballer who looks as though he’d have difficulty remembering the days of the week Minister of Energy and seemingly taking turns at who-gets-to-play-Prime-Minister this year hardly suggests competence or responsibility. Things are getting better, of course (sort of, bar acts of occasional Orthodox Christian violence against people who are ‘different’), but whether that’s due to the new government or if Georgia was already on the right track is, I think, open to debate. Despite my misgivings about Georgian Dream, I did meet the President last year at an embassy party and took to him
immensely, not only because he seems to be one of the few voices of reason in the government, but also because he didn’t allow his bodyguards to shoot me when I drunkenly staggered over to him and slurred congratulations on a job well done. I didn’t actually slap him on the back, but gave him a back-slapping look designed to show him that he had got T. C. J. Ogden firmly in his corner. At any rate, he was good enough to allow a picture to be taken of us together, which I remain rather proud of, not least because he actually looks far more excited to meet me than I am to meet him. (Incidentally, I wonder if the British tax payer knows their money goes towards funding embassy parties which distribute enough wine to fill Lake Victoria, unless the Georgians supply it. Aye, well, fill her up, waiter.) My mate the President has occasionally come into conflict with members of the government for (quite rightly) disagreeing with them and Mr. Ivanishvili. I was surprised to see that whenever my pal Giorgi verbally brawls (though I’d pay to see a physical fight between the President and some MPs; he looks as though he’d just as soon spar with the police than eat his dinner), the international community do and say nothing. This seems completely at odds with the established MO of the helicopter diplomats who seem ready to stick their oars in at any opportunity and express ‘deep concern’ at anything that doesn’t meet European parliamentary standards (whatever those might be). Continued on page 7
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
Mimosa and Gunpowder in Sokhumi OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA The main allies of the Abkhazian opposition in their quest to remove Khajimba’s government are the Georgians from Gali. Therefore, negotations are ongoing to give Georgian Gali back the right to vote
round the second anniversary of the Tangerines Revolution in occupied Abkhazia, the new Mimosa Revolution is now underway. We hear that, together with the scent of Mimosas, gunpowder can be smelled in the city of Sokhumi with the so-called President of the occupied territory, Raul Khajimba, having set the date for the referendum about the need for early presidential elections for July 10th. Whether or not he’ll be able to avoid the revolution by means of that referendum is unknown even within his closest circle. As the local opposition says, “The Moor has done his duty. The Moor can go.” The Moor in this case is of course Khajimba, who, as the head of the referendum initiative Daur Tania says, failed to fulfill any of the election promises given to Abkhazians. “[He] couldn’t change the clannish government, couldn’t improve the economic situation and failed to increase the Russian subsidy.” In addition to the unfulfilled promises, the reason for disfavoring Khajimba is also his origins. Unlike the previous de facto presidents, he is not from the Abkhazian elite and is not from Gudauta (a region in Abkhazia), instead heralding from Tkvarcheli. Two years ago he was elected President only for his former friendship with Putin. Like Putin, Khajimba is also a KGB officer. Despite this, the main reason behind the attacks on Khajimba is said to be the Turkish problem, because when the confrontation peaked between Moscow and Ankara, Khajimba clearly sided with Moscow. Indeed, Khajimba’s direct order was
to ban Turkish ships from entering Sokhumi Port. The Turkish were also denied the right to export ore from the Tkvarcheli coal mines. Other Turkish businesses closed down. Expert on Caucasus Issues, Mamuka Areshidze, said that it was precisely the disruption of the Russian-Turkish balance that turned Khajimba’s government upside down. Whether Khajimba will be able to avoid the existing political crisis or not will become apparent at the referendum. Khajimba is confident that the Abkhazian people will become fully aware of the existing situation, which includeds electricity deficits and budget sequestration, before 10th July and that “the irresponsible policy of the opposition will get a proper response from the citizens.” On 10th July, the population residing on the occupied territory will need to answer the question “does it consider early presidential elections necessary?” The region of Gali, densely populated by Georgians, will not have the opportunity to vote, as they are currently deprived of this right. And this is exactly how Khajimba came to power, in an initiative supported by Abkhazians. Today, the situation is different, as the main
allies of the Abkhazian opposition in their quest to remove Khajimba’s government are exactly these Georgians from Gali. Therefore, negotations are ongoing to give Georgian Gali back the right to vote. Fifty thousand Georgians live in Gali today- it is the second largest ethnic group after Abkhazians. Slightly more than sixty thousand people are ethnic Abkhazian and most of them are against Khajimba. Considering the fact that the sum of votes of both Abkhazians and Georgians makes up the majority, simple arithmetics suggests that the fate of Khajimba depends on the vote of the Georgians. Whether in the remaining days before the referendum the opposition will be able to return the right to vote to Georgians through the required legislative change will soon be known. “Khajimba might want to show Moscow that local population is unsatisfied by the laws that Russia wants Abkhazia to adopt,” says Areshidze. “Stories spread through various internet sources suggest that serious warning messages are being sent from Russia and that if Abkhazians do not agree, the rebellion of the second largest ethnic group will be inevitable.”
