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Issue no: 1101

• NOVEMBER 16 - 19, 2018


In this week’s issue...


Ruling GD Distrusts Edison Research Pre-Election Survey Results


The 21st Georgian International Festival of Arts in Tbilisi closes with Hofesh Shechter. Tickets: www.biletebi.ge




Controversy: Christina Pushaw on the Elections POLITICS PAGE 4

Re-Doing Justice

Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities:

Setting the Record Straight on Protests & New Year’s Decorations POLITICS PAGE 5


Treatment for Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer to be Available from 2019


ach week, the municipal government of Tbilisi holds a meeting at City Hall. Preceding this week’s meetings, Mayor Kakha Kaladze remarked on several topics of interest. "I want to address the population,” the Mayor opened, “we are ready to serve you. Have faith in us. We will do our best to make tomorrow’s Tbilisi better: more convenient and well-managed infrastructure, many green spaces, and ecologically clean, organized public transport. Every one of us will give their maximum effort, together with the inhabitants of our city, to this end.” Kaladze then addressed the ongoing protests by Zaza Saralidze and Malkhaz Machalikashvili in front of the old parliament on Rustaveli Avenue. The protests escalated earlier this week when City Hall wrote a letter to the protesters asking them to vacate the area by December 15 so the city could set up the annual Christmas tree. Kaladze insisted that Tbilisi City Hall is not prohibiting the protesters from setting up tents, and that City Hall’s actions were in line with the law and noted that they subsequently publicized all the documents to ensure society was properly informed. He called out the “slanderous propaganda” against


Georgian Passengers Stranded in Milan Reveal Big Wizz Air Fail SOCIETY PAGE 8

Image source: Tbilisi City Hall

him, saying that claims that he and his staff were restricting expressions of protest on Rustaveli Avenue were “a very big lie.” He explained that he first received a letter from Saralidze in early November informing City Hall that they planned to continue the protest until December 31, and City Hall answered three days later with the December 15 deadline. He continued into an angry speech, blaming opposition media for stirring the pot before the runoff elections later this month. "For me, personally, and for our team, human dignity, human rights and freedom of expression, are the most important values, the protec-

tion of which will always be a priority [for us] among Georgian society,” Kaladze finished. Moving on, Kaladze drew attention to a meeting held earlier in the week with commercial banks on the topic of green initiatives. “I am very pleased that during the meeting, representatives from banks expressed their readiness to participate in the implementation of projects planned within the Green Tbilisi initiative in various forms. In the near future, the banks plan a complete replacement of their vehicle fleets with electric and hybrid cars,” Kaladze said. Continued on page 2




NOVEMBER 16 - 19, 2018

Ruling GD Distrusts Edison Research PreElection Survey Results BY THEA MORRISON


he Georgian Dream (GD) ruling party says they do not trust the results of the survey, conducted by the market research and exit polling company Edison Research, ahead the runoff of the October 28 Presidential Elections of Georgia. The survey was commissioned by the opposition-minded Rustavi 2 TV. It was conducted on November 1-9 and includes interviews with 2000 respondents over the age of 18. The results, published by Rustavi 2, read that the majority of the interviewed people would vote for the candidate of the United Opposition, Grigol Vahsadze – 38%, and 34% for the GD-backed candidate, Salome Zurabishvili. 18% of the respondents stated they have not yet

decided who to vote for. As a result of the full allocation, Rustavi2 reported the results were as follows: Grigol Vashadze - 56%; Salome Zurabishvili - 44%. The organization also asked the respondents who they voted for in the first round of elections. The answers were: Salome Zurabishvili - 34%; Grigol Vashadze - 33%; David Bakradze - 8%; other candidates - 5%; No-one - 3%; Refused to answer - 17%. Rustavi 2 released the results of an Edison Research poll on October 4, according to which Grigol Vashadze's rating was 22% and Salome Zurabishvili - 15%. However, after the first round, Zurabishvili got 38% and Vashadze 37% of votes. Zurabishvili does not trust the research of the international organization and states that she had no expectations from the survey. "I do not expect anything from these

surveys. You should ask those who commission such studies and if the difference is even 30%, it does not matter today," she said. Georgia’s Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, who also leads Zurabishvili’s election headquarters, says that both surveys conducted by the Edison Research mismatch the reality. “We will see what society thinks after the elections, when the final results are announced. The people will make their choice and I want to call on everyone to be active,” he said. Meanwhile Kakha Kaladze, Tbilisi Mayor and Head of Zurabishvili’s election headquarters in the capital, says the surveys of Edison Research are a “big lie and an attempt to mislead the population.” “These polls are a common lie and a manipulation of public opinion. If we look at the past years, the surveys told us one thing but reality after the elections

was always different,” the Mayor stressed. United Opposition candidate Vashadze says the Edison Research poll results revealed that it always makes sense to fight to the end. “As time passes, society is coming to

understand the power of elections. In 2003, people changed the corrupt government and in 2012 they got rid of the authorities who were controlling the State. The same will happen during these elections too,” he said.

Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities:

Setting the Record Straight on Protests & New Year’s Decorations Continued from page 1

He also reminded the population of City Hall’s promise to completely replace city buses with new, cleaner buses by the end of 2019. Next, Kaladze addressed issues concerning the City Hall hotline and tasked

Vice-Mayor Irakli Khmaladze with solving the hotline problems. "There are some problems with the work of the hotline: citizens’ calls are coming and they cannot respond properly. On the one hand, more hotline staff should be added, and on the other hand, we should strengthen the resources of

city services.” Kaladze also noted that hotline operators receive information from city departments and there needs to be better information flow. “A citizen who comes to City Hall should not be standing in a queue or waiting months for a response. This is categorically unacceptable,” Kaladze urged.

Finally, the Mayor drew attention to the city’s preparations for New Year. "We had specific places, parks, squares that were decorated by various companies [last year]. We want this tradition to continue this year. The business community is already active: they want to have different places for the New

Year and we are ready for this,” said Kaladze. The Mayor appealed to all businesses at street level in the city, asking them to decorate their facades for New Year to spread holiday cheer throughout the city. New Year lights have already been installed in some parts of Tbilisi.




