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Issue no: 929

• MARCH 17 - 20, 2017



In this week’s issue...

Get Energetic with Radio NRJ Georgia NEWS PAGE 2

Putin Approves “Military Deal” with Georgia’s Breakaway South Ossetia POLITICS PAGE 5

VESTUS: First Georgian-Made Nanotechnology Product on the Market



COE report names Georgia among countries with highest incarceration rates PAGE 10 Source:

Why Georgia Should be Worried about Marine Le Pen BY MARIAM TABATADZE AND JOSEPH LARSEN


Jamiroquai to Perform at Black Sea Jazz Festival 2017 CULTURE PAGE 13

Zaza Pachulia on the EuroBasket and Georgian Basketball


hile European Union member states are preoccupied with countering Russian propaganda and the related rise of domestic right-wing populist movements, Georgia is steadily working toward integration with the EU and NATO. The Council of the European Union approved visa-free travel for Georgian passport holders, a measure likely to go into effect in late March. While visa liberalization is a clear positive, complicated domestic situations in several EU member countries threaten to derail further advances on the integration path. The obstacles put up by domestic politics in EU and NATO member states tend to be poorly understood in Georgian society, largely due to the lack coverage by local media. Many Georgians are left in the dark about EU member states and how their societies view and approach relevant issues. Taking a closer look helps put the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, achievements, and

Tskhinvali Region Is Not Alania: Regional Problems in Tskhinvali


disappointments in proper context. France is a prime example of the connection between domestic politics and Euro-Atlantic integration. There, charismatic populist Marine Le Pen of the right-wing nationalist National Front (FN) is a leading contender in the French presidential election scheduled for April. Le Pen is a fierce critic of both the EU and NATO. If

she emerges victorious, she could squash Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Le Pen is supported by notable Russian propagandists, including Marina Katsonova, who commented this year that Le Pen is “a Euroskeptic, she supports Russia and she’s just the best candidate … It’s hard not to love her.” Continued on page 5




MARCH 17 - 20, 2017

Ombudsman: Toys on Georgian Market Pose Threat to Children’s Health



eorgia’s Public Defender (Ombudsman) Ucha Nanuashvili says that many toys on the Georgian market are dangerous for chil-

dren’s health. Nanuashvili applied to the Parliament of Georgia with the request they take proper measures to ensure the safety of toys on the Georgian market and protect the health of minors.

The Public Defender was informed that the NGO Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG) had purchased dolls of ten different brands at Georgian shops and sent them to Germany to check their safety in an accredited laboratory. According to the results received from Germany, a large amount of harmful substances was found in nine of the ten dolls. The statement of the Ombudsman reads that, unfortunately, it is planned to bring the Georgian legislation closer to the new EU Toy Safety Directive only in 2019. Nanuashvili believes that, given the results of the examination carried out by the CSRDG, it is necessary for the government to take effective measures immediately and implement the EU Toy Safety Directive before September 1, 2019, in order to protect the best interests, health and safety of minors. “The Public Defender addressed the Georgian government with a recommendation to respond to the results of the examination carried out by the CSRDG, to plan measures for regulation of legislative and institutional frameworks under the Toy Safety Directive obligations before 2019, and to take effective steps for supervising the market in order to protect minors’ rights to life and health,” the statement of the Public Defender reads.

Get Energetic with Radio NRJ Georgia BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


nternational music station Radio NRJ started to broadcast on March 14 from its Tbilisi studio in the new Radio Café (2 Dolidze Str.), a space uniting a café and radio studio, which gives its guests a chance to see live broadcasts and to actually take part in the radio shows. Radio NRJ’s entering the Georgian market is seen as an opportunity for the development of the radio sector and a platform for the promotion of both Georgian and international brands. Music lovers can listen to the station at 104.7 FM in Tbilisi City, Tbilisi region, and in Gudauri. In an interview with, George Sharashidze, founder of Radio NRJ Georgia, says that the idea of cooperating with NRJ came after realizing

that, in order to develop the Georgian radio market, it was necessary for an international brand to enter. “The European standard radio station will change the existing situation radically for the better,” he said. “Apart from modern international hits, a one-hour slot will be dedicated to Georgian artists who will also be invited to talk to us live in the studio. The unique location of the Radio Café brings a chance for music lovers not only to listen to the music live on air, but also to take part in the show itself,” Sharashidze added. Although the station’s format is primarily for music and entertainment, the show hosts will discuss ongoing current events in the country in the different show formats, but keeping it within the entertainment and music niche. “The advantage of Radio NRJ, alongside its being a non-standard studio, is the strength of the existing brand, inter-

national experience, and direct links with Europe’s top performers,” Sharashidze told “Radio NRG is for anyone who loves good music, follows modern tendencies and lives an active, energetic life.” The Georgian station will notably benefit from all the influence of the NRJ brand around the world in terms of proximity with international artists, capacity to organize exclusive events and innovation force on air and on digital platforms. Richard Mazeret, CEO NRJ International: “We see a fantastic potential for our brand in Georgia and we know that NRJ will bring something new, dynamic and powerful to the audience in the country.We are very excited to start this new adventure with our partners in Georgia. We are confident that our partner will leverage the unique assets of our brand to write a new page of the NRJ success story.”




NATO Sec Gen’s Annual Report Includes Georgia BY THEA MORRISON


orth Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has released an annual report for 2016 which claims Georgia is one of the most valuable partners of the Alliance. The report was published on March 13 and aims to show how in 2016 NATO “took further steps to keep our almost one billion citizens safe” and highlights

how NATO is adapting to the new security environment by strengthening its collective defense and projecting stability beyond its borders. The report says that Georgia is an aspirant country and one of the main partners of the Alliance, greatly contributing to NATO peacekeeping missions. Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) released a statement in response, noting that the NATO Secretary General mentions Georgia in the context of the NATO Open Door Policy. According to Stoltenberg, NATO’s Open Door Policy is a founding principle of the Washington Treaty and one of the Alliance’s greatest successes. Since its foundation in 1949, NATO has grown from 12 members to 28.

“NATO’s door remains open to those countries that want to join and that meet the criteria of membership. Work continues with other countries that aspire to join the Alliance – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – to help them prepare for NATO membership. NATO has a strong program of cooperation with each aspiring member state to help it carry out the reforms necessary for membership,” the report reads. The report also reviews the implementation of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, saying the defense capacity building for Georgia is provided through this package. “The package includes the establish-

ment of a Joint Training and Evaluation Center, a Defense Institution Building School, and a Logistics Facility. It also provides expert advice in the areas of acquisition, strategic and operational plans, Special Operations Forces, military police, cyber defense, maritime security, aviation, air defense and strategic communications. The package also covers support and contributions to NATO exercises in Georgia, which are open to partners,” the report reads. Stoltenberg also says that at the Warsaw Summit in 2016, NATO leaders agreed on additional practical ways to intensify capacity-building support to Georgia, including supporting Georgia’s crisis management capabilities.

“The Partnership Interoperability Initiative also offers specific partners enhanced opportunities for deeper cooperation. Five partners (Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden) currently have access to enhanced cooperation, which includes tailored consultation on security matters and close participation in exercises. All five Enhanced Opportunities Partners participated at the NATO Summit in Warsaw,” the report reads. The document also underlines Georgia’s significant contribution to providing international security, saying Georgia is the biggest contributor among the nonmember countries, having 870 military servicemen involved in the mission.

