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Issue no: 1159

• JUNE 14 - 17, 2019 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

In this week’s issue...

FOCUS

Kakha Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities: Taxi Taxes, Parking, & Accessibility

ON FLOODING A CENN report looks at the lessons to be learned in Tbilisi flood prevention

PRICE: GEL 2.50

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POLITICS PAGE 3

So-Called Elections Held in Occupied Tskhinvali Region POLITICS PAGE 4

The US Wants Chinese, Russians Kept Out of Anaklia POLITICS PAGE 6

First Ever Interview is of Georgian Origin SOCIETY PAGE 6

Does Georgia Face Suspension of Visa-Free Regime? BY THEA MORRISON

SOCIETY PAGE 9

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ince the visa-free regime took effect for Georgia with the European Union in March 2017, certain EU member states have expressed concerns that Georgian citizens are misusing it, with France, Austria, Germany and Sweden in particular stressing an increased number of asylum seekers from Georgia, even after it was placed by several states on the list of safe countries. Georgia’s Institute of Politics (GIP) says while regular meetings do take place between Georgian and European interior ministers to discuss and coordinate their responses to this issue, speculation abounds about the possibility that the visa suspension mechanism will be used against Georgia, an action which would have major consequences for the country. GIP asked experts from Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Georgia to comment on the likelihood that the EU would activate the visa suspension mechanism against Georgia, focusing on these two questions: 1. Does the abuse of visa-free travel by Georgian citizens represent ‘an emergency situation’? 2. How likely

A Look at the Biltmore Wedding Fest

She Was Meant to Fly High: On Inesa Merabishvili CULTURE PAGE 11

Homo Urbanus Europeanus: A French Photographer to Include Tbilisi in Project

Image source: GIP

is it that the visa suspension mechanism will be introduced against Georgia? Alexandra Stiglmayer, Senior Analyst and Secretary-General of the European Stability Initiative, an independent think-tank that has worked on EU visa liberalization since 2008, does not believe the

EU will suspend visa-free travel with Georgia. “First, it would have a huge negative impact on EU-Georgia relations. Second, deep down, member states know that they themselves can reduce the number of unfounded asylum claims,’ she said. Continued on page 2

CULTURE PAGE 11


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

JUNE 14 - 17, 2019

Georgian Dark - Stories of Masculine Georgian Women Told through Bold Gothic Artworks REVIEW BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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he ironic-Gothic series of ‘Georgian Dark’ represents a conceptual series of drawings done in the Gothic style, showing Georgian women from a new perspective. The images tell stories of Georgian women yet can be applied to women worldwide and perceived globally. These stories include everything but prove nothing. The fascinating and impressive graphic

artworks drawn with ink on vellum might be coined as conceptual vintage, incorporating elegant aesthetic and minimalism with deep meaning and subtle hints, marked by monumentality yet recognizing the delicacy of the figure. The long-awaited exhibition named ‘Georgian Dark’ by Georgian artist Tina Tskhadadze, was hosted by Dedicace Gallery in a historic part of the capital. “I can say this is the turning point in my career. I was creating works of fine art and now through my new project I came up with a fundamentally different type of artwork,” the artist says. Continued on page 9

Scandal Surrounds Castello Mare Hotel & Wellness Resort BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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n June 12, photos taken of Castello Mare Hotel & Wellness Resort, located in the Ajara region, showed a raised Russian flag. The images went viral on social media, sparking strong debate. TV25 was first to release information about the case. Some members of society say it is intolerable to raise the flag of Russia, a country which has occupied 20% of Georgian territories and continues a

policy of annexation. GEORGIA TODAY contacted Zanda

Meskhidze, Deputy Director of Castello Mare, to find out what happened. “It is the policy of the hotel to raise the flag of the country the representatives of which make up the bulk (over 45%) of the clientele staying in our hotel at any one time,” Meskhidze told us, going on to emphasize that Russia was no different in this regard. “However, as this action caused a lot of criticism, the flag has been removed. But we also have to note that the wave of anger towards the hotel is groundless, as Georgia is a country distinguished for its hospitality and we are used to respecting our guests,” she demanded.

Does Georgia Face Suspension of Visa-Free Regime? Continued from page 1 The expert believes the reason this question is even on the table is the rise in asylum claims by Georgians from 11,100 in 2017 to 19,300 in 2018. At the same time, only 5% of the applicants received protection in the EU in 2018. “Getting to suspension is not easy. It requires the agreement of the European Commission and a majority of all member states, following an examination of various factors such as the number of affected member states, not many in Georgia’s case, and the overall impact on the migratory situation in the EU, which is limited,” she told GIP. However, she says it is important that Georgia continues to cooperate with EU member states, in particular in the readmission process, and does what it can to reduce the number of Georgian asylum applicants. “This is not much: information campaigns, checks at the border, some pen-

alties. It shows the EU that Georgia is taking the problem seriously. The rest is up to EU member states,” she added. Rikard Jozwaik, journalist of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Brussels, says there is a high risk that Georgia will lose its visa liberalization status, but says there are no guarantees either. “Since we are talking politics, it is worth keeping in mind what sort of winds are blowing in large parts of the European Union at the moment. These are the winds of closed borders, consolidation and introspection,” he said. Jozwaik says a small number of Georgian criminal gangs active in some EU member states do not yet pose an increased risk to the security of member states, “hence the suspension mechanism could not, at this point, be invoked on these grounds.” Jelger Groeneveld, Dutch Liberal party D66, Board Member International Cooperation Division, says in their visa waiver feedback report ‘Second Report under

the Visa Suspension Mechanism,’ that the European Commission concludes Georgia has followed up on recommendations stipulated in the first report, and made progress on other migration-related policies and action plans, adding Georgia has recently signed an agreement with the EU’s EuroJust agency, aimed at fighting cross-border crime. “However, the report identifies the persistent high influx of unfounded asylum applicants in various member states which requires immediate action,” Groeneveld said. He noted the levels of abuse of the visa waiver does not represent an ‘emergency situation’ for EU member states yet, as defined in the suspension mechanism clauses. “Most crucial, however, is that Georgia maintains full cooperation on the readmission of nationals, an important key point in the assessment to invoke the suspension mechanism. Currently, Georgia’s visa waiver to Schengen is not in

immediate danger, mostly based on this high level of readmission and cooperation in crime-fighting efforts,” he said. Commenting on the same issue, Open Society Georgia Foundation program Manager Vano Chkhikvadze says regarding the likelihood of invoking the visa suspension mechanism against Georgia, it is indeed difficult to make any predictions. “If Georgia continues to meet the criteria necessary for invoking the suspension mechanism, and if the precedent is created whereby the European Union suspends visa-free travel with any country, then the likelihood that Georgia will be next increases,” he said. In mid-May, European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, said everything is going well with regards Georgia’s visa-free regime with the European Union. During the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership in Brussels, Hahn

was asked about the possibility of activation of the suspension mechanism. He answered that “everything is fine.” The visa-free regime with the EU took effect on March 28, 2017, meaning all Georgians holding biometric passports can enter the Schengen Area for 90 days within any 180-day period for vacation, business, or any other purpose except work. Georgians are able to travel without visas to the following 22 EU member states: Belgium, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Greece, France, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Finland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. Georgians can also travel without visas to four non-EU-member states (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) as well as four Schengen candidate countries (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Croatia). Exceptions for visa-free travel include Ireland and the United Kingdom.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 14 - 17, 2019