European Parliament Adopts Resolution on Georgia BY THEA MORRISON


he European Parliament adopted a draft resolution on November 15 on the implementation of the Association Agreement by Georgia at the plenary session. 528 MEPs supported the document, 97 voted against and 34 abstained. The document welcomes the effective implementation of the visa-free regime for Georgian citizens since 27 March 2017; takes note of Georgia’s compliance with visa liberalization benchmarks and encourages regular monitoring thereof in order to ensure continued compliance. The resolution also recalls with regret that after ten years, Russia still continues its illegal occupation of Georgian territories. The MEPs reiterated their unequivocal support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and emphasized the importance of proactive communication to Georgian citizens about the tangible benefits and goals of the Eastern Partnership. In addition, the European Parliament expresses support for Georgia in its pursuit of a policy of peaceful conflict resolution, reconciliation and engagement and its constructive participation in the Geneva International Discussions; welcomes the Georgian efforts to maintain dialogue with Russia; and praises the initiative entitled ‘A Step to a Better Future’, presented on 4 April 2018 and aimed at improving the humanitarian and socio-economic conditions of pop-

Image source: ecf.com

ulations residing in occupied regions and fostering people-to-people contact and confidence building between divided communities. The MEPs call on the Georgian authorities to continue ensuring stability, further democratic reforms, as well as economic

and social improvements for Georgians who are affected by poverty, unemployment and economic emigration. The European Parliament acknowledges Georgia’s results in fighting low and mid-level corruption leading to a good regional ranking in perception

indexes. Nevertheless, it says that highlevel elite corruption remains a serious issue. “High-level corruption, full independence of the judiciary, the depoliticization of media content, labor and human rights and environmental protection

also remain areas of concern, MEPs stress,” the European Parliament press statement read. Of the 2018 presidential elections in Georgia, the MEPs welcomed the “competitive nature and the absence of cases of violence.” Georgia’s Minister of Economy, Giorgi Kobulia, says the adoption of the resolution means recognition of the progress made by Georgia in recent years. As for the corruption issue, the Minister says the country is actively fighting the existing risks. “This is great support for and recognition of our country in terms of reforms, development and the progress we have made. The most important thing is that it shows we have a greater future and potential,” he said. Davit Sergeenko, Minister of IDPs, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia also commented on the issue. He says the country fully fulfills the responsibilities and requirements under the Association Agreement with the EU. “Georgia is one of the leading countries on its way to the EU and the EU expresses not only political support but also a readiness to provide financial support to our State,” the Minister said. Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze also thanked the MEPs before the voting. “I am proud that the government's efforts have received an unprecedented positive evaluation from the European Parliament, and that Georgia was described as the most successful country in terms of Euro-integration,” the PM said.




NOVEMBER 16 - 19, 2018



My point was that I don't think it's fair to imply that Vashadze can be working in Russian interests when this was his legacy as Foreign Minister: constantly raising awareness, drawing international attention to the occupations and pushing for them not to be recognized.

If it's proven that Ivanishvili was working as a foreign agent for Russia, then yes, but I don't know enough about how he came to power to say. I heard this recording with Naryshkin, and find the Georgian side making this negotiation really suspicious. Russia is still at war with Georgia, so what possible reason would there be for such a conversation regarding Georgian domestic politics? But I’m not personally going to say that Ivanishvili should be in jail or that he should be exiled; I don't think anyone can say that and I don't think Misha is going to be in an official position to put anyone in jail because he's not the government- I mean, he would return as a private citizen but, again, I'm not speaking for him directly; this is my analysis of the situation and I do think more investigation is needed into this conversation and into possible collaboration between the Russian government and Georgian Dream, because the Russian side has also talked about their role in the Georgian elections.

HIS OPPONENTS SAY THAT IF HE WERE PRESIDENT, IT WOULD PAVE THE WAY FOR SAAKASVHILI’S RETURN. That’s an oversimplification, but his ultimate mission, like Saakashvili’s, is to make Georgia independent from Russia to the extent possible, to bring it closer to NATO and to strengthen bilateral ties with the US. Saakashvili has always championed the same causes and so I think bringing Saakashvili back is not an end in itself: the end is Georgia's path to the West.



s she, as her critics claim, a lobbyist for ex-President Saakashvili? What’s her main motivation when it comes to Georgia? Why does she consider Zurabishvili the “biggest threat for Georgia since Putin”? Does she see Saakashvili returning and if so, what would that spell for the current government? Political consultant Christina Pushaw sat down with GEORGIA TODAY to share her insights on the elections.

IT’S FAIR TO SAY THAT YOUR VISIT GOT QUITE A PUBLIC REACTION. SO, WHY ARE YOU HERE? I was surprised by the amount of attention my visit got, especially on social media. I’ve been in Georgia many, many times before and I actually lived here for two years. I came here to mark the establishment of the western platform initiative: it’s a platform that unites 16 NGOs that support Georgia’s western development and its democratic path.

YOU DON’T HIDE YOUR ALIGNMENT WITH THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT. TELL US ABOUT IT. It’s not formal. I’m not paid by anybody. I happen to share the vision of [ex-] President Saakashvili when it comes to Georgia’s democratic, western development. I think what he did is unprecedented in the whole post-Soviet space. But the platform isn’t connected to his party, if that’s what you’re asking.

YOU ONCE SAID HE WAS THE BOLIVAR OF EASTERN EUROPE. The reason I compared him to Simon Bolivar is because he has been politically active in two countries. I don't think you can compare anyone else among the Eastern European politicians of today to Saakashvili in this way, simply because he has deep connections with Ukraine, far beyond political: even his educational background, his compulsory military service and then his work in Georgia. What he did has even been recommended by our Congress in the Helsinki Commission as a model for reforms in Ukraine.

YOU CAN HARDLY SAY THAT SAAKASHVILI’S UKRAINIAN ADVENTURE WAS SUCCESSFUL. That's your opinion, and it depends how you measure success. Of course, he wasn't successful in winning office, but there was already a lot of popular discontent and he acted as a lightning rod to consolidate this discontent; to give a voice

to many people who were angry with the government, angry with the corruption in Ukraine. They didn't feel they had a person who was willing and ready to speak out and risk everything, risk prison, deportation, intimidation, everything, risk his reputation on the world stage but Saakashvili did it. It's not just about political ambitions or about holding office, it's about starting a movement.

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A LOBBYIST OF SAAKASHVILI? No. I'm very open about my support for him, not unlike many of the lobbyists who did not register with FARA and tried to conceal their affiliations and their payments; I am not getting paid and I'm not concealing who I support.

IS BEING PAID A DECISIVE FACTOR? No, and I know people who were lobbying for the current government without getting paid, though still registered with FARA as lobbyists, but the reason I’m a little bit different and not technically considered a lobbyist under this law is because I'm not working for anyone who's running for office in Georgia or who is holding office in Georgia or any foreign country.