President Holds Consultations over Surveillance Bill BY THEA MORRISON


he President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelasvili, has been holding consultations over the surveillance draft bill, which was adopted by Parliament on March 1 and five days after sent to the President for his signature. Margvelashvili has until March 21 to sign or veto the bill. Discussions regarding the new bill on covert investigative actions were raised after the Constitutional Court of Georgia ruled on April 14, 2016 that the existing model of surveillance, with the Interior Ministry and Personal Data Protection

Inspector as key players, needed to be changed. The Court stated that the legislation allowing the police to have direct, unrestricted access to telecom operators’ networks to monitor communications was unconstitutional and set March 31, 2017 as the deadline for implementing the court’s decision and replacing the existing surveillance regulations with new ones. The final legislative package provides for the creation of a legal entity of public law (LEPL) the Operative-Technical Agency of Georgia, which will be responsible for covert surveillance. The Agency will be under the supervision of the State Security Service (SSS), however, the agency will be accountable to the Prime Minister and will submit a generalized

report of its activities annually to the PM. The responsibilities of the Agency will include: hidden surveillance of phone communication; retrieving information from computer systems; control of post office transfers; secret audio and video surveillance; and photographic surveillance. The President invited all political parties, including the Georgian Dream (GD) majority, to take part in the discussions, however the ruling party has not yet officially responded to the proposal. Margvelashvili and representatives of the President’s Administration have already held a meeting with the representatives of the parliamentary minority Movement for Freedom-European Georgia and listened to their views and posi-

tions on the draft law for wiretapping. The President also met with members of the opposition party United National Movement (UNM) on Tuesday. “We discussed two major problems of the draft law. First, how independent the newly established agency will be and how compatible it will be with the decision of the Constitutional Court. Second, that this law may impose an unjustified burden on businesses, because, as specified in the law, the agency uses businesses and in this case, the resources of the communication companies, without paying them,” the Parliamentary Secretary of the President of Georgia, Ana Dolidze, stated after the meeting. On Wednesday the Presidential Administration met with the opposition Alli-

ance of Patriots of Georgia (APG). All the opposition parties which took part in the consultations advised the president to veto the bill, saying it does not answer the verdict of the Constitutional Court and gives too much power to the SSS. Non-Governmental Organizations also share this position on the issue. The majority sees no need for the presidential discussions, saying the bill has already been adopted by parliament and no amendments are necessary. However, they say they will make the final decision after the president’s steps. If President Margvelashvili vetoes the bill, the majority will need votes of at least 76 MPs to override the veto. The ruling party has 116 MPs in the 150-seat parliament.

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MARCH 17 - 20, 2017

Visa-Free Status & Association of Ukraine with the EU BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


erhaps the main recent event in the process of Ukraine's "European integration" came at the end of February when the lower house of the Dutch parliament called for ratification of the Agreement on the Association of Ukraine with the EU. It is an issue which seriously divided the parliament: 89 in favor, 55 against. But this is not the end of the process as now the deputies of the upper chamber must approve the decision of the deputies of the lower chamber, after which it will be ratified by the king - and only this will complete the process. It was not the last surprise that the House of Representatives presented to Ukraine on the last day of work (it closed on February 24 and reconvened after the elections held on March 15). Deputies considered, but refused to vote for, a draft of additional conditions for Ukraine filed by the deputy of the Socialist Party, MP Harry van Bommel. Adoption of this document could at least somehow mitigate the decision of the deputies and explain it to the voters. After all, they actually went against the direct will of their own citizens. Therefore, it is not surprising that Ukraine became a hot topic in the Dutch parliamentary elections. It is curious that the current government in every possible way tried to avoid this, but delaying the implementation of the results of the referendum held last spring only contributed to the problem. Van Haersma Buma, a candidate for prime minister from the Christian Democratic Party (CDP), said that he would "throw the agreement on the UkraineEU Association in the trash". As for the ratification of the Association Membership, the candidate stated that if he is

elected as Prime Minister, he would initiate the withdrawal of the signature of The Netherlands from the ratification. Nobody doubts he will do it- according to preliminary information, the number of votes in the upper house of parliament is sufficient to approve his decision. Against the ratification of the agreement is also Gert Wilders, leader of the ultra-right Party of Freedom. According to recent polls, he was equal in popularity with the current prime minister of the country, Mark Rutte. This is impressive, but the protest against the ratification of Association Membership (AM) in fact unites the entire opposition spectrum of The Netherlands politikum: the Ultra-Right, Christian Democrats, and even the Socialists. It seems that at the end of the elections, the topic will not lose relevance. Moreover, the report of the Research Institute of SEO Economisch Onderzoek claims the economic gain of The Netherlands from AM with Ukraine will be about EUR 177 million, and many politicians consider this too small a bonus against the background of possible risks. "The EU Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission reached a decision on granting Ukraine a visa-free regime. This decision will be confirmed by the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the EU member states (COREPER)," it was stated of Ukraine's mission to the EU in February. On March 9, the European Parliament's Justice Committee supported the decision to support the introduction of a visafree regime for Ukraine. It must be confirmed in the European Parliament Committee on civil rights, then deputies at the plenary meeting of the European Parliament, as well as by members of the EU Council. After that, the publication in the official journal of the EU and a pause of 20 days - only after that you can say "yes, there is" about visa-liberalization.

The EU also approved the suspension mechanism for visa-free travel, a decision without which the aforementioned decision would not have been ratified at all. So far, it concerns only Georgia, but it was developed, we may recall, with the target of Ukraine (and even mostly for Ukraine). "We expect that in early April, the European Parliament will put the final point in the issue of visa liberalization and will make an appropriate decision. After that, the ball will move to the field of the member states of the European Union, that is, the Council of the Euro-

pean Union, which must make a decision within a relatively short period of time. And, I expect that by mid-June, Ukraine will get a legal decision on visa-free travel arrangements," said Konstantin Yeliseyev, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine. He goes on to state that there are no political obstacles for Ukraine to be "visa-free" as now this issue lies solely in the technical and legal plane, moreover, "the president gave clear instructions to all our diplomatic institutions in the member states of the Schengen zone to do everything possible to obtain visa-liber-

alization and avoid unexpected barriers." Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Pavel Klimkin, says Switzerland is also considering the possibility of granting Ukraine visafree status (Switzerland is not included in the Schengen Area), but will do so only after the EU does. The EU Ambassador to Ukraine, Hugo Mingarelli, in an interview with UNIAN on granting visa-free status to Ukraine, spoke of the end of June. However, he cautiously noted that he does not expect objections to the process from the elections in France (the second round is scheduled for May 7). We will wait for their results.




Putin Approves “Military Deal” with Georgia’s Breakaway South Ossetia BY THEA MORRISON


ussian President Vladimir Putin has decided to accept the government’s proposal and sign a deal on integrating the forces of Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) into the Russian Army, claimed Russian news agency Tass on Wednesday. Tass reports that Putin also instructed the Russian Defense Ministry to hold negotiations with the South Ossetian side and sign an agreement on Moscow’s behalf. Under the agreement, the integration of South Ossetian units into the Russian Armed Forces implies recruiting citizens for military service in the Russian Armed Forces and sending them to a Russian military base in a voluntary procedure for active duty. The deal will allow the Russian military to recruit South Ossetian soldiers as contractors, but first they will need to be dismissed from active duty by South Ossetia. Tass reports that the agreement on

Photo source: ABC News

integrating units of the “South Ossetian Defense Ministry” into the Russian Armed Forces is an additional document under the ‘Treaty on Allied Relations and Integration’ signed by the Putin and the “president” of the breakaway region South Ossetia, on March 18, 2015.

The treaty envisages promotion of social, economic, humanitarian and foreign affairs, and defense and security cooperation between the two “countries”. It also implies forming a common defense and security space between Russia and South Ossetia.

Official Tbilisi says the deal is illegitimate. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Mikheil Janelidze, claims the agreement is illegal and has not been recognized by the international community.

