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Issue no: 1177

• AUGUST 16 - 19, 2019 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

In this week’s issue...

FOCUS

Georgia Spends GEL 397 Million on Road Infrastructure in 2019

ON BORDERIZATION A deeper look at Russia's latest moves on Georgian territory

PRICE: GEL 2.50

PAGE 2

NEWS PAGE 3

Mud-Slinging. Do We Measure Up to the West? POLITICS PAGE 4

Huawei Unveils its New Operating System HarmonyOS

BUSINESS PAGE 6 Image source: EUMM Georgia

Russian Exaggerates Impact of Flight Ban on Georgian Tourism BY THEA MORRISON

SOCIETY PAGE 8

Pitching Right In: Etseri, Svaneti SOCIETY PAGE 9

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ussian media outlet Izvestia claims that after the Russian ban on flights with Georgia, the number of Russian tourists in Georgia is down by 70%, instead of the real 14%. The article quotes Yuri Barzykin, Vice President of the Russian Tourism Industry Association, saying that the number of Russian tourists in Georgia has been reduced by 70%. He noted that Russian citizens who organized a trip themselves to Georgia can travel by land via the Lars checkpoint or through third countries. “Almost everyone who used to get [to Georgia] by air, has stopped visiting. In addition, package tours are not for sale… It was clearly said that everything was in the hands of the Georgian side. And in the situation that is currently being observed there, the risks for Russians are certainly increased,” he told Izvestia. Barzykin also said there are still no reasons for the restoration of air traffic between the two countries, adding it is not expected in the near future either. Izvestia reports that the restoration of direct air

Forest Fires in Georgia: CENN Creates Geo Statistic Database of Forest Fires

New Bronze Age Archeological Finds Unearthed

Image source: gfsis.org

flights with Georgia will not be resumed until at least the 2020 parliamentary elections. The article says their source from diplomatic circles informed them that “the current authorities in Tbilisi have ignored Moscow’s demands regarding the safety of travelers from Russia, and the surge of antiRussian sentiment has not been extinguished.”

“Russia outlined the conditions for the resumption of flights - the cessation of Russophobic policies and rhetoric, including by the Georgian authorities. There has been no progress in this matter, therefore, at least during the year, air communication will not be restored." Continued on page 2

CULTURE PAGE 11


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 16 - 19, 2019

More Barbed Wire Goes Up Near Gori BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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n Wednesday morning, the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) hotline was activated, reporting yet another violation of Georgia’s territorial integrity. The EUMM has been active in Georgia since October 1, 2008, less than two months after the end of the Georgia-Russia August War. The mandate of the unarmed civilian mission is to monitor compliance with the ceasefire agreement that ended the war. They also operate a hotline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which is activated in the case of administrative boundary line (ABL) and other occupation-related incidents such as the kidnappings that are all too common near the ABL with so-called South Ossetia. There are two EUMM hotline holders who have counterparts in Georgian law enforcement agencies and in the Russian Federation ‘border’ guard and representatives of the de-facto administrations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “Over the years, the hotline has proven itself an effective tool in defusing tensions. It is recognized as a successful instrument, not only by all the parties to the conflict, but also by the media and people living along the two Administrative Boundary Lines,” says EUMM. Despite the hotline, however, the creeping occupation moves deeper into Georgian territory. Russian and de-facto South Ossetian forces resumed installation of barbed wire fences in the village of Gugutiantkari, in the Gori Municipality, near the region of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia), currently occupied by Russia, reported the Georgian State Security Service. “This is another illegal and extremely destructive act. This issue will be acutely raised by the central government of Georgia in Ergneti at the meeting of the

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism,” a representative of the State Security Service told Interpress News. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia called on the international community to apply effective measures regarding the issue, and released a statement warning that “Such destructive steps complicate the already uneasy humanitarian conditions of the population residing close to the occupation line and lead to the further destabilization of the safe environment,” they added that “the Georgian side continues to work intensively with the international community, the co-chairs of the Geneva International

Discussions, the EU Monitoring Mission and the Diplomatic Corps accredited in Tbilisi to take effective measures to halt this illegal process. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on the Russian Federation to stop illegal actions against Georgia and to fulfill its international obligations, including the EU brokered Six-Point Agreement of 12 August, 2008.” Initial work began on repairs to that section of the borderized ABL August 7, and started up again on Wednesday after a week-long reprieve. Installation of barbed wire fences in a process often called ‘creeping occupation’ and ‘borderization,’ conducted by Russian occu-

pation forces, began as early as 2009. Earlier in the week, coinciding with the 11th anniversary of the August War, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called borderization in Georgia a “myth” in a news briefing. “An artificial frenzy over the alleged violations on the South Ossetian-Georgian border is once again being created. A myth is being spread on the shifting of the border by Russians and South Ossetians and their movement inside Georgian territory,” she alleged. Along with the anniversary of the war, several Georgian allies spoke out against Russia’s continued occupation, includ-

ing the United States of America, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom. In a briefing on Friday, August 9, Morgan Ortagus, US Department of State Spokesperson, said “We urge the Russian Federation to reverse its recognition of the so-called independence of Georgia’s occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions. We call upon the Russian Federation to implement in full the EU-mediated August 2008 ceasefire agreement to withdraw its forces from the occupied territories of Georgia and to affirm and to implement a commitment not to use force against Georgia. We will not stop working until Russia ends its occupation of sovereign Georgian territory.” Ortagus also noted the new developments in borderization, saying, “Within the last 24 hours, we received reports that Russian-backed de facto authorities have started the process of borderization at a village near the South Ossetia administrative boundary line. If completed, this action would cut the village off from its irrigation system. These actions are a threat to peace and stability. As today’s actions show, Russia consistently violates the Georgian people’s right to security and property.” In the midst of the concern over the expanding barber wire boundary line, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who led the country during the August War, spoke to the press warning that a new highway project connecting Kobi to Gudauri will invite Russian military forces into Georgia more easily. Saakashvili shared a conspiracy theory, saying “If the highway is built, it will open a military way for Russia to take Tbilisi quickly. This is Putin's order, which is being fulfilled by Ivanishvili and tourism development has nothing to do with it.” The historic construction project is set to be launch by the end of the year, according to Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze.