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Kakha Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities: Taxi Taxes, Parking, & Accessibility BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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ach week, the municipal government of Tbilisi holds a meeting at City Hall. Preceding this week’s meetings, Mayor Kakha Kaladze spoke about several topics of interest. Kaladze opened the meeting by remarking on Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze’s visit to the United States, and his joint press conference on Tuesday with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “I want to congratulate Mamuka Bakhtadze on a successful visit. We heard yesterday's statements, which are very important, and are once again assured that assessments by our strategic partner show that the reforms and advancements that have been implemented in the country over the last few years are very important…Such support from a strategic partner is important,” said Kaladze. The next topic on the agenda was the new hourly parking plan that City Hall is introducing in the capital. The pilot program, which will launch on August 1, will delineate certain zones, starting in the city center near Liberty (Freedom) Square, for paid parking. Parking fees will be hourly, and the price will range from 1 GEL per hour to 3 GEL per hour, depending on the zone. Car owners who live on zoned streets will be exempt from the fees. To ease the transition, information booths will be erected along Kote Abkhazi St. (formerly Leselidze St.), information booklets will be distributed to residents of the affected streets, and new city buses will travel along the paid parking areas with increased regularity. Parking will also be free for persons with disabilities, for A category taxi drivers, and for electric vehicles. Kaladze explained that the zonal parking model is an innovation for Tbilisi,

Image source: Tbilisi City Hall

and it will allow the city to better regulate traffic flow, particularly in the most congested areas. On a related note, Kaladze addressed the concern of A category taxi drivers – those that comply with the new regulations (white color, left-hand drive, fivedoor) and are thus able to pick up passengers from the street or through ride hailing apps. Kaladze explained that City Hall is working to design preferential terms for A category taxi drivers for financial services and tax regulations, including favorable terms for loans to replace old taxi vehicles. The mayor explained that tax reform is “one of the main directions of our transport policy,” and after extensive meetings with taxi drivers, City Hall is working to design a tax policy that is both good for drivers and supports the regulation of taxi services in Tbilisi.

“Specific programs have been designed, where [taxi drivers] will have the opportunity to take a loan and replace their cars. There will be cheap credits and support for taxi drivers,” said Kaladze, forecasting that banks will announce the details of programs in the coming week. In line with policies to improve quality of life in the city, Kaladze mentioned that plans to build new public parks in the Temka and Dighomi districts are underway, with the tenders for their design and construction having already been announced. “Of course, maintenance and rehabilitation of existing parks is important, but new city parks should be constructed in the city,” said Kaladze. Temka was selected as a location for a new park following extensive geological, hydrological, and dendrological research. The new park will have a children’s play area, pedes-

trian and bicycle paths and rest areas, and is expected to cost 413,000 GEL ($151,838). Regarding the new park in Dighomi, Kaladze remarked that its construction “is very important for our city, because we all recognize the value of green spaces…it is important to work quickly, as soon as possible, to correct the unpopular ecological situation in the city, one which endangers us all. We need more green spaces, more parks and more recreation zones.” Another issue on Wednesday’s docket was the recent approval of a package of legislative amendments on the treatment of animals in Georgia. Jail time is now at stake for those convicted of poor treatment or torture of an animal which results in its death or mutilation. Poor treatment of an animal that leads to its suffering will now come with a 500 GEL ($184)

fine. Parents will also now be held responsible for such actions committed by their children. “This is a very important story…We have seen so many cases of torture and ill-treatment of animals. It is very hard to watch. Tightening the law in this regard is important,” said the Mayor. The new laws bring Georgia closer in line with international legal standards. Kaladze also discussed concerns over construction work in Vake Park and Vera Valley, assuring Tbilisi residents that construction in and around Vake Park will be respectful of the cultural heritage of the area and will protect important monuments such as the Cascade. In Vera Valley, which was hard hit by the massive summer flood in 2015, Kaladze claims that after careful geological and hydrological research, construction is only occurring in areas of the valley that are not at risk of flooding. City Hall claims it is taking steps to make Tbilisi more accessible for people with disabilities. Kaladze explained that all City Hall infrastructure projects, as well as many health and sports programs, maximally accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities. “It is clear that people with disabilities is one of the most important issues for us, not only in our words, but in the work being done. You can look at all the infrastructure projects we are carrying out in the city…they are always adapted to persons with disabilities. Also, all new buses are adapted, and all vehicles purchased [by the city] in the future will be similar. As for sport, Tbilisi City Hall has a parasport development center, where 192 athletes are trained in 15 different sports. This center has had a serious impact on our parasports at the international level, which is a source of pride for me personally. They will have our maximum support in the future to be more successful,” announced Kaladze.

Kenneth Yalowitz Supports David Kirvalidze to Lead FAO BY ANA DUMBADZE

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ormer US Ambassador to Georgia Kenneth Yalowitz made a statement about David Kirvalidze, Former Minister of Agriculture of Georgia, who was officially nominated for the position of Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for the period of 2019-2023. “I strongly support Dr. David Kirvalidze to become the next Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization,” the former Ambassador stated. Yalowitz said he believes that Kirvalidze is the right person to lead the FAO and that he is "a highly qualified, honest and goal-oriented person who believes the FAO has the potential to defeat the hunger and poverty in the world." “I served as the United States Ambassador to Georgia from 1998–2001, which was a tumultuous period for the newly independent state. Beset by separatist struggles and civil war, the government of President Eduard Shevardnadze was trying to bring peace and economic

reform to what some feared could become a failed state. "And then a natural disaster struck in the summer of 2000, a severe drought of historic proportions. "Fortunately for Georgia, Dr. Kirvalidze was Minister of Agriculture and did a superb job of navigating the country through this crisis, which threatened food and seed supplies and the very future of Georgian agriculture. The United States had provided Georgia with significant economic and technical assistance since independence in 1991 and was very concerned about the threat posed by the drought. I had several meetings with the Minister to discuss the problem and his plans for dealing with it. I was deeply impressed with him on several levels. His education and background were perfect to meet the task. He was a visionary with strong ideas and the drive and will to implement them. "This was a period of weak governance structures in Georgia and David stood out for his expertise and executive acumen. I observed as he mobilized resources across the government and engaged the foreign donor community. He organized a trip to the droughtstricken regions for the ambassadorial

corps which led to an outpouring in emergency assistance to Georgia. The ambassadorial trip was well-publicized and played a key role in reassuring Georgians they were not forgotten. I also know from speaking with President Shevardnadze that he credited David for bringing Georgia through that crisis. "I have kept in close contact with David since leaving Georgia. I am quite familiar with his excellent work in agri-

culture both in Georgia and internationally. He is, without doubt, deserving and highly qualified for the DirectorGeneral position at the FAO. He has personal integrity, drive, vision and the ability to organize and delegate. He is an optimist who believes the FAO can do even greater things to ease world hunger and poverty and a proven executive who can implement those plans. I very much hope he will be elected,"

reads Yalowitz's statement. Dr. David Kirvalidze was nominated for the position of Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations by Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze in March 2019. Kirvalidze has 28 years of leadership experience in agriculture and rural development sectors. He also served two terms as Minister of Agriculture and served as the chairman of the Agrarian Issues Committee of the Parliament of Georgia. Elections will be held at the 41st Session of the FAO Conference in Rome on 22-29 June 2019. The five candidates for the position of Director-General of FAO are as follows: Médi Moungui (Cameroon), Qu Dongyu (China), Catherine GeslainLanéelle (France), David Kirvalidze (Georgia) and Ramesh Chand (India). Members will cast their vote on a one country-one vote basis in a secret ballot which requires a simple majority for a valid outcome. The next Director-General of FAO will be appointed for the period 1 August 2019 to 31 July 2023. The Director-General will be eligible for only one additional mandate of four years.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