"Such steps are not directed towards the maintenance of peace or peaceful resolution of the conflict. It prevents the peace process, which is needed for such resolution,” Janelidze stated. The minister also called on the Russian Federation to fulfil its obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement, withdraw military forces from the Georgian territories, and to create all conditions for a possible peaceful resolution of the conflict. Georgia’s State Ministry for Reconciliation and Civic Equality also released a statement regarding the issue. “We strictly condemn the decision on merging certain South Ossetian troops with Russia’s army… This step is the continuation of the annexation process that has been underway since 2008. Tens of similar agreements have already been signed between Russia and de-facto governments aimed at strengthening Russia’s full and exclusive control on Georgia’s occupied territories,” the statement of the ministry reads. The ministry calls on the international community to duly assess the so-called agreement and further calls on Russia to fulfil its international commitments.

Why Georgia Should be Worried about Marine Le Pen Continued from page 1

The power of propaganda should not be underestimated. Despite the fact that in November 2016 the EU parliament approved a resolution aimed at countering “disinformation” and “hostile propaganda” emanating from Russia, statesponsored propaganda aimed at undermining and destabilizing the EU continues to influence domestic political discourses in EU member states, especially France. France is a prime target of Russian propaganda for its importance and the proximity of its pivotal presidential election. The first round of voting will take place on April 23, with a runoff likely to follow in May. The election will be a litmus test for the influence of Russian propaganda in Europe. Among the four leading candidates, Le Pen, Republican candidate Francois Fillon, independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, and Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon, two are overtly sympathetic to Russia’s geopolitical interests. Le Pen presents the friendliest face to Russia. However, Fillon has also expressed pro-Russian sentiments. He welcomed a new alliance with Russia in November 2016, stating that when national interests are involved, France should unite with all possible forces, “democratic or not.” He pointed out that “De Gaulle allied with Stalin to defeat Nazism.” Thus, Russia has two contenders it can feel good about. “Moscow seems to be satisfied with Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen, who can be considered Kremlinfriendly politicians,” said Anton Shekhovtsov, a scholar of Russian Affairs at

the Institute for Human Sciences, during an interview with EUobserver.

WHY DOES IT MATTER FOR GEORGIA? The outcome could be transformational for France. It also deserves more attention from Georgian media and academia, for two main reasons: Not only will the result directly affect Georgia’s path to Europe, but it may transform France’s long-standing commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity. The latter factor shouldn’t be taken for granted. During the Georgian-French economic forum that took place in Tbilisi on May 13, 2014, French President François Hollande pledged French support for Georgia, its territorial integrity, its internal development, and its European aspirations. He reiterated those points on April 21, 2016 during a the Georgian president’s visit to France. To go back further, in 2008, then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy spearheaded Europe’s efforts to negotiate the Six-Point Agreement between Georgia and Russia following the August War. Le Pen is promising a radical change, of course. Given the real possibility that she could win, Georgians should be concerned about her position on Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and what that could mean for Georgia’s own territorial integrity. She expressed support for Russia’s annexation of Crimea during a 2017 interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, commenting that “there was a coup d'état in Ukraine, no invasion of Crimea, Crimea was Russian and has always been Russian.” In her view, the sanctions imposed by the EU against Russia should

be lifted because they are a “big stupidity.” Le Pen’s statement about legitimizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea could become the official position of the French government. That would erode French support for the principle of territorial integrity, with direct and harmful implications for Georgia’s own efforts to regain sovereignty over its territories occupied by Russia. Without support from the country’s European partners, the policy of “non-recognition” is unlikely to bear fruit. Moreover, Le Pen has undermined Georgian efforts at deeper integration with the EU. On February 2, when the European Parliament voted in favor of visa-free travel for Georgian citizens, representatives of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group (ENF), of which Le Pen is co-president, voted against the measure. The FN leader has even pledged to take her own country out of the EU, something that would threaten the entire European integration project. By extension, “Frexit” would spill over into disillusionment with the EU in Georgian society, pouring fuel on the Eurosceptic narratives expressed by the Russian propaganda outlets that broadcast in the country. There is a more Europe-friendly candidate. Emmanuel Macron, an economic and social liberal, is running as an independent centrist. His position toward both the EU and NATO are similar to those of Hollande. A Macron victory could potentially rejuvenate France and bolster the EU. For exactly those reasons, Russian

propagandists are working to undermine his campaign. He recently accused Russia of “trying to hack into his campaign’s computer systems and spreading disinformation” about him in Kremlin-sponsored news outlets. Following those accusations, the propaganda outlet Sputnik News ramped up negative coverage of Macron, claiming he is backed by a “gay lobby” and is a “US agent” in the pay of the American banking sector. The impact of Russian propaganda isn’t lost on everyone. As French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian told the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche: “we should not be naïve and think that there is no risk for our democracy.”

WHAT IS TO BE DONE? Two things are clear. First, with fewer than two months until the election, Russia’s disinformation campaign against Macron is in full swing. Conversely, Kremlin-sponsored propagandists are backing Le Pen. By contrast, the Georgian-language media is largely silent on the issue. That leaves the Georgian public in an information vacuum. The government should address this gap, coming up with a communication strategy to better inform citizens about the EU and its member states, including France. Engaging citizens more directly in discussions about Euro-Atlantic integration would help the process along. Second, Georgia’s government should prepare for specific foreign policy scenarios that could arise should Le Pen or Fillon win the French presidential election. Preparing for those contingencies could help mitigate any negative effects on Georgia. In particular, the govern-

ment should work to strengthen its relations with EU member governments, especially leading countries such as Germany and Italy. It should work with civil society representatives outside of Georgia to promote the benefits of Georgia’s integration for both Georgia and the EU. The necessity of such a forward-thinking approach is even clearer as the latest polls published by Ipsos SopraSteria for FRANCE 24 projects that Le Pen will have a clear lead in the first round of voting. She would then likely lose to either Macron or Fillon in the subsequent runoff, the poll predicted. That poll came out prior to the revelation that Fillon is being investigated for misuse of public funds. If he is forced to drop out, it will likely come down to Le Pen and Macron. Much can change before the first round on April 23, and opinion polls are often deceptive. However, the Georgian government can’t afford to be caught unprepared, whatever the outcome. It should work harder to strengthen its relations with key EU member governments. Moreover, the government should devote more effort to countering Russian propaganda within the country.

The Georgian Institute of Politics was founded in 2011 to strengthen institutions and promote good governance and development through policy research and advocacy in Georgia. It publishes its blog with Georgia Today twice per month. Check out our website in English and Georgian at for more blogs, data, and analyses.




MARCH 17 - 20, 2017

Keeping up Appearances: Ogden on Georgian Conspiracy Theories Georgia’s Margvelashvili Attends Baku Global Forum BY THEA MORRISON


eorgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili went to Baku, Azerbaijan, to participate in the two-day Baku 5th Global Forum. The forum gathered more than 300 delegates from 50 countries to discuss issues such as transatlantic cooperation and the threat of terrorism under the slogan - The Future of International Relations: Power and Interests. Margvelashvili delivered a speech at the opening ceremony focused on current global challenges, the international relations agenda and regional security issues. He stressed that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation has posed many threats to Georgia, its culmination being the illegal occupation of Georgian territories. The Georgian President underlined that both

small and large countries should treat their neighboring countries and other states with respect. He then touched on the current challenges of the world, such as terrorism and extremism, armed conflicts and hybrid wars, and also spoke about globalization. “Globalization creates favorable conditions for each state to enjoy the benefits of joint cooperation,” Margvelashvili said. Ongoing projects in the region were also mentioned. According to the Georgian President, the Caucasus region is essential for the development of close cooperation in the fields of transport and logistics. “The Georgia-Azerbaijan relations are an example of a long-lasting and firm cooperation which leads to a common wish- to strengthen the region and to create a common space of cooperation,” he concluded. The opening ceremony was followed by discussions and a working lunch.