Russian Exaggerates Impact of Flight Ban on Georgian Tourism Continued from page 1

"And most likely, this will not happen before the parliamentary elections. At the state level, the anti-Russian policy should be stopped. Without this, we cannot recommend Russians visit Georgia, or, most importantly, be confident about our citizens’ safety in this country,” the source of Izvestia said. Information about the reduction of Russian tourists in Georgia by 70% is untrue. The National Georgian Tourism Administration (GNTA) says the decline in tourist flow was much smaller as a result of the Russian travel embargo on flights. In July 2019, there were 159,063 Russian visitors to Georgia, 6.4% less than in the

same period in 2018, of which 50,849 were transit visitors and 108,214 were tourists. The number of Russian tourists was 14.8% (18,851) less than in the same period of 2018. The 14% decline in tourist arrivals was reported as a 70% decrease by Russian media. Moreover, the article does not mention that in July a record number of visitors and tourists were received in Georgia. According to the Tourism Administration, Georgia's tourism sector grew in July by 5.8%, totaling 1,099,474 visitors. The number of direct tourist visits increased by 1% to 570,482. There has been an increase in the number of tourists from many other countries too, including Saudi Arabia, Israel, Ukraine,

Kazakhstan and others. There was also a positive trend from EU countries. The United Airports of Georgia of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development says in July 2019, all five Georgian airports -Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Mestia, Ambrolauri- served 571, 848 passengers which is 44,959 passengers less (7.3%) compared to July 2018 (616,807 passengers). A 7.3% drop in passenger traffic was triggered by suspension of direct flights to Russia from July 8, 2019. According to the official data, in July 2019 Tbilisi International Airport served 384,632 passengers, which is about 10% less compared to the same period of the previous year. The number of passengers decreased also at Batumi International Airport. In

July 2019, 100,432 passengers were served by Batumi Airport which is 10,893 passengers less than in the same period of the previous year. However, unlike Tbilisi and Batumi, the Kutaisi International Airport saw a 14% increase in passenger traffic. In July 2019, 85,738 passengers were served at the airport. In July 2018, the airport served 75,372. Georgia’s Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Natia Turnava says that despite the 7.3% decrease of passengers in July, the total number of visitors in seven months of this year increased by 12%. The Minister added that the government is doing its best to neutralize the consequences of the Russian embargo on flights.

A few days ago, Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze noted that due to the Russian ban on direct flights with Georgia, the tourism sector saw around a $60 million loss last month. “However, the steps we have taken make me believe we will return to the strong dynamics we had,” the PM said. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree banning Russian airlines from flying to Georgia and vice versa on June 21 in response to large-scale anti-Moscow rallies in Tbilisi. The ban took effect on July 8. Georgian authorities many times noted that the country welcomes tourists from all around the world and that the safety of guests, including those of from Russia, is completely ensured.

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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 16 - 19, 2019

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Georgia Spends GEL 397 Million on Road Infrastructure in 2019

Image source: mrdi.gov.ge

BY THEA MORRISON

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EL 397,838,275 ($136,615,595) was spent on road infrastructure improvement works in Georgia in the first half of 2019, which is 36.4% more than the same period last year. The information was released by the Department of Roads during the presentation of the 6-month report of the agency’s activities in 2019. The Roads Department plans the rehabilitation of 550 kilometers of road by the end of the year, which is twice more compared to the same period of 2018. Moreover, in 2019, a total of 228 tenders were announced in six months and contracts totaling GEL 541,103,278 ($185,812,052) were signed. Maia Tskitishvili, Georgia’s first Vice-Prime Minister and the Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development, said the budget of the Roads Department has increased 3.5-fold since 2012, adding GEL 1.5 ($5.15) billion will be spent on road infrastructure this year. “This money will be used for the construction of highways, as well as the rehabilitation of internal and local roads,” she said. The Minister noted it is very important not only to implement high quality and timely road projects, but also to plan them in such a way that infrastructure development can contribute to the development of the regions too. “Communication between local and central authorities has improved in the state structures, and we are also working in coordination with counterpart agencies to prioritize those roads that will make a particular contribution to the development of this or that region. Besides exploiting the country's international logistics potential, road infrastructure should play a major role in the development of very interesting regions of our country,” Tskitishvili said. The Vice Prime Minister thanked the international partners, contractors and local authorities for their effective work in large and small scale projects. Chairman of the Roads Department Irakli Karse-

ladze stated at the presentation of the report that to date, more than 9,000 people are already working on the construction of highways as well as other rehabilitation and prevention projects. “The East-West Highway is our main challenge, which starts at the Red Bridge and stretches 430 kilometers to Sarpi: 200 kilometers of the highway has already been built, while 140 kilometers of road is currently being constructed, and the agreement on the first section of Rikoti will be signed by next week,” he explained. Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze also delivered a speech at the presentation in which he noted the main and most critical infrastructure projects in the country will be completed by 2022. “We want to use the transit and tourist potential of our country; secondly - we want to reduce travel time and make [transportation] more comfortable and safer; and thirdly – this is an effective way to fight against poverty,” the PM said. Bakhtadze singled out two projects, which are of historical significance the Rikoti and Kobi-Gudauri highways. Construction of the latter, according to Bakhtadze, will begin by the end of the year. At the Rikoti Pass section, at present, works are being carried out on two sections, while the remaining two sections are in the final stage of tender procedures. He added that the Kobi-Gudauri cable car is one of the most important infrastructure projects implemented recently in Georgia and did much to advance the village of Kobi. “Our citizens, resting in mountainous regions, have the opportunity to see with their own eyes how the reconstruction process is going,” he noted. The Prime Minister said Georgia had never seen such a pace and scale of infrastructure development as it has now. He said in addition to highways, it is a very important to build roads in all settlements. “I promise society that we will build roads of proper standard step by step in every settlement in Georgia,” he added. Bakhtadze underlined this year's budget was increased by 20% for infrastructure development. He noted that infrastructure development allows Georgia to make its economy more competitive and create new jobs.

