Issue no: 817
• FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
Choosing NATO over MAP
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Dispute over Maestro TV Compared to Rustavi 2 Case NEWS PAGE 2
ICC Investigation of 2008 War a Matter of Speculation? POLITICS PAGE 4
PM: Government Will Ensure Transparent ON FOREIGN ADVICE and Free Appathurai: Georgia needs to focus Elections on NATO rather than MAP
FOCUS PAGE 4
Government Finances Drug for Breast Cancer Treatment BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
Davit Sergeenko, Minister of Health, Labor and Social Affairs of Georgia
bilisi City Hall, together with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Affairs of Georgia, is to support the treatment of patients with early stage breast cancer. The cost of the joint program is 10 million Lari and includes providing patients with the expensive drug Herceptin. According to the initiative, people who suffer from HER2-positive breast cancer (I-III stages) will receive financial assistance to buy the specialist drug. The financing conditions will differ between Tbilisi citizens and those from the regions. Continued on page 10
POLITICS PAGE 5
New Offer from Dirsi: Crazy, but True… BUSINESS PAGE 7
Dem Bones: Ogden on the Health Service SOCIETY PAGE 9
Italian and Georgian Friendship, Retold in the Language of Music CULTURE PAGE 11
Lucky 13. Where are You Going this Valentine’s Weekend? CULTURE PAGE 12
Resounding Win over Germany Brings Birthday Cheer to Georgian Coach Haig SPORTS PAGE 15
FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
Annual Forum Dispute over Maestro TV Compared to Rustavi 2 Case Emphasizes Women’s Role in Georgia
Baia Gadabadze, the acting Director of Maestro TV
BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA
arly February, Maestro TV shareholder Gia Gachechiladze (55%) named his brother Levan Gachechiladze as the TV Company Director, replacing the acting head of company, Baia Gadabadze. Gachechiladze declared that Maestro’s rating has plummeted and a new management is needed to improve the situation. He stated his goal is aimed at preventing the TV Company’s bankruptcy. On the opposite side, Gadabadze claimed that Gachechiladze is supported by other forces who want the TV company to be utilized for the purposes of the upcoming parliamentary elections.
The situation escalated when Gachechiladze was reported to have met with PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili concerning the issue. The PM was accused of interfering in media issues, and was urged to distance himself from the process. PM Kvirikashvili, however, said it was just an informal meeting between the two, who are close friends. The Prime Minister’s press-service later released a statement saying that developments around the TV Company only represent a controversy between its owners. “It is categorically unacceptable for the government or any political forces to interfere in the process,” it said. The TV company employees said all projects remain on-going at Maestro TV and all staff is continuing to work at the channel which is now a subject of judicial dispute. Maestro’s co-owner, Maka Asatiani,
told reporters that she wants to believe that Levan and Gia Gachechiladze are victims in the situation. Asatiani said [their] main task is finding financing to help Gachechiladze purchase a control package of the company shares. Some media experts and civil society institutions assessed the situation as critical and a continuation of the battle launched against Rustavi 2, the country’s leading TV station, which shook the entire political landscape of Georgia during the last quarter of 2015. The government was also accused in that case of attempting to utilize the media for election purposes. On Wednesday, the National Agency of Public Registry suspended the process of registering Levan Gachechiladze as the Maestro TV Director. The Agency said the discussion was suspended on the basis of Baia Gadabadze’s complaint and request that the Agency not implement any changes connected to the Maestro Director. On the same day, Maka Asatiani told reporters that the Public Registry is fair and belongs to the entire Maestro team. “We must aim to continue our work peacefully and let the processes develop in legal frames,” Asatiani stated. The decision on suspension will last 30 days, after which the Public Registry should be provided with the court’s final decision on satisfying the complaint and only after that will a decision over the ban of registration requested by Gadabadze be possible.
BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
bilisi’s third annual Forum of Women Councilors began on Tuesday to discuss parliamentary quotas, strengthening the role of women in local government, developing pre-school education and the participation of citizens in local self-governance. Delegates at the forum are to discuss various topics with local government and civil organization representatives. Senior Director of the National Democratic Institute in Georgia, Laura Thornton, emphasized in her opening remarks that women have to become a driving force of change at the local level. “This year the ‘Win with Women’ conference focuses on the important role women play in local governance, both as citizens and as leaders. Local government is the first point of contact for citizens with their elected officials and in many ways deals with issues most important to people’s daily lives. Globally, the more women there are in these offices, the better they respond to people’s needs,” Thornton said. Shombi Sharp, Deputy Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme in Georgia, stressed the importance of bringing more women into politics – both locally and on the national level. “Empowering women to realize their
full potential for the betterment of social, economic and political life is an essential part of the new global Sustainable Development Goals through 2030. While Georgia has made significant progress in establishing important gender equality laws and policies, a lot remains to be done to translate that into real change. Women still only make up around 12 per cent of the representatives in Tbilisi’s city assembly and the national parliament. This denies local communities and the country a tremendous amount of wisdom, skill and experience. Today we are discussing practical ways to turn this around as so many other countries have,” Sharp said. Meryl Frank, the former mayor of Highland Park, New Jersey and former ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Eka Sepiashvili, Georgian parliamentarian and member of the Gender Equality Council Guguli Magradze and Eva Smedberg – counsellor at the Swedish Embassy in Tbilisi are also in attendance. The conference was organized by the National Democratic Institute, Municipal Service Providers Association and the United Nations Development Programme in cooperation with the Government of Sweden, the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus and Austrian Development Cooperation and the UN Joint Programme for Gender Equality in Georgia.
GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
US Department of State Blog: Helping Georgia Care for Wounded Warriors Pope Francis May Visit Georgia BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
s part of his world visits, Pope Francis may visit Georgia for the first time this autumn. Rome-based newspaper Vatican Insider has reported on the Pope’s intention to visit the South Caucasus in September this year. According to the Vatican Insider website, a visit to Georgia could also be on the cards if the trip goes ahead. The date initially considered for the visit was June but it was pushed back until the end of summer due to the pan-Orthodox Synod. “It would have meant the Pope going to Georgia, an Orthodox country, while the local Church’s Patriarch was at the Synod assembly in Crete,” the website commented. “Francis hopes to fly to the country soon and his journey could include
stopovers in two former Soviet republics in the Caucasus, Georgia and Azerbaijan,” Vatican Insider continued. In April 2015, Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili visited the Vatican and met with Pope Francis. They discussed the role of Georgia as an ancient Christian state in the modern world and talked over what had been achieved by Georgia regarding their relations with the EU. The President handed His Holiness a copy of the bas-relief of the Cross Ascension of Mtskheta Jvari Monastery and in return Pope Francis gifted the President with the St Martin Medal, noting that it is a symbolic gift to give to the President, as a solicitous defender of his people. Pope Francis visited Africa and the United States of America in 2015, and his next, the 12th, papal visit outside Rome is to be Mexico in February. Mexico is the second most populous Catholic country in the world after Brazil, where some 90% of its 125 million population is Catholic.
Blind Persons to Get Guide Assistance Service in Public Establishments
BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
n article about Georgian soldiers has been published on the official blog of the US Department of State. The author, Rennie Silva, who is a security assistance program analyst in the Office of Security Assistance of Political-Military Affairs, emphasized that every time the US has asked nations to contribute to international security, Georgia, a small country at the cross-roads of Eastern Europe and West-
BY ANA AKHALAIA
lind persons will be provided with personal assistant services while moving in public establishments, according to a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Tbilisi City Hall and the Union of the Blind in Georgia. The project is being carried out within
the program ‘Supporting Integration of Persons with Disabilities in Society.’ Between 50 and 80 blind persons will use this service this month alone. The project ‘Guide Service for Totally Blind Persons’ was funded by Tbilisi City hall, at a cost of 14,850 GEL. Tbilisi budget 2016 allocated 290 thousand GEL for the program of Supporting Integration of Persons with Disabilities in Society. With these funds, various projects will be financed throughout the year.
from battle. Through U.S. Security assistance programs, we are working with Georgia to strengthen their military medical facilities into institutions able to adequately treat and care for their wounded military personnel,” Silva wrote. Since 1998, Georgia has received a total of USD 220 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and the Department of State has specifically used FMF funding to provide equipment, training and advisory support to strengthen Georgia’s ability to care for its wounded warriors. Read more at: blogs.state.gov
Tbilisi Saving Energy with LED BY ANA AKHALAIA
Tbilisi budget 2016 allocated 290 thousand GEL to support the program ‘Supporting Integration of Persons with Disabilities in Society.’ Photo: phillbarron.wordpress.com
ern Asia, has stepped up to support global security. In his article, Silva highlighted that Georgia is the second largest contributor in Afghanistan, behind the United States, having deployed over 12,000 soldiers since 2010, first as part of the International Security Assistance Force and currently as part of the Resolute Support Mission. “As Georgian forces continue to serve shoulder to shoulder with U.S. forces in some of the most dangerous environments around the world, U.S. security assistance is helping Georgia to care for its soldiers at home after they return
talian company iGuzzini has carried out a pilot project for LED lamps. According to Tbilisi City Hall the project called City of Light has continued the installation of LED lamps in Tbilisi with iGuzzini expressing its willingness to participate in the pilot program. City of Light and iGuzzini, working together, have so far installed 20 e n e rg y- sav i n g l a m p s o n Chavchavadze Avenue and from Lado Kavsadze Str. to the 55th Public School. 15 workers and 3 units of equipment from the City of Light program were engaged in the installation. This is the 11th pilot project carried out with the assistance of City of Light. Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, aims to switch to energy efficient lighting which will bring 60-70% energy savings.
FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
Choosing NATO over MAP BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA
ATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference in Brussels Tuesday declared that, prior to Georgia’s accession to NATO, a consensus must be achieved with regard to the Membership Action Plan (MAP). According to Stoltenberg, Georgia has all the practical tools for NATO membership, including an Annual National Program (ANP), the NATO-Georgia Commission and a Substantial Package, which was agreed on at a high level at the NATO Wales Summit in 2014. “All these practical tools will be used in a daily regime to prepare Georgia for membership as you move closer to NATO,” the NATO SecGen declared. He went on to say that as MAP is a political status granted by allies on the basis of a consensus, prior to Georgia’s accession to NATO, it is necessary to reach a consensus with regard to that status. The NATO official emphasized that during the next meetings of the NATOGeorgia Commission they will discuss the future prospects of NATO-Georgia cooperation and the Alliance’s support to the country. Prior to the SecGen’s statement, NATO’s
Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai, said Monday that aspirant countries like Georgia should put greater emphasis on deeper NATO integration rather than focusing on receiving a Membership Action Plan (MAP). In an interview with Georgia’s Public Broadcaster, Appathurai stated that the MAP was initially created as a practical instrument of integration for the former Yugoslav republics following a decade of war in the 1990s. Appathurai stressed that the MAP no longer has the same political clout that it had when first introduced in 1999. “Several NATO members are unlikely to grant a MAP to Georgia without specific security guarantees,” Appathurai said. He also pointed out that the overall process of further integration is severely damaged by focusing too heavily on the issuance of a MAP. Appathurai believes the forthcoming NATO Summit in Warsaw will result in a show of solidarity and a strong statement concerning Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. In response to Appathurai’s statement, Georgian Defense Minister Tinatin Khidasheli said that she has never asked for the MAP at ministerials. “I ask for NATO membership. The MAP represents the past for Georgia. “MAP is not our goal as there is no need and wish for it. Our aim is NATO
Tinatin Khidasheli, Georgian Defense Minister and Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, at the NATOGeorgia Commission meeting. Source: www.nato.int
membership. I would like to return from Warsaw as a country equipped with more instruments to be ready to enter NATO once the window [of opportunity] opens,” Khidasheli declared.
ANALYSIS: Georgia has long been asking NATO for MAP, even when the action plan is no longer considered as decisive for integration into the Alliance. The exGeorgian government who held what
Ronald Asmus described as a ‘diplomatic shootout’ for MAP back in 2008 at the NATO Bucharest Summit. At that moment, MAP could have been of greater importance that today, as Georgia has successfully implemented a number of reforms that could potentially be ahead of MAP requirements. It’s now up to a political decision by the European and American leadership to fulfill the promise of the Bucharest summit and grant Georgia membership.
Not very surprisingly, there is a notion that MAP could create some additional obstacles for Georgia, as Russia, who has aimed at isolating the country from the western space, will probably endeavor to disrupt Georgia’s reformation as well as social and political processes once the action plan has been issued. Georgia’s NATO membership will only become possible when the right geopolitical moment arrives. Thus, Georgia should be prepared for that moment.
ICC Investigation of 2008 War a Matter of Speculation? The publication emphasizes that the ICC’s investigation in Georgia will also be telling for a host of other reasons, in particular, how will the institution treat the territory of South Ossetia: as a selfprofessed independent republic or as part of Georgia? “How will Tbilisi’s Western allies, especially the United States, react to the court’s investigation? Will Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president and staunch ally of the United States, be implicated? War crimes such as attacks against the civilian population, willful killing, intentionally directing attacks against peacekeepers, destruction of property and pillaging are the key points for the investigation. Early October 2015, when the ICC first announced the investigation, Russia Today, a Russian government-controlled media source, published an article on the issue. The publication read, “Putin calls the West’s bluff on fighting ISIS in Syria. Western elite figures are most unhappy. The Empire badly needs to strike a blow at Russia – and right on cue, the issue of ‘war crimes’ in Georgia miraculously comes to the fore.” The author believed that it is quite ‘interesting’ the ICC decided to investi-
Russian tanks move toward Georgia, August 2008
BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA
he Washington Post last week published an article analyzing the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) approval of the opening of an official investigation into the 2008 war in Georgia. The publication states that Prosecutors will focus on the ethnic cleansing of Georgians from the breakaway region of South Ossetia, as well as an attack by Georgian forces on a Russian peacekeeping base. The ICC’s intervention into the conflict between Georgia, Russia and Moscow-backed belligerents in South Ossetia represents the court’s first investigation into a situation outside the African continent. The article raises a number of questions: Why did the court decide to open an investigation outside Africa? Who will be targeted for prosecution? And
what could be the fallout for all the states involved in the 2008 war? According to Mark Kersten, the writer of the article, the decision to intervene in Georgia is likely due to a confluence of factors. “First, the court had the 2008 war under preliminary examination for nearly half a decade. Had Georgia demonstrated that it was willing to investigate, and potentially prosecute over, the crimes themselves, it could have foreclosed any ICC intervention. However, when Tbilisi ended its investigations into the alleged crimes perpetrated in 2008, it became untenable for the ICC to simply keep those crimes under examination indefinitely. Second, for an institution that seeks to command relevancy in international politics, it certainly does not hurt that there is a broader narrative vilifying Moscow and its role in the region. Whether or not the court targets Russian officials, investigating Russian conduct captures that broader, if not always helpful, international narrative condemning Russian aggression.”
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gate possible Russian war crimes during the war with Georgia seven years after the fact. “the only result will be to discredit the ‘Imperialist Crimes Cover-up’ still further.” The Russian side in addition announced recently that it will provide all the necessary documents and other supplementary materials to prove Russia’s ‘innocence’ in the war. Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani said, “The Chief Prosecutor’s Office actively cooperated with The Hague Prosecutor’s Office on the issue of ethnic cleansing committed during the war of August 2008. Mikheil Saakashvili, the ex-president of Georgia, said, “It is important for the Georgian side to provide full information about the ethnic cleansing to the Prosecutor’s Office.” Seven years have passed since Russia launched a full-scale military attack against Georgia, hoping to distance the country from the Euro-Atlantic path it had chosen. There were many casualties. The International community said the intervention by Russia breached international law and threatened Georgia’s sovereignty. Georgia has regarded Russia as an occupant country ever since.
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GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
Knock Knock! Counting Voters PM: Government Will Ensure Transparent and Free Elections BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA
uring his visit to Brussels on February 9 – 10th Georgian PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated that that Government will ensure the holding of transparent and free elections, freedom of the media and the persistent reform of judiciary and engagement of civic society. Following his visit, the PM declared at a governmental session that he assured Brussels that parliamentary elections will be held in compliance with the highest standards in Georgia. Summing up his visit to the European capital, the PM noted that Georgia’s
European partners have high expectations that the government will fulfil all of these standards. “It is very important for us to ensure all components that are necessary for conduct of elections in deocratic countries,” the PM declared. In his statement made in Brussels, the Prime Minister noted that he looks forward to a continued dialogue with the EU in order to define new area for deeper cooperation under the revised ENP that will contribute to accelerating Georgia’s progressive integration with the EU. European Commissioner Johannes Hahn emphasized that Georgia has achieved remarkable success in the process of implementing the visa-liberalization Action Plan and the final decision is vested upon the European Parliament.