henever something goes wrong in Georgia, it is simply inconceivable that the simplest explanation is probably the right one. There is always a conspiracy theory that will be aggressively defended in the face of logic, evidence or contradiction, and the events in Batumi several days ago have proved no exception. The Georgian government is, fairly enough, currently attempting to Westernise the country in all things, from its education programs and legislation to its military forces and infrastructure. With the shocking state of Georgian driving being a byword amongst visitors and foreign residents, it is well within the government's interest to finally address what is one of the country's biggest problems (the collision and accident figures of recent years make for an informative if rather shocking read). Yet as well as promising to introduce tougher penalties for drunk driving and carelessness, the government has also attempted to clamp down on parking violations. It is hardly surprising that several days ago, a few Georgian men in Batumi - seemingly unfamiliar with even the notion of a parking fine - became abusive to police officers and ultimately resisted arrest when their vehicle was found to have been parked badly. The subsequent reactionary riot by friends and family deepened the plot, with a further reason for their protest being revealed: apparently, the local police chief had apparently called the Adjaran population 'Tartars'. In true Georgian style, the self-proclaimed organiser of the riot, Merab Gogoberidze, later admitted that he had no evidence that the police chief had ever said this, and gave the vague explanation that

With the Georgian public devoid of the scepticism commonly found in Britain, supporters of either the government or the opposition are more than ready to believe the accusations

Georgian politicians have something of a tendency to think that what happens in Georgia stays in Georgia he had heard of it 'from the police chief's inner circle'. However, this was clearly enough for his supporters, who managed to inflict hundreds of thousands worth of Lari in damage, injured eleven police officers, and then expressed outrage when riot police dispersed them with rubber bullets and tear gas. The responses around the country were equally predictable. The opposition parties blamed the government for 'provoking' the protestors, and hinted darkly that there was a 'Russian influence' on the affair. The government, again, in a fashion quite typical of reactionary Georgian politicians, completely missed the opportunity to appear magnanimous, and accused the opposition parties themselves of complicity. The idea that this was simply a group of Georgian men, a group easily provoked and generally hostile to the authorities, railing against laws they believe to be unnecessary does not seem to be being considered, perhaps deliberately; to the minds of Georgian politicians, it might suit for the riots to have a political flavor. With the Georgian public devoid of the scepticism commonly found in Britain, supporters of either the government or the opposition will be more than ready to believe the accusations. Georgian politicians have something of a tendency to think that what happens in Georgia stays in Georgia, and so do not seem to believe that the foreign institutions they desperately want to be part of have the right to judge them on their internal affairs. Foreign powers might think more kindly of the Georgian authorities if they had managed to prevent what really was quite a simple, albeit violent, breach of the law from becoming a political issue. In light of the recent EU legal ruling in favor of Rustavi 2 and the government's vehement denials of their involvement in what has been described as a politically-motivated case, the Georgian Dream party should tread more carefully. It is, after all, affairs like these that Georgia will be judged on; accession to membership in the European Union or NATO will have nothing to do with how kindly Georgia happened to treat its six millionth visitor.



VESTUS: First GeorgianMade Nanotechnology Product on the Market BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


igma Technologies and Solutions, a company that has been operating in Georgia for several years now bringing new technologies in construction materials to the Georgian market, this week introduced Vestus, the first Georgian nanotechnology product, at a presentation held at Rooms Hotel Tbilisi. Produced in Georgia, Vestus is a thermal, hydro and anticorrosive innovative nanotechnology product made using a unique formula. Sigma Technologies and Solutions has an exclusive right to export it to neighboring countries and claims that the thermal-isolation surface and its composition is made up of small micro-spheres of glass, ceramics or aluminum which, when mixed with stabilizers, allows for stretching and elasticity. “It looks like paint and can be used as the last layer on a surface to serve as a hydro-isolator,” company representatives said. “Vestus is particularly indispensable for the safety of facades in the construction sphere or during the installation of pipelines or other aggregates,” they said, adding that Vestus is commonly used in the US to coat spaceships. Giorgi Tsintsadze, CEO of Sigma Technologies and Solutions introduced Vestus as a super-thin, thermal-isolation material made under a western franchise. He then went on to tell the history of the product, first used by NASA in the 1980s. “Vestus can be used for the thermal and hydro-isolation of newly constructed buildings. Once the product is applied to a surface, it creates a thermal barrier.

Vestus can also be used for gas or oil pipelines and reservoirs, water and heating pipes, railway or auto transport containers and cisterns, and even wine factories,” Tsintsadze said. Looking at its potential in the construction sector in more detail, we were told that Vestus can be applied with paint, in layers, either with a paint brush or roller, even at minus 30 degrees Celsius and remains firm up to a temperature of 200 degrees. “The material can be used both on building facades and interiors, increasing the thermal barrier by up to 40%. Another benefit of Vestus is that it can also be easily applied to metal surfaces, guaranteeing them a longevity of up to 15 years,” Tsintsadze said. He also introduced Vestus micro capsules during the presentation, claiming them the perfect solution for sound-isolation and prevention of condensation. “We’re extremely proud that Vestus is produced in Georgia. It gives us a chance

to expand our country’s export potential, create new workplaces, and, importantly, to minimize the costs for our consumers and business partners,” Tsintsadze said. “This is a brilliant and very important initiative. Especially for us at Tbilisi Municipality, energo-effective technologies are crucial,” said Irakli Lekvinadze, Vice-Mayor of Tbilisi while discussing the Green City project that the Municipality is working on together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Vice-Mayor noted that one of the major challenges the municipality encounters is how to make buildings in the city energo-effective. “We think that popularization of such enterprises, showing customers the many positive effects of such new technologies, is essential,” Lekvinadze said. The presentation at Rooms Hotel ended with the performance of young jazz musicians Sasha Frid and Nino Katamadze.

PASHA Bank to Partner the International Business Forum by BIA


n March 20, the BIA Forum ‘Georgian Economy - Prospects and Challenges' is to take place in the Radisson Blu Iveria hotel, Tbilisi with PASHA Bank as partner of the event. The forum will bring together more than 300 top executives from the business community, representatives of local government and international organizations. The forum aims at facilitating a communication platform between foreign investors and local companies and opens opportunities for both local and international businesses. Shop Fest and B2B meetings will be held in parallel with the forum. Shop Fest gives a good opportunity for participant companies to showcase their products/services, attract new connections and make deals with event-exclusive terms and prices. B2B meetings will bring together the representatives of local businesses and potential foreign investors, with interested parties able to present

their business initiatives in order to attract financing, search for new export channels and set new business contacts. The welcome speech will be delivered by Dimitry Kumsishvili, Vice Prime Minister of Georgia. Shahin Mammadov, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors at PASHA Bank, will speak about the Georgian corporate market from the viewpoint of commercial banks. Among the speakers will be: - Giorgi Cherkezishvili, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Devel-

opment of Georgia - Zurab Alavidze, Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia - Bruno Balvanera, Director for Caucasus, Moldova and Belarus, EBRD - Mercy Tembon, Regional Director for the South Caucasus, World Bank International speakers will be covering topics concerning credit ratings, venture capital funds and real estate markets. “PASHA Bank started operating in Georgia in 2013 as a result of the direct investment of PASHA Holding,” said Shahin Mammadov. “The Bank offers corporate and investment services to large and medium-sized enterprises in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. Supporting the BIA Forum has a double bonus for us: we get to share our successful experience with the attendees, and establish new connections with potential customers. We believe this event will have a positive impact on the economic development of the country.”