Tourism 2020 – Not Only Nature & Gastronomy TRANSLATED BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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he Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business and the Israeli House continue promotion the tourism potential of Georgia. Within the scope of this campaign, a group of Israeli journalists is visiting Tbilisi, to prepare a special report on Georgia. The show is called ‘The Best in the World’. Itsik Moshe, President of the Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business and Chair of the Israeli House has stated that through the special activities, the Israeli tourist inflow in Georgia is expected to increase by 30% and reach 200,000 this year. Next year, along with the nature and gastronomy of Georgia, much focus will be put on the rich culture, as the country’s potential is outstanding also in this field. This is to be a completely new direction and will attract tourists with higher payment capabilities. Itsik Moshe notes that aside from Israelis, the seg-

ment of world Jewry is also important, as its representatives are interested in cultural heritage in general. Georgia is interesting for them with this regards, as the Israeli House, under the aegis of the Council of Europe has been carrying out the certified tours of Jewish cultural heritage for already three years. In addition, the Israeli House tries to bring to Georgia some of the international forums related to Israel, which will augment the inflow of tourists with higher payment capabilities and promote the country at the same time. With the aim of the promotion of the business and tourism potential of Georgia, the Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business and the Israeli House will work more actively with the leading Israeli media in 2020. Itsik Moshe believes that in order to attract tourists with higher payment capabilities, it is vital to launch promotion campaigns with the participation of the Georgian government. The media tours will also be planned.

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4

POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 16 - 19, 2019

Mud-Slinging. Do We Measure Up to the West? FISH & MEAT RESTAURANT II FLOOR

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I

will have all his teeth out – says one heated Georgian citizen loudly about the coolest possible other citizen. I wonder if this is legally a threat and if it is punishable by law? The already soured story has it that the irate former manager of the Rustavi 2 TV station has been openly using the harshest imaginable language of hatred in the public area in the last several years, and continues to do so even with more impassioned zeal after he was given the axe by the channel’s new owner. We know well that this media enterprise has routinely been a political vehicle used in various hands, skillfully alternating its support between the ruling regime and oppositional forces. They are good at masterfully creating the impression of freedom of speech, seemingly fighting for the triumph of democracy in Georgia. In reality, Rustavi 2 has always been a strongly oriented device, used to perpetuate the truth of a particular political side at a time. Back to the gist of the issue: is a free member of a free world allowed to remain unpunished if he or she verbally offends another party, especially in the public space? Is impunity a norm in the case of a flagrant verbal offense? In America, for instance, where I sojourn as I speak, you cannot threaten a fellow citizen and get away with it. Punishment will follow without any possible reserve. The exdirector of the much-spoken-about Rustavi 2 is qualified enough a lawyer to know what is permissible in a civilized society and what is not, but he clearly has some legally allowed leverage, rendering him free to utter any filth he wishes against anybody he wants to target. Georgia is declaratively in step with the West in terms of building its future on democratic values and human rights. I am at a total loss when I see that Georgia wants to measure up to the West in keeping up such sensible individual values yet at

the same time wants to live without any compatible manners. How is that possible? Even the American president, the leader of the free world and a recognized beacon of freedom and democracy, has a problem with the means of mass communication, openly calling media a bunch of biased narrators and fact distorters. Trump feels that media has utterly forgotten the famous journalistic paradigm: although the comments are free, the facts must remain sacred. The US President is exacerbated over the media and media has no sympathy for him either, but neither side would use the improper vocabulary to describe each other. This would be terribly anti-western, if not uncivilized. No government in the world is adored by its people and no ruler on earth wants to be a media victim, but in democracy, authorities try to outline the golden median with press and television, and stay there for as long as the situation allows. This is exactly what the current Georgian ruling power is poised to do. The question is, if the powers that be should let the disgusting language persist in media as well as in general public life. Is a democratically elected and ruling government legally allowed not to accept the now quickly proliferating language of abhorrence in Georgia? Should we the people allow this much bitterness and cruelty in our society of fragile civility? These questions are crucial, and they need to be answered. Otherwise, we might be sending the message on our best image for the world to see, observed through a distorting mirror which will guarantee our existence as losers. The more villainous and malicious the comments we make about each other, the quicker the infamous demise of freedom of speech and democracy will happen. There is too much hatred in the world of Georgian politics and this is totally unproductive if not entirely destructive. The statements on our readiness to be part of the West sound hilarious when the performance of western ways is so utterly warped and misunderstood. And again, how can a certain infuriated member of this society so callously insult another member of the same society and get away with it?!

"I Should Have Shouted Louder" Saakashvili on 2008 War, Part 2 INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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he former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, laid all bare about the 2008 August War in a wide-ranging interview with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). “If Russia wanted to stop, they should have been given the leeway…if international pressure had been there or worked, Russia would have had a way out, but at the time nobody else applied pressure, that was the problem; there was no one to apply pressure.”

IT WAS A DIPLOMATIC NARRATIVE THAT DID NOT WORK. No, it didn’t, because you need two to tango. We needed the West to tell them to stop and the West was so confused and lost that their first instinct was to blame us because the Russian narrative made its way into the Western narrative, such as the words Bush said in Beijing; Bush tells Putin, look, you know that Saakashvili is hot-blooded. I don’t think in my conversations with President

Bush I was hot-headed. But for many years they were saying so, that I was impetuous. It was an overwhelming sentiment. Now we know how it works with the Russian propaganda machine, then nobody else knew.