Whenever my pal Giorgi verbally brawls (though I’d pay to see a physical fight between the President and some MPs; he looks as though he’d just as soon spar with the police than eat his dinner), the international community do and say nothing
Deeply Concerned: Ogden on the Contradictory Nature of Georgian Politics Continued from page 6
Ivanishvili’s clandestine involvement with the government has become doubly alarming in recent months because it doesn’t seem very clandestine anymore. The man has openly said that he is no longer involved with the running of the country, yet equally openly appears at party sessions and gives speeches on the future of the government. Why, just this week he declared that if society has had enough of him, he will retire from public life...directly contradicting his earlier comments of having retired from public life some time ago. Quite why this has not been picked up by the diplomatic corps or the President (of whom I had expected better things) is anyone’s guess, especially as foreign attaches here are always happy to jump on anything they feel to be ‘undemocratic’. Perhaps they feel if they target one party they might be
violating their official neutrality and influencing public opinion, but any criticism directed towards Georgian Dream in this way would be entirely justified and nobody’s fault except the party itself. If all the international community is capable of doing is expressing ‘deep concern’ over internal issues, I’d like to see them express it towards something worthwhile. Opposition government in Georgia does not seem to amount to much beyond complaining and screaming ‘Conspiracy!’, but it is frightening that their fears might be justified. When the government is accused of being controlled from behind the scenes, and the puppeteer has now stopped even trying to deny that he pulls the strings, some sort of response is surely warranted. If nobody else will express it, I will; I officially state that I am deeply concerned. A career in the diplomatics beckons me, I’m sure.
JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
Want to Know WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink and Buy? New Essential Travel Guide to Georgia Now Available
Parties are being held worldwode to celebrate the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth. Photo: PA
rom 10th June WHERE – the first issue of an essential guide to Georgia - will be available in major hotels and restaurants in Tbilisi and very soon across Georgia, giving travelers the low down on the most famous tourist destinations throughout the country. Each section of WHERE is opened by special celebrity guests sharing their unique experience and knowledge about WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink, Buy. Also discover the insiders’ guide to the top eateries, best shops and best sights- and learn some things that even your tour guide might not know! According to WHERE publisher, George Sharashidze, “With a strong belief in the demand for an essential travel guide about Georgia, my team and I have spent more than six months developing the concept of WHERE – an English language guidebook with the most accurate and, more importantly, regularly updated information about WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink, Buy. With WHERE you can
plan and organize your stay in Georgia both in the capital and regions, find out what’s worth seeing, learn where to find the best food for any taste and budget and where to go shopping.” In addition to the new WHERE guidebook, travelers can buy Where Discount Cards – 10 magic discount cards for only 10 GEL (1 GEL per card) and enjoy 170 GEL worth of free gifts and extra discounts up to 20% from locales carefully selected by WHERE managers to make sure that readers receive excusive offers from the best of attractions in each sections of WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink, Buy. Interested in those Discount Cards? Head on down to the souvenir shops in the Old Town- on Leselidze Street and in the Abanotubani and Sharden areas for your copy of WHERE. Otherwise, grab your free copy of WHERE (without discount cards) at one of the hotels or café-bars in central Tbilisi. Feel free to call WHERE HQ anytime to order your copy of WHERE & WHERE Discount Cards. TEL +995 032 2295919.
British Embassy Celebrates Queen’s Birthday PREPARED BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
ritish Ambassador Alexandra Hall Hall on June 9th hosted a Queen’s Birthday Party to celebrate the 90th Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen. The reception was attended by senior Georgian Ministers, parliamentarians, government officials, members of the diplomatic community, members of the British community in Georgia, the business sector and civil society representatives. Speaking before the occasion, Ambassador Hall Hall said, “This year the Queen celebrates her 90th Birthday, so it is a very special occasion for all British people, including our embassy in Tbilisi. This year is also the 400th anniversary of the UK’s great
bard, William Shakespeare, as well as the 850th anniversary of Georgia’s national poet, Shota Rustaveli, so we will also be celebrating in their honor, with a special theme for the party of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ an Elizabethan-era banquet, and special performances of music, dance and theater.” It is to be Alexandra Hall Hall’s last hosting of a Queen’s Birthday Party in Georgia as she wraps up her four year term in August, to be replaced by Justin McKenzie Smith. “It has been an honor to serve here as Britain’s representative at this important time in Georgia’s history,” the Ambassador said. “This party will be an opportunity not only for us to celebrate the enduring friendship between the UK and Georgia, but also for me to thank personally all those with whom we have worked closely over the last three years to make this relationship even stronger.”
International Expedition Discovers New Traces of Ancient Wine Civilization in Georgia BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
ew archaeological discoveries continue to confirm that Georgia is one of the oldest wine civilizations in the world. The first grape seeds were discovered in Kvemo Kartli region, south-eastern Georgia, two years ago. Throughout the following years, an international team of archaeologists and students have managed to find more residential buildings, vine dust, domestic work instruments, vessels and pits dating back to 6,000 BC. The Georgian National Museum (GNM) held archaeological digs together with the University of Toronto, Canada, in Imiri village, Kvemo Kartli region. This year young Canadian and Georgian archaeologists also got involved in the expedition within the Gadachrili Gora Regional Archaeological Project Expedition (GRAPE), organized by the GNM and University of Toronto. GRAPE aims to popularize Georgian cultural heritage and historical disciplines connected with it, including archaeology, ethnology and paleobotany, as well as developing and popularizing the Georgian winemaking culture. “Our excavations have acquired another important function as an educational center,” said David Lordkipanidze, Director General of the Georgian National Museum and Head of the expedition. Archaeologists say that the processing and paleobotanical study of the discovered materials is vitally important and creates a clearer picture of the ancient wine culture that existed in Georgia.