MARCH 17 - 20, 2017

Georgia to Join Red Nose Day Campaign

Victoria Brides Introduces New Measure of Protection from Fake Accounts BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


or the first time this year, Georgia is to participate in Red Nose Day, a month-long campaign beginning March 24. Red Nose Day was thought up in 1985 to end child poverty using entertainment. The campaign was launched by Comic Relief, a British charity founded by scriptwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Lenny Henry. The UK was quickly joined by the US, China, Belgium, and other countries around the globe. During the Red Nose Day campaign, people buy red noses and help socially deprived children overcome poverty worldwide. People are encouraged to hold fund-raising events in their local communities, businesses and schools, with the money pledged to the Red Nose campaign. The campaign cul-

minates in a televised show of fun, music and laughter in which the audience can see how money was raised by different groups and the good causes that the money goes towards. Red Nose Day is hugely popular among international celebrities, with Helen Mirren, Anne Hathaway, Adele, and Rowan Atkinson having taken part over the years. Over the last 25 years, more than $1 billion has been raised as part of the Red Nose Day campaign, says Comic Relief Inc, US. The projects and programs all share the same goals of keeping children healthy, safe, and educated. In Georgia, the 2017 Red Nose fundraising campaign will help seven-yearold Nika Dvalidze who is fighting leukemia. One of the organizers of the campaign, Aka Sinjikashvili, announced it will also be used to open a place where street children can come to receive free food and clothing.


ictoriaBrides, the premium dating platform which helps men find the perfect Russian bride, has introduced additional anti-scam protection measures- from now on, all new female users are required to make a video about themselves. There are dozens of dating sites on the internet with fake accounts, leading to mistrust in the entire system. “It’s a challenging task for a new user to recognize a fake,” said company representative James Rasbell. “Some users have even asked our support team: ‘Is VictoriaBrides a scam?’ Having worked in the field of dating for many years, we understand that it’s hard to believe that so many beautiful women are looking for love online. We are an international site, and while our male users are mostly Americans, our female users live in Eastern Europe, where all women are incredibly beautiful! What people don’t always remember is that they face the same

difficulties in building relationships as all of us do. What we aim to do is give our clients all possible proof that our female users are real women. So, antiscam protection for us is the high-priority issue". Female accounts on are created by representatives of the company’s local agencies to ensure that there are no fake accounts. When interviewed at her local agency, each woman has to prove her identity by providing all necessary documents. “The fact that women are willing to provide these documents to register on the site demonstrates that they really do have serious intentions,” says Rasbell. Identification is just the first step. All women must get through an interview and fill in a questionnaire which gives them further help in finding the perfect romantic match. The next step is the photo session. All of the women get professional photos, so that male clients can be sure that pro-

file pictures belong to a real person. And now Victoria Brides is adding a new legit anti-scam measure. All girls who want to join the site and find the American husband of their dreams are requested to make a video, in which they talk about themselves and their romantic goals. According to Rasbell, “A photo is not enough to understand how a woman looks in real life, so the aim of the video is to give much more information about the person on the other side of the screen. Our goal as a dating service is to do everything we can to help our clients find their ideal partners as soon as possible”. VictoriaBrides is an international online dating site that helps men and women overcome the physical distance between their home countries and embark on romantic relationships. The company considers the confidentiality and web safety of its clients a priority. Its support works 24/7 and is always ready to provide customers with any help they need.

When Healing Georgian Hands were Flown to Donald Trump BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


eorgian journalist Tamaz Cheishvili resided in many different countries, finally returning home in the turbulent 1990s. In Brazil, he was awarded the honorary title of Extraordinary Citizen. Once, billionaire Trump, now the United States President, invited him to his New Year Ball on a special mission, mobilizing his personal chopper to pick him up. The unusual story of the well-known Georgian journalist made top news at the time. Earlier, Tamaz Cheishvili, by virtue of certain vicissitudes of life, had embarked on a totally different trade to practice –extrasensory perception. The extrasensory capability was a part of his childhood, but in his salad years, he thought it commonplace and made no big deal of it. Cheishvili attended the Moscow Radio Technical Institute to major in paranormal phenomena. As a consequence of the soviet Perestroika, the Institute was closed, but he was lucky enough to have been introduced into the circles of the Russian scientific elite where he started out his extrasensory career.

He was the first person with ESP (extrasensory perception) to be publicly exposed on VZGLYAD, the popular Russian TV program. As a result, all Europe saw him, soon followed by booming popularity in Tbilisi. Notwithstanding the social hardships in the country, the pages of his work diary were packed with patients seeking to make use of his extrasensory talents. Interestingly enough, the force majeure even promoted his activity. At that time in Georgia, people were afraid to leave the house, not even for a doctor’s appointment, because the armed groups roaming the streets. It was then that he started healing sessions in various towns throughout Georgia. Time passed and tens of thousands experienced his magically healing hands all over the world. Cheishvili has managed to cure many, but not all. Those who were healed still pray for him, and those unaffected by his efforts name him a charlatan. After an appearance on Brazilian television, Tamaz Cheishvili became known to entire Latin America. In Brazil, he lived in a charitable millionaire’s apartment in one of the best residential areas of the capital. The famous healer traveled almost the whole world but for final residence he picked his native town. Everyone was surprised at his return

from America. Explaining his comeback, he said that he was afflicted with a bad case of nostalgia, emphasizing that Georgians had something so special in their character that even the most urbane westerners could not boast to compare. Trying to corroborate his statement, Cheishvili alluded to the picture of Georgia’s national hero Kakutsa Cholokashvili. “Just look at his photo before and after

emigration: before, he looks like an eagle with burning eyes, and after, he seems depressed and unfortunate with a pallid washed-out expression,” he said. Cheishvili recollects his unbelievable Donald Trump story which took place in December, 1990. “I was once invited to New York by a wealthy Jew of Georgian origin to take up the healing of his family. Right in the

middle of the party, somebody called on behalf of Donald Trump.” The Georgian healer was then ‘abducted’ aboard the billionaire’s helicopter after which he was ushered into a ballroom where everything, even the grand piano, was made of crystal and the people were in the throws of a New Year Ball. “I was taken to the daughter of Trump’s friend, a 22-year-old Jewish girl who was bent double due to back problems.” The doctor is said to have sat casually next to the patient and placed both palms on her waist, asking her: ‘Do you want to see a trick? Give me a second! Do you feel the heat of my hands? I will now count up to fifty, then you will take a deep breath and stand up’. At 50, the girl, propping herself on both hands, rose and made a couple of hesitant steps . . . the room exploded in applause. To cut a long story short, everyone wanted to have a glass of champagne with Tamaz that night. Eventually, amply imbibed, and he was seen to the exit by Donald Trump himself, who reached out hefty wad of banknotes from the pocket of his tuxedo and said, “You’re a real magician. How much?” Cheishvili refused the money, instead vowing his brotherhood to Trump in typical Georgian style, kissed him goodbye and left.



MARCH 17 - 20, 2017


Find it, Buy it: Tbilisi BY TONY HANMER


o, this isn’t my new set of brass knuckles. They are something rarer than all publicly sold jewelry in Georgia, but cost almost nothing, available only second hand. They aren’t made of any precious metals, contain no precious stones. But finding them was a major piece of detective shopping, and I bought almost all the examples I found. This is my hose clamp collection. Being in Tbilisi for the school holidays, I had made a shopping list of all the things likely unavailable elsewhere: peanut butter (though I might roast and blend my own), laptop RAM, rechargeable batteries, the cheapest good dark roast coffee beans, and so on. And these things, as another weapon in my arsenal against water issues in DIY Svaneti. The first few I found at one GEL each in the leftover used hardware section of my Metro’s bazaar. I had had to begin only by looking, as describing them was beyond my Georgian abilities. Snapped them all up, as one does with an item known to be

Finding them was a major piece of detective shopping, and I bought almost all the examples I found

so elusive. Now that I have these ones, though, I can simply show one of them elsewhere and ask if anyone has any. Easy! You manipulate them with a pair of pliers, but I’d be doing this anyway with the previous alternative, which is simply wire. Purpose: to join a piece of pipe to another snugly. That’s all. Simple, well designed; likely to outlive me, quite unlike the wire. My second shopping stop for the things was actually the only location where I’d expected to find them in all Georgia: the main Eliava bazaar.