JUNE 14 - 17, 2019

So-Called Elections Held in Occupied Tskhinvali Region

Image source: Cominf.org

BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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wenty percent of Georgia’s territory is occupied: the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia and the region around the municipality of Tskhinvali, what the Georgian government

calls the Tskhinvali Region and what local de-facto authorities call South Ossetia. This week, the de-facto authorities of the Tskhinvali region held ‘elections.’ The elections were widely rejected and condemned by Georgia’s allies, including the United States of America, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and the Czech Republic, all repeating the key words ‘sovereignty,’ ‘territorial integrity,’ and ‘internationally

recognized borders.’ The only countries in the world that recognize South Ossetia as an independent country are Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, and Syria. The European Union rejected the socalled parliamentary elections. EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic released a statement on Wednesday affirming that “the European Union supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of

Georgia, as recognized by international law.” She emphasized the consistency of the EU position in support of Georgia’s territorial integrity. Kocijancic continued, “In view of so-called elections that took place on the 9th of June in the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia, we recall that the European Union does not recognize the constitutional and legal framework in which these so-called elections took place.” NATO also rejected the so-called elections. James Appathurai, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, told reporters that “NATO does not recognize the so-called elections” in the Tskhinvali region. Appathurai also repeated NATO’s support for Georgia’s territorial integrity. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also expressed concern over the so-called elections. The PACE co-rapporteurs for Georgia, Titus Corlatean and Claude Kern, made a joint statement, saying “We reiterate our full support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia within its internationally-recognized borders. The so-called parliamentary elections in the Georgian region of South Ossetia that took place last Sunday are therefore neither legal nor legitimate. They hinder the peaceful settlement of the conflict and instead of uniting people they only drive them further apart. We can only condemn that.” The pair plans to conduct a fact-finding mission to Georgia in the first week of July in the framework of ongoing monitoring activities. The Foreign Ministry of Georgia also condemned the so-called elections, arguing that the process “blatantly violates

the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.” The process, read a statement from the Ministry on Sunday, “represents yet another futile attempt by Russia and its occupation regime in Tskhinvali to legitimize the ethnic cleansing of Georgians in Tskhinvali region/ South Ossetia, the illegal occupation and forceful change of the sovereign borders of Georgia.” The so-called elections were held on June 9. Local residents went to the ballot box to elect 34 MPs to the so-called parliament, 17 of which were elected from party lists, while 17 are majoritarian. In a May 20 op-ed for GEORGIA TODAY, political commentator Zaza Jgarkava said that during the pre-election period, candidates made dramatic promises, including ending unemployment, increasing incomes by 10 times, and turning Tskhinvali into the next Geneva. Jgarkava said that “The issue of the August War 2008 and ‘aggression’ of Tbilisi still dominate the narrative, with de-facto President Anatoly Bibilov and his party United Ossetia especially concentrating on it.” Despite the de-facto ruling party’s confidence, their margin of victory was far lower than the 2014 elections, as reported by DFWatch. In 2014, United Ossetia won 45% of the vote, while this Sunday, they took home just 35%. This opened a space for the opposition People’s Party, whose 22% dwarfed their 9.5% in 2014. The Nykhaz party took 14%, Unity 13%, and the Communist party just over 7%. In the run up to the so-called elections, the crossing points along the Administrative Boundary Line were temporarily closed.

Victorious Georgia – Ex-Minister Okruashvili’s New Political party BY THEA MORRISON

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rakli Okruashvili, who held different posts during the United National Movement (UNM) government, has presented his new political party, named Victorious Georgia, which is made up of 17 people. At the presentation on Tuesday, the former Minister of Defense and Interior Affairs said his team has the ambition to set up a big movement of “many angry people” who think that there is an unbearable situation in the country. The party includes former member of the opposition National Forum party, Gubaz Sanikidze, former chairman of the Supreme

Court of Georgia Kote Kemularia, Valeri Gelbakhiani, former lawmaker, comedian actor Nika Ramishvili (Drupi), Guram Chalagashvili, ex-head of the Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission, and others. Former official Okruashvili said his party will cooperate with any member of the ruling party Georgian Dream who will oppose GD Chair and founder Bidzina Ivanishvili. “From today, we are going to work on the organizational structure in Tbilisi. We are going to the regions in July and we will go to every village and street and from house to house to make people see that changes are necessary,” he said, adding their party door is open to any force that opposes Ivanishvili’s regime.

Image source: civil.ge

Several days before the party presentation, Okruashvili said “nothing good is happening in the country” and this is the reason he decided to come back to politics. “The only good change I saw during the last seven years is the prohibition of smoking in closed and public areas… Nothing else…The silence of people like me equals a crime today. We need change,” he told Palitranews. He also criticized the cabinet members, saying he would be a good tutor for them and teach them how to rule the country. “The only thing the ministers do is compete with each other in doing nonsense…I am thinking of becoming a tutor and training them. I would start with

Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia,” he stated. Okruashvili served at various important posts in the Government of Georgia under ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, including Minister of Defense from December 2004 until he was dismissed in November 2006. In September 2007, Okruashvili staged a scandalous comeback to Georgian politics, openly confronting Mikheil Saakashvili and creating the opposition party Movement for United Georgia. On September 27, 2007, Okruashvili was arrested at his party headquarters on charges of corruption, money laundering and abuse of office. In 2007, he left Georgia and was granted political asylum

in France. He was sentenced to an 11-year prison term in Georgia in absentia in March 2008. He came back to Georgia after the GD won the parliamentary elections in 2012, but was arrested again and released on January 11, 2013. Some opposition parties are thinking about cooperating with Okruashvili, among them the UNM. Member Roman Gotsiridze says it is very good for Georgian democracy when new parties emerge opposing Ivanishvili. UNM member Salome Samadashvili stated, “it is important to confront Bidzina Ivanishvili with united forces and force him to change the game rules in the country.” However, former members of the UNM, who formed the European Georgia party in 2017, have said they are not going to cooperate with the new party. One of the leaders, Giga Bokeria, stressed they will never cooperate with those political leaders and figures “who visit Moscow or participate in Kremlin propaganda or preach hate and violence.” Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze stated that “the Georgian people will respond to each political party during the 2020 parliamentary elections.” He noted it is not right to make any comments about Okruashvili’s statements. GD’s majoritarian MP Lado Kakhadze also says it is early to evaluate Okruashvili’s party. “Let us wait and see their program, and afterwards we can make comments,” he said.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 14 - 17, 2019

On the Future of “South Ossetia”

OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

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ast week was marked by an election day not only in Tbilisi’s Mtatsminda district, but also in the breakaway region of South Ossetia. On June 9, 31,000 voters in the occupied territory elected 34 MPs, half elected proportionally, while the other half under the majoritarian component. The elections beyond the occupation line were held peacefully and, like those in Tbilisi, the voters gave their trust to the representatives of the government party. However, interestingly, the support was not that strong, as the preliminary vote count showed that the United Ossetia party, lead by de-facto president Anatoly Bibilov, had lost the majority. 35% of votes, that is six MPs proportionally and seven under majoritarian from United Ossetia, got through, while all the other places were won by the party of the former de-facto president Eduard Kokoity. The fate of the majority will be decided by the six majoritarians