Further excavations of the eastern Georgian Neolithic monuments has also proved that, with the development of agriculture, society shifted to a new stage of life, which began the process of increased agricultural awareness and animal domestication. The joint project of the Georgian National Museum and the National Wine Agency “Research of Georgian Grapes and Wine” has been ongoing since 2014 under the patronage of the Georgian government. The first findings that year aroused great interest among both the international scientific community and the press, which also recognized Georgia as one of the most ancient wine civilizations. Today, the project has reached a truly international level, gathering scientists and experts from numerous countries, states and institutes, including Georgia itself, Pennsylvania, Montpellier, Milan, Copenhagen, Toronto University, the Israel Vaisman Institute and the Montpelier Research Institute.
JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
Tomorrow’s Chefs Celebrate at Funicular BY SOPO CHKHEIDZE
he victors in a recipe competition visited the Funicular Restaurant on Sunday to see their winning recipes turned into a mouth-watering meal. The competition was the brainchild of Funicular Executive Chef Jorge da Silva who challenged students from St. George’s BritishGeorgian School (BGS), where his wife Lucy teaches, to suggest some new recipes for his restaurant. There were 30 entries in all, and three winners were chosen by Jorge. The first place winner, Lazare Zhvania (aged 11), will have his recipe included in the Funicular menu for the next month. Lazare and his guests watched and helped Executive Chef Jorge prepare the dish following the recipe. The second and third place winners, Nugo Mtsituri (7) and Andria Laitadze (8), were also invited to sample the dish when cooked, along with Lazare and his guests. A special assembly was held at St. George’s British-Georgian School on Monday last week for Executive Chef Jorge to announce the prize winners. He also presented certificates to all who had participated, and a special wooden spoon trophy to Lazare Zhvania, the first prize winner. Jorge da Silva later commented that he was pleased with the interest shown in the competition. “There were several really good entries, and it was hard
to pick just a few prize winners. I hope that the event might set some students thinking about becoming chefs in the future.” He added that he plans to repeat the challenge next year. At the presentation assembly, BGS Headmaster Dr. Christopher Greenfield thanked Mr. da Silva for arranging the competition. “You picked a novel idea which really seized the interest of our younger students,” he told Mr. da Silva. “We thank you for all the thought, time and effort you have put into helping our students take up your challenge.”
Fashionable Café-Restaurant Dinehall Opens on Rustaveli
Good Food is a Human Right
BY MAKA LOMADZE
he new eye-catching space located at 28 Rustaveli in a late 18th century building and covering a total area of 1000 sq. m, has become the home of the first casual café-restaurant designed by Maqro Construction’s designers: Dinehall Fresh Casual. After a USD 6 mln investment, Dinehall has opened its doors ready to serve guests from 07.30 am to 02 00 am. Offering a fabulous mix of food, wine and art, Dinehall combines five venues in one. The first floor includes a Café and Restaurant serving local and international dishes, while the floor below houses a bar/wine cellar surrounded by the preserved historical walls of the building. There is also more space available for special and corporate events in an expo-hall section. This space also showcases artwork made by Georgian sculptors Levan Bujiashvili and Lasha Kukhalashvili from Art Group Red Table. The design is eclectic, the mix of styles encompassing the most exquisite taste. As Murat Avji, CEO of Maqro Construction, said in conversation with GEORGIA TODAY, ‘Fresh Casual’ was selected as the name of the branch because the dishes are prepared with
the freshest ingredients - something that Georgia can be proud of – as well as the expertise of top chefs with international experience. “We believe that people deserve the best of everything. That is why we are opening the first branch of our international fresh casual café-restaurant in Tbilisi, with the belief that ‘Good food is a human right,’” he said. Dinehall management claims that the dishes they offer are already outstanding, and guaranteed to beat the best of expectations. The menu comprises international as well as local dishes. Attendees at the pre-opening event had a chance sample a 5-course meal starting with a sumptuous chicken soup and mushrooms, followed by an ultra-light salad of greens. The lamb barbecue came as the third course, carried on by the main course – beef with pasta. Last but not least, if not the best, a delicious chocolate dessert with caramelized banana sprinkled with walnut slices- a definite favorite with the female guests! GEORGIA TODAY spoke to fellow guest Lika Lazariashvili, “Everything is so exquisite here. I do believe that Dinehall will become of the favorite haunts for Georgians as well as foreigners. The only problem is parking, as usual. If somebody wishes to have a fashionable birthday, wedding, corporate party, or just a romantic dinner, this is the right place. The tasty food and original interior make a really nice tandem.”