Austrian Schirnhofer Opens First Brand Store in Tbilisi



t number 7, Vazha-Pshavela Avenue, a new Schirnhofer store awaits customers and, besides offering the famous sausages it is loved for, an Austrian cheese and meat delicatessen can also be found in the store, as well as an assortment of freshly baked bread, made from Austrian flour using Austrian technology. The store opening this Tuesday was attended by the Ambassador of Austria to Georgia, Arad Benko, and Schirnhofer Company representative, Alois Kaiser. “Schirnhofer is very proud to present its products in Georgia; I wish our business partners great success,” Kaiser said at the opening. The Schirnhofer store opening is regarded as an important event both for Georgia and Austria. Half a million USD local investment was made and

almost 20 new workplaces have been created in the process, the company claims. “Schirnhofer products in Austria are always associated with the best quality,” Ambassador Benko noted in his speech. The meat products company was founded in 1926 by Joseph Schirnhofer. The family business was then continued by his son Karl, who made it one of the largest meat product manufacturers, known for using only Austrian meat for production. Their quality control accompanies every stage of the product through ultra-modern technologies and laboratories. Schirnhofer holds an IFC (International Food Standard) certificate, which ensures constant product quality control. “Georgian customers know the Schirnhofer brand well. This is our first store in Tbilisi, and in Georgia, and we’ll be focusing on the cheese and meat delicatessen,” says Lasha Babuadze, Schirnhofer Georgia representative, adding that the company plans to expand and open more stores in future.

(Aside: the area of Tbilisi where this bazaar is found is named for a Soviet-era institution which produced world-renowned populations of… bacteriophage, i.e. bacteria which eat other bacteria. These life forms have important medical implications in the real world. They are also featured in a bio-sci-fi thriller by Greg Bear, Vitals, in which Stalin is discovered never to have died, but been kept alive by the little critters.) The Eliava bazaar, come to think of it, likely grows its own unique pharmacologies of micro-organisms.

It certainly has enough spillage of petroleum products and other chemicals to provide a novel environment for extremophiles to flourish in, just before they vanish in the hellish aftermath of a single carelessly dropped cigarette, that is. Seriously, why the whole huge place hasn’t had a catastrophic fiery meltdown ever is simply beyond me. But there’s no place better to find, along with the biggest selection of building materials, old pieces of anything electro-mechanical. Failing that, to have exactly what you need made by hand from a block of solid metal by a guy with a machine the size of your dining table and more knobs, levers and other parts than a locomotive engine. Your item will be ready in minutes and cost a few GEL. So my second hoard of hose clamps did turn up here, after a simple walk down Junk Lane quizzing the stall patrons one at a time, “Got any of these?” and showing one of my rings. Again, only one seller did have any, and again I bought almost all he had, once he’d asked me what I paid for my first batch and offered his for the same low price. I now have a selection in a few different sizes. They feel solid enough never to break, and are stainless and rust-free into the bargain. I have now have the biggest collection of them in the whole country, or there may be someone else in another city, Kutaisi or Batumi, who’s holding out until his are the very last and he can sell them for whatever he pleases. But mine are enough for my needs, and I don’t expect ever to want or need to sell them in this way, because I bought them to use in my faraway fastness. You have to get it done, whatever it takes. Must have running water, for goodness’ sake, that’s what this is all about! 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 1350 members, at www.facebook. com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

Bollywood Masala Indian Restaurant

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Tel: +995 551 526 000; +995 592 900 002 Add: Str. Kostava 44, Tbilisi, Georgia Email:




MARCH 17 - 20, 2017

CoE Annual Penal Statistics: Incarceration Rate Grew in Georgia in 2014-2015 BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia is among the countries with the highest incarceration rates, according to the latest Council of Europe (CoE) Annual Penal Statistics (SPACE), published on Tuesday. The survey says that the number of people held in European prisons decreased by 6.8 percent from 2014 to 2015, although prison overcrowding remained a problem in 15 countries, including Georgia. The list of countries with the highest incarceration rates is led by Russia (439.2 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants), followed by Lithuania (277.7), Georgia (274.6), Azerbaijan (249.3), Latvia (223.4), Turkey (220.4) and the Republic of Moldova (219.9). The Netherlands (53) and some Nordic countries – namely Finland (54.8), Denmark (56.1) and Sweden (58.6) - appear to be those resorting less often to imprisonment and thus registering the lowest rates. Significant reductions in the incarceration rate were recorded in Greece (-18.8%), Croatia (-10.2%), Denmark (-11.9%), Northern Ireland (-9.7%), the Netherlands (-9.5%), Lithuania (-8.8%), Romania (- 8.6%) and Slovenia (-8.2%). On the other hand, the incarceration rate grew most in Georgia (+20.5%), “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (+12%), Turkey (+11.6%), the Czech Republic (+11.4%) and Albania (+10.3%). “Despite the overall reduction in the prison population in 2015, there was no progress at the panEuropean level to reduce overcrowding, and the number of inmates remained above available places in one third of the prison administrations. The situation improved in some countries and deteriorated in others. The number of inmates for every 100 available spaces in European prisons was 93.7 (93.6 in 2014), but the number of prison adminis-

trations suffering from overcrowding grew from 13 to 15,” the report reads. The report says that in 2015, inmates serving final sentences represented 73% of the total prison population. Among those prisoners, almost one in five (18.7%) was convicted for drug-related offenses. In Italy, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Montenegro and the Russian Federation this proportion was higher: 25% or more of inmates. The second most common offence for which inmates were serving time was theft (16.2%), followed by homicide (13.2%) and robbery (12.6%).

The SPACE reads that after natural causes, suicide was the most common cause of mortality in prisons, representing 25% of all deaths. One in every four suicides was committed in pre-trial detention. Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland welcomed the drop in the overall number of people in prisons of Europe. “Increasing the use of alternative sentences does not necessarily lead to higher crime rates but can help to reintegrate offenders and tackle overcrowding,” he said.

The Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics, better known as SPACE (Statistiques PénalesAnnuelles du Conseil de l’Europe), include two related projects. SPACE I provides data on imprisonment and penal institutions in Council of Europe Member States. Information on non-custodial sanctions and measures are collected under the project SPACE II. Data is collected by means of two questionnaires sent every year to the Penitentiary administrations and to the Probation authorities or equivalent bodies of the Ministries of Justice.

Somewhat Different – Living more Comfortably by Simplifying Things BY MAKA LOMADZE


he Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V. (IFA), which stands for the Institute of Overseas Cooperation, and curator Volker Albus, prepared the exhibition ‘Somewhat Different - Contemporary Design and the Power of Convention’ at the Tbilisi History Museum, which shows a great diversity of designs diverging from the conventional, illustrated by 106 different items and a total of 148 objects by 67 individual designers and studios, 47 of them based in Germany and 20 in other European countries. The exhibition discusses the objects in terms of function, materials, construction and content references and is being held in the context of the Germany-Georgia Friendship Year. A bookshelf, a Persian rug, an armchair: these generic terms alone trigger associations relating to the structural, decorative and configurative aspects of the objects. This is why designers deliberately subvert their general, conventional understanding to reveal their absurdity. The designs do not only provoke astonishment, but challenge one to reflect on general expectations and codes of behavior, as well as the referential context of firmly established notions, in order to review traditional fixations. It is such 'breaks from the power of convention' that in their causality document the farreaching socio-cultural changes which we currently witness in all areas of our daily lives and which manifest themselves in key phenomena such as mobility, migration, changing nutritional habits and more. The exhibition illustrates the international aspect of this discourse on contemporary design in two respects. First, it complements the works of the 47 German designers and design partnerships with examples by 20 foreign designers from Denmark, France, Great Britain, Italy, The Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain. And second, IFA invites every institution wishing to host the exhibition to add objects by designers from its own country who have approached 'conven-