Democracy: Getting it Right OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
emocracy is a fresh word in Georgia which is gradually acquiring a solid stand in our political culture. We have tasted it and tried to fit ourselves into its universally known rules and accepted norms, but we have not yet become fully aware of it because our national model of democratic context and demeanor still lacks the maturity and attractiveness it usually bears in the countries where it has already acquired enough power to have people behave accordingly and feel comfortable with it. For many of us, democracy has been a huge pain in the neck up until now. We are somewhere near the field where this tree grows, but we still need to go another mile to get our hands on the fruit it bears, and taste it again and again to get the gist of it faster and surer. On the other hand, no matter how unhurried the process is, our society is belatedly but confidently turning itself into a democratically-minded sensitive body which is ready to react to every antidemocratic incident that takes place
day in day out in this country. And our people’s perseverance here is felt every inch of the way towards what we think democracy must represent and mean. Ours is a society which needs to be making constant corrections of its behavior on this thorny and bumpy way. Whether our good friends in the democratic West believe it or not, we are diligently trying to introduce such corrections of our collective behavior, although the attempts to do this trigger painful controversy due to continuous differences and clashes between the occurring opinions. For instance, the recent lingua lapsus uttered either incidentally or deliberately by one of the most recognizable and longtime Georgian legislators incensed the members of our ‘not-so-democratic’ society so much that any ‘fully-developed’ democracy would envy the reaction. The insensitive, and I would say, not very knowledgeable parliamentarian, wanted to use certain vocabulary that would unfairly describe our special children, and the kids and moms were immediately out in the street to demonstrate their indignation. This was an attempt to correct the undue behavior in our willing-to become-better society. Continued on page 6
BY ZAZA JGHARKAVA
ith the parliamentary elections up-coming in autumn, the election legislation and related “headaches” prevail. As in the elections of 2012, this year, too, the talks about election lists have become topical. For the last fifteen years, all governments have counted the number of voters in Georgia. However, each time they failed to determine the exact number. If we take into consideration the amount of money that USAID, OSCE, the European Union and various international funds spend on this, we might even be left with the impression that the world really doesn’t have a bigger priority than to count us and figure out an exact voter list. Four years of data is enough to illustrate this fact. Before the elections of 2012, there were 3,613.851 voters in Georgia, while a year later, during the presidential elections, there were 3,537.719, meaning that, to all intents and purposes,
some 76,132 voters just disappeared. An even more awkward thing happened during the local elections which were held eight months after the presidential elections: the number of voters decreased by as much as 107,971 people to total 3,429.748. In short, since the parliamentary elections the population has decreased by about 184,103. Nobody knows how all these people vanished. Whether it will be possible to successfully fulfill the titanic mission of humanity in gathering an exact number for the voters in Georgia is as yet unknown. They walk from door to door counting the electorate as they have, in fact, for 15 years now. Nevertheless, they still fail to determine that golden number. The recent events that took place in Georgian Parliament regarding the autumn 2016 elections suggest that Georgian Dream has apparent plans to take another path. Parliament has already passed a law about the changes in the electoral code, according to which the electoral districts will be united and all districts will have an almost equal number of voters in them. For example, if the
biggest electoral district in Kutaisi had 150 thousand voters, while the smallest Kazbegi district had 6,000, and both of them elected just one MP into Parliament – according to the new law, Kutaisi’s electoral district will now have three majoritarians and Kazbegi, together with its neighboring electoral districts, will choose only one. This seems legit. However, it is unclear how the electoral districts can become equal based on the number of voters, when in fact the exact number of voters is unknown. According to the new law, new majoritarian districts should be formed by June 1st, 2016 and the latest electoral data from CEC should be used to make the relevant changes. However, it is still unclear what the latest data is. It is already becoming apparent that this year as well, walking from door to door and counting will be unavoidable. As for the upcoming elections, holding them peacefully regardless of who wins has nothing to do with walking from door to door and counting. This depends on what power and resources the political powers hold.
FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
Democracy: Getting it Right Analyzing the
Azerbaijan Crisis BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
ikoloz Metreveli, member of the Young Scientists Council at the National Academy of Sciences of Georgia, spoke to GEORGIA TODAY to discuss the current situation in
YOU KNOW AZERBAIJAN VERY WELL AND LIVED AND WORKED IN BAKU. WHAT ARE THE FACTORS CAUSING THE ECONOMIC CRISIS IN AZERBAIJAN?
Continued from page 5
Take the risqué issue of same-sex marriages – the discrepancies here are rampant, but the efforts to seek optimal solutions are in place – rather discreetly, though – to save the feeling of cons and to ease the sentiments of pros. Again, this is a desire to introduce a correction in the life of this society of ours. The proposal of the bill on the offense of religious feelings was curbed as it came out of certain radical legislative hands because it was unanimously considered as wrongly based on the misunderstood relationship between the church and the government. I think the fact is a clearly descriptive example of our readiness to make correction where the correction is asking to be. There are many established traditions – wrong and right – which our society is living with. Some of the traditions do not any longer play the agree-
able role they once played in our society’s everyday life, and we are trying to be judgmental to an affordable extent towards the habits and trends that become irrelevant and detrimental. Shouldn’t this be reckoned as our desire to make an amendment to what we think is no longer good and right? Let us not forget our people’s almost heroic stand to defend the freedom of means of mass communication. The public position to take to the streets in defense of free media speaks volumes about the willingness of this nation to stand where the rest of the worlds mature democracies stand. We are a young, maybe even an infantile democracy, and we should certainly learn how to behave, especially if we claim to be an organic part of the civilized world which operates within the system of democratic values. We will never know better unless we get some coaching in the art of democracy and do ample self-training to practice it better.
There are a number of factors causing the financial and economic crisis in Azerbaijan. Firstly, 63% of the budget is based on the oil-dollar agreement. Naturally, the lowest price on oil affected its budget. Secondly, it is a serious factor that the Azerbaijani National Bank did not calculate its future politics which was reflected in the fact that the National Bank, in order to maintain the high rate of the Manat, intensively spent its reserves in foreign exchange. At this time, if the National Bank continues the same pace of consumption of foreign currency reserves, as it has been doing for the past eight months, it will have only five more months to empty its currency reserve. To date, the Manat is depressed by 102%.
ECONOMIC CRISES ALWAYS HAVE NEGATIVE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL EFFECTS. IN THIS REGARD, WHAT IS THE SITUATION IN OUR NEIGHBORING COUNTRY? Azerbaijani society is clearly disproportionate, with a distinct difference to be found between the incomes of the ruling elite and that of the remaining households. Azerbaijani authorities still use the so-called social pillow, which allows vulnerable people, including a million IDPs, to earn normal wages for living. For obvious reasons the resources of the Azerbaijani government have dramatically reduced. A further important aspect to be considered is the fact that about two million Azerbaijanis live and work in Russia who then transfer funds to Azerbaijan, which is very important for the stabilization of the social environment. The economic crisis in Russia itself has an impact not only on Azerbaijani people living there but on those families that are significantly dependent on their relatives through money transfers. The corruption of the so-called elite is also a serious problem in the government of Azerbaijan. If
Azerbaijan in crisis as currency plummets. Source: infocus24.wordpress.com
these conditions were bearable during the stable economic situation, now the conflict in society is deepening.
HOW DANGEROUS IS THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CRISIS IN THE AZERBAIJAN REPUBLIC? Unfortunately, the signs of social and political cataclysms in Azerbaijan are already evident. Protests have taken place in a number of cities, including Baku. It is impossible not to agree with the authoritative American analytical center Stratfor’s (https://www.stratfor.com/) forecast that if the oil price is not stabilized, the economy of Azerbaijan will experience ever deeper problems.
HOW WILL THE SITUATION IN AZERBAIJAN AFFECT GEORGIA AND THE REGION AS A WHOLE? Azerbaijan is a very important country in our region, and it presents a point of interest of powerful states and regional leaders. This country is our strategic partner and ally. Accordingly, Georgia should be highly interested in the fact that next to it is a stable and prosperous country. The importance of Azerbaijan for its energy supplies and transport communications is clear for Russia, the US and the European Union. In addition, there is Iran. Various reports say that from 16 up to 25 million ethnic Azerbaijanis live in Iran. At the same time both countrie’s population follows Shia Islam. What’s more, Turkey will not be able to stand by and watch the crisis taking place in Azerbaijan- especially considering their joint slogan: “two countries, one nation”. Finally, there is constant fear that Armenia will try to use the current situation in Azerbaijan for its own gains.
Georgia: EIB Supports Urban Reconstruction and Highway Upgrading with EUR 150m
he European Investment Bank (EIB) is extending two loans to Georgia to finance urban reconstruction and the improvement of critical infrastructure. A EUR 100 million loan, split into two EUR 50 million components, will be used to address the needs resulting from the damage inflicted by the 2015 floods in Tbilisi, and to rebuild and upgrade infrastructure in selected municipalities across the country. A separate EUR 49.45 million loan will fund upgrades to the E-60 East West Highway, a vital link between western and eastern Georgia. “These funds will help Georgia to overcome the damage caused by the devastating floods of 2015. They will also support the improvement of critical infrastructure to foster mobility and competitiveness. This is further proof of the EU Bank’s commitment to helping Georgia,” said EIB Vice-President László Baranyay, responsible for the Bank’s operations in Georgia. The loan for flood recovery is designed to finance – exceptionally – up to 100% of emergency and short-term recovery needs in areas in and around Tbilisi. It will be used to restore basic services, rehabilitate key infrastructure and drive economic recovery. The urban reconstruction loan will help to upgrade municipal infrastructure in various cities to bring it up to modern standards, including better use of energy and water resources, improvements to solid waste management, rehabilitation of the road network and development of tourism infrastructure. The loan for the East-West Highway will support the construction of 14.1 km of two-lane carriageway
between Zemo Osiauri and Chumateleti, part of the development of 388 km of the E-60 East-West Highway, sections of which have already received EIB funding. This highway represents a major transit corridor facing heavy lorry traffic including numerous international trucks, particularly from Turkey. Some 40% of the Georgian population live within its catchment area. “These new EIB funds add to the EU’s already wide-ranging support for the development of Georgia and highlight our commitment to improving the living conditions of a growing number of Georgians.” said Janos Herman, Ambassador of the EU to Georgia. Since the start of its operations in Georgia in 2010, the EU Bank has signed loans worth EUR 700 million in the country to support projects in the energy, transport and water sectors, and – indirectly through commercial banks – operations assisting SMEs.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The EIB – the European Union’s bank – finances projects in Georgia on the basis of an EU mandate for the countries of the Eastern Neighbourhood, the so-called External Lending Mandate (ELM). The 2014-2020 ELM allows for a total amount of Bank financing in the Eastern Neighbourhood of EUR 4.8 billion to support projects of significant interest to both the EU and its Eastern Neighbours in the areas of local private sector development, social and economic infrastructure and climate change. In addition, the Bank has set up a EUR 3 billion own-risk Neighbourhood Finance Facility to enhance its support for the Neighborhood Countries.
GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
New Offer from Dirsi: Crazy, but True…
irsi - the largest and modern residential mini town in Tbilisi – has just become more affordable! T h e c o m p a ny h a s announced a unique offer for its consumers as buying apartments in Dirsi town is now possible with only a 5% copayment – renovated and completed apartments from $670, ready to move-in instantly. Dirsi is a modern living environment designed for future generations – a new town in the old city in which you will find the perfect infrastructure for a delightful and calm life.
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Official Presentation of Galleria Tbilisi BY ANA AKHALAIA
he Georgian Co-Investment Fund held an official presentation of Galleria Tbilisi, an investment project which envisages the development of a modern, multifunctional shopping center on Rustaveli Avenue. The project was presented by the executives of the Georgian Co-
Investment Fund and project’s exclusive leasing agent, Colliers International Georgia. The event took place at the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel. The guests included the representatives of the Diplomatic Corps accredited in Georgia, international financial institutions, Government officials, senior executives of private companies, international and local retailers and media representatives. Galleria Tbilisi, a former department store building on Rustaveli Avenue,
was bought by the Fund in 2015. Total investment of the project is more than USD 70 million. The project aims to resume the suspended project and create an A-class shopping center in the building, which has been inactive for years. The shopping center, which will encompass 22,000 m2 of space, is set for completion in 2017. It is expected that the project will help attracte foreign direct investment and international brands.
Export of Wine Increased 13% in January
BY ANA AKHALAIA
ccording to the National Wine Agency, export of Georgian wine increased by 13% in January 2016 compared to the same period the previous year. According to the data, in January 2016 Georgia exported 1,521,802 bottles of wine to 19 countries, which is 13% higher than
last year, worth a total of USD 3.62 million. The country also exported 562,930 bottles of brandy to 6 countries, worth around USD 1.51 million, which is 104% higher than the same period last year. The top five exporting countries are: Russia – 960,462 bottles, Ukraine -199,722, Poland – 114,276, China – 45,160, Lithuania – 44,850 bottles. The total income from exporting wine, brandy, Chacha (Georgian pomace brandy) and brandy spirits was USD 6.6 million in January.
Moldova to Buy DELTA’s Anti-hail System BY ANA AKHALAIA
oldova is interested in buying State Military Scientific-Technical Center Delta’s anti-hail system. According to Delta, negotiations are in the final stage and a preliminary agreement has been reached with Moldova’s Ministry of Agriculture. During the first stage around 200 antihail rockets will be installed, which will cover half the country. After signing the agreement, Delta’s specialist group will carry out the installation of the firing machinery and their digital control center. The total cost of the project is USD 10
million. This figure could increase after the technical issues are refined. The representatives from the Moldovan Ministry of Agriculture visited Delta in October 2015 to find out more about their anti-hail system.
FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
Distance Education to Reach Out to Georgia’s Regions BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
he non-governmental organization ‘Village of the Future,’ in collaboration with the Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasting (GARB) and the Regional Media Market, signed a memorandum on February 8, 2016 according to which around 20 regional television channels of Georgia will broadcast video lessons in Georgian language and literature. The creators of the project claim that it will help entrants to prepare for final and entrance exams. In addition, it will be useful for ethnic minorities who are weak in the Georgian language. A study conducted by the ‘Village of the Future’ shows that the level and access to education is quite low in the regions of Georgia, with the majority experiencing financial problems and with children who suffer from the inability to obtain an adequate level of education to continue their studies. The project has already captured the interest of many. The video tutorials by the ‘Village of the Future’ include 28 lessons of 30 min-
utes on Georgian language and literature, which will run twice a week. The teacher explains the rules of grammar, syntax, sentence structure and correct editing in the Georgian language. The literary block includes the entire school curriculum, starting from ancient Georgian literature to contemporary writers. “In fact, not everyone, especially in the regions, has an opportunity to go to private tutors and prepare for exams,” said Tamar Khurtsia, Head of the Public Relations Department of the ‘Village of the Future.’ “In addition, not everyone has a computer or internet access, which is also a source of information. Therefore, our decision to broadcast lessons on TV seemed to us the ideal option, plus the tutorials will be repeated and viewers will be able to see them at a time convenient to them.” Khurtsia added that after the broadcast on TV, all the lessons will be made available online, so that everyone who wishes to improve their knowledge of the Georgian language can use the tutorials. Georgia is a multinational country and the number of ethnic minorities, especially in the regions, is high. There are regions in Georgia where ethnic minorities make up the majority of the popu-
Learning from home- a student watches an Open University broadcast, 9 February 1971. Taking a similar move, 20 regional television channels of Georgia are to broadcast video lessons in Georgian language and literature. Photo: Peter Trulock/Getty Images Source: theguardian.com
lation and many can hardly speak the state language, undoubtedly resulting in numerous problems in everyday life. “Despite the fact that in future we want to make a separate course in the Georgian language for ethnic minorities, these video tutorials also will help them to understand the intricacies of the lan-
guage and to get acquainted with the literature. As such, this project is not only for University entrants,” Khurtsia explained. Director of Regional Media Market, Levan Aleksishvili, assured that the project has many advantages; the main one being that distance education is becom-
ing increasingly important today. “This really is an innovative project. Distance education is our present and future – it is an access to education for everyone,” he said. “With the help of these tutorials, entrants and the population, even those in small villages, will be able to get basic and necessary knowledge,” he added.
GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
Knitted Knockers Tbilisi aims to help improve the lives of women who have experienced the emotional and physical trauma of mastectomy
Dem Bones: Ogden on the Health Service OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN
Knitted Knockers Tbilisi: Bringing Comfort to Breast Cancer Survivors BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
ate in 2015, quite by accident whilst researching a business idea, Tbilisi resident Lesley Baxter stumbled across the website of an organization called Knitted Knockers Foundation. As she read about one woman’s experiences during her recovery from breast cancer and how she turned her experience into a force for good, another idea began to form… Knitted Knockers Foundation is a charitable organization based in Bellingham, USA, founded in 2011 by breast cancer survivor Barbara Demorest. Complications following her mastectomy meant she was not able to be reconstructed nor wear a traditional silicone prosthetic. In despair, Barbara asked her friend to knit her a soft, light, cotton alternative using a pattern provided by Barbara’s doctor. Barbara was delighted with her Knitted Knocker and very quickly decided she wanted to support other women who found themselves in her situation – and the Knitted Knockers Foundation was born. The inspirational story behind Knitted Knockers struck a chord with Lesley who, like very many people, has family and friends who have been touched by breast cancer. Anticipating a need for such an initiative in Georgia, she encouraged some friends to join her in forming a group of knitters, named the group Knitted Knockers Tbilisi, and began knitting Knockers to offer breast cancer survivors. Traditional silicone breast prosthetics are expensive and not readily available to women in Georgia, and they can be heavy, sweaty and uncomfortable. Because Knitted Knockers are handmade from cotton yarn and are soft, light, comfortable, and can be worn inside an ordinary bra, they are suitable for most women who have undergone mastectomies and other procedures to the breast. Knitted Knockers are gentle against delicate skin and can be individually adjusted for size and shape by adding or removing stuffing. Lesley’s small group of dedicated and happy knitters, who are known amongst themselves as the ‘Knockettes’, have knitted over 250 beautiful Knockers to date. They knit the Knockers to order - the recipient can choose their size, preferred colour and whether they need a single or a pair - and also maintain a stock of Knockers, making it easy to respond quickly to requests. As well as the knitters, and one or two who crochet, a number of other willing volunteers help with sizing, stuffing and packing. The Knockettes’ special message of love and support is included with every Knitted Knocker. One of the first women who received a Knitted Knocker, and who is now a
vital member of the team helping to connect with other breast cancer survivors, was Tamari: “I have to thank the group of ladies with ‘golden hands,’ and Lesley who introduced me to “Knitted Knockers” when I had a mastectomy. It’s very soft and comfortable to wear. One of the advantages – my skin can breathe! It’s also washable. But most important and rewarding - it’s free of charge and available for anyone. Thank you ladies for thinking of us!” Knitted Knockers Tbilisi aims to help improve the lives of women who have experienced the emotional and physical trauma of mastectomy by providing this simple solution to all those who request Knockers, and, judging by the response so far, there could be quite a demand. During a recent visit to Gori to meet a group of breast cancer survivors, around a hundred Knitted Knockers were distributed in one afternoon to women who arrived from the city and surrounding villages to hear about Knitted Knockers. It was a heart-warming scene as the women eagerly chose from a range of sizes and colours, some happy to take extra Knockers to give to friends who were unable to attend the meeting. Support and encouragement for Knitted Knockers Tbilisi has come in many forms, including donations of yarn and other materials, most recently a generous donation of yarn from the International Women’s Association of Georgia. All that’s needed from the knitters is their time and their knitting skills. It is by no means necessary to be an expert knitter, only a little previous knitting experience is required and some spare time. With practice, a pretty Knocker can be completed within in a few hours. The knitting pattern, which has been translated into Georgian and Russian, can be distributed along with kits containing yarn and knitting needles. It is hoped this will encourage women to knit for themselves or for friends and family members within their local communities. In the meantime Knitted Knockers Tbilisi welcomes support from those who can knit, donate materials or help to spread the good word, and in particular encourages requests for Knitted Knockers from women who need a little love and support. Contact Knitted Knockers Tbilisi at KKtbilisi@gmail.com or find them on Facebook.