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JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
Interlude, Meditation BY TONY HANMER
am writing this article from my departure area at Warsaw’s Frederic Chopin International Airport, waiting to return to Tbilisi and then home, to Svaneti. I made a very short trip back to Canada to see off a great, nearly lifelong friend who had just died when a brain aneurysm four years old finally betrayed him into a stroke, a week in hospital, and the end. He and his wife had known of it, but had decided to live their lives as if ignorant, also telling no one. Indeed, they and another couple, all dear friends, had visited us several years ago to build our first proper indoor bathroom. His widow now expressed her gladness that they had seen our mountain fastness in time. It took me three flights and two ten-hour layovers to make this journey out, and a similar ordeal coming back. But it was required, by the decades of our friendship, his mentorship of me, and my wife’s insistence. We did our best to arrange for someone to come and help her with the farm work and other manual labor while I was away, and I made my most hurried exit from Georgia ever, buying a ticket for the next day in Zugdidi. Aside from the flights, I also had a six-hour evening train from there to Tbilisi and a sleepless night outward, and now await another, all-night sleeper wagon inward. The hours, and the jet-lag, add up. The funeral: over five hundred people and a wonderful testimony to the lives this man participated in during his nearly seven decades. He was father to many. Gone, suddenly, and we now in shock, grateful for his legacy, clinging to each other for support, especially his widow and three sons and several young grandchildren, too young to understand. But resting in faith, too. So, that is the why of me being here. When I started writing these articles for GT more than five years ago, it was after a single letter to the news-
paper by email from Mestia where my wife and I lived at the time. A single answer, detailing word counts, photos, schedule and payment, and we were off. No other communication necessary, even by phone. It was about six months before I even descended, met anyone at the newspaper’s headquarters in Tbilisi and picked up my first accumulated salary. I usually write about Svaneti as my home and what’s going on in our lives and in the village and province, occasionally adding other themes if I happen to be elsewhere in Georgia or abroad, including the UK and Zimbabwe and Canada. But the ease of doing this, on a battery-powered laptop which also has all my photographs on it and from which I can email the articles from nearly anywhere on earth, is delightful. I fell into this part-time career with the greatest of ease and luck. It gives me a weekly writing commitment which I have never failed to meet, and makes me find something to write about whether I’m “in the mood” or not. The themes, sometimes large, sometimes tiny, present themselves for inspection, especially when one is in the habit of seeking them out. I choose, and sometimes make notes for the future when there might be a dry moment. I very much want to describe life in these faraway mountains, to put it on people’s radar (also accessible anywhere in the world where there is internet) and do what I can to ensure that Svaneti is discovered and then never forgotten. Because forgetting would lead to a slow extinction, the death of an entire people, and their funeral would only happen long after the fact. May it never be necessary. The water birds were picnic visitors in Edmonton, there to replace my sorrow with peace. Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1300 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti
New Stretch of Georgia’s East-West Highway Completed
BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
eorgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili opened new a 7 km section of the nation’s East-West Highway on Wednesday. The government plans to improve all major highways in the country, as well as build roads leading to the country’s main tourist destinations, Kvirikashvili announced The new stretch of the East-West highway makes up just over half of the planned 12km road that will be completed by the end of the year. Road and tunnel construction will also be car-
ried out in the isolated mountainous regions of Svaneti and Tusheti. An enhanced road linking the highland Racha Region to Kutaisi in western Georgia with Abastumani in the south will also be built in the coming years, according to the government’s infrastructure plans. Kvirikashvili noted that the government wants to make Kutaisi one of the country’s most important transportation hubs. The East-West Highway is the main route from Tbilisi to the Black Sea coast. The highway is also a part of the Silk Road project that links Europe and Asia. The World Bank is one of the main investors in the East-West Highway’s renovation. In total, it has provided USD 367 million (778 million GEL) to Georgia to develop the project.
JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
Spiritual Messages from Bulgaria BY MAKA LOMADZE
n Friday, 3 June 2016, the Embassy of Bulgaria opened the exhibition ‘Spiritual Messages’ at the Tbilisi History Museum Karvasla, an exposition that is full of mysticism and reminds us of the necessity to be alone sometimes in order to try to gain insight despite our busy schedules. The exhibition is the personal project of the Bulgarian artist Daniela Todorova whose works of art - predominantly installations with an air of discrete mysteriousness - present the profound bonds of Bulgaria’s culture with a number of ancient civilizations and cultures around the world through art embodying history, myths, legends, mysteries, memories and archetypes. The exposition is designed to show the image of Bulgaria’s ancient heritage abroad within the framework of the SOFIA PAPER ART FEST 2016. It is a follow-up of the AMATERAS Foundation exhibition ‘Paper Innovation’ pre-
Todorova identifies the common element in ancient cultures: the worship of heaven and nature, and rituals performed to honor the Sun and Fertility
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When we’re in a hurry, we forget that our belief and our religion is our power to succeed and to be happy sented in Karvasla Gallery in Tbilisi in November 2015. “This is the third Bulgarian exposition here,” said Lika Mamatsashvili, Director of Karvasla. “I think the connection between the two countries has always been big and I think it will be continued.” “The display shows the bronze sculpture and paper art that bring the air of ancient times and their spiritual messages to the modern humans,” said a proud H.E. Plamen Bonchev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Bulgaria to Georgia. “The stylistics is inspired by the ancient cultures of Thrace, Colchis, Asyria, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Phoenicia and other lands and cultures, and also Kolkhida. The aim is to show Bulgaria’s contribution to the history of world culture.” After Georgia, the exhibition will move to Prague, Great Britain and other countries. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to artist Daniela Todorova. “During my previous visit, everything inspired me, but first of all, the culture. I saw such strong Christianity here, something that was very interesting for me. My husband and I decided to use the language of the past and present as they are all somehow connected,” she said. “Here in the ornaments, you can see ancient elements coming from the sun. Jesus as an archetype is the energy of the sun, giving us light, love, optimism, and power to go further. This project is very important for contemporary people,
because sometimes when we are in a hurry, we forget that our belief and our religion is our power to succeed and to be happy.” Todorova identifies the common element in ancient cultures: the worship of heaven and nature, and rituals performed to honour the Sun and Fertility. The solar symbol, which is the main focus of the exposition and implies antiquity and spiritual teachings on the territory of Bulgaria, have also played an enormous role in the development of Europe and its system of spiritual values. The incredible bond of humankind with its creator – the Universe – is in the heart of the exposition, displaying the ancient links and similarities of cultures, cults and symbols. It presents in an allegorical way
– through the media of paper and bronze – the enigma of the ancient Thracians and Hun-Bulgarians, the Bogomils, the achievements of Christianity, the Glagolhicalphabet,theHun-BulgarianRoboshitza writing system, the ancient Proto-Bulgarian calendar. GEORGIA TODAY also talked to Todor Todorov, Daniela’s husband: “I have a large outdoor sculpture in 18 different countries. I chose my old works as they are appropriate to this exhibition”. Those interested in his art, can visit www.todor. org.uk The door is open until June 15, every day but for Monday, from 10 am to 5.30 pm. The Tbilisi History Museum is located next to Sioni Church, close to Chardin Street. Entrance costs 3 GEL.