If Russia takes “South Ossetia” into its federation, it will mean giving up its long-term plan to annex other territories of Georgia

who were running under the status of independent candidates. Apart from this simple election math, the main intrigue of the elections on the occupied territories was completely different and totally unconnected with the process of the elections. Changes in occupied Tskhinvali were forecast a few months ago upon the return of the former de-facto ex-president Eduard Kokoity, who was sent away on an “honorable” exile. His return was regarded as the beginning of the end of the current government. And the June 9 elections clearly showed that the forecast wasn’t a mistake. Tskhinvalians are now waiting to see if the Kremlin will renounce Bibilov fully, making Kokoity once again a Trojan Horse which will start “the big cleansing.” Meanwhile, Kokoity’s popularity is rising and his main motto about independent Ossetia is as popular as ever, unlike that of de-facto president Bibilov, who calls for unification with North Ossetia and joining the Russian Federation. The question as to why Bibilov and his motto might be unacceptable to the Kremlin is still unanswered, but the situation is far from simple: if we examine the reactions of Russian political experts and journalists who are close to the Kremlin, we can see that there is something in Bibilov’s initiative that they don’t like. And, unfortunately, it isn’t difficult to guess why Russia is not rushing to make a decision. In reality, there is nothing beneficial in this hesitation for us: quite the contrary. If Russia includes “South Ossetia” in its federation, thus "making the century-old dream of the Ossetian people" come true, with it Russia will lose its leverage for pressuring Georgia. Not that we have the illusion that it will ever give us the territory back as a “federation” or “confederation,” nor that it will ever try to lie to us by giving such false promises. But, importantly, while the breakaway “South Ossetia” is an “independent country,” Moscow can continue trying to

On June 9, 31,000 voters in the occupied territory elected 34 MPs explain away the aggression by hailing it as “a conflict between two neighboring countries,” Georgia and ‘South Ossetia,’ in which Russia is just a third party, “having the role of a mediator” and “not to be blamed for anything if the equal parties were unable to come to an agreement about Truso Valley or even about who should own the Kazbegi-Stepantsminda area.” On the other hand, Kokoity, who doesn’t support the unification with Russia, wants to conquer said the above areas first and only after that wants to announce the historic “creation of a Big United Alania” which will include both Kazbegi and Truso. It is too early for the unification of north and south Ossetia without these two strategic territories, thinks Eduard Kokoity. Perhaps this is why the Kremlin is keeping the issue of Truso Valley alive in the media, testing the political sentiments, but in Tskhinvali and not in Tbilisi, as we mistakenly thought before. If Russia takes “South Ossetia” into its federation, it will mean giving up the hoe and its long-term plan to annex other territories of Georgia as well, if not fully and forever, then to a large extent. This is of course not what Russia truly wants. However, the “Ossetia lobby” is still at work as before, quite successfully, and it will become clear soon whether Bibilov’s or Kokoity’s plans will prevail.

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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

JUNE 14 - 17, 2019

The US Wants Chinese, Russians Kept Out of Anaklia BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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eorgian PM Mamuka Bakhtadze's visit to Washingtom a couple of days ago came at a time of heightened debates surrounding the Anaklia Deep Sea Port as well as international tensions between the US and China over trade and technology. Part of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement is of particular interest to us: “…I communicated our hope that Georgia completes the port project. The project and others will enhance Georgia’s relationship with free economies and prevent Georgia from falling prey to Russian or Chinese economic influence. Those pretend friends do not have Georgia’s best interests at heart.” The statement is notable in several ways. First, the mention of the Anaklia Deep Sea Port which has of late experienced a number of financial setbacks and some criticism from the government in Tbilisi. The construction of the port was put into question and there was a growing fear that it might be abandoned entirely.

Image source: prosperousamerica.org

Pompeo's words essentially negated this possibility and it is now highly likely we will see the successful completion of Anaklia Port in the near future. But more notable is that Washington now increasingly regards the Anaklia project as a part of the geopolitical battle which is now opening up with China. Russia too was mentioned by Pompeo, but the US has often criticized Russia for its actions in Georgia. Yet, the mention of China within the context of Geor-

gia is something new. Georgia’s current geopolitical circumstances and those of global powers such as China, the US and the EU, converge on the significance of the Georgian Black Sea ports as a transit post for Chinese goods to Europe, and vice versa. Essentially, the US expressed its intention to be a leader in the Anaklia project. Washington regards the port from the perspective of the ongoing struggle against China in Eurasia. China is inter-

ested in ports, railways and other critical infrastructure around the world and quite naturally Anaklia would be a focus of Beijing's attention. The US thus will try to obstruct any Chinese moves where possible and it seems that Anaklia has become one of those places. It is also notable that this strong-worded statement from Pompeo comes weeks after after the Chinese Foreign Affair’s Minister visited Georgia for the first time in decades. Perhaps there were concerns

in Washington that China might try to use the issues surrounding Anaklia to help out the Georgian government. True, there is plenty of work to be done in and around Anaklia to cement this nascent transit advantage of Georgia on the global map. But international attention paid to Anaklia means that the current and subsequent Georgian governments will always be interested in further development of Anaklia as well as Poti and Batumi. This interest comes out of Georgia's current geopolitical circumstances where Russian pressure from the north propels Tbilisi to seek ways to counter-balance Moscow. In that sense, the success of the Anaklia-Poti-Batumi line is directly linked to how strongly Georgia's position would be defended internationally. Overall, I would reiterate the point I have made in other op-eds for GT that the seeming ambivalence in recent months regarding the construction of Anaklia has been only an internal matter, even a local problem. Since large regional, even global powers are interested in Anaklia, its construction would proceed. It has also become clear that Anaklia has turned more into a geopolitical affair within the global confrontation between America on the one side and China and Russia on the other.

SOCIETY

First Ever Interview is of Georgian Origin BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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he historians of literature and journalism would persist in establishing that interview, as a journalistic genre, irrevocably belongs to the series of purely American efforts to make the world a better-described place to live. Wrong! The interview is not an American discovery. It is a Georgian invention. To wit, I mean not the state of Georgia, but the country of Georgia. Incidentally, I got this information from the helpful and famous Wikipedia, which literally says: ‘The first known interview that fits the matrix of interviewas-genre has been claimed to be the 1756 interview by Archbishop Timote (Timothy) Gabashvili (1704-1764), prominent Georgian religious figure, diplomat, writer and traveler, who interviewed Eugenios Voulgaris (1716-1806), renowned Greek theologian, Rector of the Orthodox School of Mount Athos’. Moreover, among the references of the

Wiki item, there is an article, titled ‘For the Genesis of Interview as a Genre’ by well-known Georgian scholar and pedagogue, Professor Paata Natsvlishvili, published in the December 2013 issue of the ‘European Scientific Journal’. According to the article, the word ‘interview’ was first introduced in 1867. It was exactly then that it came around both as a journalistic term as well as a method of journalistic writing. The first known samples of ‘interview’ as a way to disseminate information with the help of means of mass communication date back to the 1830s – not earlier than that! Therefore, the discovery of samples of written discourse, included in one of the readily available ancient Georgian texts, is worthy of serious scholarly study because they comply totally with the criteria of a journalistic interview matrix. In the mid-18th century, Timote Gabashvili created a travel essay, calling it ‘Mimoslva’ (Travel). Notably, some of the excerpts of the work render it obvious as a journalistic verity and perceptible as a subject for further research that Gabashvili is playing the role of

Image source: thoughtco.com

interviewer, and the main interviewee happens to be Eugenios Boulgaris. The author of the article also emphasizes that our contemporary journalism, as an act of human creative activity, makes intensive use of relevant modern technology, which is an indispensable tool for its

implementation, but loses its significance when we go back to the first samples of journalism for our analytic consideration. The interview in question that has remained in history for our thorough scientific reckoning falls under the analogous category. In the long-bygone year

of 1756, the time the interview was performed, the only technical option for Gabashvili was to produce the interview text as a handwritten document. Hence it is a manuscript format in which it finally came into existence. This is the curious way the researched text was born. In this context, a straightforward statement could be made that the first edition of Timote Gabashvili’s work, dated 1852, precedes in time the first known samples of fulllength interviews ever known. Moreover, it comes much earlier than the word ‘interview’ itself. Conclusively, as Paata Natsvlishvili suggests to the world, in the light of the archeology of journalism, ‘until the discovery of an older example that would fit the matrix of interview-as-genre, Gabashvili’s interview should be deemed as the oldest interview in the history of journalism’. Thank God, the Georgian scholar’s word was well heard, and there we go – the news about Georgia’s primary place in the invention of the interview genre in the history of journalism has been adequately reflected in the world’s most-used encyclopedia.