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THE ELECTIONS? I support Vashadze based on the fact that I've talked to him. He's given me three specific points that I completely agree with in his platform, mostly with regards to foreign policy and relations with the West, because that is my primary concern when it comes to Georgia, being a foreigner myself: he is strongly supportive of Georgia's closer bilateral ties with the United States, particularly in the strategic military area. He generally supports Georgia's pro-western path, if we can call it that, the path towards closer ties with NATO and Europe, and this is something that I have always supported as it's in my country's interests as well. But like many people in this country, I'm more against Salome than I'm for anyone because I think Salome is one of the biggest threats to this country since Putin.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT? Because, although the President's Office by your constitution has pretty limited power, the President is still an important public face of Georgia in the rest of the world, so if you have somebody who is repeating the Russian state TVs official narrative about the conflict in Georgia in 2008, when you know Russian interests already pushed this narrative, Georgia must push its own side of the story because it was already being drowned out by the Russian lobby. If you have a Georgian agreeing with this, it is danger-

ous for your country's public standing in the world. You have court cases in international courts about this conflict and they will use her words against your country and against everyone in this country. Vashadze supports exactly the opposite and foreign policy than her and this is one big reason I'm on his side.

VASHADZE’S OPPONENTS BRING UP CONTROVERSIES ABOUT HIS RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA, THAT HE WAS EDUCATED IN RUSSIA, HE WAS A RUSSIAN CITIZEN AND MAINTAINED CLOSE RELATIONS EVEN AFTER THE 2008 WAR. I don't believe in this guilt by association, that because you went to university in Russia you must be a Russian agent, because that would eliminate most of the political class in the world. I don't like to speculate about the past when I know what their positions are today. In my understanding, Vashadze does not hate Russia or Russian people, he defends his country's own interests and he thought to defend Georgia's interests in part through cultural cooperation [NOTE: he wrote to the Kremlin one month after the August 2008 War to set up a Georgian concert].


DO YOU SEE SAAKASHVILI RETURNING? Yes. Nothing is inevitable, but I know how much he wants to return, and I know how much many people in this country want a change, and I do think after six years you learn who the really loyal people are, and I think he’s learned who he can trust and what mistakes he made. He has paid the price and had plenty of time to reflect. If he did come back, as I'm confident he will, then he would likely help usher in a new era for Georgia. His focus is to help Georgia because right now he sees Georgia is in a bad situation. I think many Georgians also see it's in a bad situation, particularly because of [Zurabishvili]. She's not the main reason, but her rhetoric is the catalyst for a lot of popular discontent.

WE SPOKE OF MISTAKES, AND SAAKASHVILI HAS BEEN DOING LOTS OF “MEA CULPAS” LATELY. IS IT TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE? That's for Georgian people to decide. In terms of my interest in Georgia, I see he has always been on the right path and I don't think he's wavered at all from his pro-Western course, seeking closer ties with any US administration. Any politician can make mistakes, any leader who has accomplished as much as he did must have made mistakes. Humility is good and necessary for any politician to stay relevant.


No, I blame Assad. But I do credit Vashadze for ensuring that even some of the most pro-Russian abhorrent leaders in the world would not cross this line.

I don't speak for him, but I can tell you what Vashadze told me when I met with him on this trip, which is that Saakashvili is not interested in revenge, just the opposite: he is interested in moving forward as a country. Being focused on revenge means moving backward, and I think that was a mistake Georgian Dream made when they came to power in the first few years: focusing too much on punishing the previous ruling party and not delivering on the promises they made to the Georgian people. I believe Misha is angry, but I don’t believe he's coming back for revenge: I believe he's coming back to prove that he can still contribute to the future of this country. I think his motivation is to prove wrong all the people who have smeared his name and reputation and to prove he will leave a good legacy in Georgia and will be remembered fondly by his own people and by the world; this is his motivation and this is a certain type of revenge which is the best revenge: living well, doing the right thing.



You need to look at what the Vashadze policy actually was and not speculate about what he wanted to do with Russia. After the war, when he was Foreign Minister, he formed and constantly pushed this pioneering anti-occupation policy, he visited Assad to ensure that Assad would not recognize the Russian occupation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as separate countries. He was the one who was knocking on every door around the world to ensure that these occupations were not recognized.


YOU THINK SAAKASHVILI WOULD RETURN AS A PRIVATE CITIZEN WITH NO POLITICAL ASPIRATIONS? I'm not saying “no political:” he's always going to be associated with politics and he's always going to be a political animal. This is what he was born to do, but he would not be in the government. I know he's interested in the well-being of Georgia, has many ideas for Georgia and would want to promote those ideas and the interests of Georgia. He would find ways to make those visions for this country a reality regardless of whether he was in the government or not, but I can't speak to his specific political ambitions because I'm not him.

WHAT WOULD THE WESTERN REACTION BE IF SAAKASHVILI CAME BACK? It's actually impossible to speak of a “general West” because there are so many disagreements in the West internally, so let me speak from the American perspective. I think the American officials are being very careful not to take any particular sides at such a sensitive time in Georgia's history before the election; but they cannot support Zurabishvili. I think it will set off red flags if she wins, not only because it seems quite unlikely that she could win a free and fair election given the polling numbers right now but also because she has said things that are counter to our interests in this part of the world. So, to the extent that we are between a party which has nominated a candidate that speaks against our interests and somebody who has consistently supported our interests, it's clear who they would support. The narrative is not so cohesive when it comes to Georgia; people don't really know that much about Georgia or focus on the interests which people in the State Department, Pentagon, White House etc have always shared, and not only in the Trump administration but in the previous administrations too. Georgia is a crucial ally in a complicated and difficult part of the world: you have Russia, you have Iran, you have Turkey, with whom we don’t have the best relations right now- and this is making Georgia even more important to us. So, I would say the American Republican Party, Democratic Party they're not talking about Georgia and pushing a narrative on Georgia because we have other things to focus on, but decisionmakers in all branches of government, regardless of their political affiliations, do agree Georgia is an important ally of America.






f Georgia is a democracy, whether full-grown or still maturing, then we will have to live with the unending wrestle between the ruling side of the political process and its opposition. Both of them will be in action and in the limelight for as long as they are politically adequate and professionally reasonable. And the voting electorate will always figure as a helpful tool in their adroit hands for confirming periodically the public consent, allowing the rulers to rule and the opposition to oppose. This is just the nature of a democratically organized society, and we all know that. What we might not be aware of is whether it is all working as it should at this stage of national development. The impression from a foreign perspective like mine, is that all the ingredients of democracy are present. Some elements have gone a little awry, and certain components are being slightly crippled, but this is OK: we are, after all, not yet completely there; we are still crawling towards a better political end. The weirdest physical part of Georgian politics is that we have been trying in the last 30 years to squeeze the course of democratic maturation indoors, but it persists, inexplicably, to stay under open skies. The people’s will in this country is being expressed not within the walls of governmental premises, built and exploited for this particular purpose, but somewhere beyond the structures of all the branches of the system. Why? This question will not take for answer a simplistic grassroots