he much anticipated Maroon 5 concert held in Batumi last night was more wet than sweet. The concert, delayed from a 5pm start to close to 21:30 saw the fabulous Maroon 5 boys stepping out on stage just as the clouds let go their load...and they kept on letting go for the next two hours and beyond. While Maroon 5 hit out at the audience with all its best loved numbers, the thick stage-hugging crowd in the packed openair area, known as Miracle Square, on the beach near Radisson Blu Batumi and the future Batumi Tower, tried its best to buoy its enthusiasm by sheltering under umbrellas and cheap raincoats. Undeterred by the downpour, they sang the well-loved lyrics at the top of their lungs. Yet this writer, staying far enough back from the throngs to be able to move all limbs freely and belt out her favourite tunes without disturbing the neighbors, felt that Maroon 5’s share of the USD 13 million ‘Check in Georgia’ project would have been more wisely spent on holding the concert in roofed premises. “Check in Georgia promotes Georgia’s popularity abroad and will make it an attractive destination for tourists…this will also enhance our image on the international market. Georgia should occupy its deserved place on the international cultural calendar,” Minister of Culture and Monument Protection Mikheil Giorgadze said in April, adding that the project plans to create modern open-air concert venues on Georgia’s Black Sea coast. This in obviously optimistic ignorance of the forthcoming rainy season. Maroon 5 were fabulous, if not clearly tired from their extensive Eastern European tour and lacking in that much-needed connection with the crowd (not even a “gamarjoba!” that Georgians so love, though Adam Levine did apologise for the weather and there were some Georgian polyphonic singers on stage for a few minutes singing along). The problem, though far from being Adam’s fault, was that very weather, so heavy that Maroon 5 wrapped up the concert quickly, with Continued on page 15
JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
Festival ‘From Easter to Ascension’ Closes
BY MAKA LOMADZE
n June 5, Tbilisi Concert Hall hosted the concert of world-famous Georgian pianist Alexander Korsantia in a show held in the frame of the annual festival ‘From Easter to Ascension.’. The festival was founded in 2006 by the Patriarch and the Akaki Ramishvili Foundation ‘Tradition and Innovation.’ The partner is Artists’ Union ‘ConceptArt’. Over the years, the well-loved festival has been led by many world-famous Georgian legends. Since 2011, the internationally acclaimed Georgian pianist Alexander Korsantia has been the permanent artistic director and works to greatly enrich the program. On June 5, he welcome the packed hall to the 11th festival. He assessed the festival as “a talented young student who knows a lot already and is already a serious performer,
but who realizes well that it is not the end and is committed to self-development, aiming to go further and grow.” This year’s festival was opened by Verdi’s Don Carlos by Iano Alibegashvili, to commemorate the great composer’s 115th anniversary, followed by Georgian composer Vajha Azarashvili’s Creative Evening and Jewish genius Khen Tsimbalista’s performance on drums. Korsantia in particular highlighted the ‘unforgettable’ concert of Sergey Babayan, where the latter performed Bach’s 24 fugas and preludes, a show that is reportedly “to remain fixed in the memories of those who attended it.” The festival was supported by the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection, namely, the project ‘Check in Georgia,’ and Tbilisi City Hall. Just before the start of the latest performance, Davit Narmania, Mayor of Tbilisi, also spoke to the audience: “We will actively support the festival next year. I want to thank his holiness, as well as Alexander Korsantia, who is actively involved not only in this festival’s organ-
ization, but also in other interesting cultural occasions. That is why, last year, we conferred on him the title of Honorary Citizen which I congratulate him with once again!” Korsantia stepped forward together with the Evgeny Mikeladze Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by famed Georgian conductor and composer, Nikoloz Rachveli, who gave an honorary accompaniment to the legendary pianist. The Patriarchate Choir of the Sameba (Trinity) Cathedral, headed by Svimon Jangulashvili, also participated. The core of the program consisted of Sergey Prokopiev’s piano and orchestra concerto 3. From the Georgian repertoire, the local classical musician Alex Machavariani’s Suite from the Ballet ‘Othello’ was in the spotlight. As scheduled, there were choir compositions of the Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia the Second as well as those written by various Georgian composers. However, the main surprise came with three musical pieces from the well-loved film ’Once upon a Time in America,’ composed by Ennio Morricone. The audience enjoyed the divine musical piece of his Holiness, called ‘Kyrie Eleison’, which opened and closed the June 5 concert. Together with the Male Choir, the solo was sung by the young and very promising opera singer Natalia Kutateladze. For the second time, this blissful tune was played by Alexander Korsantia, at encore, transporting many a listener to a higher realm. GEORGIA TODAY spoke briefly to the attending legendary Sukhishvili dancer Pridon Sulaberidze: “It was an incomparable concert. Such days makes us live longer.” And so right he was!