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 14 - 17, 2019

UNFPA Celebrates 20 Years in Georgia

Credit: UNFPA Georgia/Gela Bedianashvili

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his year marks a double anniversary to commemorate 25 years of the groundbreaking International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and to celebrate the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)’s 50th anniversary. In 2019, the UNFPA Country Office in Georgia also celebrates the 20th anniversary of its support to the country’s development. The event took place on June 12. The UNFPA Country Office in Georgia was established in 1999. Since then, the UNFPA Georgia team has been actively working to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person's potential is fulfilled. By promoting sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, advocating for gender equality, strengthening the policy frameworks and systems, striving for the elimination of harmful practices and combating violence against girls and women, supporting youth development, collecting quality data on population dynamics and supporting their application for planning the country’s sustainable development, the UNFPA is making a strong contribution to the advancement and development of Georgia as a democratic state. The presence of the UNFPA in Georgia is linked to many initiatives, among them the launch of the first reproductive health mobile teams at the beginning of the 2000s, with the purpose of providing free and quality reproductive health and family planning services to the population, which helped to save the lives of hundreds of women for 12 years of their operation; four nationwide surveys on reproductive health; elaboration of the National

Maternal and Newborn and Reproductive Health Strategy and the Action Plan; introduction and support to the innovative cervical and breast screening program; improved HIV prevention; introduction of peer education for youth on the issues of reproductive health, HIV prevention, gender equality, gender-based violence; support to the state’s multisectoral response to domestic violence and violence against women and girls; support to the prevention of harmful practices (early marriage, gender-biased sex selection, female genital mutilation) and refining the law on child/early marriage; cooperation with religious confessions for strengthening prevention of domestic violence and harmful practices against girls and women; enhancing men’s engagement for achieving gender equality and supporting the MenCare campaign, winner of the ‘Emerging Europe Award;’ strengthening the Office of the Public Defender for monitoring sexual and reproductive health and well-being within the frameworks of the human rights monitoring system; capacity building of the National Statistics Office for improving the collection and analysis of reliable population data; elaboration of comprehensive demographic and population aging policies, and advocacy for healthy aging. Having partnerships with state agencies, NGOs, private sector organizations and religious confessions, various field experts, activists, artists and athletes, the UNFPA Georgia team directly supports the realization of fundamental human rights and actively continues its operations for making individuals, their rights and choices, central for sustainable development.

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

JUNE 14 - 17, 2019

On the Verge of a Global Climate Crisis: CENN Analyses the Hazards of Disastrous Flooding in Tbilisi

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he global climate crisis is expected to lead to drastic changes in our environment. Extreme weather events in future are likely to increase the number and scale of natural disasters. Urban areas, and big cities in particular, are complex and interdependent systems, extremely vulnerable to threats from natural hazards. Considering this, it is essential to have a comprehensive strategy of urban hazard mitigation aimed at the creation of resilient cities, able to withstand potential threats. With this in mind, CENN recently published a new edition of the study ‘Hazards of Disastrous Flooding in the City of Tbilisi’. The study was conducted with the support from the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) and analyzes the physical-geographical and geo-ecological preconditions for the occurrence of catastrophic flash floods on the tributaries of the River Mtkvari within the limits of the city of Tbilisi. In addition, it offers an assessment of the rehabilitation works undertaken since the 13 June 2015 Vere River flash flood, and gives some general recommendations for the mitigation or prevention of negative effects of such extreme natural events. This comprehensive look at the River Mtkvari urban watershed in Tbilisi is a key storm water management planning tool to prevent future catastrophic flooding and loss of life and property. The CENN study notes that the tributaries to the River Mtkvari are characterized by narrow channels and steep gradients, which already predisposes them to flash flood events under certain climactic conditions. A long history of watershed development, including deforestation in the upper reaches, urban development in low lying areas, disposal of household waste and illegal dumpsites in the riverbeds leaves the River Mtkvari tributaries without the capacity to contain and convey storm water runoff during peak storm events. Increases in precipitation intensity and duration due to climate change underscore the need to catalog and address these anthropogenic factors. As an example, in photo 1 we can see intensive construction taking place on top of the tunnel laid beneath the Vake-Saburtalo highway. This will create unfavorable conditions for the implementation of preventive measures aimed at improving the water conveyance capacity of the tunnel. At the same time, the surface of the right bank of the river at the intake of the water tunnel is being elevated with extracted soils to

use this area for construction, which leads to the narrowing of the riverbed. It is unlikely that the tunnel, with its current water conveyance capacity, will be able to convey large volumes of runoff generated by strong flash floods. Under such conditions, water levels may reach higher marks than those that were observed at the intake of this water tunnel during the June 13, 2015 flash flood. While reflecting on the situation in the Vere River, the CENN study states that in the aftermath of the devastating 2015 flood, several storm water runoff deficiencies in the Vere River were corrected, including reconstruction of the intake tunnel beneath Heroes Square, reinforcement of the riverbed, and construction of a dam at Mziuri Park. However, the height of the protection dam is under 4

m, and 2015 peak flood levels exceeded 7 m. Two bars were built into the Vere River to trap sediment and other debris. These two bars may be inadequate in preventing damage from large volume flash floods. While these measures are certainly beneficial, a more effective, long-term solution would be to remove the underground water tunnels and restore the natural riverbed. And while the implementation of an early flood warning system may prevent death and injury, populations in the flood zones and relevant agencies will have a maximum of 10-15 minutes in which to respond to the flood threat. This limited time highlights the importance of pursuing mitigation measures now to reduce potential flood risk and threats to life and property. Intensive construction takes place on the top of the tunnel laid beneath the Vake-Saburtalo highway. This will create unfavorable conditions for the implementation of preventive measures aimed at improving the water conveyance capacity of the tunnel. At the same time, the surface of the right bank of the river at the intake of the water tunnel is being elevated with extracted soils to use this area for construction which leads to the narrowing of the riverbed. It is unlikely that the tunnel, with its current water conveyance capacity, will be able to convey large volumes of runoff generated by strong flash floods. Under such conditions, water levels may reach higher marks than those that were observed at the intake of this water tunnel during the June 13, 2015 flash flood.

The confluence section of one of the River Mtkvari tributaries Gldanistskali River - is used for the disposal of household and industrial-construction waste causing to the pollution of the river and the reduction of its water conveyance capacity.