here’s a great many things I love about living in Georgia, but the medical service is something that has consistently impressed me over
the years. I’ve heard foreigners complain about it, but my own experience has always been positive. I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve patronized better clinics or simply due to the abysmal state of Britain’s National Health Service. Now, the NHS is a fine idea; it’s free, for a start. Having seen the oncology department in one hospital and the cardiology specialists in another tending to stricken relatives of mine, I’m bound to say that the specialists are excellent. The difficulty is actually getting that far. I recall sitting in a waiting room with a broken wrist (having fallen off a wall blind drunk and roaring for women, they tell me) in a hospital and seeing one man with a nail straight through his hand (a builder, by the looks of him, though he could have been a Christian role player for all I know) and a little girl who’d had the skin scraped off her knee and was vocalizing her discomfort to the room. Her mother, torn between concern for her child and embarrassment as the little angel bawled ‘It ----in’ hurts, Mam! Tell ‘em to do summat abaht it!’, approached the reception and asked when her daughter could be seen. ‘Please be patient, the doctor isn’t free yet,’ was the bored reply as the little girl began to act out her favorite scene from Saving Private Ryan. Now, no doubt you’re thinking that this being a hospital, there were medical staff charging in every direction, nurses fixing IV lines while doctors sternly consulted charts and receptionists calmly answered the phones, professionally oblivious to the chaos around them. No such thing. Despite the immense size of the building, the hospital was empty (there weren’t even doctors there, it seemed); the screaming of the girl echoed around the place and came back in an eerie whisper. The wounded builder grew paler, the sound clearly making him think that the hand of Death was on him, and his mate had to stop him from falling. Eventually, they were seen – by a nurse. She saw me too, and told me that my
wrist was broken (which I already knew, from Google and the extreme pain) and that I would have to wait a week for an X-ray (which I also already knew, my past experiences of the NHS having set something of a precedent). I could go on, but if I list all my grievances with the NHS I’ll run over my word limit ten times over. Suffice it to say that my late grandfather complained for three months of feeling ill, and his doctor told him it was just the cold and his age. On a particularly bad night, he called an emergency doctor, a different man (a foreigner, actually) who took the trouble to examine him, and found an inoperable six-inch tumor in his stomach. He died three months later. My other grandfather is afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis, and visited the specialist last year in
June. She told him he had the wrong date. Not so, says he, checking the diary; he had the June date right, but he had come the wrong year. They were expecting him in 2016 (this when he had made the appointment last January). I even recall an NHS doctor telling my mother ‘Britain has a Third World healthcare system’. Proof if proof were needed, I’d say. I’ve visited a number of Georgian hospitals, twice with damaged legs (exerciserelated), once with a damaged wrist (personal misadventure) and a few times with friends. I was shocked to find that, for a start, there were doctors in the hospital. I learned that they cared about two things – finding what’s wrong with you and making it better. The plaster on
the walls was peeling, the wheelchairs had rust on them and the equipment was old…but it worked, and so did the people behind it. I’ve heard various explanations for Britain’s failing healthcare system. Someone blamed it on my region; apparently the NHS in the West Midlands is notorious. Well, perhaps, but it seems odd that not just one hospital but every facility in the entire area has low standards, and friends of mine from other parts of the country have recorded similar bad experiences. Another person said I should go to a private hospital in England instead. My mother took me to one once when I was a boy, but I was rather put off;
asides from the expensive fish tank there was little difference with the NHS, and the doctor kept calling me ‘the kiddy’. The hell with that. I’m due to be married to a Georgian doctor next month (and a damned good one, too. With her looks and brain, she could go for a place on Dr. House’s diagnostic team this minute), but I’m hardly biased; my opinions were formed long before we met. However, during her first foray into England I took the time to show her our NHS, and she simply could not believe it: the sign in the local doctor’s surgery reading ‘Don’t call an ambulance – have a relative or friend drive you instead’ really took the biscuit.
The English - Speaking Union ინგლისურ ენაზე მოლაპარაკეთა კავშირი Creating global understanding through English Patron: Her Majesty The Queen President: HRH The Princess Anne Invites 16-20 year old young Speakers to take part in the
Public Speaking Competition SPONSORED BY
The theme of the competition is “Integrity has no need of Rules”. Speakers may interpret this theme in any way they see fit, but they should not use the theme as their title. Each speaker will be allocated 5 minutes. The competition will be held in two rounds. The first round, March 14, at the English Language Centre “British Corner” (Vake Park). The second round will be held on 29th of March. The theme of the second round will be announced later. The competition is sponsored by the Bank of Georgia and British Petroleum ESU – Georgia will send the lucky winner to London in May to take part in the finals and organize 5 day stay in England. The deadline for registration is March 11. Contact us: The English Language Centre “British Corner”, Vake Park (entrance from I. Abashidze St.). Tel.: 557 400033, 5 77 477050; 5 55 302512 E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.esugeorgia.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnIKLMa7rBA
FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
Any Which Way You Can: Svaneti-Somerset BY TONY HANMER
ell, that’s a first, I thought as I surveyed the marshroutkas which obstinately refused to materialize in their usual crowd at Zugdidi railway station to whisk passengers off to Batumi, Kutaisi, Poti or Tbilisi. Not a one. I had braved the -15 C cold outside my home in Etseri, and more than two hours on the road down before the first sunlight appeared on the road, the first snow disappearing off it soon after. Tomorrow’s LOT red-eye would hurl me off to Warsaw, then Heathrow, followed by a bus and train to the Dorset countryside of the UK for a beloved uncle’s funeral. But first I had to get to Tbilisi, some 300 km away, and the prospects were looking a bit grim. Apparently there was a minivan drivers’ strike organized, protesting the takeover of some portion of the transport system by a rich Turk who’d already made similar acquisitions elsewhere in Georgia, notably in Batumi. The drivers were expecting to lose their livelihood, and thus were strongly informing the public that This Would Not Do. There was one other main way to get to Tbilisi from Zugdidi, if everyone else in similar straits hadn’t got there ahead of me: the train itself, for which tickets should conveniently be for sale right where I was, that being after all the railway station. I joined a short but slow-moving queue and began the shuffle towards hope. Yes, there were tickets on the early evening’s “fast” train, you know, the one which matches car speed instead of taking all night and getting you there too late for your flight anyway. Being alone,
with little choice, I bought one and prepared for another six hours’ wait in Zugdidi, which McDonalds’ free wi-fi and my laptop eased significantly. There was even a left luggage bureau at the station, removing the necessity of dragging around my suitcase and carry-on. It would suffice. Arriving uneventfully, relieved, in Tbilisi, I opted not to spend a few hours at our flat there, followed by needing a 3 a.m. taxi to the airport anyway, and
instead took a taxi straight to the airport, being driven in a nice coincidence by a Svan (they’re less than 1% of the Georgian population). We had plenty to talk about: he had just been in my village the week before, and I knew his ancestral home town, too. LOT Polish Airlines no longer offers anything more than water for free on its European flights, so I settled for that, refusing to shell out crazy cash
for anything edible, preferring to wait it out. With only an hour between my two flights, there was little time to do anything in Warsaw other than get from the plane to my next gate, and expect the next miraculous multi-ton metal tube to take me unimaginable distances in hardly any time, touching down within five minutes of my mother and sisters coming from Canada. At Heathrow, however, a not totally unexpected surprise awaited me, a most undesired one: my suitcase had not been so fortunate, failing to join me there. I jumped through the reclamation hoops, warning the people that I had a funeral the next morning and my good suit was in that case! They allowed me to spend 50 pounds a day on necessities while waiting for the luggage, and even to buy a new suit, as long as I kept all receipts. Not bad, although time was running out to do even that. Bus... train... Sherborne, my final destination for the next week, next to my old haunt of Milborne Port, Somerset. Here I would stay with old friends and have the convenience of the frequent trains running between Sherborne and Gillingham, site of the funeral. Out for a few hours that afternoon. Back to my hosts... and there I found my suitcase waiting for me in the entrance! There must have been another Warsaw-London flight very soon after mine for it to fly in and then be driven two or three hours out into the countryside. This completely undid the unpleasantness of being without the thing in the first place; solved everything. Thanks a LOT! Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1250 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
Government Finances Drug for Breast Cancer Treatment
Continued from page 1
Tbilisi City Hall was the pioneer in launching this program. Mayor of Tbilisi, Davit Narmania, stated that cancer patients with low incomes (who scored lower than 150,000 on a local social rating) would be fully financed by the State while people above this threshold would receive 80 percent state funding. A few days later, the Ministry of Health announced its support of this program and announced that all HER2-positive breast cancer patients in Georgia’s region will also receive 80 percent funding. “Of course, this is not the only drug in the course of cancer treatment and we are working hard to make other medicines accessible to all segments of the population,” said Davit Sergeenko, Minister of Health, Labor and Social Affairs of Georgia. Hospital data suggests that around 200-250 women in the regions of Georgia and 130-150 women in Tbilisi are suffering from breast cancer at present. However, representatives of the Ministry of Health noted that the number could be much higher due to the possibility that financial insolvency is preventing some sufferers from receiving treatment in hospitals, meaning that for such people there exists no data. The market price for 1 vial of Herceptin is 5500 Lari, the annual course (13 vials), which is financed by the state, previously cost more than 70,000 Lari.