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Movies for Peace: Georgia Hosts HWPL Short Film Festival BY TATIA MEGENEISHVILI
he first Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) Short Film Festival was held in Tbilisi, at the Georgian National Museum, on June 4. Around 70 participants had submitted their short films on the theme of peace from which 9 works were selected to be screened publicly. The jury consisted of movie director Rusudan Chkonia; Head of the Strategic Communications Division at the Ministry of Defense of Georgia, Shalva Tevdoradze; and HWPL Delegation representative, Kayla Chang. The jury members chose films in three nominations to be awarded: Best Short Film went to ‘Letters’ (directed by Keti Giashvili from Chaikhana), the Best Director went to ‘Roots’ (directed by Pioneer Film School students) and the Best Actor went to ‘Butterfly’ (directed by Anna Akhalaia). The HWPL delegation chose ‘Roots’ for a special HWPL Prize. The Best Short Film, ‘Letters,’ is a series of videos containing letters from Abkhazian people who live in Georgia, written to their family and friends who have not been seen in over 23 years. The movie
reflects the situations of 250,000 people who were forced to leave their homes in Abkhazia. Chairman of the Business Chamber and Professor at the Tbilisi State University (TSU), Emzar Jgerenaia, said the short films screened during the festival moved the attendees and went a ways towards promoting peace in Georgian society. “I hope this cultural platform is held often and results in positive effects in Georgia,” Jgerenaia added. This film festival is a practical achievement of the culture of peace that is specified in Article 10 of the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War, helping towards a turning point in the history of humanity that has commemorated war until now, inspiring the public to have a mentality of peace. The festival was organized and planned by HWPL throughout six months. It was sponsored by Peter Moennig, founder of the Peter Moennig Foundation. HWPL is an international peace organization with leaders from all levels working alongside youth and women. HWPL hosted the HWPL World Alliance of Religions Peace Summit in September 2014 with around 2000 leaders worldwide attending. The ‘Signing Ceremony for the Agreement to Propose the Enactment of International Law’ took place there. Continued on page 13
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GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
Andrew Kovalev – A Portrait Photographer for Future Generations IS THERE SOMEONE YOU WOULD LIKE TO PHOTOGRAPH?
BY MERI TALIASHVILI
Oh, yes. I want to photograph Nick Cave. He is an incredibly talented person, who inspires me a lot, and to photograph him is like a dream.
ussian born portrait photographer Andrew Kovalev started photography as a hobby but in a few years became a professional. Leaving his homeland to pursue a photographic education, Kovalev travelled a lot to find his final destination, ending up in Paris at the Spéos Paris Photographic Institute. He takes environmental editorial portraits across the UK, Europe, and Russia. His photos have beautified the covers of Forbes, RBC, Simple Wine News, were published in Le Point, Der Spiegel, The Sunday Times, Le Monde, and Bloomberg Business week. GEORGIA TODAY caught up with Andrew Kovalev and his wife Tatiana (contemporary artist working under a pseudonym Tati S. Titch) during a working visit to Tbilisi.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR DEVELOPMENT I was born in a little town in the north of Russia. In the 90s my family moved to Saint Petersburg. After a stint in Moscow, in 2011 I moved to Paris to study photography and spent four years working for different magazines and ad agencies, as well as doing my personal projects. I started photography as a hobby in 2006. Bought my first camera, started taking pictures and over the next two years it developed into something more professional. First I got a few jobs at some local magazines and, after moving to Moscow in 2008, was already shooting assignments for Forbes. But I realized then that if I wanted to be a photographer on a higher level I would have to go abroad to acquire a proper photographic education. In the end I chose Paris.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO PHOTOGRAPH PORTRAITS? Tatiana: Andrew is a collector. He collects history through people. He collects faces to save them for the future generations. That is why, for example, he likes to photograph elderly people — they have stories, their life experience on their faces. Andrew: A friend of mine once told me there are two approaches to photography. You can take pictures to show all the horrible things of the world, suffering and ugliness, to make people shud-
HOW WOULD YOU PHOTOGRAPH HIM, IN COLOR OR BLACK AND WHITE? Wow, wow (pauses). I would make a mix both.
der. Or you can capture the good things in people and in their everyday lives, to help them see beauty in them, in those near them and in the world around. Tatiana: When we walk along the streets and see passersby, Andrew tends to notice extraordinary details in them. When Andrew looks at a person, he does so in a loving way, trying to catch this person’s character and beauty.
HOW DO YOU GET WHAT YOU WANT FROM YOUR SUBJECT INTO A PHOTO? There is no way to always get the result that you want, because in portrait photography it’s not only about photographer, it’s collaboration between a photographer and a mode and there are people who would confront the camera. In general, the main skill of a portrait photographer is not about camera, light or composition but the connection between photographer and his or her subject.
HOW DO YOU MAKE THIS CONNECTION? There are different strategies. The more practice you get, the more of them you acquire. It becomes your toolkit, based on your experience and your intuition. Some people are afraid of camera, or might have had bad experience with photographers in the past, or they might be distracted by something at the time of shooting. During such moments you need to talk to them or give them a role to play, but it doesn’t always work out the way I want it to. A very important part of photographing someone is your ability to change your strategy when you see something is not going as planned; you have to be ready to improvise. But even then there are people that you just can’t connect with, due to extreme time limitation, for example. When a picture doesn’t show a real person, a real emotion, I settle for simply taking a technically good picture.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHER? That changes all the time. Right now, I admire Tim Walker.
