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Issue no: 1141



In this week’s issue... SovLab Calls for Autopsy of 150 Corpses Found in Batumi


De Facto Abkhazia to Deprive Georgians of Right to Inherit Property





A Europe in Crisis: Where Does Georgia Stand? tarian yoke and thirty years of democratic progress, our European aspiration is inseparable from the consolidation of liberal democracy.” Zurabishvili believes that Europe will both protect and progress Georgia by bringing improvements such as new commercial opportunities, access to Erasmus programs, and the introduction of European regulations for health and safety. In addition, Europe plays an integral part in preventing Russia from continuing to encroach on Georgian territory. Georgians predominantly support the European idea: “Georgians have been supporting EU membership with 80% for years,” writes Zurabishvili. However, despite Georgia’s pro-Europe stance, many EU member states are becoming increasingly eurosceptic and turning towards populism and nationalism. Since the turn of the century, the number of Europeans voting for populist parties in national votes has risen from 7% to more than 25%, according to research by The Guardian. In 1998, only Switzerland and Slovakia had populist governments. Two decades later, another nine countries do. Continued on page 4

Samtskhe-Javakheti: a Hidden Gem of Georgia Preserving an Ancient Megalithic Culture

Image source - Emerging Europe



urope is in crisis, begins the President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili in her op-ed published in Le Monde, a French newspaper. Indeed, a steady increase in populism and the divisive effect of Brexit is destabilizing European ideals. Yet nonetheless, Georgia is steering itself towards the EU more than ever before. “The European choice is easily made,” writes Zurabishvili. “Europe is synonymous with freedom: after seventy years under the Soviet totali-


Creative Education Studio Revolutionizing the Georgian Music Scene CULTURE PAGE 11

St Marine Church of Tmogvi Fortress. Photo by Giorgi Maghradze

Find out Jack's last words and thoughts before being put behind bars in British prison

Georgian Wine Shows Great Potential on the Japanese Market




APRIL 12 - 15, 2019

Prime Minister Bakhtadze Takes the Floor at PACE BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


eorgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze visited Strasburg this week. On April 9-10, Bakhtadze made an appearance at the Council of Europe, accompanied by David Zalkaliani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tamar Chugoshvili, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament and Archil Talakvadze, Leader of the parliamentary majority. He held a number of bilateral meetings during the visit, including with Liliane Maury-Pasquier, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe. On Wednesday April 10, Bakhtadze gave a speech to the Assembly, addressing the Council of Europe’s Parliamentarians on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Georgia’s membership in PACE. The speech opened, dramatically, with a live rendition of the classic Georgian folk song Chakrulo, sung by the men’s polyphonic choral ensemble ‘Rustavi,’ which Bakhtadze explained is “a marker of Georgian identity” through its diversity of tones. Bakhtadze began his speech recognizing the support of PACE and other allies, which has led Georgian to achieve “unimaginable goals over the past 20 years.” “Georgia has managed to make a dramatic transformation, and today we are a country on the rise,” he added. The Prime Minister dedicated his speech to “those killed for freedom,” nodding to

Image source: Government of Georgia

the April 9, 1989 massacre when Soviet troops descended on peacefully protesting Georgians in the center of Tbilisi with tanks and riot gear. “Their fight was not fruitless,” said Bakhtadze, “as, after two years, we gained independence.” “Peaceful demonstrations are no longer dispersed by the government in the country. Human rights protection is the top priority,” the Prime Minister stressed. Most of the speech was dedicated to the theme of democracy, and Georgia’s “irreversible” democratic advancements. “Georgia has an ambition to become the role model of democracy in the region,” said Bakhtadze. He continued, saying that “Both PACE and Georgia can be proud of our democratic achievements,” and affirming the country’s commitments to the values of the Council of Europe – combating corruption, ensuring human

rights and freedom of expression, and defending minority groups. He also noted last autumn’s election of the first female president in the country’s history, Salome Zurabishvili, and the fact that at the end of last year Georgia adopted major reforms to the Constitution, which, he said, now provides for better, more democratic governance. Georgia’s two main challenges, according to the Prime Minster, are territorial occupation and poverty. To addresses these challenges, the government is starting with systematic education reforms – likely to have a stronger impact on reducing poverty than freeing the occupied territories. On the subject of the occupation, Bakhtadze told PACE, “20% of our territory is occupied by Russia. We have 300,000 IDPs who are deprived of their

rights to return to their homes. The erection of barbed-wire fences, and the suppression of the local population are daily issues. The situation on the Georgian occupied territories is nothing other than a humanitarian catastrophe.” He spoke aloud the names of Georgian citizens killed by occupying troops, warning that “we still deal with threats of abduction, torture and murder of Georgian citizens today.” He also thanked the Council for their support of the OtkhozoriaTatunashvili sanctions list, which identifies individual human rights violators on the occupied territories of Georgia. “The Russian Federation tries to undermine our peaceful initiatives, with... diversions they try to block all our efforts, with ethnic discrimination they try to fully eradicate the Georgian identity, but this won’t happen: we will never give

up,” Bakhtadze pledged. In the midst of the anger and hurt caused by the occupation, however, Bakhtadze emphasized that the only solution to the conflicts is a peaceful one. “Our joint victory will come only when our IDPs are able to return to their homes, bridges between people are fully restored, the rule of law and human rights is ensured throughout the whole territory of Georgia,” he said, going on to note the Georgian government’s policies to improve the quality of life for people in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region, offering economic and social benefits, such as the new Step2BetterFuture program, although such programs are rarely taken advantage of. “Today, from this stage, I would like to send a message to all our Ossetian and Abkhaz citizens - our every success is your success! And the only future that we see together is with you – united in peace and prosperity,” Bakhtadze proclaimed. Another topic the Prime Minister breached is that of Russia’s non-payment of its PACE membership fee. To highlight the issue, the Government of Georgia donated 500,000 EUR to the PACE budget voluntarily “as a sign of gratitude” for the Council’s support over the last 20 years. Bakhtadze closed his well-received speech with the famous quote from former Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania, which he spoke before PACE in 1991: “I am Georgian and therefore I am European.” On the same day, Zhvania’s name and his famous quote were inscribed on a star outside the Palace of the Council of Europe in Strasburg, France.

SovLab Calls for Autopsy of 150 Corpses Found in Batumi BY THEA MORRISON


he Soviet Past Research Laboratory (SovLab) has addressed the state authorities and representatives of the Batumi Eparchy to conduct an anthropological-criminal investigation and comprehensive autopsy of 150 corpses found on the territory of the military base in Georgia’s Black Sea coastal city Batumi. The organization, which aims to make a proper analysis and exploration of the Soviet totalitarian past, has given three recommendations to the State and the Church: 1. Provide public access to materials that will allow researchers to use this information.

2. If anthropological and criminal examination and research are not being conducted, expert groups should be able to study the remains. 3. If these are the remains of victims of the Soviet period, the State should give this fact a legal framework - to initiate an investigation in a prescribed manner and to ensure that the process is documented. Otherwise, the Soviet Past Research Laboratory believes that it is unreasonable and premature to claim these corpses are of the victims of the 1937-1938 Soviet terror. Information about the discovery of a mass grave was released on April 5 on the official website of the Batumi and Lazeti Eparchy. The remains of 150 people were found in the grave. Killed, it is assumed, during Stalin's repressions, but there are also

Image source: Batumelebi

other opinions circulating. The State has yet to release an official statement as to what steps will be taken in this regard.