tional' design tasks in a somewhat different way. The organizer is Goethe Institute. Dr. Stephan Wackwitz, Director of Goethe Institute, Georgia, told guests at the opening, “If you don’t like opera, you can simply not go. If you don’t like reading, you can choose not to pick up a book. But there are directions in art, for instance, design, that comprise the everyday things that are made for each of us. We are very happy to have exhibited them!” “This is already the second design exposition taking place under the aegis of IFA with the mediation of Goethe Institute,” Lika Mamatsashvili, Director of Tbilisi History Museum, told GEORGIA TODAY. “My favorite painter has always been Toulouse Lautrec, who used to say: ‘you will always win if you simplify things’. This exposition is dedicated to this concept. Life is difficult and we should try to make things easier. For instance, there is a wonderful chair under which a housekeeper can keep the vacuum cleaner. So, it is a chair and a vacuum cleaner at the same time. The latter cannot even be noticed, whilst a woman/man can use it without standing up. There is a nice variety of hangers for different garments that are very simple, too. Looking at them, I think: why didn’t I invent that?!” “The IFA organizes very interesting expositions in photo, fine arts, design, etc.,” Tamta Gochitashvili, representative of the Goethe Institute Department of Culture, told GEORGIA TODAY. “These exhibitions travel to different countries. After Tbilisi, the exhibition will go to Tashkent. Goethe Institute chooses the exhibits that will be of most interest for Tbilisians, we order them and they send us the works. Our cooperation with Tbilisi History Museum is very tight. For the last 15 years, IFA exhibitions have been held here.” “Designers perceive art as a moderator between the people and things. This is an exhibition that shows how objects can be applied in a different context. This exposition aims to overcome the homogeneity,” said Volker Albus, curator. The main plus of the exhibits is that they are very comfortable, and you want to take them all home and fill up your house with them! WHERE: WHEN: Until April 15.



MARCH 17 - 20, 2017



t is beyond one’s comprehension and maybe even rousing indignation when the de facto Ossetian leadership tries to redub Tskhinvali Region Alania. This, on the one hand, is but ignorance of history and on the other - a complete negation of reality. Generally, to rename either a region or a place without taking into account their geographical development within a historical time is simply wrong. At this point, the arrangement of an opinion poll of the population comes across as a mere farce or rather an endeavor to veil a lay opinion showing negligence as regards the given issue. More than that, to carry out the renaming of the truly Georgian land arbitrarily is nothing other than blasphemy. It is common knowledge the Ossetians are deemed to have settled in the North of the Caucasus – the present day North Ossetia – a couple of centuries ago, together with tribes of Skythian-Sarmatic origin. It is also a noteworthy fact that in the vast family of Indo-European languages, the Ossetian language is formed by the Northern and Eastern Iranian group of languages. In the Xth-XIIth centuries, the Ossetian kingdom established relations with different countries, including Georgia. But in the XIth -and –XIIth -century Osseti, one of Georgia’s vassals after Tamerlan’s rampages, lost its integrity to eventually disperse into different directions - Hungary, the Balkans, etc. One group tried to put down roots in Kartli but the Georgian feudals retaliated and their attacks finally made them retreat. However, in the XVthXVIIIth centuries, the Ossetians manage to settle down in the fore part and the lowland zone of mountainous Georgia, the northern part of Kartli, while a minor group found refuge in the Kingdom of Imereti. Those having found abode in Kartli had to live within the dominion of Georgian feudals, the Machabelis and the Eristavis, and attend to them like other serfs. Interestingly, the Ossetians used to be engaged in the military campaigns against the foe harassing Georgia. As sources imply, the Ossetian peasants and serfs were dealt with due attention by King Erekle II himself.

A FEW WORDS ABOUT ALLANS Allan, to follow its definition in the Iranian source, denotes a name for an Iranian tribe mentioned in works by the XIIIth century scholar and writer Iacuti and also by Al-Fidas, the Arab historian and geographer of the same time period. According to the sources, the Allans populated a territory in Mid Asia – Islamic periodhaving migrated to the North of the Caucasian Ridges. To listen to Professor I. Makvarti, since the IXth century, the Allans had been known as Uss; the same name, Uss, is confirmed from the Mongol period by Academician V.Bartold - see V.V.Bartold, Allans, vol.2 M., 1963,pp.866867. Along with this, the latter also quotes a note from encyclopedia of the Xth-XIth centuries, Al-Birum, having that “Allans and Usses” as kith and kin, lived between the Arali and the Caspian seas, who happened to migrate later to the North of the Caucasus. As a matter of fact, the form Uss serves as a basis for Oss in order to later turn into Ossi in the Georgian language, which, in its turn, was adopted in the Georgian fashion for the region as well eventually to be accepted by the Russian language as Ossetia. Further on,

according to V.Bartold, - the Allans are looked upon as representatives of Greek Orthodoxy in a source of the XIII century: “The places of their settlements, at that time, spread a little farther in comparison to what they were before. By the time of the very first invasions of the Mongols, the space beginning namely beyond Derbent towards the North and even at the estuary of the River Volga were in the Allans possession, which most probably must be perceived as remnants after the collapse of Khazars’ kingdom. Broken and defeated by the Mongols, Allans were in part replaced into various regions of the Mongol Empire., the colony belonging to the Allan Christians are mentioned by Catholic missionaries in China,” V.V. Bartold, Allans, vol.II I.M.I963, pp.66. This extensive excerpt from the article ”Allans” by Bartold, an internationally acclaimed scientist, has been brought to the attention of the reader in order to clearly visualize the area outlined as a dwelling place for Allans, with which to underscore the fact that they had never lived to the South of the Caucasus. As for those called Ossetians, they appear on the stage of historical Georgia exclusively in the XVIIth century, and, as is corroborated, they do not comprise aboriginal tribes of the Caucasian population., even in the North Caucasus they started to dwell as settlers only XX centuries ago. We have intentionally used sources only by foreign authors vis-à-vis Allans in the persons of I. Makvarti, V. Bartold in order to be free from any bias. The fact makes it clear that the people called Allans have never lived to the South of the Caucasus, mainly in Georgia – in the Region of Tskhinvali. Consequently, it is made absurd when Tskhinvali Region is meant for the dubbing Alania in the fashion of the North Caucasus; consequently to think of integrating South Ossetia with North Ossetia is simply a blasphemy. The categorical allegations of certain Russian politicians, that both South and North Ossetia were once constituent parts of Russia and that Stalin divided them to hand South Ossetia to Georgia with the view of setting up an autonomous region there - is in fact overwhelming. Maybe a politician is not expected to know the history of the Caucasus excessively well, however those who happened to have handed them such information are too distanced from the truth. Indeed, when making such announcements, one ought to be more cautious, to say little of how necessary it is to examine and reexamine facts. Unfortunately, many a fact from the history of Russian-Ossetian relations have been severely distorted of late [see Ossetians in Georgia by An. Totadze.,Myth and Reality, An.Totadze Tbilisi,2006]. Suffice it to get familiar with the works by G.Togoshvili, Ossetian by birth, especially with his encyclopedic articles, in the volume “The Georgian SSR,” under the title ”South Ossetia Autonomous Region, South Ossetia” [I981,pp.337-339] to realistically revive the history of South Ossetia. With this in view, it is interesting to read works by V.Abaev, B.Plyeva, O. Tedeea,Z.Gagloiti, P.Doguzov and others. Here is an excerpt from what the patriarch of Ossetian science writes – “The major part of the Caucasian Region is a natural border between the Georgians and the Ossetians…any endeavor to erase this border line shall entail a state of permanent conflict between the Georgians and the Ossetians… The first thing to do with this idea suggesting Ossetia’s breaking from Georgia is to immediately nib it in the bud. Not a single Georgian government can ever give assent to do this, as it