WHAT ARE YOU SHOOTING HERE IN TBILISI? I first came here last year on an assignment for the magazine titled Simple Wine News — to shoot a cover story on The Askaneli Brothers. That was my first experience with Georgia. I find it a fascinating country with a lot of creative potential and amazingly talented people. We’re working on a series of portraits called “Tbilisi Fairytales”. Each episode of this project will represent one Georgian cultural phenomenon, a symbolic event or a legend, or even a contemporary story related to the country. We work on that project with the help of Kartuli Pilmi. The director Khatuna Khundadze and her team are extremely supportive. And we are constantly looking to collaborate with local talents. So if you are a Georgian creative who wants to become a part of “Tbilisi Fairytales”, please, feel free to contact us. They say, when creative from abroad come to some place with their own vision, they might become an important asset for a country, developing and making the local culture stronger. American filmmaker Thomas Burns, who opened his post-production studio in Tbilisi some time ago, is an excellent example of such an influence. He brought with him “fresh blood”: new vision and new energy that helps Georgia’s movie industry grow. People got access to new knowledge and experience that were not here before. I believe, that the power of a creative project multiplies when an artists from outside gets involved. Together we are capable of doing great things. You can find Andrew’s work and his contacts at http://ckovalev.com/ or check out his Instagram: @ckovalev.
Movies for Peace: Georgia Hosts HWPL Short Film Festival Continued from page 12
The HWPL International Law Peace Committee was established thereafter and the draft of the international law was proclaimed within a year. Six months
later, on March 14, 2016, the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War was proclaimed. The Declaration contains a proposal of answers to religious conflicts and the
spreading of the culture of peace. It urges for the support of current heads of states. The declaration is also to be sent to the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili.
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JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 June 10, 11 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-30 GEL June 12, 16 RAMONA Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-30 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 June 10, 11, 12 PERFOMANCE LABYRINTH Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL June 12 ABRACADABRA Start time: 14:00 Ticket price: 10 GEL June 12 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 21:00 Free Entry GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 June 10 DREAM AND REALITY Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 10 GEL TBILISI NODAR DUMBADZE STATE CENTRAL CHILDREN’S THEATRE Address: 99/1 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 95 39 27 June 12 KOLOBOK Directed by Anatoli Lobov Main Stage
Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: From 6 GEL SOUTH CAUCASUS CONTEMPORARY DANCE FESTIVAL IN TBILISI Address: 1 Freedom Sq. www.dancearttbilisi.ge June 12 TERRA CHA BY NÉLIA PINHEIRO COMPANHIA DE DANCA CONTEMPORANEA DE EVORA Portugal Start time: 20:00 Address: Marjanishvili State Theater, Grand Stage, 8 Marjanishvili Str. June 13 VERTIGO 20 BY NOA WERTHEIM, VERTIGO DANCE COMPANY Israel Start time: 19:00 Address: Rustaveli State Theater, Grand Stage, 17 Rustaveli Ave. June 14 SOUTH CAUCASUS SHOW CASE DANCE PERFORMANCES BY ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANIAN AND GEORGIAN CHOREOGRAPHERS Irakli Shengelia, Karen Khachatryan, Rima Pipoyan, Ara Asaturyan, Akif Karimli, Sabina Hajiyeva Start time: 19:00 Address: Rustaveli State Theater, Experimental Stage, 17 Rustaveli Ave. CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari June 10-16 WARCRAFT Directed by Duncan Jones Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Cast: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Callan Mulvey Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL MONEY MONSTER Directed by Jodie Foster
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL NOW YOU SEE ME 2 Directed by Jon M. Chu Genre: Action, Comedy, Thriller Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 22:15 Ticket price: 10-14 GEL A BIGGER SPLASH Directed by Luca Guadagnino Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery Cast: Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes Language: Russian Start time: 19:15 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari June 10-16 NOW YOU SEE ME 2 (Info Above) Start time: 17:00, 22:15 Ticket price: 10-14 GEL TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS Directed by Dave Green Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Tyler Perry Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:45, 17:00, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket price: 8-14 GEL MONEY MONSTER (Info Above) Start time: 19:45, 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL WARCRAFT (Info Above) Start time: 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL X-MEN: APOCALYPSE Directed by Bryan Singer Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: 13-14 GEL MUSEUM
June 8-20 SOPO CHERKEZISHVILI’S EXHIBITION NOT WAITING FOR YOU GALLERY
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION: GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY FROM 8TH MILLENNIUM B.C. TO 4TH CENTURY A.D THE CAUCASUS NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM COLLECTION RENEWED EXHIBITION EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY The exhibition showcases a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION Here, visitors can discover the State’s personal files of “subversive” Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Soviet-era cultural and political repression in Georgia. The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors on which visitors can watch documentaries of various historical events. SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 www.museum.ge May 18 – July 18 AVANT-GARDE 1900-1937 The exhibition is opened within the Georgian National Museum week dedicated to International Museum Day. GEORGIAN GIORGI LEONIDZE STATE MUSEUM OF GEORGIAN LITERATURE Address: 8 G. Chanturia St. Telephone: 2 99 86 67, 2 93 28 90 www.literaturemuseum.ge
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze May 17 – June 22 KETEVAN MAGALASHVILI – 120 Exhibition is dedicated to the 120th anniversary of Ketevan Magalashvili - remarkable representative of Georgian art. MUSIC
TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 44 66 June 15 FUND IAVNANA’S CHARITY CONCERT FOR LOVE Participants: Nino Surguladze, Nino Ananiashvili Conductor: Carlo Ponti Honored Guest: Sophia Loren Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 60 GEL Charity Fund: 0901 900 999 TBILISI EVENT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. Telephone: 298 39 41 June 11 MAX KORZH Start time: 21:00 Ticket price: 40 GEL TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 June 11 OMAR KHUBAEVI EVENING AND STAR OPENING Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL June 14 “MAN SAN KAN” CLUB OF THE MERRY AND INVENTIVE Comedy Festival Start time: 18:20 Ticket price: 10 GEL LOUNGE-BAR “FUNICULAR” Address: Mtatsminda Park June 10 TERRACE OPENING PARTY DJ MISHO URUSHADZE GEORGIAN BAND ‘NIUTONE’ Start time: 20:30 Ticket price: 20 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 June 14, 16 JAM SESSION WITH THE RESO KIKNADZE QUINTET Start time: 21:00 Free entry June 15 TANGO MILONGA Start time: 20:00 Tango Lesson: 5 GEL 7TH CAUCASUS JAZZ FESTIVAL Telephone: 593 22 42 86 www.kavkazjazz.com 11 June ARTE MUSIC GROUP/IRAN STUMREBI/GEORGIA MIQAYEL VOSKANYAN & FRIENDS BAND/ARMENIA Start time: 10:00 Venue: Rabati Fortress, Akhaltsikhe
GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 10 - 13, 2016
Georgia Shock Reigning European Champions Spain with “Unbelievable” Victory BY ALASTAIR WATT
first-half goal from Tornike Okriashvili proved sufficient to give Georgia an unfathomable 1-0 win over Spain at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez in the suburbs of Madrid on June 7. Ranked 137th in the world, a full 131 places below their illustrious and medalladen opponents, Georgia pulled off one of the greatest sporting results in its history, and, regardless of this not being a competitive fixture, surely the best ever result for the national football team. Many observers had indeed expected a historic night, but not for positive reasons. Friday’s embarrassing 5-1 demolition at the hands of Romania was widely felt as a new low for Georgian football, and the prospect of a fearsome Spanish side four days later prompted fears of a severe losing margin, perhaps surpassing the record 6-1 reverse at the hands of Denmark in 2005. But under-fire head coach Vladimir Weiss, only three months in the job and who later described the result as “unbelievable”, and his much criticized men, had other ideas. Playing with what at times appeared to be a 9-0-1 formation, Georgia soaked up what was a manageable amount of Spanish pressure. Aritz Aduriz headed narrowly wide of target before Thiago struck the inside if Nukri Revishvili’s post as an erstwhile pedestrian Spain began to properly threaten as the half-
hour mark ticked by. By this stage, Georgia’s flurries forward had been rare and without consequence as striker Lado Dvalishvili trotted a lonesome figure in the center circle. Then suddenly, with five minutes until half-time, Spain sloppily conceded possession on the halfway line. Valeri Kazaishvili strode forward to the edge of the Spanish box and just when he was being thwarted, Jaba Jigauri took over to slide the ball across for Okriashvili to tap in for an inconceivable opener. The home players glanced to the Icelandic assistant referee in search of an offside flag which, correctly, did not materialize. Georgia had to endure an onslaught of pressure in the second-half, spearheaded by Andres Iniesta, the Barcelona playmaker one of four half-time switches. The visitors were even forced into playing third-choice goalkeeper Roin Kvaskhvadze for the last 40 minutes after Revishvili suffered a bruising head knock courtesy of Sergio Busquets. Gerard Pique headed wide, Nolito’s shot whisked by the Georgian post and then Jordi Alba failed to connect with a volley from a few meters as the home side neared a humiliation of their own. Georgia, often maligned for a shortage of fitness and subsequent concession of late goals, actually improved as the game wore on. Indeed, when the opportunity allowed, they broke with a swagger in the closing stages, with a nonchalant backheel by substitute Giorgi Chanturia characteristic of a newly found confidence in Weiss’ side.
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Despite their 76% possession and 11 corners to Georgia’s 0, Spain could not find a way through as the Georgians held on for an historic victory, the like of which Georgian fans have been waiting for several years.
Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea afterwards stated that, “We made one mistake and Georgia took advantage of it, otherwise our opponents did nothing special.” Spain have less than a week to sort
themselves out for their European Championship opener against the Czech Republic. But for Georgia, there is a whole summer to bask in this triumph and to forget what went before against Romania and a few others. Head coach Weiss had failed to win any of three previous matches as Georgia’s new head coach, and so was understandably thrilled. The Slovakian noted: “It was an unexpected and unbelievable outcome. After losing the last two matches, Georgia needed this victory which will give us strength and confidence. We are not a high level team but what we achieved tonight gives us great joy.” The World Cup qualifying campaign starts against Austria in Tbilisi in September and reaching Russia 2018 remains a distant dream. However, this remarkable conquest should at least put a few thousand more on the gate at Dinamo Arena which, the Super Cup, rugby and Robbie Williams aside, has too often been a depressing swathe of empty seats in recent times.
Monsoon 5: A little Less Sugar, A Little More Cover, Yes Please Continued from page 11
not even an encore, leaving the crowds to run (or swim) for the exits, heading to the main roads along unfinished muddy wet paths in the vain search for taxis to take them home. And the fact that so many people had come from abroad and around the country just to attend, filling trians, minibuses and cars to make it, only added to the overall feeling of “Good, but could have, should have, been better.” I can’t help but think of Maroon 5 now cozy in a hotel room or on their way to the next- perhaps drier and better prepared- destination, and us Georgians, sneezing as we try to get dry and warm after a three hour plus stand out in the cold rain.
Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Tamar Svanidze, Zviad Adzinbaia, Beqa Kirtava, Meri Taliashvili, Eka Karsaulidze, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Tim Ogden, Ana Akhalaia, Robert Isaf, Joseph Larsen, Will Cathcart, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze
Dear ‘Check in Georgia’ organizers- the initiative, as ever, is fantastic. But think before you buy. An open-air concert for huge international stars in typically rainy
Photographer: Zviad Nikolaishvili Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava
Batumi is not the most intelligent or costeffective choice you could make and cannot be compensated for, regardless of how good the music is...
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