The graves of victims of Soviet repressions have been found in Batumi since 2014. In 2015, a special commission was

created which was tasked to work on this issue but ultimately proved ineffective. The Batumi and Lazeti Eparchy stated the place where the graves were found was given to the Patriarchate of Georgia for temporary use, adding four graves were found there with a total of 150 human remains. The clergy have announced that the corpses will be reburied, in the same place they were discovered, on April 21. It is unknown whether the reburial ceremony will be a religious or civil one, as the remains have not been identified. The Eparchy claims that the excavation process started openly in 2016 and the state agencies were actively involved in it. The statement reads that with the cooperation of the Ministry of Health a base of DNA of the remains will be created and an examination of the corpses can be done at any time.


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APRIL 12 - 15, 2019

De Facto Abkhazia to Deprive Georgians of Right to Inherit Property BY THEA MORRISON


he de facto authorities of Georgia’s Russian-occupied region of Abkhazia are to deprive Georgians of the right to inherit prop-

erty. The relevant “law” was adopted by the so-called parliament of occupied Abkhazia at the first reading. The initiative belongs to “MP” Raul Lolua, who said, "the ban at the first stage concerns citizens who participated in the war against Abkhazia or helped Georgians." “We were addressed by the veterans and citizens who told us that the Georgian nationals who lived in Abkhazia before the war and left the country, are returning and asking for property... Therefore, we initiated a change to the law and deprive the members of families who fought against the sovereignty of Abkhazia, participated in hostilities against Abkhazia or assisted occupational forces, from the right of inheritance," said Lolua. The “MP” said that in future they will

make changes that will affect even Georgians whose family members did not participate in the hostilities. "We will definitely raise this issue," he noted. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia David Zalkaliani says that the decision of the so-called parliament of Abkhazia is a direct manifestation of discrimination on ethnic grounds and is nothing new. “This has no legal basis and the international community will not consider it or accept it. But we should appeal to all international organizations,” he said. Zalkaliani stated that the Co-Chairs of the Geneva Discussions have already been informed about the issue. “We will raise all these issues with all international organizations, in all formats directly related to human rights and their violation. We will work to get a reaction from the international community," the Minister added. State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Ketevan Tsikhelashvili states that the steps of the so-called parliament of Abkhazia are not surprising. She noted that human rights and the property rights of the local population of breakaway Abkhazia had already

Image source: hrw.org

been violated, with 300 thousand people still unable to return to their homes. “This ‘decision’ can be considered a continuation of the occupation policy… Any decision about property in the occu-

pied territories is invalid according to Georgian law. This decision cannot have a legal basis and cannot be reviewed in future,” stressed the Minister. Breakaway Abkhazia and another

region of Georgia, Tskhinvali (“South Ossetia”) were occupied by the Russian Federation in the wake of the August 2008 war, which turned thousands of locals into internally displaced persons.

Russians Need to Question their Foreign Policy BY EMIL AVDALIANI


pen, public discussion on Russian official foreign policy has been rarely seen in Russian history, due largely to the common perception that the government correctly understands all Russian state interests. In the Soviet period, foreign policy rarely came into the public spotlight. So was it under the Romanov dynasty, albeit with much more freedom and flexibility (and there were cases when public discussions were in fact instigated by the authorities). Overall though, public discussion was under much scrutiny and control from the imperial and Soviet authorities. This does not mean big debates were not taking place within Russian government, however- debates questioning the existing foreign policy initiatives, the country’s overall strategic trajectory and its position in the Eurasian landmass. In the years before Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812, Russian Tsar Alexander I was criticised for his policies towards the French Emperor, leading to fears that one day he might be ousted. In the Soviet epoch, Nikita Khrushchev’s downfall was largely caused by unpredictable behavior on the world stage. And the list goes on, with plenty of examples how the Russians internally debated and reconsidered the country's foreign policy, while on the surface all was static as if no change was forthcoming. The Russian public today is prevented

from questioning Vladimir Putin's foreign policy over the past 19 years. This does not mean that the Russians do not write about Russia's foreign affairs, but it seems that the dose of questioning and possible reconsideration in those discussions is slim. Yet, there are plenty of reasons why the current Russian foreign policy should be questioned. Over the 19 years of Putin's rule, the Russian influence has seen major setbacks. In 2014, when the Euromaidan took place and Russia grabbed Crimea and supported separatists in Donbass, Kiev became unequivocally pro-western in its foreign policy course. In the same year, Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia all signed EU association agreements and stepped up military cooperation with NATO members and other western states. Moscow has also experienced problems with breakaway territories across the former Soviet space. Russia once used the conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria to curtail the ability of

the countries those regions were in to enter the EU and/or NATO, but Moscow is having more and more difficulty maneuvering in so many diverse conflicts. Various actors are trying to play their own games, at times independently of Moscow, while anti-Russian sentiment will always be present among local populations. Geography also complicates Moscow’s ability to act decisively. For instance, the Transnistria region, where it has approximately 1,500 troops as peacekeepers, was essentially cut off from Russia once Ukraine closed transit routes through its territory. To make matters worse, Russian foreign policy setbacks are not limited to the western borderlands or the South Caucasus. Russian influence in the strategically important Central Asia region is also receding. It is true that Moscow remains a predominant military power with military bases in Tajikistan (although China too its own base there) and Kyrgyzstan, but on the economic front, China

has strengthened its positions. There are even unpleasant developments on the cultural level. As the number of Russian speakers decreases around the world, Kazakhstan recently rid itself of the Cyrillic alphabet and replaced it with the Latin one. On a broader geopolitical level, Russia is feeling pressure from the US and the EU. It is unlikely that the sanctions imposed on Russia will be lifted any time soon. This gives plenty of reasons why Russia’s basic foreign policy assumptions should be reconsidered. The Russian foreign policy is probably still too Eurocentric, and there are now signs that Moscow is becoming Asia-centric. Indeed, Russia should neither position itself as leaning towards Europe nor to the economically vibrant Asia-Pacific region. The Russians should in fact be cooperating equally with all the economic centers across Eurasia. Russia’s geographic position is unique

if one considers how many world economic centers it borders on: EU, the Middle East and China, Japan, etc. This potentially allows Moscow to become an economic powerhouse of its own. True, Ukraine and the rest of the former Soviet space are important to the country, but it is also true that Moscow spends too many resources on unnecessary separatist conflicts and the ‘prospective’ NATO onslaught. The Russians should also question the most difficult notion: the pursuit of imperial grandeur. However trivial that might sound, the concept of turning Russia into a superpower (derzhava in Russian) should not be a primary goal of any successive government. There should be a clear understanding that a perennial Russian quest for military modernization sucks up most of the revenues and other resources. Instead, the Russians should develop a clear strategy, even grand strategy, based on the fact that first powerful economic incentives should be given to internal economic activity. This would allow the Russians to be competitive and return to the Eurasian arena as a major global power. No isolation from the outside world is necessary to develop internally; on the contrary, cooperation with Europeans and Americans should not be stopped. However, Russia should take time to rethink its position on the global stage. It should leave what seems impossible to do for many in nowadays Russia (battle for Ukraine, Georgia, etc.) to perhaps return to the same lands as a different, economically and technologically vibrant power in a couple of decades or so.