deliberation. And a solid response will likely need the serious involvement of political science. Nor is a random journalistic effort like this is going to untie the Gordian Knot. The plainest explanation I might suggest is that society’s attitude towards the law enforcement mechanism, which has been ridden by public distrust for a very long time now, particularly in the soviet era whence generic misconceptions and overall public fear towards those who wrote and enforced law was overwhelming. The soviet-time injustices have been explained and were understood as the cruel vicissitudes of life. What is happening now is more problematic to conceive, because the long-and-hardfought-for freedom of speech and all those democratically-based values were won to be enjoyed by the generations to come. Why, then, are we still under the spell of disbelief towards those who put law to life? Is it the lamely enforced law that keeps us from locking justice within the confines of the court room? The last 30 years of Georgia’s political life is deeply and painfully marked with crowds in the streets and tents in front of the government house. The necessity for textile bedrooms in the cold and rain, as a token of the discontent of a certain portion of our society, speaks volumes about our style and ability to take care of our everyday dilemmas by the powers that be only where they are assigned to deliberate and make rulings. I sense the arrival of democracy on this ancient land with all my wits and body, but I also know that there is something wrong with it. Can we right this wrong to the benefit of the entire nation so that suffering recedes and the justice triumphs without unwanted sacrifice?

Image source: 1TV

Perhaps, but, again, who is qualified enough to tell us how to kill the pitchdark gap between the twisted image of law enforcement and the latent public distrust in it? The same question was once asked in the western world, and the answer was that everything is in the people’s hands, without the willpower and determination of whom, nothing

can be changed. And the alteration in the content of law enforcement and the public attitude to it is simply inevitable. If the change happens, we will never again see our people so terribly tired and disillusioned by politics, our avenues blocked, the crowds raging, police disbanding the incensed throngs and the tents obtrusively sitting in front of the

main administrative building of the country, where our happiness should be carved and our prosperity hammered out of the good decisions that are being made by those who are residing in it, having been put there by our electoral power. Justice done will correct every wrong that has been stuck as a sore in our eyes for too long.




NOVEMBER 16 - 19, 2018

Second Round of Elections to Be Held on November 28



he Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia decided at the session that the second round of October 28 Presidential Elections will be held on November 28. CEC said that November 28 had been declared a non-working day throughout Georgia. Salome Zurabishvili, independent candidate, backed by the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD), and Grigol Vashadze, candidate of the United

Opposition, are taking part in the second round of elections. The CEC also stated that Georgian emigrants will be able to vote until 12 am on November 28, while the elections in Afphanistan, for Georgian peacekeepers there, will take place on November 26. The elections will be held in 73 electoral districts. According to the CEC, 3,637 polling stations throughout the country will be opened and 11 polling stations can be created in exceptional cases. Number of polling stations abroad will be 57 in total. 3,504,082 people are registered in the list of voters, 14,795 voters are registered abroad. In total 3,518,877 Georgians are registered for the runoff.

Gov't Increases Financing of Defense Ministry by GEL 80 mln BY THEA MORRISON


n 2019, the financing of the Ministry of Defense of Georgia will increase by GEL 80 million ($29.58m) and in total amount to GEL 870 million ($321,686m). The information was released by the Finance Minister of Georgia, Ivane Machavariani, while presenting the draft budget 2019 to the parliamentarians. Machavariani says that according to NATO standards, a country must spend 2% of the GDP on defense. In addition, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), it will get GEL 644 million ($238,121m). Compared to the previous draft budget, the ministry will get GEL 500,000 ($184.877) more this time. As for the funding of the State Security Service (SSS) GEL 136 million ($50,286,559) will be allocated from next year’s budget, out of which 6 mil-

lion GEL ($2.218,524) is provided for the growth of salaries of low-level employees and also for partial financing of the establishment of a real-time defining system of the operational-technical agency. The Emergency Situations Management Service will receive GEL 87.6 million ($32.39 m) from the budget, including 5.5 million ($2.03 m) GEL for the increase in salaries of firefighters and rescuers. The minister told the MPs that the next year's budget was planned by the government on 4.5% economic growth.




Treatment for Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer to be Available from 2019 BY ANA DUMBADZE


he European Breast Cancer Coalition, Europa Donna Georgia, held a press conference within the framework of an informational campaign “Target for Life,” the aim of which is to support patients with metastatic breast cancer. Through Europa Donna Georgia, thanks to the support of the Ministry of Health, treatment of HER2 positive breast cancer is to become available in the Georgian regions. On the decision of the Ministry of Health, from January 1, 2019, the provision of breast cancer medicines is to expand. Through the joint collaboration of the government and private sector, treatment of patients with all stages of breast cancer will be available. Through an agreement between Ministry of Health and a pharmaceutical company, patients

with 4th stage breast cancer will get medicines such as Perjeta-Herceptine at an 80% discount. The patients, doctors and supporters gathered at the press conference once again summerized the existing problems. Ana Mazanishvili, President of Europa Dona Georgia, Khatuna Chachava, the Head of Organizational Section of Healthcare Department, Maka Asatiani, Director of pharmaceutical company “Rosh Georgia” and other invited guests addressed the audience. Representatives of Tbilisi City Hall, Tbilisi City Council, NGOs and business companies, specialists, doctors, campaign supporters and patients were also invited to the press conference. According to the current statistics, breast cancer is the most common illness in Georgia. The patients and supporters with problems related to this illness joined the campaign “Do not differ,” launched on October 15. The campaign was aimed at increasing the availability of treatment for women who live

in the regions and have 4th stage breast cancer. Within the framework of the campaign, the stories of a few patients with breast cancer were published in social media. Their open letters were sent to the representatives of governmental institutions to tell them about patient requirements. On November 12, Minister of Health of Georgia David Sergeenko, stated that from January 1, the provision of breast cancer medicines is expanding and treatment of patients with all stages of breast cancer is going to become available. “Financing the corresponding medicines for the treatment of breast cancer was one of the main problems in the regions. Through collaboration between healthcare institutions and Ministry of Health, we achieved our goal. The Ministry of Health is starting to finance the treatment of patients with breast cancer. Timely treatment is important for such patients. Through the agreement, the duration of patients’ lives will increase and their living conditions will improve. Breast cancer is not a judgment! We have proven it many times already through the support and empathy towards each other. We should not lose hope or motivation to fight. We lose the battle against illness when someone reduces our rights to live, when we are divided according to certain characteristics: #donotdiffer, it should not happen again,” notes Ana Mazanishvili, President of Europa Donna Georgia. The breast cancer program started in February 2016 with the aim to expand the affordability of corresponding medications.