After analyzing the geo-ecological conditions on the 13 tributaries within Tbilisi‘s urban portion of the River Mtkvari watershed, the recurring issues identified include undersized storm water conveyances, lack of storm water system maintenance and obstruction of channels with debris. To demonstrate this, in photo 2 we can see the confluence section of one of the River Mtkvari tributaries - Gldanistskali River - being used for the disposal of household and industrial-construction waste, polluting the river and so reducing its water conveyance capacity. The CENN report concludes with a number of important lessons learned for future development and flood prevention: • Development should not occur in a floodplain zone; • If floodplain development is unavoidable, storm water conveyances need to

be sized for a hundred-year flood peak discharge event; • Future urban development needs to take into consideration watershed geomorphology and stream discharge patterns, as well as incorporate storm water management infrastructure; • Proper maintenance of storm water management systems (culverts/tunnels) is essential to prevent blockages that result in dangerous impoundment of floodwater; • Controlling and reducing illegal dumping of household, construction, and industrial waste in stream channels is imperative to keep stream channels and tunnel intakes clear; • Wherever feasible the natural stream channel should be restored.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 14 - 17, 2019

9

Singularity: Svaneti

BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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ere I am not referring to the arrival of full artificial intelligence or the sudden achieving of the next level of human development. Nor to the point at the heart of black holes where physics breaks down, although all 3 of these are of consider-

able interest to me. Rather, my title is about the preponderance of single people in Svaneti. Having been visiting this place for 20 years now, and living here for 12, I suppose that one’s observations can be said to account for something. The main question is, WHY so many unmarried individuals, remaining so until death? It was a score of 10 funeral feasts I attended here, of people I had known, before the “wedding” side scored a sin-

gle goal. The proportion has not improved dramatically since then. My wife and I DO notice the improvement in new births here, chiefly by counting children entering grade 1 in school year by year in Etseri. A few years ago the total was 10, which they hadn’t seen for 9 years, we were told; it also has remained high since then, so this is a good sign. Perhaps the statistics of single men and women, both, are merely from the generation which is now passing, giving way to a younger, more hopeful one. I do see the numbers as a symptom of the hopelessness which pervaded this faraway province as the USSR collapsed, vital support from Tbilisi waned, and mafia/ bandit structures rushed in to fill the vacuum left by law’s decline, leading to a rather Wild West of Georgia. Tourism virtually collapsed, as did the main road. The free electricity was very erratic in both existence and quality, with brownouts, blackouts, surges and dips wreaking havoc on electrical appliances large and small. Kidnapping and armed rob-

bery rose too. If you didn’t have a good local guide accompanying you in, or at least the known protection of the right people, you could be in real trouble if stopped on the road anywhere. In such a situation, many people packed up and left, given any chance to settle somewhere else. They abandoned houses, possibly returning only in summer to check things over. Roofs to which snow stuck could collapse in a single winter if not shoveled off; I have seen this. And those who stayed because they couldn’t bear to leave or had not the means to do so: how to find the optimism to contemplate joining with a marriage partner, raising a family, making things better for oneself and the little ones? I believe that many people simply gave up on this option. At least the local weddings, returnings and home renovations or buildings from nothing are increasing. So I really hope that, with new roads, tourism infrastructure, job possibilities and so on, people can raise their view a bit and, with hope, do what they can to see more Svan fam-

ilies coming into existence. Now, if we can just do something about the new local corruption which reportedly is also flowering since Misha left the scene, and is indeed growing in my own experience, Svaneti can return to the prosperity it once knew before the USSR dissolved. It was never perfect, but there is such nostalgia for the stability of those times, even though the Church was under a stranglehold here. I really hope we can live to see the needed changes and improvements, because I expect to be here for a long time yet, alongside the Svans. 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

A Look at the Biltmore Wedding Fest, June 12

TRANSLATED BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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n June 12, the Biltmore Wedding Fest, organized by the Biltmore Tbilisi, took place at the incredible Grand Royal Ballroom of the hotel, seeing 40 companies which

The summer bar Azura was the evening venue of the exhibition, with guests hosted with delicious snacks and cocktails while a DJ performed. Hidden in the greenery, Azura was decorated thematically for a wedding, showing off its ideal character for wedding ceremonies. The Biltmore Tbilisi Hotel was also among the participants of the Wedding Fest, as an incredible venue for large-scale weddings. The Biltmore Tbilisi Hotel has hosted a number of large weddings in the past three years. The aim of the Festival was to attract new clientele and promote the hotel as a wedding venue. The event was supported by Geoworld and Captain+.

operate in the wedding industry grabbing the chance to introduce their products. The festival was held in entertaining and business formats, enabling guests to explore event organizers, confectioners, florists, photographers, musicians, jewelers and more. The exhibition was a wonderful platform for boosting collaboration between businesses. Guests were also given special offers and gifts by the participating companies.

CULTURE

Georgian Dark - Stories of Masculine Georgian Women Told through Bold Gothic Artworks Continued from page 2 Indeed, the paintings are equally marvelous, weird, psychological and spiritual, urging one to think out of the box and encouraging women to take risks, fight till the end and try new things that they have not done before. Aside from the recent Tbilisi exhibition, the artist counts a number of exhibitions, both in Georgia and beyond, in the UK, Germany, Iran, Ukraine and others. Her artworks have been sold in many countries and are kept in private collections. GEORGIA TODAY was taken on a personal tour of the Tbilisi exhibition by the artist herself. “I worked two years on this project. It started when I was having a hard time and began to look at my thoughts more deeply. As a result of self-exploration and recalling my past, I created the first sketch of Georgian Dark that eventually expanded into a series of Georgian women clad in traditional clothes and national headdresses, ‘chikhtikopi,’ engaged in

Image: “Akido” by Tina Tskhadadze

various activities that as a rule are typical to men,” Tskhadadze told us. The artist also teaches at the Tbilisi Academy of Arts has gained a lot of attention with her latest series, seeing both local and international interest and buyers. Women clad in traditional Georgian clothing play polo, go fishing, smoke cigarettes, dance Khorumi (the national war dance); some play chess or hunt. Why can’t women do these things? Why can’t they make wine or play the drums? And if women were given the chance to do these things…or maybe they did but we didn’t know? The artist poses such questions through her works. “All these abstract stories are just another reason to show the special character of Georgian women.” “These images incorporate many things: the faces of my ancestors, grandma, mother, friends and strangers I met on the street and whose appearance and characteristics affected me, even some scenes from old Georgians movies. I tried to artistically generalize this data in my artworks. The

drawings are eclectic, since they carry different conditional stories and at the same time incorporate contemporary elements. I played a lot with my imagination and used such themes as Medea, witchery, masculine functions, Georgian aristocracy, glamor, arrogance: I merged Georgian traditions with modern elements in a way not done before. They are tangible and simultaneously abstract. That’s why I think these drawings are ephemeral. The paintings are full of signs, so they can be read and perceived in many ways. It is difficult to catch one concrete idea in the drawings,” Tina explains. Tina’s artworks are unusual, sophisticated and simultaneously extremely modern. When looking at her artworks, you see that these are the women who haven’t chosen a peaceful path, but instead an adventurous and challenging one. These women are courageous and daring, with strong personalities. The author says the project unites what lies in the depths of our unconscious mind.

“I aim to transfer those experiences, feelings and discoveries that I have made in an aesthetic and sophisticated way. I like to express deep, dramatic narrative through gentle forms. I decided to portray strong women with aesthetic minimalism who combine masculine functions and features on a transparent paper, vellum, to give more lightness,” the artist noted, adding that the drawings, perhaps to some extent, subconsciously reflect the faint melancholy of the unrealized energy of women. “I’m planning to expand this series and incorporate design elements like art deco, in the Georgian context. But I don’t want to lose the concept of the project. I also plan to create portraits of men in the future. These will be solely androgenic portraits on large canvases. Like the paintings of women with masculine features, with the men I want to play with the gender theme and show hidden traits of their personalities.” Tina Tskhadadze’s next exhibition will be in October.