A Europe in Crisis: Where Does Georgia Stand? Continued from page 1 European democracies such as Austria, Italy, and Poland now have far-right parties in government. In other countries like Germany and France, pillar countries in the EU, the far-right is becoming more and more popular. The nationalist and eurosceptic party the Front National received over 33% of the votes in the second round of elections

in France in 2017. Brexit has become a symbol of Europe’s crisis. Euroscepticism, populism, and misinformation have caused deep divisions within the UK and Europe. After years and months of Brexit-focused debates in parliament, British politicians are still unable to resolve the Brexit problem and agree on a Brexit plan, even within their own parties. “Never since the Second World War

has Europe been so necessary. And yet never has Europe been in such danger,” stated Emanuel Macron, President of France. He believes that a centrist, proEurope alliance is essential to stave off the populist and nationalist movements that have been gaining support across the continent. Despite the problems the EU is currently facing, Georgia sees a European future and European integration is

cemented in political rhetoric. This year, Georgia will celebrate ten years since joining the EU-led Eastern Partnership in Batumi. The government also continues to pursue European goals and implements regulations and projects with support from the EU. Georgia’s commitment to Europe is a refreshing perspective in a eurosceptic environment. Perhaps its unique vantage point outside the EU

allows Georgia to fully appreciate its benefits. Zurabishvili believes in Europe’s need to unite: “To pull its weight against the continental states of the 21st century, Europe must embrace, not divide,” she writes. “Tomorrow’s Europe will need us all: from the stronghold of parliamentary democracy in Great Britain to the cradle of tolerance that is small Georgia.”






wenty-four states (21 allied, 3 partner), 350 participants, the largest of its kind in the Caucasus region: the 2019 edition of the NATO & Georgia exercise was an impressive affair. The growing importance of Georgia for NATO, though not yet matched to the zeal of the host country’s EuroAtlantic aspirations, was apparent, with the exercises attended by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg himself, while a week later, after a ministerial in the United States, NATO Foreign ministers further underlined it by agreeing to strengthen support for Ukraine and Georgia in the Black Sea region. One of the more lauded staples of the NATO-Georgia relationship is the latter’s involvement in NATO Peace missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Georgia being the largest non-allied contributor. NATO representatives spare no moment to express their gratitude for it, as did the Secretary General, who dubbed Georgia “a critical partner.” It was precisely the impact and importance of the deployment of Georgian forces in Afghanistan and Iraq that GEORGIA TODAY discussed with Lieutenant Colonel Dave Olson, Public Affairs Officer at the Allied Land Command Headquarters in a brief interview during his stay and attendance of the NATO & Georgia exercises. Olson, who after a distinguished military career has been deployed in the capacity of Public Affairs Officer, having been overseas on 16 operational or strategic missions including three combat tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan, several trips to Europe including Germany and the Balkans, one to South Korea, one to Egypt, and several to Latin America, was only too keen to discuss the matter with us, claiming that Georgian forces were some of the best, and best-prepared, he had seen during his deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan.


IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN? My experience there was very impressive. They are very good soldiers, very disciplined and competent. They know the job, the business, the ins and out of it.

DID THEY COME DISCIPLINED OR IS IT SOMETHING THEY GET ON THE SPOT? They come disciplined. They know what they have to do. They do it very well.

HOW WAS THEIR ENGLISH? Those I was in contact with could speak quite well.


The Obscene Verbal Despair OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


hy should a journalist use obscene language on air unless the journalist is emotionally disturbed and suffers from a noticeably detrimental linguistic deficiency which keeps the journalist from using commonly accepted decent vocabulary powerful enough to persuade the audience of what the journalist thinks is right and deserves to be believed? Obscenely expressed despair has lately become commonplace in the Georgian political playground and media, with the spoken filth completely inundating the place. The abundance of choice F-words, having lost their taboo nature, now dominate TV programs, and what is most astonishing, the public is learning to feel comfortable in said contaminated linguistic environment. In fact, the impression is that the public likes to hear the verbal dirt on the air, entertaining the porno-adaptive ear. Now the question is whether this is right or wrong, and if the crude language in electronic or written media should be the subject of penalty. There is no law in the country that would ban the public usage of obscenities, which means that even if the air becomes totally saturated with unquotable lingo, nobody will be chastised for it. On the other hand, there is a mildly-functioning code of ethics, sporadically flaunted and not obligatory for media professionals to adhere to. So, what to do? Should we continue putting up with such profuse usage of unprintable and unrepeatable lexical material in media, or should we revolt? Putting up with it is unsavory, and revolting makes no sense because even if we rebel, the result is going to be zilch. How about using psychological help for a change? Let medical experts provide us with relevant professional interpretation of what the newly-born trend of linguistic foul means, flowing so plentifully and with such disturbing stench down the ideological and cultural avenues of the nation. Many would say that a well-built powerful word may have a stronger and more far-reaching effect on society than a regular profanity. And if this is true, why should our journalists apply in their routine vocabulary that is audibly disagreeable and distasteful in content? Where does the propensity

Image source: durantelallera/Shutterstock

to contaminate our beautiful native tongue come from? Could this be an erroneous belief in the power of an X-rated vulgarity? Or is bad language thought to be a good tool in the user’s mouth, juxtaposed with a regular linguistic format with decent content and pleasing configuration? How does obscenity as such serve the political landscape of the country to operate to the utmost benefit of our people? I might also guess that this is a psychosomatic exhaust that some unbalanced and neurotic medium needs to equip itself with to continue functioning. And the conclusive opportune question: could the public usage of coarse language emanating from our TV screens or the internet be considered a form of violence against the addressee. The relevant elucidation towards this presumption might take the special effort of a proficient expert, and if the conclusion is that this is a legal category equal to violence, then the ill-fated thing must become punishable. I am afraid the culprits thereto will be revealed and apprehended in considerable numbers. Let us now bounce back to the habitual usage of the obscene language on the air in Georgia! The situation is a little ludicrous because the freedom of media is totally misunderstood in this country. Here, the practice of wanton speech on television has become a norm only because the oppositional media feels totally unbridled to make use of any possible device to perpetuate the truth of their own molding and are doing this the way they think admissible. Meanwhile, the decision-making segment of our society, which is not currently armed with any legal power in this doubtful respect, keeps mum because if it decides to make even the fairest among the most lawful moves against ‘free’ media, the West might feel discontent. So should the nation admit the uncontrolled universal usage of obscenity by media for the simple reason that the nation feels uncomfortable with negative western reaction? This sounds pathetic!

MEMBERS OF THE GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT. SKEPTICS ASK, WHAT’S THE BENEFIT FOR GEORGIA HAVING TROOPS THERE? Experience. It’s quite invaluable. The combat experience you come back with. And added value is that you can be a multiplier and pass it to others; you can share your experience with your fellows back here. Experience is a good teacher. It’s very valuable for a country like Georgia.