Recently, the Government of Georgia made an agreement with the Herceptin producer to reduce the price to 2700 Lari. With this in mind, it appears that patients receiving 80 percent financing will pay only 7,000 Lari for the annual course. It is important to note that Herceptin is a very powerful drug – it decreases the risk of relapse by 40-45 percent, and increases the chance of effective treatment and complete recovery in the early stages. Since 2006, the Cancer Associations of the US and Europe has been recommending Herceptin for HER2-positive breast cancer treatment. Moreover, the World Health Organization put the medicine on the list of mandatory drugs in 2013. Herceptin has been present on the Georgian market for almost ten years. Minister Sergeenko also highlighted that, besides this program, the Government created a free screening program for people in the risk group. “The screening program has been on-going in Georgia for many years and is very successful – it helps to identify the disease at an early stage, and thus treat it quickly,” he explained. The early stage treatment program for breast cancer is available to all Georgian citizens from February 2016. All information about the necessary documents and conditions of receiving the treatment can be found on the websites of Tbilisi City Hall and the Ministry of Health or by calling: 1505.
GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
Italian and Georgian Friendship, Retold in the Language of Music BY MAKA LOMADZE
n the 9th of February, in the Grand Hall of the Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire, music lovers had a magnificent opportunity to listen to the immortal music of living legend Kia Kancheli, one of the greatest figures of the contemporary music scene, performed at a concert organized by the Italian Embassy in Georgia. In the first part, the player of the great maestro’s music- music written for Georgian films and theatrical performances -was Italian pianist Alessandro Stella. His performance, titled ‘Miniatures for Fortepiano,’ was accompanied by videos specially prepared for the day. The concert was meant to prove the friendship between the two countries and it proved to be the most gorgeous decision –proving friendship in the name of art. Anticipation high, the wall-to-wall audience were greeted by the hyper-patriotic song Herio Folks (Herio Bichebo) – often referred to as the most emotional Georgian song, followed by the instrumental versions of Kiacheli’s film classics, and by the world-renowned theatrical performance ‘Caucasian Chalk Circle’ by Robert Sturua. Time stood still and guests
found themselves in pleasant oblivion. Gia Kancheli, the live classic, is the musical author of around 50 films, including the great film director Eldar Shengelaia’s ‘Extraordinary Exhibition,’ ‘Blue Mountains or Unbelievable Story,’ ‘The Eccentrics,’ ‘Samanishvili’s Stepmother,’ well-known female director Lana Ghoghoberidze’s ‘Several Interviews around Private Issues,’ and ‘When the Almondtree was in Bloom,’ famous Georgian film director Giorgi Danelia’s movies ‘Mimino,’ and ‘Don’t Worry, etc,’ as well as animations, numerous orchestra works, amongst which can be counted: ‘Symphony No 4 dedicated to Michelangelo’, then a symphony No 5, ‘Symphony No 7 Epilogue,’ ‘Magnum Ignotum,’ ‘Trauerfarbenes Land’ dedicated to his parents, plus a huge number of chamber, opera and chorus pieces. Among the orchestra works prevail national topics as well as religious motives, and everything attaining the very climax of her majesty- Art. Together with already classical pieces, Italian pianist Alessandro Stella also performed some new pieces of Kancheli, meriting a stream of applause. Afterwards, the New Georgian Stream Quartet played one more indelible piece of the great Georgian composer named ‘Chiaroscuro.’ The 80-year-old maestro, who was in attendance at the event, recently created
new songs specifically for Nino Surguladze, the famous female mezzo-soprano who sings at La Scala and acclaimed by the leading stages of the world. This moment was anticipated most of all by the spectators – to listen to Nino’s divine
voice and also to get to know the exciting new repertoire of maestro Kancheli. Thank you Italian Embassy! We wish Gia Kancheli health and many more masterpieces.
Chinese Embassy Marks New Year in Tbilisi BY MAKA LOMADZE
he New Year’s euphoria has come to an end for western society, yet, according to the Chinese calendar, it has only just arrived! So, congratulations once again! On the 7th of February, on the eve of Chinese New Year, the new Chinese Ambassador of Georgia held a special reception at Hualing Preference Hotel. The occasion was as large as China itself, ample with distinguished guests from the government, diplomatic corps and so on. After the arrival of the guests, national anthems of both China and Georgia followed. “We are celebrating our Spring Festival, the most important traditional festival in China,” said Ambassador Ji Yanchi in his welcoming speech. “It symbolizes the return of spring and revival of life. It carries people’s hopes and expectations for New Year as well as their longing for peace and tranquility.”
The event was the first spring festival for him and his wife in Georgia. “Ever since I stepped onto the soil of Georgia, I have felt love and friendship from the Georgian people.” He went on to mention with gratitude the warm welcome of all the high officials of the country. “The ancient Silk Road linked our people together over two thousand years ago. At the end of the 19th century, a Chinese tea expert named Liu Junzhou came to Georgia. He brought tea seeds and plants with him and introduced tea-making technology to Georgia. He bred a high quality tea variety, called “Liu Cha” that won the golden medal at the International Industrial Expo in Paris. This has become a much-told interesting story symbolic of the friendly history of cooperation between China and Georgia.” Ambassador Yanchi also noted that 2015 was a very fruitful year in bilateral relations between Georgia and China, naming the meeting of the two presidents in Turkmenistan, as well as those of the prime ministers and chairmen of parliament in China. “The bilateral trade volume reached
USD 713 million,” the Ambassador said. “Georgia’s overall export to China grew by 39 percent and export of Georgian wine by 122 percent. China became Georgia’s fourth largest trade partner and fourth largest wine importer. The two sides co-organized the Tbilisi Silk Road International Forum, the direct freight railway line was opened, a frame agreement on exchange of local currencies was signed, and the launch of free trade agreement negotiations were announced.” The ambassador also mentioned the growing cooperation in the fields of culture, education, science, technology, and tourism. “I would like to underline that these results were achieved through the strong impetus from the leadership of the two countries,” Ambassador Yanchi declared, going on to thank the Georgian President and his team for their firm support in implementing new projects. He also expressed readiness to continue efforts together with the Georgian side, to strengthen traditional friendship “expand pragmatic cooperation and make new contributions to promote friendly cooperation” between China and Georgia.
At the end of his speech, the Chinese Ambassador wished China and Georgia prosperity and happiness, peace and good health to their people. Toasts were made, followed by a fireworks display on huge
screens and a stunning performance by Georgian singing and dancing ensemble ‘Erisioni.’ World renowned delicious Chinese dishes were the finishing touch to a most pleasant celebration.
FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
80-year-old Ramsey Lewis’ Triumphant Soiree at Event Hall
BY MAKA LOMADZE
he 7th year of Jazz series has begun, opened by the legendary Ramsey Lewis – traditional jazz pianist. The elderly guru of jazz came together with a quartet, which was the main surprise, as a trio had been announced. The three time Grammy® award winner’s 80th album, entitled Ramsey Lewis, Taking Another Look – Deluxe Edition features a new electric quintet with Henry Johnson on guitar, Michael Logan on keys, Joshua Ramos on bass and Charles Heath on drums. The latter two band members were expected in the line-up, but Henry Johnson’s appearance on the Tbilisi Concert Hall stage was an unexpected bonus for the eager Georgian audience. Gaioz Kandelaki, the musician who began the jazz tradition in Georgia, was the very person who brought the first record of Lewis to Tbilisi in the 1960s. At the time, he predicted an influential future for the jazzman, and it came true. “Ramsey Lewis is here – my childhood dream came true,” Kandelaki told GEORGIA TODAY. “I can hardly believe it. He’s a doctor, a person who gave a great push to American jazz. He is the leader of the New Orleans Jazz Festival, as well as a philanthropist who greatly supports
the education of children. He himself has seven children and 14 grandchildren. He has a completely distinguished style among the pianists. Ramsey Lewis even used a Georgian lullaby in one of his works,” he told us excitedly prior to stepping on stage himself to introduce Lewis. GEORGIA TODAY also spoke to Paata Baratashvili, an actor who purportedly has a collection of around 25,000 records of jazz and is a frequenter of jazz events in Georgia. We asked him for comments before the performance. “I just couldn’t miss out on this soiree and I’m not the only one who recognizes Lewis’ decisive role in the development of jazz. I’m also looking forward to Roy Hargrove, a trumpeter [to play on April 2nd]. I follow the times. Jazz is developing every day. Therefore, my interest is more directed to the new generation, as one has a chance to discover and listen to new and much more complicated rhythms. Nevertheless, I’m a purist in the sense that I’m fond of acoustic music. I buy records that were released not earlier than 2010 as jazz is a reflection of actual reality,” Baratashvili said. Kakha Kandelaki, Deputy Minister of Culture and former member of Eastern Promotions, also commented for GEORGIA TODAY, “I think that everyone who loves music and who could afford the time and money should have come and listened to Ramsey Lewis. I am one of them.” Ramsey Lewis was very sociable with the public and as humble as all great
jazzmen. Soon, the quartet was in full swing, offering an ocean of musicality, improvisation and divinity, once more reminding listeners of what jazz, though constantly evolving, has been. However, one can never define it, as no-one can define god, love, or beauty. The band showed us a very impressive switching from minor to major musical disposition. The Beatles song and one dedicated to the recently deceased Maurice White, Ramsey Lewis’ co-performer, evoked particularly ample applause. Giorgi Kereselidze, Director of the Eastern Promotions company, talked to GEORGIA TODAY right after the performance, “It was announced that Lewis would perform for Tbilisi with just Joshua Ramos and Charles Heath. The surprise arrival of guitarist Henry Johnson enriched the band even more. It was an excursus into 1960-70s America, a fertile basis to the birth of future multiple jazz directions. I’m happy, and I see that Ramsey Lewis is, too, which he conveyed in the energy he gave out. As for Maurice White, who began his career with Ramsey, the latter was the person who advised the former drummer to continue as a vocalist and we know what height White achieved in his own group ‘Earth, Wind and Fire.’” The jazz series will continue on March 9 with the duo Bugge Wesseltoft @ Christian Prommer’s Tete-a-Tete. Hurry up, electronic jazz lovers! For more info, visit www.tbilisijazz. com or tkt.ge or call 2-99-05-99
Lucky 13. Where are You Going this Valentine’s Weekend? BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
his Valentine’s weekend, why not take your loved one out to the latest venue on the block- Lounge Club Number 13? It could be your
lucky night… Boasting an exclusive design by famous Georgian interior designer Nino Akhvlediani, and located in a central touristic zone at Giorgi Akhvlediani Street 13, the club is a must-visit for all electronic music-lovers! The opening night on February 13th will be invite-only, but from 14th February the doors will be open to welcome all to enjoy the truly special atmosphere and sounds of Number 13, from 19:00 til late. The lighting and sound systems were brought from abroad in order to guarantee a high quality experience while listening to the mostly electronic repertoire. If you arrive with an appetite, you’ll find food served from 19;00. The mostly
European menu offers dishes made with fresh high-quality ingredients. From Thursday to Sunday the most popular Georgian DJs will be found performing at Number 13 and on Fridays, famous Georgian band Niutone will perform the most popular hits and covers. On Saturday vocal singer Elene Kalandadze will entertain guests accompanied by saxophone. Guests are met by attractive female staff members who will assist them in
finding a place. The club has face-control and also offers a loyalty system to benefit regular clients. The venue is great for corporative events and birthday parties, offering space for 120-150 persons. In future the club plans to invite international DJs and to organize exclusive parties for lovers of the night-life. The number 13 is a lucky number. Perhaps luck will find you at Number 13 Lounge Club. Why not give it a try?
FOR SALE 9,8 ha non-agricultural, privately owned parcel for industrial use
(cadaster code # 01.19.26.004.088) located next to Tbilisi Airport (It is possible to divide it into several parts)
Address: Airport settlement, Samgori district, Tbilisi Tel: +995 599 529 529 email@example.com
GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
Nina Esiava, a Georgian Musician Based in Milan BY MERI TALIASHVILI
ina Esiava, a refugee from Abkhazia, has for several years been working in Milan where she is now an acclaimed pianist. Her story is filled with both pain and happiness. Everything began with seven years at the Music School and a passion for music that, she says, is engraved on her heart eternally. GEORGIA TODAY met Nino to find out more.
NINA, WOULD YOU TELL US HOW YOU EMBARKED ON YOUR MUSICAL CAREER? My musical career started at the age of seven. I got involved in music on my mother’s initiative, though she never dreamed I would become a professional. First came Music School and my first teacher Tamta Mikeladze, who herself has a very successful musical career. During my studies at the Music School, I was also studying at Italian School Tsiskari. My family is from Abkhazia and the school is especially for displaced persons. Attending both Music School
and Tsiskari was impossible to deal with due to a lack of time. Thus, I had to make a choice. Fortunately or unfortunately, I chose Tsiskari and my decision was welcomed by my mother. I left music school and began studying at a music college, which gave me the chance to study also at the Italian school. As time passed I came to realize that music was what I wanted to follow as a profession and so I took up private lessons with Liana Piralishvili to whom I attribute my enrollment at the Milan Conservatoire.
YOU ARE THE FIRST AND SOLE GEORGIAN MUSICIAN TO BE SO WELCOMED BY THE MILAN CONSERVATOIRE. HOW HARD WAS THE WAY TO SUCH HUGE SUCCESS? Before I was accepted at the Milan Conservatoire, I took part in the Bormio City Music Festival and several master classes following further successes. I was invited to stage solo concerts in Bormio where numerous professors from different conservatoires attended, among them those from the Milan Conservatoire. They invited me to enroll. It certainly helped that I could speak the language! In the
entrance test I got 98 out of 100. My mentor is Antonio Tessoni. We are very close. I frequently stage concerts and participate in many contests. Last year I was awarded a cash bonus as one of the most successful students of the Conservatoire. Also, I became laureate of the Florence Young Musicians Competition. I’m also a pianist in the orchestras of cities Cremona and Novara. I took part in the Italian Ministry of Culture-founded project ‘Piano City,’ also due to take place this year again. Italian TV Broadcasting Rai Uno filmed me as one of the acclaimed Georgian pianists in Italy.
YOU ARE A MEMBER OF THE CULTURAL ASSOCIATION OF ITALY. WHAT IS IT? My collaboration with the Association is very interesting and profitable for me in terms of staging concerts - both solo and chamber – and it assists a musician to become a master of his or her profession.
HOW DISTINGUISHED IS YOUR WORKING IN ITALY FROM GEORGIA? WHAT HAS THE COUNTRY GIVEN TO YOU APART FROM
A PROFESSIONAL CAREER? I have found living in Italy very interesting and diverse. In terms of professional growth and career opportunities, I cannot compare to Georgia, but my accomplishments are linked to the music education I received here. Living and working here helped me make many friends and acquaintances. Sometimes it is quite hard to make the right decision where to go in life. Some prefer the United States, others Germany or Russia but for me Italy is everything. In order to become successful in any sort of field, the environment plays a huge role. Italians, as other foreigners, are known for their warm characteristic, their smile and compliments after every concert they give me an inexpressible strength.
WILL YOU RETURN TO GEORGIA? I can’t say when I’ll be back. At the moment I’m a fourth year student and after graduation I’m planning to continue studying a Master’s degree somewhere. All I can say for sure is that for the next couple of years I will be staying in Italy. I hope the situation in Georgia will improve so that I can work for my country as well.
10 Cult Films. American Cinema Retrospective at Presidential Library BY ANA AKHALAIA
any groundbreaking films of the 20th century failed to reach the Georgian cinema audience due to the censorship of the Soviet era. Only film experts and a number of the privileged had better access to them. Censorship is long gone but that hasn’t changed much and the few-and-far-between short-lived TV programs about cinema have been unable to fill the gap in the Georgian audience’s knowledge of cult films. With high hopes to help remedy this, the Saakashvili Presidential Library has been hosting a pilot project ‘10 Cult Films – American Cinema Retrospective,’ offering movie lovers a free screening of 10 American films which gained international acclaim and recognition. The ‘10 Cult Films’ project was initiated by Nika Rurua, former Georgian Minister of Culture. As TV directing is his first profession, Rurua has a long list of great films and directors which he
wishes to familiarize the Georgian audience with. “Cinema has accumulated a great heritage, part of which we had to omit because of the censorship in the Soviet era,” Rurua told GEORGIA TODAY. “I think that every modern person should have a film education. Film education is as important as literary education. Fewer art-house films are made today. Nowadays, commercialization is damaging cinema as an art genre. Wanting to fill this vacuum, I thought this pilot project would be a great idea in terms of film education. And the best venue would be a library which people are already comfortable visiting,” he said. Rurua chose 10 films from directors who were not favored by the Soviet censors and whose names have remained unknown to the majority of Georgians young film lovers. What the films have in common is that they are all non-commercial art-house films, which in their time became so sensational that they gained commercial success. The themes are diverse, none of them ideological, dealing with issues such as racism, class alienation, teenagers, heterosexual relationships, isolation which accompanies urban life, and more. “Only film connoisseurs know the names of Orson Welles, Hal Ashby, Bob Rafelson, Robert Altman, Sidney Lumet, John Huston, John Cassavetes, and Peter Bogdanovich,” Rurua said. “The general Georgian movie-goers are less familiar with them, and yet these directors created important cultural products, films that touched on a lot of issues, with great actors in them, such as Jack Nicholson, John Cassavetes himself, Peter Sellers, Al Pacino and so many others. “Belye Stolbi, a film fund in Moscow, allowed closed film screenings only for film specialists, directors, screen writers and film critics. The Ministry of Culture of the time thought it necessary for those working in film production to know what was being made in the West in order to develop Soviet cinema. But these screenings were closed to the general public,” Rurua said, adding that he was lucky enough to get an opportunity to attend such screenings and had seen all the 10 films [of his project] at a time they were not otherwise accessible. He expressed disappointment that there are no separate movie theatres for art-house films [in Tbilisi], where people can go and see film classics; also at the inability of Georgian television to show these films because they simply don’t know about them. “It would be great in
the future if City Hall established an experimental movie theatre where film classics would be shown. Film lovers would go and learn about films they wouldn’t usually watch anywhere else. I want film education to be considered as an important part of education and for people to see the great heritage created by American cinema in the 1950s,
60s and 70s, American cult films which are unknown to most of us,” Rurua said. The Saakashvili Presidential Library has already hosted two screenings: Network (1976) by Sidney Lumet, and Carnal Knowledge (1971) by Mike Nichols. The films are presented by Nika Rurua every Thursday at 7pm.
FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATRE
GABRIADZE THEATRE Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 February 15 Autumn of My Spring Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 20, 30 Lari February 16 Ramona Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 20, 30 Lari February 17 Marshal De Fantie’s Diamond Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 20, 30 Lari GRIBOEDOVI THEATRE Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 February 13 ENGLISH DETECTIVE Agatha Crictie Directed by Vakhtang Nikolava Small Stage Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari February 14 THE LITTLE HUMPBACKED HORSE Pyotr Yershov Directed by Vakhtang Nikolava Grand Stage Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari
TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATRE Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge February 12, 13, 14 Fool’s Life P. L. Travers Directed by David Doiashvili Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 10 Lari TBILISI NODAR DUMBADZE STATE CENTRAL CHILDREN’S THEATRE Address: 99/1 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 95 39 27 February 13 The Princess, Frog, Hansel and Gretel Directed by Dimitri Khvtisiashvili Language: Russian Main Hall Start time: 15:00 Ticket price: 7, 10 Lari CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari
SPOTLIGHT Directed by Tom McCarthy Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams Genre: Biography, Drama, History Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 19:30 Language: English Start Time: 22:00 Ticket price: 11-14 Lari
November 17 - May 1 EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO THE GREATEST MILITARY AIRCRAFT DESIGNER ALEXANDER KARTVELI (KARTVELISHVILI /1896-1974/).
The Danish Girl Directed by Tom Hooper Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari
SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 www.museum.ge
JOY Directed by David O. Russell Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Genre: Comedy, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 14:30 Ticket price: 9-10 Lari All Roads Lead to Rome Directed by Ella Lemhagen Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Rosie Day, Raoul Bova Genre: Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 12:15, 17:00, 20:00 Ticket price: 8-14 Lari MUSEUM
February 12-18 DEADPOOL Directed by Tim Miller Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Karan Soni, Ed Skrein Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge ARCHAEOLOGICAL TREASURE Permanent Exhibition
December 21 - March 31 THE TRAVELING MUSEUM OF THE CAUCASUS
February 12 – March 6 THE EXHIBITION OF THE UKRAINIAN ARTIST MATVEY VAISBERG “WALL, WALL AND OTHERS” GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge February 12-23 EXHIBITION OF SILK SCARVES FROM MAEGHT GALLERY, PARIS THE EUROPE HOUSE Address: 1 Freedom Sq. Telephone: 2 47 03 11 February 2-15 MARIAM ZALDASTANISHVILI’S SOLO EXHIBITION Supported by Tbilisi City Hall Cultural Events Center GALLERY “VANDA” Address: D. Chonkadze str. #14 (Sololaki) Telephone: 2 93 42 86 Gallery works daily, 12:00 – 19:00 www.vandagallery.org
February 13-26 UKRAINIAN ARTIST, MATVEY VAISBERG’S SOLO EXHIBITION “BESTIARY” A showcase of his famous series of animalistic paintings MUSIC
KAKHA BAKURADZE’S MOVEMENT THEATRE Address: 182 Agmashenebeli Ave., Mushtaidi Park February 14 Movement Theatre Presents AT MARGARITAS Tango Show and Chacarera. Dance and Workshop Live Music Poetry about Love Evening performed by Milonga La Cumparsita Rechitative in the City Tango Vagabuno Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari MTKVARZE Address: 2 Agladze Str. February 12 Main Room: 23:30 - NDRX (11TH) 02:00 - INDYEXX Live 03:00 - TU JI Live 04:00 - KANCHELI (11TH) Small Room: TORNIKE Start time: 23:00 Ticket price: 15 Lari MAGTI CLUB Address: 22 Rustaveli Ave. Tel.: 599 50 00 22 February 14 MERAB SEPASHVILI Old and new hits Start time: 19:30 Ticket price: From 30 Lari
GEORGIA TODAY FEBRUARY 12 - 15, 2016
Resounding Win over Germany Brings Birthday Cheer to Georgian Coach Haig BY ALASTAIR WATT
ast year was a historic success for Georgian rugby, and 2016 didn’t start badly either as Georgia thrashed Germany 59-7 in their first competitive match of the year at Avchala Stadium on February 6. The performance and result helped New Zealander head coach Milton Haig, who recently renewed his contract, to celebrate his birthday on a sun-soaked afternoon in Tbilisi’s northern outskirts. The visit of the Germans was Georgia’s first match since the heroics of last autumn’s World Cup where a third-place finish in their pool secured automatic qualification for the 2019 edition in Japan. Accordingly, a capacity crowd greeted the Lelos albeit in a stadium that holds only around 3,000. Fans were presented with a line-up missing some of Georgia’s big names in recent years such as Mamuka Gorgodze and Merab Kvirikashvili, but containing young star of the World Cup Vasil Lobzhanidze at scrum half and experienced locks Giorgi Chkhaidze and Giorgi Nemsadze, among other established names. Germany arrived in Tbilisi bottom of the European Nations Cup group at the halfway stage with only one point, and having fallen to a 64-8 defeat in last year’s meeting in Heusenstamm. In comparison, with five wins from five last year, Georgia topped the group by six points
prior to kick-off and some were anticipating a winning margin that could surpass Georgia’s largest ever win, a 98-3 triumph over Czech Republic in 2007. However, in the early stages there was no suggestion of such a demolition materializing as Georgia suffered a surprising
early setback. In the 5th minute, just as Georgia were launching an encouraging break, wing Giorgi Pruidze’s misjudged chip was clutched gleefully by Germany’s Oliver Paine who raced half the length of the pitch unchallenged to give the visitors
a shock lead, sending the handful of German fans into short-lived delirium. Carlos Soteras Merz then dispatched a difficult conversion to hand Germany a 7-0 advantage. Predictably, the Georgian response was ferocious and they drew level five min-
Germany had started the match with some promise in an attacking sense, but when it came to defending against Georgia’s notoriously strong forward line, this was a mismatch of David v Goliath proportions PUBLISHER & GM
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utes later. A few meters from the foot of the German posts, the ball broke off Lobzhanidze before Beka Gorgadze steamed his way to the line for the home side’s first try of the day, after which center Lasha Malaguradze made no mistake with the resulting conversion. Germany had started the match with some promise in an attacking sense, but when it came to defending against Georgia’s notoriously strong forward line, this was a mismatch of David v Goliath proportions. In the 25th minute, the Georgian pack drove forward like a steam train and, had Mikheil Nariashvili not stooped to touch down and score, the German defence might have ended up in Mtskheta. Malaguradze notched another conversion and soon Georgia’s superiority became clear as a flowing move ended with Malaguradze passing to Nemsadze for another Georgian score in the 29th minute. The conversion attempt was wayward on this occasion but Malaguradze didn’t have long to wait for another chance as a Georgian lineout eventually fell the way of Anton Peikrishvili whose converted try in the 40th minute gave the hosts a 26-7 advantage at the break. After the interval, the German resistance waned further under the pressure of Georgia’s relentless push for more tries, of which there were another five in the second period. With 50 minutes played, flanker Giorgi Tkhilaishvili burst through the German try line despite the attentions of Pascal Fischer, with Malaguradze converting to extend the Georgia advantage to 33-7. Seven minutes later, after the Germans again succumbed to the merciless forward power of the Georgian scrum, Lasha Lomidze notched his first try of the day and he would add another in the 65th minute in similar circumstances. The score of the afternoon followed in the 71st minute as Zurab Zhvania, best known for his uncompromising physical power, embarked on a sensational run of which most backs would be proud before releasing the ball for Lasha Khmaladze to touch down. The try, which after being converted by Malaguradze gave Georgia a 54-7 lead, was later named among World Rugby’s top five tries of the weekend. Although the well-beaten visitors were now more than ready for a post-match bath and beer, there was still time for Georgia to add a ninth try courtesy of a dogged run and score by Shalva Sutiashvili in the final minute. Head coach Haig afterwards expressed his excitement about Georgia’s blend of youth and experience which had been at the heart of a predictably comfortable success. Tougher tests await the Lelos with a visit to Portugal on February 13 before they host Spain at the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium in Tbilisi on February 27.
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Feb. 12 - 15, 2016