YOU’RE ABSOLVING YOURSELF OF ALL BLAME WHEN IT COMES TO THAT IMAGE? Well, I can be emotional but it's not like I’m crazy. I could be tough with the Westerners, I mean it's not like I'm such a piece of cake. Another thing I had with the Westerners which wasn’t really appreciated is that I came to them as an equal, to preach what they preach - but they don't always want to practice what they preach. When a small country comes to their table and talks to them like an equal they don’t always appreciate it, they think you’re getting ahead of yourself. It's obvious. Now I know it; back then I thought this is my world, here we are equals. The Americans are usually more tolerant of this, but I remember, for example, how the Obama administration reacted when we said Georgia would block Russia’s entry to the World Trade Organization. They couldn’t believe it. Continued on page 6


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 16 - 19, 2019

Huawei Unveils its New Operating System HarmonyOS

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n August 9, at the Developer Conference, HUAWEI launched a new microkernel-based HarmonyOS operating system, which is an open platform for any device, designed to ensure maximum comfort for users in all scenarios. At the conference, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's Consumer Business Group, spoke about the new initiative: "We're entering a day and age where people expect a holistic intelligent experience across all devices and scenarios. To support this, we felt it was important to have an operating system with improved cross-platform capabilities. We needed an OS that supports all scenarios, that can be used across a broad range of devices and platforms, and that can meet consumer demand for low latency and strong security." Richard Yu stated that the HarmonyOS is completely different from Android and iOS, a microkernel-based, distributed OS that delivers a smooth experience across all scenarios. It has trustworthy and secure architecture, and it supports seamless collaboration across devices. You can develop your apps once, then flexibly deploy them across a range of different devices. HarmonyOS has 4 distinct technical features. It is a seamless, smooth, secure and unified system. HarmonyOS is the first ever operating system with distributed, secure and trustworthy architecture, offering a unique experience to consumers: Seamless - By adopting distributed architecture and distributed virtual bus technology, HarmonyOS offers a shared communications platform, distributed data management and distributed task scheduling. With HarmonyOS, app developers won't have to deal with the underlying technology for distributed apps. Apps built on HarmonyOS can run on different devices while delivering a seamless, collaborative experience across all scenarios. Smooth - HarmonyOS will address underperformance challenges with a Deterministic Latency

Engine and high-performance Inter Process Communication (IPC). The Deterministic Latency Engine sets task execution priorities and time limits for scheduling in advance. The microkernel can make IPC performance up to five times more efficient than existing systems. Secure – Microkernel architecture makes new HUAWEI operating system more trustworthy and secure. Based on microkernel architecture. This microkernel was designed to simplify kernel functions, implement as many system services as possible in user mode outside the kernel, and add mutual security protection. The microkernel itself provides only the most basic services like thread scheduling and IPC. HarmonyOS is the first ever OS system, using formal verification methods to reshape security and trustworthiness from the ground up in a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE).

Unified - Multi-device IDE allows apps to be developed once and deployed across multiple devices. Powered by a multi-device IDE, multilanguage unified compilation, and a distributed architecture kit, HarmonyOS can automatically adapt to different screen layout controls and interactions, allowing developers to more efficiently build apps that run on multiple devices. With a multi-device IDE, developers can code their apps once and deploy them across multiple devices, creating a tightly integrated ecosystem across all user devices. Traditionally, new operating systems are released alongside new types of devices. As early as 10 years ago, Huawei presented a future vision, where intelligence would seamlessly integrate with all aspects of our lives. Therefore, it began exploring how it might deliver this experience and launched the HarmonyOS. HarmonyOS is a lightweight, compact

operating system with powerful functionality, and it will first be used for smart devices like smart watches, smart screens, in-vehicle systems, and smart speakers. The success of the HarmonyOS will depend on a dynamic ecosystem of apps and developers. To encourage broader adoption, Huawei will release the HarmonyOS as an open-source platform, worldwide. Huawei will also establish an open-source foundation and an open-source community to support more in-depth collaboration with developers. The HarmonyOS will bring new benefits to consumers, a cohesive and powerful intelligent experience across all aspects of their lives. For equipment vendors, it will help them gain a first-mover advantage in the age of holistic intelligece, where 5G, AI, and IoT will see explosive growth. At the same time, the HarmonyOS will enable developers to win over more users with less investment, and rapidly innovate services across all scenarios. “We believe the HarmonyOS will revitalize the industry and enrich the ecosystem,” stated Richard Yu. “Our goal is to bring people a truly engaging and diverse experience. We want to invite developers from around the world to join us as we build out this new ecosystem. Together, we will deliver an intelligent experience for consumers everywhere.” HUAWEI products and services are available in more than 170 countries and are used by a third of the world's population. There are 16 research and development centers operating worldwide in the USA, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India and China. HUAWEI Consumer BG is one of three business units of HUAWEI, mainly focusing on the production of smartphones, personal computers, tablets and cloud services. The HUAWEI Global Network is based on 20 years of experience in the telecommunications business and serves to the production of innovative technologies to customers around the world.

"I Should Have Shouted Louder" - Saakashvili on 2008 War, Part 2 Continued from page 4

WE HEARD YOUR GOVERNMENT WENT TO WESTERN NEO-CONS ASKING THEM HOW MUCH THEY COULD COUNT ON THE US IN THE EVENT OF WAR. We never said the war would happen, we’d say, ‘Russia is attacking us’ and be told ‘Russia will never attack you, don't worry’. They had the vision that it's still a new world where nothing happens without America knowing and running it; so, there is no way Russia can try to change the world, they’d say. George Bush told me when he was in Tbilisi in 2005, ‘Misha, how does it feel now that you can tell Putin, I’m next to this big guy, come and get me?’ That was his way of saying, from now on you are under my protection. He was cocky, Bush… But even Americans didn’t appreciate it when during the war I spoke with Bush and then Condi came and said it was the worse press conference in her life, when I basically accused the West of appeasement. She was very unhappy, not that she could argue with anything I said. I felt it was my last big moment to speak out when the world media was listening, and I wanted it to be remembered. And I was right because it continued in Crimea.