THE EXPERIENCE THEY GET THERE CAN BE USED FOR CHALLENGES FACED IN GEORGIA FROM A MILITARY POINT OF VIEW? The lessons they are learning there can be applied to various situations, including the challenges faced

here in Georgia. Even though we need no anti-terrorist warfare on our soil. The fundamental principles of warfare are very similar; the principles of intelligence are similar, and the troops get to see and learn how these principles apply in real life situations. The effectiveness of Georgian combat forces will no doubt rise through that. What is the level of readiness as a result of the joint trainings here in Georgia? From what I have seen here today, they are very well-prepared. We send mobile training teams from Allied Command, whatever Georgia needs, they make a request, we send a team. They are ready to apply it, the knowledge and they will use the skills for the benefit of their country.




APRIL 12 - 15, 2019

The Sun Gets Jack Shepherd’s Last Georgia-Based Interview EXCLUSIVE BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE


hank you, Georgia, love you Georgia, see you Georgia – said Jack Shepherd, the fugitive Brit, as he was escorted to the airport by Georgian penitentiary services officers to be handed over to the representatives of the British police ahead of his looming extradition. Shepherd, who was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter in 2018, fled to Georgia and, after spending nearly 10 months on the run, handed himself over to Georgian police in January. After initially turning down the simplified extradition procedure, he consented to an extradition request from the UK, citing his motivation to “participate in the appeal court process and be close to his son and family.” Earlier this week, Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani signed his extradition, although it emerged in the media that the flight arrangements for Shepherd’s departure were made even before the Minister gave her official consent to extradition, something that left Shepherd’s defense team disappointed with how the Georgian justice system handled matters, as his Georgian lawyer claimed: “the case acquired a distinctly political character.” The day after his arrival in the UK, Shepherd faced the UK court, to be slapped with an additional 6-month sentence for skipping bail and was told it would be served consecutively to his 6-year sentence for manslaughter. According to the passengers on the Tbilisi-London flight, the British media had a field day with Shepherd on the plane, incessantly quizzing him ahead of his unclear future in his home country. However, it was Britain’s largest paper, The Sun, that got most out of him, including perhaps the most comprehensive interview that he gave during his


stay in Georgia, one day before leaving the country and while still in his cell. Shepherd answered each and every question aimed at him and, as his Georgian adventure nears its end, GEORGIA TODAY is publishing the full version of The Sun’s interview for its readers.

Absolutely, unreservedly. I apologise for the role I played, and undeniably I did play a part. They have my sincere sympathies and condolences and I understand why they apportion the blame as they do. If I was in the same situation, I would probably feel the same way. I am very sorry for what happened. It was a tragedy and if I could do anything to change what happened, I really would.

IF YOUR APPEAL IS UNSUCCESSFUL, WOULD YOU BE PREPARED TO TAKE YOUR CASE TO A HIGHER COURT? FOR EXAMPLE, ECHR? I’m not a legal expert, but my understanding is that it’s not really a European or human rights issue; the question arises in British law and I think the judges and appeal court are best placed to answer questions about my case.

ONCE YOUR CASE IS RESOLVED, OR YOUR APPEAL IS SUCCESSFUL, WHAT WILL YOU DO NEXT? WILL YOU STAY IN BRITAIN? I haven't decided. My son is in Britain. I’ve always worked in Britain. I think it may be difficult for me to find work there given the media coverage that I experienced. Having said that, I do have obligations, debts, I want to provide for my son, so I’ll try to find decent work somewhere, be that Britain or someplace else, another European country perhaps, or even Georgia – I’m not sure at this point.

WOULD THAT MEAN YOU TAKE YOUR FAMILY WITH YOU? Wherever I end up working, I would like to always spend a good amount of the year with my son. I’m not with him now. Ideally, it would be him spending some of the year with me or me spending some of the year in the UK.

HAVE YOU GIVEN UP YOUR CAREER OF WEB DEVELOPER? I’m up for trying something else. If the opportunity arises in prison to learn new things, like carpentry, I would give it a

DO YOU REGRET RUNNING AWAY? go, but I think in reality, considering I want to pay off my debts and provide for my family, I think I’m best off sticking to the trade I know.

DO YOU PLAN AT ANY STAGE OF YOUR LIFE TO GO INTO POLITICS? No, I really don’t have such plans.

YOU FIRMLY BELIEVE YOU ARE INNOCENT OF MANSLAUGHTER BUT DO YOU TAKE ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR CHARLOTTE’S DEATH? PEOPLE WHO BLAME YOU FOR WHAT HAPPENED SAY IT WAS YOUR BOAT, SO IT WAS MORALLY IF NOT LEGALLY YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ENSURE HER SAFETY. Obviously, this is something I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about. To a certain extent, I agree with that; I do clearly bear some of the moral responsibility for Charlotte’s death; I don’t deny that. Further, I can understand why some people, including Charlotte’s family, apportion the entire blame to me. I think

it’s understandable, but from my perspective the reality is not quite so simple. There were a number of factors that led to the accident, some external ones, some being my decisions, some being Charlotte’s decisions too.

COULD YOU ELABORATE ON THOSE DECISIONS? For example, it was our joint decision to go out on the boat that night, Charlotte’s desire to drive it, my decision to permit her to drive it. Perhaps I ought to have instructed her more than I did. But then again, it was openly Charlotte’s decision to accelerate in the manner that she did and I failed to prevent her. In the end I survived, Charlotte lost her life. You see, it’s a shared [responsibility]. And there are matters of luck or fate — an unseen log in the path of the boat. In the end, I survived while Charlotte lost her life. These things could have been very different.


Yes. It was the consequences; it upset people and it was against my own interests. I truly believe my being there in the court to explain my case might have made the jury give a different conclusion. At the same time, the choice I felt I faced at that time really was between running and committing suicide and so in a way I am not entirely regretful; I am glad I didn’t choose the other option.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE BRITISH JUSTICE SYSTEM? I think by and large it is fair. I think on occasions it makes mistakes, but I do have respect for the institution and people who work there. The fact that I ran away, that happened not because I had doubts about the British justice system, it was a decision made out of fear, based on emotions.

WHAT REASONABLE REQUEST YOU WILL MAKE IN THE PRISON? ACCESS TO BOOKS, TV, VIDEO GAMES? I don’t know. I hope, you know in Georgia I luckily had books which were greatly helpful in my state; I don’t know how it will be in British prison.

Minister of Regional Development Shares Vision for Development Outside Tbilisi BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


inister of Regional Development and Infrastructure and Deputy Prime Minister Maia Tskitishvili has published a new article in the Georgian language edition of The Economist magazine. In the article, published this week, Tskitishvili explains the priorities and key policies of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure (MRDI) and her vision for the future of Georgia’s regions. The piece opens with a note on accountability. Tskitishvili and her team presented the Ministry’s achievements in 2018 and near-future plans to the public in January. Just two weeks ago, Tskitishvili visited Parliament in the framework of the new “Minister’s Hours” format, established by the new constitution, which came into force in December of last year. During her visit, she briefed the members of Parliament on the Ministry’s work. “The name of our ministry already determines the main priorities of its activities. This is the development of our regions and the country's infrastructure,” Tskitishvili bluntly states at the beginning of the article. She is committed to her ministry’s role in developing Georgia’s regions,