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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

JUNE 14 - 17, 2019

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 04 56 June 15, 16 Giuseppe Verdi LA TRAVIATA Music Director- Zaza Azmaiparashvili Director- Laurent Gerber Scenographer- Massimo Bellando Randone Choreographer- Nina Ananiashvili Starring: Salome Jicia, Mariam Baratashvili, Manana Iordanishvili, Tatsuya Kashi, Zaal Khelaia, Aleksandre Tibelishvili, Irakli Mujiri, Giorgi Goderdzishvili, Gia Asatiani Conductor- Stefano Romani Start time: June 15- 20:00, June 16- 15:00 Ticket: 20-200 GEL MARJANISHVILI THEATER 5 Marjanishvli St. TEL (+995 32) 2 95 59 66 June 15, 16 British-Georgian Academy and British International School of Tbilisi present the Broadway Junior Musical ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-60 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 13 Shavtelis St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 65 93 June 14, 15, 20 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30, 40 GEL June 16 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30, 40 GEL June 18 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL June 19 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30, 40 GEL

MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 June 15 FAUST Based on the works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Language: Non verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL June 20 "Our Theater" presents One-act play with puppets PARADISO Language: Non verbal Director: Irakli Khoshtaria Choreographer: Lasha Robaqidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL Ticket: 10-15 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 37 Rustaveli Ave. TEL 595 50 02 03 June 15 AUGUST 8 The story of the war in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Distress, pain, and tragedy is what Georgia suffered as a result of this war. 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 Until September 10 Under the joint initiative of Georgian National Museum and Georgian Post, Exhibition: STORY TOLD BY POSTAGE STAMPS Dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the first Georgian stamp. Until August 31 Multimedia technology exhibitionIMMAGICA. A JOURNEY INTO BEAUTY An impressive journey within time,

introducing us to Italian paintings of the XIV-XIX centuries; a combination of voice, lighting, immersive visual and multimedia. Giotto– ‘Ognissanti Madonna’ and the ‘Scrovegni Chapel,’ Leonardo da Vinci– ‘Annunciation,’ Botticelli– ‘The Birth of Venus’ and ‘Spring,’ Raffaello– ‘The Madonna of the Goldfinch, Bellotto– ‘Piazza San Marco,’ ‘Castello Sforzesco,’ Canaletto– “The Chapel of Eton College”, Canova– ‘Amor e Psyche’ and ‘The Graces’. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 Until June 18 KAKO TOPURIA’S SOLO EXHIBITION The exhibition represents Topuria's recent works, revealing nostalgia, ironic motives, feelings of closeness and more. Implemented within the project ‘Contemporary Art Gallery’ June 11-18 The exhibition of Lizi Budagashvili's works ‘Poetic Mysteries’ The works presented in the project are completed by the author for the last year and most of them will be showcasing for the general public for the first time.

individuals and serve as some kind of therapy for those who have experience break-ups. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 Until February 26 (2020) GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY Until July 4 SOLO EXHIBITION ZERO BY GEORGIAN ARTIST VAKHO BUGADZE ADAM & EVE D. Aghmashenebeli 164 June 15, 16 SIZMARI A multimedia installation of feelings, where your consciousness becomes an inventor by itself. The collaboration contains different mediums: architecture, audiovisual, sculpture and a synthesis with digital technology. Opening: 14:00 Tickets: 10-20 GEL MUSIC

June 12-18 Georgian National Museum and Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to Georgia present the Photography exhibition THE SCENES OF VILNUS – VAN DYKE BROWN PRINTS by Saulius Paukštys at Tbilisi History Museum. 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 a Mirror Room, be free in the Infinity room, resist the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms, and discover optical illusions. MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS 10 Betlemi Str. THE MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS The unique collection of the museum aims to provoke feelings of understanding among

SOUNDS OF GEORGIA June 14, 15, 19, 20 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: June 14- 10 Erekle II Sq., Tekla Palace Hotel, June 15- New Tiflis, 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’, June 19- Corner of 2 Turgenev Str., and 37 Javakhishvili Str. June 20- Europe Square, 2 D. Megreli Str., Hotel “Nata” EZO FESTIVAL Mtatsminda Park June 14 eZo: Levi Love Disco, Jeremy Underground, Gerd Janson, oDa: Frankie Beatnik, Ata, Zip, Audio Space June 15 eZo: Dr. Emmett Brown, Todd Terry, Chez Damier oDa: Vako T, Tomma B2B Gio Shengelia, Margaret Dygas, Rati 14, 15 June Kosmos: Deka & MC Cutkill, L8, Toke (Live), Vakho, Baris K Nika J, Hatsvali, Micro Bax, Ako Von Unten, Tade, Soukie & Windish, Hasiro Surosva Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 60-130 GEL

Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-10 GEL June 16 Tengiz Amirejibi VII International Music Festival Participants: Alexander Ghindin, Tamara Licheli, ‘Alter Orchestra’ Conductor- Mirian Khukhunaishvili Programme: Mendelssohn, Mozart Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL June 18 Tengiz Amirejibi VII International Music Festival Participants: Laureats of the Tengiz Amirejibi Competition- Giorgi Gigashvili, Salome Modebadze, Tamar Makharadze, Sandro Sidamonidze and Founder of Tengiz Amirejibi Festival and Competition- Tamara Licheli Program: Chopin, Liszt, Prokofiev, Shostakovich Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-15 GEL

ELECTRO CARRIAGE BUILDING FACTORY 4 K. Cholokashvili III Turn June 20 FRENCH ARTISTS POLO & PAN Start time: 00:00 Ticket: 70 GEL KAKHIDZE MUSIC CENTER Festival of children’s folk ensembles ‘Mravalzhamier’ June 14 Opening concert Participants: Children’s folk ensembles: Khukhunaishvili Choir of Georgian chanting and singing from Lanchkhuti (Guria), the choir ‘Little Garedjians’ of V. Mchdlishvili chanting and singing school from Sagaredjo (Kakheti) and two ensembles from Tbilisi– ‘Patriarch’s Godliness’ and ‘Binuli’. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL June 15 The concert of children’s folk ensembles– ‘Bitchebi’, ‘Alilo’, ‘Erkvani’, ‘Martve’ and ‘Dariali’. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL June 17 The concert of schools for choir masters established by Georgian National Folk Center in different regions of the country. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL June 18 Participants- L.Magalashvili chanting and singing boy’s folk ensemble ‘Gudjaani’ (Kakhetia) and children’s folk ensembles from Tbilisi ‘Little Georgika’, ‘Shavnabada’, ‘Chokhosnebi’ and ‘Mdzlevari’ Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL June 20 The closing ceremony of the festival ‘Mravalzhamier’ Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL

TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8/10 A. Griboedovi Str.