DID THEY GIVE GEORGIA ASSURANCES THAT IF THE WAR DID BREAK OUT, THEY’D BE ON YOUR SIDE? No, nobody ever gave such assurance and we would never discuss it, discussing this was already taboo. You don't discuss things based on “ifs” - asking them such a question would be a huge provocation. It's an absolute Russian and leftist Americans myth. Of course, I said, ‘What happens if they attack?’ But I asked these questions to Condi Rice, to others and they said no, they are not going to attack. In her book she twisted things and says, ‘I warned Saakashvili not to dabble’ – that’s not true. She told the story in a way that would fit her narrative; at that table there were about 20 people present, wit-

nesses can confirm it. She was saying don't get provoked. Ok Condi, we won't get provoked but what if they attack us? ‘They're not going to attack you, don't do anything.’ That’s how the conversation went.

DON'T DO ANYTHING – THAT COULD BE CONSTRUED AS A WARNING, RIGHT? You don't get provoked and they won't do anything, and I said, ‘What if they go beyond provocation and attack us, what do we do? What is your red line?’ ‘They won't do it, don’t worry,’ she answered; I said, ‘What's the red line when America will do something?’ They said, ‘Don't worry, they won't do it.’ And during that conversation she said, ‘Misha, we never really recognized how high the stakes are for the Russians and they're much higher than we have in this region, that's what they’re exploiting.’

AT WHAT POINT DID YOU REALIZE THAT WAR WITH RUSSIA WAS INEVITABLE? It was already a very dangerous situation in May that year. Not earlier; earlier Putin menaced me, but I took it as a diplomatic game, akin to blackmail tactics. But then [Putin] told me straight to my face that there was a plan to attack Georgia militarily, and I remember Andrey Ilarioniov, his former advisor, also told me in 2007 in Lithuania. And Putin in February 2008 said ‘you will have a little pain but you won't suffer too much.’ But May was the crucial point when they started to bring troops into Abkhazia, racking up infrastructure in a hasty way and then we started to really panic, because these things were happening. That's when I decided to send this letter to the Russians offering them some kind of arrangement in Abkhazia because, again, we thought that they're all about Abkhazia and that offered us something, some solution just short of out-and-out war. Check out Part 3 in the next issue.


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8

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 16 - 19, 2019

Forest Fires in Georgia: CENN Creates Geo Statistic Database of Forest Fires ground are abundant, which, as a result of direct sunlight, can ignite and lead to fires spreading.

ASSESSMENT OF FIRE-AFFECTED AREA – KVEMO KARTLI According to the research conducted in Kvemo Kartli region, the March 2008 fire damaged about 428 ha of land. The area was covered with deciduous species, mainly Georgian Oak. The main reason for the fire was human negligence.

ASSESSMENT OF FIRE-AFFECTED AREA – MTSKHETA-MTIANETI In April 2012, a fire in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region damaged about 16 ha of land. Deciduous species were burnt in the area and while most of the tree species survived, the vegetation cover was destroyed.

ASSESSMENT OF FIREAFFECTED AREA – KAKHETI The March 2008 fire damaged about 60 hectares of land covered with deciduous species in Georgia’s Kakheti region. The study shows that in both cases, the fires were of low origin and in some parts of the forest they became higher as a result of dried trees providing fuel to the flames.

ANALYSIS OF FIRE IMPACT ON THE GEOLOGICAL ENVIRONMENT

BY ANA DUMBADZE

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orest fires are a global hazard that can result in enormous environmental damage and economic losses and which continue to present a major risk in many countries, including Georgia. In Georgia, forest fires damage hundreds of hectares of forest almost every year, and so the creation of a comprehensive and accurate database on fires, providing information on fire sites and their impact on the environment, was seen as essential. CENN, a non-governmental organization working to protect the environment by fostering sustainable development throughout the South Caucasus, has created the Geo Statistic Database of Forest

Fires. The research conducted by CENN was aimed at identifying the locations where wildfires have occurred since 2001, giving various agencies, NGOs and universities in Georgia the opportunity to conduct further studies in the mentioned direction and reduce the risks of wildfires in future. The creation of the Geo Statistic Database of Forest Fires was implemented, by CENN in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection and the World Resources Institute within the framework of the project Global Forest Watch (GFW) Georgia, funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). The information was processed in a geographic information system (GIS), for which the following sources were used: • Satellite data on plant growth decline • ESA satellite photos

• NASA (MODIS and VIRIS) heat sensor • Google satellite images • Various media platforms As a result of analyzing the information bases and processing satellite data, the area of each wildfire and date of fire occurrence (year, month, number) were identified, and throughout Georgia, burnt vegetation cover was classified into the following: Fires in the field; Fires on agricultural land; Fires in the forest; Tree species growing in the area of wildfire. According to the processed data, forest fires in Georgia occur intensively and harm biodiversity, human beings, and the country's economy. The study conducted by CENN shows that in most cases, forest fires are caused by human involvement, such as summer holidaymakers picnicking in the woods and starting campfires which then spread to trees rapidly.