Image source: Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure

expressing that “the strength of Georgia is in the strength of its regions and the task of the government is to develop regions equally, and to create new opportunities.” She highlighted the

importance of job creation to help bring rural areas out of poverty and make the regions a more attractive place to live. Her ministry, and others, are enacting a variety of projects aimed, to some

degree, at job creation – vocational and higher education reforms, tax incentives, entrepreneurship training programs, business grants schemes, and more. Tskitishvili also impressed that economic growth must be inclusive and evenly distributed throughout the country, including “even the smallest settlement.” “In addition to infrastructure, strong self-governance is necessary for the development of the regions,” noted Tskitishvili. The MRDI is introducing programs to increase the financial and human resources of the regions, promoting political and fiscal decentralization and good governance, in cooperation with other ministries and government agencies. She warned against the fragmentation of development, particularly in the realm of infrastructure, saying that collaboration, communication, and joint strategies are essential “to fully utilize the regions’ potential.” The MRDI strategically looks at Georgia’s history to identify potential development hot spots, targeting old resorts, such as Abastumani and Dusheti, for renovation and revival, hoping to create a tourist-driven eco-system for a variety of businesses to thrive. The ministry is also working to turn Gudauri into a “new center of gravity” for tourism in eastern Georgia, attracting new investments. “We have such a vision for the development of all regions of the country,” Tskitishvili wrote, listing several

other planned and ongoing projects, including the David Kakabadze Fine Art Museum in Kutaisi, the Vani Archaeological Museum, the German-settled village of Asureti in the Tetritskaro Municipality, a new museum in Oni, Racha, the Zugdidi Botanical Garden, and the development of Bakhmaro as a four-season resort. In the piece, she recognizes that there is a long way to go before the country’s potential can be fully realized. “Unfortunately, we are still busy building basic infrastructure in many settlements. There are villages where there are no internal roads or water,” she lamented. The article closes by connecting the development of Georgia’s region to the development of the wider Black Sea/ Eurasia region as a whole. She emphasized the value of foreign trade and Georgia as a trade route linking Europe and Asia, “the transport and economic corridor of the region.” “The development of [major national highways] allows us to use our geographical and historical links to the economic strength of our country,” wrote Tskitishvili; “and yet, first of all, these roads connect the regions of our country with each other and give them new opportunities, additional prospects. Georgia's regions have a chance to integrate into the world economy.” The full article is available, in Georgian, in the current edition of the Georgian language edition of The Economist.




Georgian Wine Shows Great Potential on the Japanese Market


he potential of Georgian wine on the Japanese market was highlighted at the presentation of Georgian wine held in the headoffice of ‘Tokyo Marin Holdings,’ Japan's leading insurance company. The event was held within the frames of the exhibition ‘Georgia - Homeland of Wine’ and was attended by directors of Tokyo Marine Holdings’ partner companies, Ministry of Economy of Japan and representatives of other state structures. Head of Tokyo Marine Holdings and Director of Sony, Shuzo Sumi, and the famous TV reporter Hitoshi Kusano

shared their impressions about their visit to Georgia, while renowned sommelier Azusa Segava spoke about the unique features of Georgian wine and the representative of the Georgian Embassy in Japan, David Goginashvili, introduced the history and culture of Georgian wine, the investment climate and Georgian-Japanese relations. After the presentation, a tasting of Georgian wine and dishes of different varieties was held. The guests agreed that Georgian wine has great potential on the Japanese market. It was also underlined that in addition to wine, Georgia is also inter-

esting in terms of tourism, investments and trade. The project ‘Georgia – Homeland of Wine,’ organized by the National Wine Agency and Association ‘Georgian Wine,’ is implemented by Sony Music Communication and TOPPAN, the world's largest company. The exhibi-

tion combines unique archaeological exhibits and modern technologies, the concept of which is based on the uniqueness of Georgian wine culture. The exhibition ‘Georgia – Homeland of Wine’ was opened on March 10 in Terrada Warehouse and will last until May 7.




APRIL 12 - 15, 2019

Paranoid Enough for You? BLOG BY TONY HANMER


ritten on March 14, BEFORE “that attack” (the one in New Zealand)… We interrupt our regular program-

ming etc., etc. On January 1, 2018, I posted to Facebook my expectation that this would be the year of a world-threatening internet meltdown of some kind, pleading with my friends to back up their files of all kinds to drives offline and disconnected from their usual computers. That event, obviously, did not happen. But my disquiet has only grown since then. Now I’m editing what I wrote, on March 16, thinking, blowup first, followed eventually by meltdown. Bang, then whimper. In our brilliance, we are coming full circle, back to blind, suicidal stupidity. Connection might just kill us. The response to “that attack,” if it’s a backlash in a similar vein, will only beget more of the same. Of course, it didn’t start there, it’s just a symptom of who we have been since we called ourselves human. Now… the more connected we become, with IOT (the Internet of Things, fitting nicely into Star Trek’s IDIC, the Vulcan phrase of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, resulting in IDIOTIC), the more vulnerable. Doors and locks, fridges and kitchens, computers, cars, phones, utilities, lights: what else at home can we cram into connectivity, and thus surrender control over to “bad actors” of either the DNA or digital varieties? To say nothing (except I will) of the

scarily larger infrastructures: transport of people and things, finance, education, medical facilities, borders, defense, communications, and whatever else one can have nightmares about. My cough has a nasty HACK to it lately. Guns and bombs can do some terrible damage, but this? It’s insidious. A “Legend in my Living Room,” as my favorite singer put it once. The burgeoning network can either be attacked or, like us, lied to more and more easily, with the stakes growing higher and higher if it crashes as one unit; or it can more easily (attention, sci-fi fans!) achieve “consciousness” and put us pesky humans out of the picture now that we have handed existence and autonomy to it while demonstrating flawlessly our utter disregard for organic life, ours perhaps especially included, on the entire planet. Suddenly the Little House on the Prairie side of my life in rural Svaneti starts to look good. Yes, I do have a laptop and modem. But my wife and I can also grow our own food, heat and cook from local materials and supplies, drink clean water by purely mechanical means, use some small amount of solar energy for electricity [Note to self: Work on getting more solar capabilities]. All the door locks are mechanical. I can cut and split my wood by hand if I have to. Cellphone service and its internet add-on won’t survive past a single desperate message that “We’re OK,” though, because they’re a national system. Off goes the news, by all media. We’d still have satellite TV, as long as power lasts and the birds don’t get knocked from the sky or just EMPblasted into inertia. But we won’t starve immediately, or freeze. We’d need weapons for defense,

though I’ve never used these. Money will become worthless, replaced ultimately by something we can use simply to exist: seeds, I think. Our well-stocked shop—now I’ve done it, let the cat out of the bag! All we could do is either hoard and fight to the death, or share before being demanded to, and cheerfully support the whole community. Our small stocks of gasoline and diesel won’t last long. The former powers the chainsaw (needing repair anyway, about to be joined by an electrical one), the 5 KW generator for the fridges/freezers and the car (would I WANT to go to the lowlands, when most people might choose

that escape route? Better growing season, no relatively long and extreme winter… But up here might be good enough, with temperate fruits and vegetables, and local livestock. Although I might also expect lawlessness, in resurgence up here already today, to flourish once again, as it did from the USSR’s breakup to the Rose Revolution. I’d have to debate it with my wife and come to a consensus: I wouldn’t split us up. We might all decide to dynamite Svaneti’s only two roads in and out, returning ourselves to a precommunist donkey track connection.) The diesel I have little use for, except starting fires more easily.