In 2015, the campaign “Target for Life” was launched. The campaign was aimed at increasing awareness about breast cancer and providing support for ensuring access to targeted therapy. At the beginning of 2016, Tbilisi City Hall and City Council launched a co-financing program for patients with early stage breast cancer (I, II, III), which also covered patients with metastatic breast cancer. At the first stage, the abovementioned program included only the residents of Tbilisi; in 2018, Adjara region started targeted treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer with corresponding medicines. Throughout the whole of Georgia, the implementation of the program was still at the discussion phase. "Europa Donna Georgia" joined the

European Coalition "EUROPA DONNA" founded in 1994 in Milan, the main goal of which is to fight breast cancer. The organization has been trying to save sick women since the day of its establishment. Members of "Europe Donna Georgia" are certified lawyers of the European Coalition "EUROPA DONNA", as well as women who have been healed from this illness. One of their main goals is to assist patients with breast cancer and spread the relevant education among Georgian women to timely prevent the disease. The aim of the organization is to prevent the disease, protect the interests of women with breast cancer, increase access to healthcare based on high quality guidelines to reduce the incidence of breast cancer deaths and increase recovery rates.

The Irreversible Choice OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


he Central Election Committee (CEC) has decided to hold the second round of elections on November 28, a Wednesday, in the middle of the working week. The only thing the government can do to guarantee people head out to the boxes is to make it a holiday and put the final dot to the Presidential elections 2018. Everything else is now up to the voters and who they will choose – Salome Zurabishvili or Grigol Vashadze. Before the CEC announced the official date of the second round, an activist of the Georgian Dream said in Telavi that it would be November 11, later, the same date was spoken by the Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze. Only afterwards was the official date made public. There is a feeling that both the govern-

ment and opposition are getting ready for a completely different date, not November 28; it seems as if the presidential elections are a prelude before the crucial upcoming battle; political apocalypse in the face of a civil war has been announced. The ruling party leaders are threatening chaos and turmoil to follow if Grigol Vashadze gets elected. But what does electing a president deprived of any rights have to do with “civil war” or revolution? GD leaders Pokhadze, Volski, Beselia, Mdinaradze, Talakvadze and others give no explanation. A Leninian explanation is that revolutions happen in places where the government can no longer manage the way it could, while the people do not wish to live the same way any longer. Apparently, this is what GD is trying to hide from us: this is why they are hiding the real reason behind the alleged upcoming revolution. However, there are other reasons as well, ones that threaten the ruling party with a much more dramatic

outcome than a revolution. Everyone remembers the coalition of Georgian Dream in 2012, a union of a few political subjects that claimed victory over the United National Movement and came to power. The parliamentary elections in 2016 saw an already unified party as the GD took part in the election as an independent party. As they proudly ranted at the time, they were now without “extra burden”, by which they meant the Head of the Parliament and his party Republicans, Gubaz Sanikidze’s forumers and the Free Democrats. Bidzina Ivanishvili became sole leader of the party, winning almost everything he could have won, and his party was presented with the parliamentary majority. However, instead of a political renaissance for Ivanishvili, he has been left in political decadence. Within the last six years, Ivanishvili has created one of the most vicious and paradoxical systems known to the political science: “Feeble Dictatorship” or “Pow-

erless Authoritarianism”. On the one hand, he established control over all governmental branches, enabled a massive constitutional majority in parliament and also a large majority in the municipalities, he completely cleaned the political pitch and every more or less experienced politician was put aside, but … he left in the hands of his main opponent “nuclear” resources such as: popularity, respect, influence, talent and a creative broadcasting TV station! In such paradoxical circumstances, authoritarianism as well as dictatorship will inevitably come to ruin. Of course, Mikheil Saakashvili would never make such a silly mistake of enabling the existence of such a popular oppositional TV station. The moment he did, it was over! The only thing is that he had the discernment to feel the momentum and “follow” the process in 2012. Obviously, Ivanishvili is not planning to do the same and is asking his apprentices to announce a revolution.

Who will follow Ivanishvili towards a revolution and who won’t is the main question, not only for the opposition but the whole Georgian Dream too. Today, the 115 MPs of GD are distributed over eight fractions. This union is inhomogeneous and isn’t necessarily based on any level of loyalty for Ivanishvili. There was a time when the parliamentary list was created by Bidzina Ivanishvili, now-Mayor Kakhi Kaladze and ex-premier Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The ones they chose made it into parliament. These people have different ideas and political goals, and it seems that Ivanishvili’s statement about the “return of the old” meant that he doesn’t trust the ones that were chosen by Kvirikashvili and Kaladze, and in the future battle he needs loyal people. To what extent the Dream will fall apart after the elections is unknown, for now, the only thing we can say is that if Grigol Vashadze gets chosen, this process will accelerate and become irreversible.

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NOVEMBER 16 - 19, 2018

Georgian Passengers Stranded in Milan Reveal Big Wizz Air Fail HOW HAS WIZZ AIR HANDLED THE ISSUE?


Horribly, in a totally inhumane way. They work for people, but they have no people talking to people. And no assistance in a crisis, which is very insulting. I’m happy we have a low-cost airline in Georgia, but this doesn’t mean that they can treat us like animals. Why is it so difficult to show responsibility and respect by at least responding to us?


ast week, Georgians headed en masse to Florence, Italy, to watch the Georgian rugby team play Italy- friends, work colleagues and families, of all ages. Social media came alive after the match with the news that 25 Georgians expecting to fly home on a Wizz Air flight to Kutaisi had been left stranded at Milan airport. Some of those passengers now wish to sue the airline. We spoke to one of them, Natia Amiridze, Producer of ‘Welcome to GeorgiaThe Musical,’ to find out more. “We were a group of nine friends who went to Florence to support the Georgian rugby team. The game was on November 10. We planned to fly back on November 12, but they wouldn’t let us on the plane and left us stranded at the airport without information or assistance. More than 25 other people were left in a situation like ours: families, friends, work colleagues, all travelling for leisure or work.”

WHAT NEXT? We have the contact details of the 30 people who were left stranded at Milan airport waiting for an official response from the company. But this never happened. We saw several articles in Georgian media initiated by a PR agency that works for Wizz Air in Georgia. The response is stupid: they claim we got lost at the airport or refused to pay for our luggage, which is insane as we had all checked our luggage in long before the flight was due (and we have proof of this). And we were definitely not lost. So, this makes us even angrier, and when we heard this had also happened to others, we became more motivated to bring this case to a conclusion. Now we’re getting ready to sue the company for compensation.

TELL US WHAT HAPPENED. We got to the Milan Malpensa airport two hours before the flight, some of us by bus, others by train. We all met up at the airport. The queue was huge and there were just two Wizz Air employees at the registration desk. We all had online boarding passes, so we just had to check our luggage in. The process was super slow, the employees were talking on the phone all the time. Then they ran out of boarding pass paper, so they stopped the check-in process while one of them went to the office to get the paper, but it took 20 minutes. Once we’d checked in our luggage, we went to the gate through security and passport control. None of us spent any time in the duty-free shops: we were in a rush.