A study of the distribution of forest fires in Georgia shows that the areas of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, MtskhetaMtianeti, Kvemo Kartli, Kakheti and Guria were affected by frequent fires, which constitutes 88.3% of total forest fires in Georgia. There is also a relatively small territory affected by fires in the Ajara, Racha-Lechkhumi, Kvemo Svaneti and Abkhazia regions of Georgia. The study identified fire sites and the impact of fires on the environment throughout Georgia revealed that since 2001, forest fires have occurred at the following locations: Kakheti, MtskhetaMtianeti, Kvemo Kartli, Tabatskuri Lake, Vashlovani, Atskuri, Chobiskhevi, and Sadgeri. Accordingly, the relevant conclusions and reports were prepared. Based on data obtained from NASA satellites (Modis and Viris), fire-affected areas were identified, from which several sites were selected to conduct field surveys by the relevant specialists (geologists and foresters).

ASSESSMENT OF FIRE-AFFECTED AREA – SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI According to the research conducted in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia, the fire which occurred in the surroundings of the village Atskuri in August 2010 damaged approximately 268 hectares of forest. The area was covered with coniferous species, mostly spruce. In the ninth year since the fire, a natural renewal of trees has been identified, however the coniferous species in the area were replaced with deciduous groves. On June 29, 2019, a working trip was conducted out in the village of Chobiskhevi, in the fire-affected area adjacent to "Crane Lake", where, in 2009, three hectares of forest was damaged by fire. Considering the existence of natural lakes in the area, the place is an attractive one for holidaymakers and it is likely that the fire was manly caused by human negligence. Dropping a single cigarette in the grass or lighting a campfire in an inappropriate location are both major cause of starting fires. Autumn and spring are also associated with fires, as dry leaves and grass on the

An analysis of the impact of the fires on the geological environment and the results of damaged forest on geodynamic processes was carried out in the Akhmeta and Tianeti municipalities of the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region. The reports prepared by geologists and images captured by drone in both cases show that landslides occurred in the mentioned areas in the aftermath of fires. Landsides had not been reported in any research conducted by various agencies prior to the fires. Forest cover has the function of controlling the atmospheric precipitation and subsequent evaporation which contributes to soil moisture: vegetation absorbs sunlight more effectively than bare soil. After the loss of forest and vegetation cover, much of the water that was to be evaporated from the leaves fell into the soil, which accelerated the process of erosion and contributed to the risks of landslide. Based on the above information, it can be assumed that the development of the landslide processes and their subsequent acceleration were caused by the fires. According to the report, the causes of fire vary and, in most cases, come as the result of human negligence. As such, any preventive measure will be ineffective unless people themselves start to focus on protecting the environment.

Specialists working on the study give a few essential recommendations to reduce the risk of starting a fire: Do not drop lit cigarettes; Do not leave a campfire burning in the woods; Do not burn grass or rubbish in the street, in the fields and in the vicinity of woodland; Do not light a fire near woodland, dried grass or wood; Do not leave garbage in the woods as there is a danger of self-ignition. If you are caught in a fire, cover your face and hands with a wet towel or cloth until the fire is completely extinguished; additionally, head to the nearest river, lake or spring.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 16 - 19, 2019

Pitching Right In: Etseri, Svaneti

BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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o be honest, it’s time my wife had a good holiday. Away from the stresses and multiple roles of guest house and shop. I do all I can to help, but she goes above and beyond. Knowing this, we put out a call for volunteer helpers some months ago. This was answered by friends of mine from my area of Canada, just west of Edmonton. Enter John and Roth Pohl! The live on an acreage outside Spruce Grove, and are well acquainted with small-scale farming; so our multi-flavored garden is no surprise and also quite useful for them. Ruth handles most of the cooking and cleaning, and John has proved most indispensable in handywork. Simply having his extra pair of hands around, not to mention the experience

that comes with 76 years while maintaining good health, means that there are numerous projects we can tackle together which were impossible for me alone. (Ruth is also “around retirement age” but has enough energy to tackle all we need.) Lali is away on village infrastructure training for the week in Mestia, so this is a trial run for the Pohls before we leave it to them for the Black Sea coast and maybe Tusheti too. We’ve replaced the scary-looking and weak back fence near the barn, along with the ramp up to its 2nd floor, which was rotting and getting dangerous to walk on. Cows will exploit any perceived weakness and break in to where “the grass is greener.” We’ve made a wood plank floor for the covered gazebo outside. He’s added a small step landing off the small garage door, replacing 2 cement bricks which were serving this role somewhat precariously. We gave one of the young apple trees a whole new protective enclosure to accommodate its

larger size and future growth. And now he’s making a new set of steps, much stronger than the rickety old ones, outside our personal entrance to the house. Most useful, indeed. Last night and this morning we had our first big guest run, 14 from the Czech Republic, led and guided by an old friend of Lali’s and mine from our early years teaching English in Mestia. That went smoothly enough, supper, sleep and breakfast; now they’re on their way hiking up to Mazeri, the top of Becho, with small backpacks on and larger ones being transported to their next night’s stop there by car. They left more than satisfied, and we are dealing with the laundering and replacing of all that bedding, plus the washing up and cleaning to prepare for tomorrow’s group of 7. Such is our two-month busy season in Hanmer Guest House: nearly every day a booking, plus the unexpected walk-ins. We also hosted a family of four from Austria last night, but they were in tents in the garden and self-serving food-wise as the house was already full. We try to cater for every budget, from tents to 1, 2 or 3 meals to cooking for oneself in the separate kitchen upstairs. The Pohls are well travelled, from Afghanistan to Zambia, but the beauty of our mountains apparently surpasses that of the Rockies for them. We are very glad to have them helping to such a degree while we slip away and relax; a neighbor girl will run the shop, which needs Georgian, a few hours a day too. Strength to them! 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

CULTURE

A Story of Mars Landing: Thirty Seconds to Mars at Black Sea Arena REVIEW BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZDE

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Mars landing is the landing of a spacecraft on the surface of Mars. Official data reports that, of many attempted Mars landings by robotic or unmanned spacecraft, eight have been successful... On August 13, Georgia was the witness of the ninth successful “Mars Landing” as Thirty Seconds to Mars appeared on the stage of the Black Sea Arena. It is impossible to put a finger on one reason the performance of the Leto siblings was so memorable. It could have been Jared Leto’s famous iconic look, or Shannon’s loud drumming talent, or the ‘whoa oh’ chants that united every single person in the venue, or the light crew’s amazing work, or the balloons and the confetti that were the backgrounder of the concert in a very Thirty Seconds to Mars style, or the perfect combination of respect of and expected manipulation with Georgian patriotism when Jared Leto waved a big Georgian flag, or the crowd itself – cheering, singing along to each word of every song, clearly enjoying every second of the show from the Oscar-winning actor and his talented, underappreciated brother. It could have been all of them. When evaluating the outcomes of the Thirty Seconds to Mars’s concert, Exec-

Image source: Black Sea Arena

utive Director of Black Sea Arena, Tato Kharchilava talked briefly about the Georgian-flag-waving-in-the-hands-ofan-international-superstar incident, calling it a “surreal feeling.” And though it is a classic Leto move to do so during his concerts, the sight actually brought the audience Closer to the Edge. Despite the shining looks, the lead singer was very approachable – constantly conversing with the crowd, hav-

ing them sing along and bringing numerous fans to the stage. Leto expressed his affection for Georgia, saying: “Amazing venue. Amazing people. Amazing nature. Amazing food. What’s not to love about Georgia?” What’s more, the international superstar vowed to the audience that the performance would not be their last in Georgia. He apologized, saying “we should have come here 10 years ago.” Incidentally, during the years 2009-2012 the band was at its peak in Georgia. Many of those gathered have been followers of the Leto brothers’ musical project since then, this author included. Mariam, an excited fan, shared her sentiments with GEORGIA TODAY, saying: “I have been dreaming about this day since 2009. I still can’t believe I have seen them live. I am forever grateful to Black Sea Arena for finally making it happen.” The Thirty to Seconds Mars show brought other benefits, and Executive Director of Black Sea Arena, Tato Kharchilava, told press that the concert had a high foreign attendence. “According to the most recent data, this concert sold a record number of tickets to foreigners.” Inarguably, that follows up the Spend Your Summer in Georgia campaign. The Black Sea Arena event gave Georgia an unforgettable performance from Thirty Seconds to Mars, a rise in the tourist sector and an alternative of David Bowie’s lyrics to Life on Mars: “We’re in the best selling show. There is a life on Mars.”

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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 16 - 19, 2019

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 04 56 Festival Verdi in Georgia August 16 "UN BALLO IN MASCHERA" Giuseppe Verdi Teatro Regio di Parma Production Music Director of the production: Zaza Azmaiparashvili Director, Scenographer, Costume Designer: Pierluigi Samaritani Starring: Otar Jorjikia (Riccardo), Makvala Aspanidze (Amelia), Sulkhan Gvelesiani (Renato), Nana Dzidziguri (Ulrica), Mariana Beridze (Oscar), Vano Galuashvili (Silvano) Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 15-200 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’.

Until September 8 The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Japan in Georgia present Japanese CALLIGRAPHY MASTER KOSHU'S (AKEMI LUCAS) EXHIBITION "ECHO" Koshu took part in "Tokugawa and the Masters," part of which was hosted by the Georgian National Museum in October 2018. Koshu says her first visit to Signagi filled her heart with love and this is reflected in her subsequent works. "I hope my love for Georgia, poured into my artwork, is reflected and resonates in people's hearts, rippling out and leaving an echo for the future," she says. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 Until September 10 The Georgian National Museum within the project "Contemporary Art Gallery" presents VAKHO BUGADZE'S EXHIBITION: ‘THREE, FOUR" Together with Vakho Bughadze are artists Gogi Okropiridze and Katrin Bolt. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors, where visitors can see documentaries of various historical events. The exhibition also includes one of the train carriages in which the participants of the national uprising of 1924 were executed. It is also dedicated to the history of the antioccupational, national-liberation movement of Georgia and to the victims of the Soviet political repression throughout this period. 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 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 CINEMA

TBILISI HILLS GOLF & RESIDENCES ISANI-SAMGORI DISTR. August 17 LA LA LAND Taste hot, cold and alcoholic drinks made by our professional bartenders and feel the fresh air in the middle of nature Language: English Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20 GEL August 22 INCEPTION Language: English Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20 GEL MUSIC

GEORGIAN FOLK SHOW 10 Rustaveli Ave. Every Tuesday, Friday, Sunday The first full and systematic folk show made for tourists. Tourists in Georgia can visit all the Georgian regions in just one hour through our renowned folklore. Start time: 20:00 Tickets: 40 GEL FOLKLORE CONCERTS FOR TOURISTS Sanapiro Str. Bldg 2. Every Sunday August 18 Folklore Evenings of ensemble EGARI Offering folklore events to popularize Georgian folk music among tourists, the concerts present songs, trisagions, instrumental music, dance, and urban folklore from different parts of Georgia, as well as ethnojazz music. Guest can hear live polyphony and a diversity of instruments (Salamuri, Panduri, Chonguri, Chiboni, Doli). Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50 GEL

CANUDOS LOUNGE & CLUB 1 Lech and mAria Kaszinski Str. August 16 PANCHO & TIKA JAMBURIA Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20 GEL MUSIC FESTIVAL ROKVA Shovi, Racha August 17 This year’s project - MAGIC MOUNTAIN/SHOVI is dedicated to Georgian artists; besides music, there will be an exhibition-sale of products by local entrepreneurs, a photoexhibition, a workshop by Tornike Skhiereli on Rachan Folklore, and installations by “Arteli Racha”. LINE UP: EL Acoustic: Kiknadze/ Gabadze/Sakvarelidze / Project TJ / Lasha Pertsuliani / Buba Main Stage: Mokumoku / Band “Ara” / Dagdagani / Killages / On The Road / Dode / Lekso Ratiani Night Stage: Yanamaste / OTHR / A. Tabukashvili Start time: 15:00 Ticket: 10 GEL BAKHMARO SUNSET FEST Bakhmaro August 19 First modern music festival in Bakhmaro, 2100 meters above sea level, an event which cannot be missed by anyone who likes music and mountains. LINE UP: Bedford Falls, LOUDspeakers, Kordz & Dro, Pitter J, LUA, Anushka Chkheidze, Kraumur Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 35-60 GEL BLUES FESTIVAL Lagodekhi August 17 RUSS GREEN, JIMMY BURNS, BLUES TRIO Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 15-40 GEL AJARA