The house is plenty big enough to host many more than just the two of us: it is a guest house, after all! If others required entry to stay, we couldn’t really refuse them without violence. Medical issues and treatment would become tricky without good knowledge, equipment and supplies. Alcohol and marijuana production would not have to suffer much if at all, for better or worse. We could even grow our own grain and use local water mills to make flour! So, quite a mixed bag. I should brush up on some lacking knowledge: electrical, agricultural (with my wife’s help), engineering and construction, much more my late father’s specialties than mine. Stock up on the all-important duct tape, not much known or used locally but so multi-functional! And figure out: what’s important enough to fight to keep (answer: not very much), and what can we just let go of and not really miss? This has been a test, only a test, a thought exercise if you will, disguised as a Conspiracy Theory-style rant. One way another, tribal warfare or Matrix, feels like it’s coming. I don’t want to make myself, or you, afraid; just ready. Next week we return you to your regular etc., etc. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti



The Future is Female debate and leadership. Our goal is not to tell Eastern European people how to be democratic, but rather to exchange, connect and work together. We go to the countries, learn, and realize projects with them. We are helping people with their own ideas, ideas that result in long-term projects, not shortterm.

HOW DO YOU PLAN TO CHANGE THINGS? Mainly through a good use of media: to foster the idea that social change is easy, we just need to work together. Nowadays, you can become famous on Instagram or with your own blog. The sad thing is that most people who become famous do not use these channels for social change or useful content. We work together and try to spread the word. We really think we can make a different and drive social change by empowering the new generation.




he Future is Female was the name of the European Leadership and Debate Academy’s (ELDA) five-day training that occurred in Tbilisi

last week. ELDA is an academy based in Berlin that addresses the issue of democracy in post-Soviet countries by engaging young leaders from South-Eastern Europe in an innovative learning experience. They offer skills and new attitudes that aim to empower a new generation of responsible and active citizens. Their visit to Georgia was part of the ‘Female Leadership Academy 2019’ project, and they met over five days at Fabrika hostel, Tbilisi. The initiative gathers 15 female participants 18-35 years old from Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Russia and Belarus to participate in three weeks of networking and training. Being a successful woman in a predominantly male leadership culture can be challenging, but women can use their community-building strength to connect and help each other. This ‘Female Leadership Academy 2019’ project creates space for women who believe they can make a difference. The goal is to train them to increase their leadership skills and share their knowledge with other women after the program ends.

Image Source: ELDA Facebook page

GEORGIA TODAY met Christian Stahl, founder of EDLA, and three members of his team working passionately on this project. “The idea of this academy came to me years ago,” Stahl tells us. “I was a journalist helping my NGOs friends with different projects, but I always ended up disappointed by the unsustainability of the projects. NGOs would come, then leave without implementing a long-term solution. I was deeply frustrated by this situation and realized I needed to create something different that lasted longer. “Something clicked when I was at the last Maidan in Ukraine and saw that German journalists were only reporting Klitschko’s actions without really understanding what was happening. I decided I wanted to empower the voices of the local people and create a debate academy.”

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO WORK IN EASTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES IN PARTICULAR? I want to empower youth from all European countries that may not belong to the European Union but encompass the European idea, and Ukraine is the perfect example of that as it has a long European history, just like Georgia. We have to re-integrate the idea that those countries are European, and we need to empower a new generation of young female and male leaders who can drive the social change. We aim at a more democratic and pluralistic thinking by

I do political advising, so I knew people in the German government, however, it was incredible luck to get the funds from the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. Frank-Walter Steinmeier [the current German President, who was foreign minister at the time] agreed to support us.

WHAT IS THE ‘FEMALE LEADERSHIP ACADEMY 2019’ PROJECT? It is a three-part project that began in Lviv (Ukraine), is continuing in Tbilisi and will also happen in Odessa (Ukraine) in May. We gather the same participants in these three cities for about five days each for trainings and discussions. We get to know them and see the kind of projects they want to foster. These women are very strong female leaders. Most of them already have their own company even though they are so young. They are journalists, film directors, psychologists, etc.

WHAT DO YOU DO SPECIFICALLY IN TBILISI? We now have around six projects aimed at promoting gender equality, female leadership and breaking stereotypes. One of the projects is about post-post Soviet feminism. This expression comes from women who do not identify themselves as post-Soviet women: they feel they are women of their own, part of a Union of Eastern European women. A Georgian photographer is doing portraits to break these stereotypes and plans to exhibit them soon. If we get some money, they will be able to extend this initiative. We are also creating a small video to promote gender quotas in Georgia. We know it is an issue being debated but we need to get the quotas to reach gender equality. It was the idea of one of the participants, so we are supporting her. We’re creating an awareness-raising video and it is challenging to do that without excluding men. One of our current questions is: how can you address men on this topic without offending them? One of our challenges is also that we always have a budget to conduct our trainings but no budget to shoot a film, for example. The interview was edited for more clarity and was realized with the participation of Sergiy Pudich, Steffi Klein and Jessica Jorgas, who are all working on this project. To find out more about ELDA and their projects: http://www.eldacademy.org/





APRIL 12 - 15, 2019


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 04 56 April 13, 14 TOSCA * Premiere Giacomo Puccini Opera in Three Acts Conductor: Gianlucca Martinengi Director: Giancarlo del Monaco Set Designer: Carlo Centolavigna Costume Designer: Ester Martin Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-300 GEL MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 34 80 90 April 16 WELCOME TO GEORGIA The Musical A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. April 12 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL April 13 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL April 14, 16 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL

April 17 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 April 12 IGGI Based on Jemal Karchkhadze’s novel “Iggi” Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL April 13 DON JUAN Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Composer- Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL April 14 LABYRINTH Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Composer- Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL April 18 THE TEMPEST Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Composer- Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 37 Rustaveli Ave. TEL 595 50 02 03 April 12, 13 KRIMANCHULI A performance based on comedy genre novels with Georgian national motives: Review, Cinema, Sailors, Today is a football, Fire, Chichetura, Vineyard, Krimanchuli, Bath-house attendants, Final Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge

Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS In the framework of the celebrations of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in Georgia the Georgian National Museum presents the exhibition WISDOM TRANSFORMED INTO GOLD MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibition RED TERROR AND GEORGIAN ARTISTS The exhibition showcases artworks by Dimitri Shevardnadze, Petre Otskheli, Henryk Hryniewski, Richard Sommer, Kiril Zdanevich, Vasily Shukhaev, Elene Akhvlediani, Lado Gudiashvili, David Kakabadze, Ucha Japharidze, Aleksandre Bajbeuk-Melikov, Korneli Sanadze and more. April 11-30 Georgian National Museum and Warsaw Rising Museum presents EXHIBITION: WARSAW RISING 1944 The exhibition reflects military, political, historical and human aspects of the struggle for independence during the 63 days of the Warsaw Rising in 1944. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 April 5-24 THE EXHIBITION OF BESO KOBAKHIDZE AND ALEKO ESVANJIA - BOUNDARY The exhibition showcases the works of two artists in different media - painting, sculpture, graphics, on the theme ‘an eternity of the boundaries of creative thought.’

MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave enough to jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in the Mirror Room, let yourself free in the Infinity room, fight the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take pictures of yourself in every possible pose. Enjoy our collection of holograms, look closer at every optical illusion and observe thoroughly each installation. Tickets: 17.5 GEL, Children (ages 6-18): 11 GEL, children (under 5 years): free, students: 13 GEL, family (2 adults + 2 children): 39 GEL. GALLERY


DJ. KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE 125/127 Agmashenebeli Ave. April 17 THE CONCERT OF CHAMBER MUSIC Participants: Tbilisi Chamber Orchestra Georgian Sinfonietta and Soloists– Sandrine Cantoreggi (Luxemburg, violin) and Bruno Canino (Italy, piano) F. Mendelssohn’s concerto for violin, piano and orchestra and Symphony N9 Swiss Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10 GEL ART HALL 26 Ts. Dadiani Ave. April 12 CHARITY MAGIC SHOW Supporting young photographer Giorgi Kaliaev Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10 GEL SOUNDS OF GEORGIA

Until May 27 Georgian National Museum and Italian embassy in Georgia present the exhibition ESOTERIC DE CHIRICO. A TRAVELER BETWEEN TWO WORLDS The exhibition showcases 15 artworks of Giorgio de Chirico between 1920-1970, clearly presenting that even his most “natural” artwork hints at the surrealist world. NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF GEORGIA 40 Pekini Str. Until May 1 MERAB ABRAMISHVILI’S EXHIBITION MUSIC

REPUBLIC 1st Republic Sq. April 14 AQUARIUM Boris Grebenshchikov 65 Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 90-220 GEL

April 17, 18 SING AND DRINK Mini concerts in the cozy atmosphere of Old Tbilisi, a mix of traditional Georgian music of different genres: folklore, a capella, guitar, and Georgian pop and city songs. Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 24 GEL Venue: April 17- 10 Erekle II Sq., Tekla Palace Hotel, April 18- New Tiflis, 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’ STEINWAY & SONS 1 O. Dgebuadze Str. April 12 DINI VIRSALADZE’S JAZZ EVENING AT STEINWAY & SONS GEORGIA SHOWROOM. In Program: Jazz Improvisations Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-30 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Griboedov Str. April 19 GEORGIAN COMPETITION OF MUSICIAN-PERFORMERS Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 5-15 GEL BARI BARSHI 9 G. Kikodze Str. April 12 BAKUR BURDULI (BAND) & THE BLACK MARROWS LIVE CONCERT Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 10 GEL April 13 DUDEY AT BARI-BARSHI Start time: 21:00 Ticket: Free BASSIANI 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. April 12 BASSIANI / HOROOM: LUKE SLATER, ZITTO, NDRX, JM MOSER, MERCURRIO Start time: 23:55 Ticket: 20-40 GEL April 13 VODKAST GALA WITH EMIN, NIKA J, ZURKIN, VAKHO Start time: 23:55 Ticket: 10-20 GEL




Creative Education Studio Revolutionizing the Georgian Music Scene continued her education in London, UK. Her approach to music found its expression in different genres and so it happened that she became one of the first female DJs to bring Drum´n´Bass to Georgia. In 2011, she founded the CES and later, in 2018, the record studio CES Records, which just recently published its first disc ´Sleepers, Poets, Scientists´. The Calvert Journal described this as a “gentle, healing record; a respite from the industrial, bass-heavy ´new club music´.“ GEORGIA TODAY met the founder of the experimental school for an interview on location in Fabrika to find out more.



atia Sartiana-Kituashvili, also known as sTia, founded the Creative Education Studio in Tbilisi, a design, audio and music media school which aims to develop a new generation of talented, creative people in the art and music fields. Natia, a classical pianist by origin, having played for the Tbilisi Philharmonic Orchestra at the tender age of seven,

WHY DID YOU FOUND THE CREATIVE EDUCATION STUDIO? Eight years ago, there was no place like CES and we were completely unfamiliar with new technologies in music and music media. Georgia, and Georgian musicians especially, were pretty desperate at the, so we wanted to fill this gap.


GROWN IN THE PAST EIGHT YEARS? We started CES in a small room running just two or three courses, including sound engineering, DJing and music production, with only 11 students. Now we have 1,500 graduated students and more than 400 currently involved in studying. This is our third location in Tbilisi. We´re expanding in all directions and have 15 different active courses with different lengths in five studios.

WHAT IS THE CES MISSION? CES is, first of all, a place to connect people with the same interests. It is the perfect space for collaboration. Our students can develop their creative, artistic selves freely and find like-minded people to work with.

WHAT IS THE MESSAGE YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH YOUR STUDENTS? Try to make living from something you really love. There are so many people who spend their time working on some-

thing they don´t really like, but I want my students to stick with what they really love and spend their time wisely.

DO A LOT OF YOUR STUDENTS AIM TO WORK ABROAD? It‘s not like it used to be. 10 years ago everyone wanted to leave Georgia and do something incredible abroad. Now, more and more youngsters are happy to stay here, setting up their own businesses. Now, they can survive here doing what they love. We have better times and more youngsters are involved: they feel empowered to change things.

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE YOUR SCHOOL IN 10 YEARS? We definitely want to expand. We‘re planning to have twice the number of studios and to offer a degree. We still have lots of students who are at university and studying there for a degree, in parallel to working with us. Hopefully, in 10 years, we can give them the chance to take fulltime studies at CES.

TELL US ABOUT CES RECORDS. CES Records, started this year, was a big step forwards, and we‘ve already released our a compilation of nine female local artists, called ´Sleepers, Poets, Scientists´. Now we are about to release something of our own in May and another in June, with a total of five releases set for this year. It makes the perfect platform for students to take their music out into the world.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW RELEASE. Our new release is going to be published on May 16, a music single called ´RunRun,' with two covers. The single comes with a fairytale by well-established Georgian writer Uta Bekaia and an artbook of photographs of the high mountains of Tusheti from mixed-media artist Nestan Nene Kvinikadze. It also comes with the music notes, so you can actually play the music yourself. We try to do more than just music: we want to make this label something special and unique on the music scene.

Samtskhe-Javakheti: a Hidden Gem of Georgia Preserving an Ancient Megalithic Culture BY LIKA CHIGLADZE


he peak tourism season is warming up and soon large numbers of tourists will be heading to the most popular regions of Georgia, most to well-known places like Svaneti, Kakheti and Adjara. Often, one of Georgia’s most important and culturally rich provinces, Samtskhe-Javakheti, is left out of sight, yet, in the 9th and 10th centuries it was the most highly developed region both culturally and economically. Javakheti is notable for its beautiful landscape and large number of lakes and cultural monuments, in particular. GEORGIA TODAY talked with Giorgi Maghradze, an archeologist who works at the Shota Rustaveli Museum in Aspindza, about the importance and huge tourist potential of Samtskhe-Javakheti.