When we arrived at the gate, we were met with total chaos. Two women, airport employees, told us that they had to close the gate, speaking in Italian. There were around 30 people at the gate asking what to do. Some of our friends got on the flight, then the Italian staff asked if there were any infants with us and when we said no, they closed the gate, telling us that our luggage would be taken off the plane. They were angry about the situation and asked us to complain directly to Wizz Air because it was, as they said, “a very common situation with

this airline.” No other explanation, nothing. Then we were told that our luggage was being removed from the aircraft and we had to re-enter Italy.

SO, YOU WERE ESSENTIALLY LEFT STRANDED? Yes. After getting our luggage back, we were left in the departure lounge looking for someone who could help us get new tickets or just to answer our questions about what had happened. But it appeared Wizz Air has neither an office nor a contact person at Milan airport. We tried to reach the company on the phone, but no-one picked up. We asked the airport administration if we could get a “denied boarding paper” so that we had proof, but this paper has to be issued by the airline. We heard several versions of what had happened from airport staff: 1. A new luggage regulation at Wizz Air is prolonging the check-in process. But instead of getting more employees on the desk, they still had just two, making it impossible for them to manage everything in time. 2. Overbooking.

WHAT INCONVENIENCE DID THIS CAUSE YOU? We got no response from Wizz Air, which I find a totally inhumane attitude towards so many people. No meal or water vouchers were offered, no accommodation was offered, no guidance was given about what the next steps should be or about possible flights. Most of us had to buy new tickets for the next flight. Each ticket cost us around 400 Euros. But the ones who couldn’t afford it went into Milan. I heard some got home only a few days ago because they had to buy cheaper tickets. We spent more than 12 hours at the partly-closed airport with no contact persons. We tried to contact Wizz Air on the morning of our new flight, but still silence. We were late for work, some of us had left cars at Kutaisi airport, my husband and I had the Welcome to Georgia - The Musical show on Tuesday with 132 guests, that might have been cancelled because of us missing it....

WHAT ACTION HAVE YOU TAKEN SO FAR? We contacted some “Air Help” companies and lawyers, tried to get a boarding denial paper from the airport; basically, collecting proof of what we’d all been through (videos, photos, interviews, numbers, etc.). Now we’re getting ready to sue Wizz Air. We’ve talked to several Georgian broadcasters which are ready to cover the story. If Wizz Air continues to lie to passengers and not take responsibility for what happened, together with legal procedures, we will have to start a media campaign to cover the stories of other people who have suffered at the hands of this company. Many of them have already reached out to us and said they are ready to talk about their experiences. We hope the company will take responsibility and change its attitude.

COMMENTS FROM OTHER PASSENGERS: Iveri Chelidze: “Me and my friend were at the airport at 15:45. We were standing in line for a very long time. Wizz Air staff was on the phone several times trying to stop the registration procedure… We had to rent an apartment in Milan for two more days, we flew back home to Kutaisi with Wizz Air, but had to buy tickets and we were not able to contact the company. When we checked in on that day [November 14], there were five employees manning the Wizz Air check-in desks, so it seems they changed their procedures after we all got stranded.” Sofi Todadze: “My father and I had to stay in Milan for two extra days. We flew to Georgia with Wizz Air, but we had to buy tickets on our own. There were eight other people with us who were stuck. None of them heard anything from the company.” Paata Beltadze: “My son and I were at the airport four hours before the flight. The line was huge. At one point, they ran out of boarding pass paper, so they couldn’t print the passes. We were waiting for someone to bring this paper to the desk and asking for more staff to be brought to the registration desk, but they were saying it was all ‘fine.’”



Pliers Please: Tbilisi



his could have been one of those situations which is metaphorically referred to by that feeling you have when your tongue has to get used to that strange empty spot in your mouth when a tooth has just come out. You know, loss of something important and comfortable to you. Instead, it’s the thing itself, the extraction of a couple of actual teeth. No, I didn’t take any selfies of my recent dental surgery in progress, which would have started a worldwide craze and infuriated the medical community. There’s enough “selfieshness” in the world already. I made that word up now; you saw it

here first. I did, however, obtain my original 3D computer tomographic file, showing clearly the extent of bone loss in certain parts of my gums and arguing for the urgent removal of a front and a back tooth. I had gone to the dentist because of a wobbly and sore right front tooth, and then all this came out too. Now, I’m one of the people who is blessed not to be at all afraid of visits to the dentist’s office. I chose one which came recommended by a number of Tbilisi expats online, and it’s also the main one used by the American Embassy here, which says a lot. (They told me it turns into a circus at Embassy staff rotation time, given the extremely low rates compared to those in the USA.) My wife wasn’t impressed by their prices, but I was impressed with the care, which to

me is worth money. After a cleaning of all my teeth, a 2D X-ray and the 3D scan, they presented their findings and recommendations, and being here in the city anyway, I decided to go for what was necessary to do quickly. Svaneti is a long way from such good dental care! 5 or 6 injections of painkiller, themselves hardly felt, numbed my mouth, lips and even my nose to the point where they felt like they belonged to someone else when I touched them. Then the fun work began, involving the dentist himself and his assistant pulling, prying, plying as required while I just lay there and tried not to laugh at the strangeness of it all. They got the two teeth out, and then some rather fine stitches were required. Then some fake bone paste to adhere to the now toothless areas, to support them; this stuff took more than half of the total cost of the couple of hours’ work. Not much room to maneuver in my rather small mouth! I had asked in advance to have the two offending items given to me, which they were, bloody and rooted, in a tiny Ziploc bag. The dentist wrote me a prescription for some nice strong powdered painkiller, antibiotics and chamomile tea to swish my mouth with and keep swelling down. I walked out of there with my tongue beginning its probing of the new spaces, hoping that this would be the last extractions I’ll need for a long time. The implants to replace them come much later, likely spring next year; I’ve foregone temporary ones, realizing that I’ll fit in just fine in a rural Georgian setting with my Pirate Jack look for a while. I’ve sterilized and cleaned the removed teeth, and they’re now drying in the sun. My wife has politely declined my offer to turn them into earrings for her. Now if I can just learn to get past an annoying tendency to lisp due to the gap where my front tooth used to be, all will be well! I might pick up a whole new whistling technique into the bargain. 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 over 1900 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

"Aggravating Circumstances" Charges Made against Shepherd Accused of Killing American Family BY THEA MORRISON


he Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG) have laid charges against 19-year-old shepherd Malkhaz Kobauri, who is accused of killing American family Ryan and Lora Smith and their 4-year old son Caleb in Khada Gorge, Georgia this summer. The POG stated that Kobauri has been charged with raping Lora Smith and murdering her "in aggravating circumstances." “The investigation has received important conclusions from expert analysis and questioning of Malkhaz Kobauri… and the Prosecutor has filed additional charges: the rape of Lora Smith and killing her in aggravated circumstances,” the POG stated. Kobauri has been charged under Article 109, paragraph I, II,III, (involving murder in aggravating circumstances), and Arti-

cle 137, paragraph I (involving rape, or sexual intercourse by use of violence, threat of violence or abusing a victim's helpless condition) of the Criminal Code of Georgia. If proven guilty, he faces up

to 20 years in prison or life imprisonment. The Smith family lived in the town of Marneuli, south of Tbilisi, for seven years and were well respected members of the local and expat community.