BLACK SEA ARENA Shekvetili August 17 JANSUGH AND VAKHTANG KAKHIDZE’S MUSICAL EVENING In the first part of the concert, Jansugh Kakhidze’s most iconic songs of all time will be performed. In the second part, the compositions created for film and theater by Vakhtang Kakhidze, including his folk jazz compositions, will be performed. Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20-80 GEL BATUMI STATE MUSICAL CENTER 1 O. Dimitriadis Str. August 17 BUBA KIKABIDZE 81ST ANNIVERSARY Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 50-100 GEL August 19 GEORGIAN VOICES Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-30 GEL BATUMI TENNIS CLUB Batumi Boulevard August 16 STEPHANE/LIVE/BRASS/ PHILARMONIC STRINGS/ NIKOLOZ RACHVELI Special guests: Dro, Maia Darsmelidze, Erekle Deisadze DJ set: Cosmic Love Rotation Visuals: Masterskey Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL August 17 NIAZ DIASAMIDZE & 33A Bands: Frani and Regioni Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20 GEL

CASTELLO MARE HOTEL & WELLNESS RESORT Tsikhisdziri August 17 CAFE DEL MAR BATUMI OFFICIAL PRESENTATION Special for this evening is invited Dj Meme (Brazil), top House music icon, who is preparing unforgettable Dj live set and music for listener Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 50-320 GEL BATUMI SUMMER THEATER Batumi Boulevard August 17 The Royal National Ballet Presents: FIRE OF GEORGIAN DANCE Artistic Directors: Gela Potskhishvili and Maia Kiknadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-40 GEL SOHO BATUMI Seafront Promenade, Batumi August 17 UTSNOBI Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL August 21 NINO KATAMADZE Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL SECTOR 26 Seafront Promenade August 21 ANJA SCHNEIDER AT SECTOR 26 Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 40 GEL UP2YOU Seafront Promenade August 16 SALIO Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20 GEL August 17 SUPER FLU Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL August 18 DEBORAH DE LUCA Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 40-100 GEL August 19 AGORIA Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 40-100 GEL August 20 KORDZ & DRO Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20 GEL BATUMGORA Cable car Argo FOLKLORE SHOWS EVERY DAY All summer long, enjoy traditional folk shows every day from 8 pm. Enjoy UNESCO recognized traditional folk dances and songs, Georgian drum shows and master classes in dancing 250 meters above sea level. Start time: 20:00 KOBULETI PINEWOOD Kobuleti August 16, 17 GR-FEST Line up: Marcus suckut, Altrd Being, Boid Schidt, Orim, Zapa, Gio Dalakishvili, Levan murghulia, Ryuu, Kavel Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 16 - 19, 2019

11

New Bronze Age Archeological Finds Unearthed BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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his week, a team of international archaeologists led by the Georgian National Museum made a significant new discovery at the RabatiChobareti site in the village of Dzveli, in the Aspindza Municipality. Dzveli (often transliterated as Zveli in international publications) and its neighboring village Chobareti are located in the south-central part of Georgia, near the border with Turkey. The area has been the site of archeological research for the last several years as part of a field school for Georgian archeology students, partners from the University of Melbourne, and researchers from France and the UK. The work is supported by the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation. The latest discovery at the site is a group of what researchers are calling “powerful buildings” that date from the early Bronze Age, of a type and style “not [previously] found within the Caucasus region.” The archeologists believe that they have uncovered burial sites and mounds, platforms or daises with carved figures of animals, and “other artifacts of ritual

design,” that have “no analogues across the region,” explains a statement released by the Georgian National Museum. The find is thought to date back approximately 5000 years, to as early as the 30th century BC. For reference, around 3000 BC, it is believed that construction on Stonehenge in England began, and early agriculture took root in North Africa. Scientists believe that the Rabati site was home to a significant, continuous settlement in the early Bronze Age, from around 3000 BC well into the Medieval period. Artifacts from later periods have also been unearthed, including clay animal figures and pottery circa 2000 BC, and figures thought to mark aristocracy, which have given researchers “an entirely new impression” about the area’s history and the ancient inhabitants of the land that would become Georgia. The site, says the Georgian National Museum, opens a window into early human adaptation to the Caucasus environment and the development of societies from ancient history. The discoveries at the Rabati settlement contribute significantly to increasing awareness of Georgian archaeological sites in the scientific community, as well as better positioning the Georgian National Museum as a leading scientific institution on the world stage. There are several publications from

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GEORGIA TODAY

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international scientific teams detailing the work done so far at the Rabati site in southern Georgia, including a 2013 paper (Kakhiani, et al.) that revealed the discovery of a Kura-Araxes settlement and burials, and a late Antique/Medieval stronghold. That paper also emphasizes

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

the relative lack of excavation in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region, particularly compared to the neighboring Kvemo Kartli region, “boasting such prominent attractions as the hominid site of Dmanisi, the cluster of Neolithic settlements in the vicinity of Marneuli, and the rich

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barrow burials in the neighborhood of Trialeti.” The team plans to continue working to carefully excavate the site and hopes to discover more specific details about the community that inhabited the Rabati site for centuries.

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1177  

August 16 - 19, 2019

Issue #1177  

August 16 - 19, 2019

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