WHY IS SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI SO SPECIAL AND WHY DOES IT NEED TO BE TURNED INTO A TOURIST ATTRACTION? Javakheti was inhabited by people from ancient times. The artifacts discovered in Akhalkalaki date back to pre-historic times. In the middle-ages SamthskheJavakheti was the center of South Georgia and while other parts of the country were being invaded, this part was flourishing. During this period a number of cultural monuments and fortresses were built. The first thing that come to one’s mind when thinking

about Javakheti is the Megalithic culture and giant monuments similar to Stonehenge. These Megalithic monuments can be seen even from afar. The Abuli and Shaori fortresses represent Cyclopean fortresses that date back to the 8th century B.C. Abuli is made of two fortresses and is surrounded by a massive stone wall, each with a width of around three meters. Megalithic culture denotes monuments and fortresses built with giant stones. These fortresses were built with 3-4-meter volcanic basalt blocks using the dry masonry technique, so it is believed that these monuments were built by giant people. Megalith Menhirs are yet another mystery of the Caucasus and a treasure of Javakheti: large stone pillars with various ornaments and symbols that can be seen throughout Javakheti, one of them at Paravani Pass. They say these pillars were used to direct travelers on their way as well as representing idols of fertility. These pillars had a bull’s head carved on them, or a phallus, and were believed to give fertility to women; symbols of a pagan cult still standing in places, and still used by locals asking for fertility. Another distinguished monument is the Saro fortress, a complex that incorporates three fortresses, the distance between each around 200 meters. Close to these fortresses is the Church of the Archangels. Also nearby are traditional Meskhetian halls, dwellings spread throughout entire eastern part of Georgia. Unfortunately, most of these important cultural heritage sites were

destroyed in the Kartl-Kakheti region and now can be found only in SamtskheJavakheti. Some have cultural heritage status, yet still many are left without care. The oldest dwellings count around three centuries. Yet some Meskhetian villages also boast Oda houses (another type of traditional house widespread in Georgia), that are adorned with carved wooden patterns. This type of house is well-preserved here in comparison with other regions and has immense tourist potential. These old villages can be renovated back to their original appearance and can be turned into tourist attractions. In 2007, there were intentions to put these villages on the tourist map, but the plan was forgotten. The current tourist route covers only such basic and popular places like Vardzia, Akhaltsikhe, Borjomi, and is restricted to a one-day route that is not enough. In terms of domestic tourism, SamtskheJavaketi needs at least a three-day tour. Samtskhe is notable for the Zarzma Monastery, Abastumani Observatory and a unique forest that was frozen during the ice age, seen within the rocks at the Goderdzi Pass which connects Samthske to Adjara. I find it strange that this source is still unexploited by geologists, botanists, etc. The region needs to be planned properly so that the synthesis of natural landmarks and cultural monuments will attract more internal tourists as well as foreign visitors. Apart from the well-known Vardzia complex, the Tmogvi Fortress (built during the Middle Ages), Artanuji (5th century) and Samshvilde (3rd century

BC) are three rare historic fortresses that one should definitely see. The Vani caves (a cave monastery built in the rocks) is also a very important historic site. Its walls preserve passages from the earliest version of epic Georgian poem Knight in the Panther’s Skin made by nuns in the 15th century. There are also excerpts from Persian poetry performed 5-6 centuries ago. These are real masterpieces that need to be protected, but unfortunately we have seen many examples of vandalism in the Vani Complex.

WHICH MONUMENTS ARE IN DANGER AND REACQUIRE RESTORATION? Samtskhe-Javakheti and particularly Javaketi province are abundant with cultural heritage sites and monuments, so it is hard for the government to take care, renovate and protect all of them at once. Although some buildings are undergoing rehabilitation, there are a number of monuments that need urgent restoration works. These monuments have fallen victim to environmental damage and vandalism. The monuments that need urgent repair are the St Marine Church (14th century) of Tmogvi Fortress , Sazvartei Church (10th century), Tsitelsakdari Church in Tabatskuri (10th century), Toki Monastery (9th century), St George Church (9th century), Vardistsikhe Church (13th century), and the Damali St George Church (7th century). But in the first place, we need to change the mindset of the community who live there and their attitude toward cultural

heritage sites and monuments. They should realize the importance of cultural landmarks and take care of them. We have specific laws imposing punishments on vandalism acts, yet they are not effective.

WHAT ARE THE UNIQUE GEOGRAPHIC FEATURES OF THIS REGION? Apart from its historic significance and importance during different periods of the Kingdom of Georgia, the area is graced with unique nature. Javakheti is rich in lakes- the place counts around 80 small and big lakes. Moreover, it is home to the biggest lakes in Georgia: Paravani, Sagamo, Khanchali Lake and Tabatskuri. Migrating birds usually stop at Khanchali Lake, that is an amazing scene and attracts tourists of various tastes. The place is notable for its volcanic plateau and volcanic rocks. Abuli Mountain is most famous and highest peak (3300 meters). Javakjeti is beautiful year-round. In winter, when the lakes are frozen, lake tours are also organized. Javakheti also boasts canyons, such as the Paravani and Mtkvari gorges. One can enjoy amazing panoramic views here. There are also a number of waterfalls that amaze tourists and hikers. The area is dotted with stone columns similar to the ones in Cappadocia. Many of them have a human shape, so we call them stone men. I think this region is a unique treasure of the country both from historic and geographic perspectives. It is really a must-see place for locals as well as foreign tourists.

Generations for Peace Hosts Football Game for IDSDP in Public School N155 BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


n Saturday April 8, Generations for Peace (GFP), a global non-profit organization based in Jordan, organized a series of football games in nine different countries across six different time zones. The games celebrated the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP). In Tbilisi, Public School N155 was the host of this wonderful global event which aims to emphasize the power of sport to foster unity and build peace

across mental, emotional and physical borders. The Tbilisi event, called Get the Ball Rolling 2019, started with a presentation about GFP and the IDSDP. Georgian GFP Pioneers Tornike Chargeishvili and Levan Kopaliani, and others, engaged voluntary football players in bonding and teamwork activities. Then, at 11am, 17 simultaneous matches began in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The organizers welcomed volunteers from various backgrounds, including those who have faced school bullying or violence. “This event, like all Generations for Peace programs, highlights the power of youth to lead us toward a more peaceful future,



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if we only provide them with the opportunities and empowerment they need to do so,” Chargeishvili said of the event. The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace is an annual celebration recognized by the UN and has been marked on the international calendar since April 6, 2013. This date serves to raise awareness of the potential sport has to contribute to global objectives for development and peace due to its unparalleled popularity, enjoyable nature and other positive values. Generations for Peace is an NGO that has been ranked #3 Peacebuilding NGO in the World, the 11th Children and Youth NGO, and the 29th NGO overall

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

by NGO Advisor 2019. Generations for Peace is also the only peace-throughsport organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee. GFP has a long history of using sport-based activities to build peace and transform conflict into friendship across tribes, religions, races, ethnicities, and nationalities. Over the last 12 years, GFP has trained, mentored and supported more than 11,400 youth volunteers, whose efforts later positively impacted more than 524,000 children and adults in 50 different countries. However, GFP is not limited to sport-based activities, as the NGO is also known for using arts, advocacy, dialogue and empowerment

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tools to address challenges of importance, such as post-conflict trauma, response and reconciliation, gender inequality, and more. “Across nine countries and three continents, the simultaneous football games involved not just our trained Pioneers, volunteers and participants, but also engaged local community members, demonstrating these values and encouraging everyone to build peace and pass it on!” said Mark Clark, Generations for Peace CEO. Generations for Peace was first brought to Georgia in 2013. Since then, it has been working with youth around the country’s capital, Tbilisi.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1141  

April 12 - 15, 2019

Issue #1141  

April 12 - 15, 2019