BLACK SEA ARENA Village Natanebi (Shekvetili)

June 15 Rezo Jorbenadze piano recital FROM BIRTH TO TRANSFIGURATION

June 16 Black Eyed Peas concert Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 100-250 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY JUNE 14 - 17, 2019

11

She Was Meant to Fly High: On Inesa Merabishvili BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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ecently, Gori celebrated the election of Professor Inesa Merabishvili as a full member of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences. She was born and grew up in this lovely old city, situated less than 100 kilometers to the west of Tbilisi, where her maternal grandfather was among the founders of the Gori Professional Drama Theater. Inesa had literally learned to walk on the stage where her beloved grandpa performed, and now, there she goes again, triumphantly walking down the aisle of the theater grand hall and up onto the stage to greet the exalted audience, but this time as a well-known public figure, a famous Anglicist, literary scholar and translator, professor of the Tbilisi State University, newly voted-for academician, and of course, a real pride of Gori: the comeback kid who has become a genuine incarnation of shining success. The beautiful soirée was kindly initiated and organized by the Gori municipality cultural agency English teacher Tamar Putkaradze, and readily supported

by the Town Hall. Tamar presented a wonderful trilingual montage of Merabishvili’s translations, performed by local schoolchildren on an amazing linguistic and artistic level. The beautiful event was not a solemn encounter of Gori society with its beloved daughter, but an agreeable act of honoring the Academy as a whole for its truly significant scientific contribution to the entire country’s welfare. Among guests were seen a solid group of academicians and administrative personnel representing the National Academy of Sciences, and also a number of distinguished guests from the capital. The house was brimming full and it was taken by storms of applause many a time. Most illustrious among the greeting speeches was the salutation of Mr. Giorgi Kvesitadze, the President of the Academy. Further, there sounded warm and meaningful acknowledgements by Professor Valery Asatiani, the Mayor of Gori Kote Tavzarashvili, his deputy Eka Sukhishvili and the Town Council Chairman, Davit Razmadze. The presentation of Merabishvili’s recognition here in Georgia as well as in the West was made by Lela Khubuluri. The welcome greetings were balanced out by fascinating

musical numbers, among them a performance of the famous local female chorus and the nerve-hitting male vocal quartette. A special gift of song came from Lado Ataneli, the world-class opera singer, who amazed his audience once again with his incomparable performance. Academician Merabishvili read to her extremely loyal listeners some of her translations of English and Georgian poesy. Inesa was accompanied by her grandson Tornike Koplatadze, a young movie director, who also greeted her from the stage, having expressed his utmost gratitude to the city of Gori for giving him such a celebrated grandmother. Indeed, there is a lot that makes us proud of Inesa Merabishvili – her colleagues, friends, relatives, fellow academicians, her native city, her foreign admirers and the Georgian public in general. And there is a plenty to be proud about: tens of books in literary research and theory of translation, uncountable articles in local and foreign editions, poetic translations, her own beautiful poetry, outstanding public activity, impeccable trilingual mastery, even the pieces of her written music, and finally and most importantly, Inesa Merabishvili gave the Byronic depths and magic to Georgia and the unique poetic

talent of Galaktion Tabidze to the world. And the Byron School of Tbilisi! It is founded, owned and currently headed by this famous pedagogue and intellectual, where the younger generation is learning the English language through western

culture and the western culture via the English language. Incidentally, looking at Inesa in her blissful childhood, her loving parents must have known their girl would someday fly high, but perhaps not as high as she has!

Homo Urbanus Europeanus: A French Photographer to Include Tbilisi in Project captured in all its delicacy, always in the right place at the right time, gives the city an unexpected majesty.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY GABRIELLE COLCHEN

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO FIND IN TBILISI?

F

rom Italian roots, Jean-Marc Caracci was born in Tunisia in 1958 but lived most of his life in France. In 2005, he left the company for which he worked for 25 years and decided to become a fulltime photographer. He made his first prints in his parent’s bathroom when he was a teenager and learned everything about the art of photography by himself. He is creating a series of photos called ‘Homo Urbanus Europeanus’ (HUE) in which he takes picture of human beings in different capitals of Europe. His photographic style is inspired by artists such as Henri Cartier Bresson, Elliott Erwitt or Raymond Depardon. He will be in Tbilisi from June 25 to July 5 to photograph the 40th European capital in his project, then in Yerevan. GEORGIA TODAY contacted him to find out more.

WHY THE GOAL OF PHOTOGRAPHING PEOPLE IN CITIES?

Nothing special. I just want to add Tbilisi’s pictures to my series. The only thing I hope to achieve is to take at least one good picture, just as I do in any other city where I go to chase the HUE.

IS IT GOING BE YOUR FIRST TIME IN TBILISI? Yes, just like it will be in Yerevan, and it has almost always been the case in each of 39 capitals where I have been to take photos. People often tell me I’m very lucky to visit all these countries, but I never visit the countries I photograph: I just make a brief stop in their capital city and go back home. I don’t do tourism in these cities: I just walk, walk and walk again, hoping to be in the right place at the right time to take the best picture possible. Photo Source: http://homo.urbanus.free.fr/portfoliogal/, Belgrade 2014

tal and vertical lines. This way, I am able to realize clean and clear images, ones that are easy to read.

I’m a real city-dweller as well as a European fervent. I wanted to realize a positive project on human beings and their place in the city in Europe. I began my project in 2007. The goal is not to identify the city in which the photo is taken by showing its particularities but rather to work on what is common to these places: the urban setting. We don’t usually recognize which city has been photographed, but we always feel it is a European one. In each picture, only one or two people are represented, just like a landmark, enabling the public to understand the scale of the picture. I avoid as much as possible convergence lines in my compositions: I essentially focus on horizon-

YOU HAVE ALREADY PHOTOGRAPHED 39 EUROPEAN CAPITALS. WHY SO MANY? While HUE is an artistic creation, it does not hide its political side. Indeed, 39 capitals of Europe have already been photographed, each of them in an identical sober style, without special cultural or social details. This way, the cities are united under their European characteristics instead of being separated by their specificities. The HUE series clearly expresses a positive feeling towards the European Union: these uniting images anticipate the future unity of the majority of the European countries.

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GEORGIA TODAY

EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT:

Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

In light of this spirit of cohesion, I have to integrate all European capitals in this project. After Yerevan and Tbilisi, I plan to photograph in Kiev, Bern, Vaduz and Tórshavn. I still don’t know what to do about Moscow because I can’t decide if Russia is also somehow a European country or not.

WHY DO YOU ONLY PHOTOGRAPH CAPITAL CITIES? I think that capitals are the symbolic representation of each country. The other reason is because it is practical and economic since most international airports are in the capitals.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO DO ONLY BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS?

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

There are a lot of colors in cities and they would interfere with the esthetics of my images. By using black and white, I can better focus on the lines, shadows and lighting.

ARE YOU GOING TO SHOW YOUR PHOTOS IN TBILISI? Nothing is planned yet, but I will try, just like I try to do in each capital.

CAN YOU LIVE OFF YOUR ART? I would rather say “survive.”

WHAT DO YOUR PHOTOS REPRESENT? Maybe they are a record of our world before anything else… just like any street photography, since photos exist. Every image of the series, thanks to its special composition and its sober style, looks like a hymn to the splendid citydweller. This person who walks, stops, sneaks across the city, often solitary, but no less proud and determined. The pride he demonstrates of being a city person rather gives him the stature of a conqueror. Besides, this human presence,

Website Manager/Editor: Katie Ruth Davies Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

Thanks to Homo Urbanus Europeanus, Caracci has already participated in 46 exhibitions that have been held in 26 countries so far, including three European Capitals of Culture: Malibor 2012, Plzen 2015 and Pafos 2017, and 10 Delegations of the EU bought the rights to organize exhibitions. For more information: http://homo.urbanus. free.fr/portfoliogal The interview has been translated from French to English and edited for more clarity.

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1159  

June 14 - 17, 2019

Issue #1159  

June 14 - 17, 2019

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