NOVEMBER 16 - 19, 2018


GIFT - GEORGIAN INT’L FESTIVAL OF ARTS IN TBILISI November 16 SHOW Hofesh Shechter Company The entrance. Clowns. Exit Choreography and Music by Hofesh Shechter Performed by Shechter II Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL Venue: Rustaveli Theater TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 04 56 November 18 DON QUIXOTE Ballet in three acts Prima Ballerina: Lali Kandelaki (final appearance) & world ballet star: Brooklyn Mack (USA) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-70 GEL GRIBOEDOVI THEATER 2 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 93 43 36 November 16, 17 SAINT PETERSBURG CULTURAL NIGHTS IN TBILISI DON QUIXOTE Directed by Zherom Kaplan Choreographer: Iohan Kobborg Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 40-100 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 27 Rustaveli Ave. November 16 KRIMANCHULI Comedy genre novels based on Georgian national motives Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 20 GEL November 16, 17 Roma Rtskhiladze and the Pantomime Theater THE WISHING TREE Theater combined with experimental music Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. TEL (+995 32) 298 65 93 November 16 MARSHAL DE FANTE’S DIAMOND Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL

November 17 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL November 18 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL November 21, 22 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 234 80 90 November 21 WELCOME TO GEORGIA A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Musical Language: English, some Georgian With English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995) 598 19 29 36 November 16 ASTIGMATISTS Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Mute Movie, Comedy Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL November 17 TEMPEST Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL November 20 Jam Session Musical art director - Sandro Nikoladze Special Guest – Kemo Every Tuesday 20:30-23:00 Free Entrance TBILISI CIRCUS 1 Heroes’ Sq. November 17, 18 AUTUMN SHOW Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 10-25 GEL


AMIRANI CINEMA 36 Kostava Str. TEL (+995 32) 299 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL November 16-22 FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD Directed by David Yates Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy Language: English Start time: 13:00, 22:00 Language: Russian Start time: 16:40, 19:40, 22:15 Ticket: 10-14 GEL BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Directed by Bryan Singer Cast: Rami Malek, Joseph Mazzello, Mike Myers Genre: Biography, Drama, Music Language: English Start time: 14:30, 19:00 Language: Russian Start time: 22:20 Ticket: 12-15 GEL CAVEA GALLERY 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL November 16-22 FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 13:45, 16:30, 19:30, 22:00 Language: Russian Start time: 13:30, 16:45, 19:15, 22:30 Ticket: 10-19 GEL OVERLORD Directed by Julius Avery Cast: Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbæk Genre: Action, Horror, Mystery Language: English Start time: 14:15 Language: Russian Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 11-19 GEL MUSEUM


STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION November 6-30 The Georgian National Museum, in cooperation with the Katyn Museum, the division of the Polish Army Museum in Warsaw and the Polish Institute in Tbilisi, present the exhibition KATYN - IT HAS BEEN AN UNUSUAL MORNING GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 September 11 – November 25 EXHIBITION BERNINI'S SCHOOL AND THE ROMAN BAROQUE October 9 – January 17 (2019) NIKO PIROSMANI’S RENEWED EXHIBITION October 10 – October 5 (2019) EXHIBITION MASTERS OF GEORGIAN ART ARTISTERIUM, TBILISI 11TH INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITION AND ART November 9-19 Exhibitions: ARTISTERIUM AS IT IS Curated by Magda Guruli BLACK MILK, OSTRAVA CONTEMPORARY Daniel Balabán, Pavel Forman, Tomáš Koudela, František Kowolowski, Jirí Kudela, Petr Lysáck, Nicolai, Václav Rodek, Ivo Sumec, Jirí Suruvka, Ivana Štenclová, Dan Trantina, Marek Schovanek (Czech Republic). Curated by Pavel Forman and Tomáš Koudela GEORGIA 2018 Exhibition of the VAADS students: Anna Jibladze, Anastasia Akhvlediani, Giorgi Geladze, Knika Grzdelishvili, Mari Kalabegashvili, Salome Chigilashvili, Salome Jokhadze, Shotiko Aptsiauri. Curated by Salome Jokhadze. Where: Georgian National Museum, Tbilisi History Museum (Karvasla), 8 Sioni Str, Tbilisi. November 16-26 DIMA FILATOV (UKRAINE), PERSONAL EXHIBITION K ART ON Dédicace Gallery, 27 Athoneli Str. Dry Bridge, Tbilisi. Start time: 19:00 November 18 Presentation of the Artisterium 11/2018 catalogue. Georgian National Museum, Tbilisi History Museum (Karvasla), 8 Sioni Str.. Start time: 17:00 MUSIC

RUSTAVELI THEATER 17 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 272 68 68 www.rustavelitheatre.ge November 19 GIYA KANCHELI TSUTISOPELI IDEM ET IDEM World PremiereMIDDELHEIM T.S.D.

First Performance in Georgia Performers: Pavel Vernikov- violin, Svetlana Makarova- violin, Boris Andrianov- cello, Sandro Nebieridze- piano, Trinity Cathedral Choir Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-55 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE 125 Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 296 12 43 November 17 TBILISI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Maestro- David Mukeria Horn players– Beqa Berikishvili and David Sharikadze. Program: W.A Mozart and R.Strauss, symphony No.101, ‘The Clock’ by J Haydn and Symphonic poem ‘Les Preludes’ by F. Liszt. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL KELLER BAR 36 M. Kostava Ave. November 22 KAHABERI AND KHANUMAS' NEW PROJECT Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Griboedov St. TEL (+995 32) 2 93 46 24 November 22 PIANO RECITAL Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10 GEL TBILISI BAROQUE FESTIVAL RUSTAVELI THEATER 17 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 72 68 68 www.rustavelitheatre.ge November 16 GERMAN MUSIC CONCERT In program: G.F.Handel, F.J.Haydn, J.S.Bach Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL November 19 ITALY MEETS ENGLAND In program: Charles Avison Francesco Barsanti, Antonio Vivaldi, Francesco Durante, William Boyce, Tomaso Albinoni, Giovanni Battista Sammartini. ‘GEORGIAN SINFONIETTA’, CHRISTOPH MAYER (CONDUCTOR) Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL November 22 AN EVENING WITH HARMONIE IN VIENNA In Program: Franz Krommer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. ENSEMBLE ZEFIRO Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL SPACEHALL 2 A. tsereteli Ave. November 22 DECODER : STEVE BUG / HOSH / KOBOSIL Start time: 23:30 Ticket: 30 GEL TERMINAL 34 Abashidze Str. November 19 POWERPOINT KARAOKE TBILISI VOL. 6 Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL




GIFT Closes with Hofesh Shechter Company

Images: Ilia Baburashvili



riday 16 November is the final day of the 21st Georgian International Festival of Arts (GIFT) in honor of Michael Tumanishvili. The festival has been running for a month, bringing international theater, film, song, dance and cultural discussions to the city of Tbilisi; a wide range of productions promoting European understanding and culture to Georgian and international theater-goers. Alan Lucien Øyen and his company Winter Guests brought their kabukiflamenco mash-up Simulacrum; the Ingri Fiksdal Company bought their anthropological dance-concert, State. There was also an Italian Focus, Sardinian Culture Days, with Tenore Murales sharing their polyphonic singing, and Sardegna Teatro performing Macbettu, Shakespeare’s classic Macbeth, in Sardinian. We also welcomed the Hofesh Schecter Company from the UK, and several renowned Georgian and Russian plays. Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights of this year’s GIFT. The last week of GIFT 2018 kicked off with the culture-clashing "Simulacrum" at the Marjanishvili Theater. Bought to Tbilisi by Norwegian director Alan Lucien Øyen and his company Winter Guests, the piece was a meeting of Argentinian dancer Daniel Proietto and 77-yearold Japanese flamenco legend Shoji Kojima. Themes and narratives from both of the performer's lives were interwoven with detailed studies and presentations of each impressive art form, flamenco and kabuki. Our Norwegian focus continued with choreographer Ingri Fiksdal's danceconcert, "State," performed at the Royal

District Theater to a packed auditorium. Ritual dances from all over the world, live sound and beautiful costumes combined to create a multi-sensory journey for the audience. The final performance of the festival will take place at the Rustaveli Theater on Friday 16 November. British dance company Hofesh Shechter Company will perform their piece entitled "Show" for the second time, having performed to an excited audience on Wednesday. The dance performance is composed of three acts: The Entrance, Clowns and Exit and revolves around a group of anarchic performers as they play their parts in a macabre circus of comedy, murder and desire. The previous week at GIFT, we celebrated all things Italian. Our Italian Focus opened on November 2 with a presentation on contemporary Italian Theater, ‘Rispondi al Futuro’, held by Michele Panella. The talk was surprisingly well attended, with people spilling out the door! During the talk, we heard from Tenore Murales, a group of five Sardinian singers, who bought their unique form of polyphony to the festival. That evening, Sardegna Teatro’s Macbettu opened at the Rustaveli theater. Shakespeare’s classic Macbeth, performed in Sardinian, with Italian and Georgian subtitles. It was an outstanding piece of theater, weaving rituals of ancient Sardinian traditions in with the medieval Scottish play. At the end, the performers got an instant standing ovation from the whole theater. The International Symposium on Traditional Polyphony was on at the State Conservatoire. Now in its 9th year, the symposium brings together singers and musicologists from all over the world for five days of concerts, lectures, film screenings and plenty of impromptu



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singing. I was in my element! Tenore Murales sang at their closing concert on Saturday evening, along with plenty of Georgian and international ensembles. Week two of the festival, we welcomed the renowned Russian director Dmitry Krymov, who bought his production of the classic Russian play Bezpridannitsa (Without a Dowry) to the Rustaveli Theater, performed by students of the Moscow Theater “School of Dramatic Arts”. Apparently, this is a play that every Russian kid has to study at school, but coming from England, I had never heard of it, so wasn’t sure what to expect. It turned out to be a beautiful example of theatrical parataxis, or as Hans-Thies Lehmann describes it, “the de-hierarchization of theatrical means”. As a nonRussian speaker, I was very grateful for this! Krymov used video projection, music, song, costume, and a well-timed wind machine to tell the story as well as words. And as you would expect from a Russian laboratory theater, the actor's physicality and expression were flawless. Keely and Du, written by American playwright Jane Martin in the 1980s, was translated into Georgian and directed by GIFT’s own Artistic Director Keti Dolidze. Performed in the Liberty Theater, the piece concerned itself with the contentious issues of rape, abortion, religion and suicide. Though it may not sound like the cheeriest way to spend a Monday evening, the piece skillfully negotiated the emotional topics. It’s sad and frustrating that, though written 30 years ago in America, this play is still relevant today, in any country. It was certainly a brave choice to program the play here in Georgia and at this time, and I think the audience appreciated that. On October 15, we welcomed the six members of the international collective The Krumple, from Norway, France,

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

Denmark and the UK. It was the first time in Georgia for all of them, so I made sure to take them for some traditional Georgian food and wine that evening. The Krumple, graduates of the Lecoq school in Paris, brought their innovative piece “Yokai, Remedy for Depair.” The Royal District Theater hosted Yokai, an exceptionally beautiful piece showcasing the artists’ physical talent and imaginations wonderfully. They captured the audience with intricate object manipu-

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lation, and interweaving storylines. The show was even better the second time round and moved some audience members to happy tears! We then welcomed the next show of the festival: Astigmatists, directed by Ioseb Bakuradze at the Movement Theater. The feel-good production was created in the style of silent movies and performed by a talented cast of five. The physical comedy told the story of a somewhat dysfunctional family, and what happens when you see the world a little differently. On October 22, we welcomed Charles Landry, a British author and international advisor on the subject of creative cities. He gave a fascinating talk at the Tbilisi City Assembly on the Art of City Making, in association with the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA). The following weekend, we welcomed the Dmitry Krymov Laboratory from the Moscow Theater “School of Dramatic Arts”, presenting their show Bezpridannitsa (Without a Dowry). These, along with culturally enriching round-table talks, film screenings, public lectures and folk parties combine to create the most exciting program the festival has seen thus far. I'm so sad that we've come to the end of the festival. GIFT has been such a wonderful experience for me. As a young person starting my career in the arts, I couldn't have hoped for a better opportunity or a more welcoming team. Not only have I seen some of the best international theater of my life here, but I've also learned about working behind the scenes, helping the performers and crew to get everything ready for curtain up. I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity and I hope I can come back next year! For now, Tbilisi, it’s breaking my heart, but I have to love and leave you.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1101  

November 16 - 19, 2018

Issue #1101  

November 16 - 19, 2018