would bring about nothing but encroachment upon the territorial integrity of Georgia. Anybody who may wish to maintain peace between Georgians and Ossetians must banish this thought of integrating southern and northern parts of Ossetia. Those wanting to keep peace between Russia and Georgia must too dismiss this thought. That is the reality.” [Nezavisimaia Gazeta, 1992.,22.I.No13]. No comment needed. What a pity that such a wisdom has been shown neither by the Russian nor the Ossetian bureaucrats and it leaves no doubt that the outcome will be distressing. Absurdly enough, Russian media has repeatedly stated that the Kuchuk-Kainary Pact, which was made in 1774 between Russia and the Osmans, annexed not only one part of historical Ossetia but, allegedly, entire Ossetia. At this point, they mean the northern part of Shida Kartli, where in the years that followed, the Autonomous Region of Ossetia was set up. Later, in 2004, on July 10, the Russian Duma made a bizarre announcement that, allegedly, in 1774, Ossetia integrated with Russia on a strictly voluntary basis. Proceeding from this, it was made definite for Russia to “equitably” protect the rights of the Osseti civilians. One can easily observe that on their part they demonstrate a complete incompetence or rather ignorance of history as such. It must be said that in those days the term “Osseti” did not exist in geography; it is clear enough, then, that the term “Ossetian State” can’t have existed either. Those Ossetians who lived in the mountains considered themselves to be refugees. However, from the second half of the XIXth century, the Russian bureaucrats have been applying their determined efforts to somehow implement in reality the imaginary terms such as the “North Ossetia” and “South Ossetia”; while until the XIXth century there practically exists no document which could possibly cater for the endeavor to dub the mountainous region of Shida Kartli Ossetia. As a matter of fact, the three Ossetian tribes in the North Caucasia from Alagiri, Kurtati and Tagauri gorges joined the Russian Federation in 1774; notably, the fourth tribe from Diagori Gorge living in the domain of Kabardo joined Russia later in 1781. To cast an eye at the north part of Shida Kartli,where later was formed the so called autonomous district of Osseti, it belonged to the united kingdom of Georgia, later to Karli and then to KartlKakheti kingdom indivisibly.The documents attached to the “Treaty of Georgievsk” let an opportunity to declare that the north part of Kartli and its extreme northern province - Dvaleti -belonged to the kingdom of Kartli and Kakheti, where Giorgi Saakadze enjoyed his rights that of a governor (XVII cent.). After Georgia had been annexed by Russia (18O1), the north of Shida Kartli, along with Dvaleti, is found to be within the dominion of Imereti only for a while afterwards to become a constituent part of Gori District. Later, in 1858, adhering to the decree issued by the Tzar’s Governor General of the Caucasus Bariatinsky, Dvaleti had been handed to the Osseti of the “Caucasian Line”. Thus, only Dvaleti happens to be annexed to the North Osseti and not the part of Shida Kartli’s land, where consequently was formed the so called autonomous region of Osseti. After the Democratic Republic of Georgia had been established in the year of 1918, the October Revolution destroyed the Russian Empire too letting Dvaleti enter the jurisdiction of Georgia again. On the basis of the Agreement made between the Democratic Republic of Georgia and Russia, on the 7th of May, 1920 - the border running on the major


Tskhinvali Region Is Not Alania: Regional Problems in Tskhinvali

range of the Caucasus was officially defined as a border between Russia and Georgia. Consequently, it left no reservations that the extreme North of Shida Kartli – Dvaleti – was within the jurisdiction of Georgia. Russia had made it her goal to annex Shida Kartli and was therefore trying to create contentions between the Georgians and the Ossetians. Being up to that undertaking, Russia succeeded in inspiring armed insurrections targeted at one goal – to set up a soviet order of governing in “South Ossetia” and breaking it away from Georgia, because only after having achieved this would it be easier to get hold of the entire country. In 1920 the Soviet Russia and the Bolsheviks assisted Ossetian insurgents to declare Soviet Order in the so-called South Ossetia, pronouncing this territory to be part of Russia. It must be accentuated that the very act was formed by breeching all the norms existed: Georgia was territorially disintegrated, the will and opinion of Georgian population – trampled on. The regional resolution made by Russian Communist Party on March the 23rd 1920 reads: 1. to immediately organize a revolutionary committee in South Ossetia; 2. declare the Soviet Order; 3. form an armed detachment; 4. set up relations with North Ossetia… and allot one hundred thousand Rubles for the disposal of the Revolutionary Committee. There can be traced another appeal as well: “Moscow, to comrades Lenin and Chicherin. According to the order of the Local Caucasian Committee, of March the 23rd, confirmed by special Couriers to the same Committee… On June 8 - South Ossetia declares Soviet Rule”. Other materials that exist also read clearly enough as to via whose prompting the Ossetians let the fratricidal war break out. Obviously, to even assumingly incriminate the so-called ”xenophobic” government of Georgia in the “genocide” of Ossetians means running the gauntlet of amorality. The vicious plan of the Communist Party and the Soviet Russia to make Georgia soveticised was fulfilled, which, in its turn, meant that annexation of Georgia took place already a second time. Having done that, Russia broke the treaty of May 7th of 1920, made between her and Georgia. It is noteworthy, that the so called South Ossetia was warranted to have the status of an autonomous region without any grounds; consequently, in 1924, in June, the autonomous region was turned into the autonomous republic to, in the end, remain within the union of Russian Federation. The so-called Ossetia unified the regions at certain places densely populated by the Ossetians with feignedly annexed Georgian town Tskhinvali: As the “Caucasian Callendar” of 1900 has it, by the time the XXth century commenced, Tskhinvali was inhabited by Georgians, Georgian Jews and Armenians, surrounded by a couple Georgian villages. It did happen under duress arousing due indignation among Georgians [materials to be seen in the book entitled “From the History of Relations between the Peoples of Georgia and Ossetia”, Tb., 1991,pp.56-73]. The setting up of the autonomous region made the Georgian population of that area, in their native land, a minority, that for its part, must be looked upon as infringement upon human and national rights and freedom. It does deserve a double take, that the Ossi people within Georgian union used to have all prerequisites to develop their economy. Before the Soviet Union collapsed, between 1990 -1991, the number of Ossetian comprehensive schools in Georgia counted a hundred, of which ninety schools were in the so-called “South

Ossetia” and the teaching process was conducted in the Ossetian language; while the Ossetian language and literature were seen among independent subjects. To continue the recital: the Pedagogical Institute in Tskhinvali, an advanced training institute for teachers, music and art schools and schools providing tertiary education, agrarian, medical and other colleges. It is also noteworthy that according to the data of the census of population, in 1979, the number of graduates with higher education status per every hundred educated men across the Soviet Union, the so called South Ossetia occupied second place. Further, in 1927 the Institute of Folklore was established in Tskhinvali, which later transformed into the South Ossetia Institute of Language, Literature and History and joined the Georgian Academy of Sciences. In addition to that, Tskhinvali prepared and released a multi-volume edition of the South Ossetia history (documents , materials), a two-volume edition of “The History of the South Ossetia” as well as four volumes of “The Ossetian Language Defining Dictionary”, next to the multivolume edition of ,”Ossetian Literature”, three volumes of Ossetian fairy tales and a crown of this list – a compilation of Ossetian songs, attached with the musical scores, etc… It may be little known that Tskhinvali, at that time, was vibrant with the operating museum and an art gallery, the public library and the unions of artists and composers along the musical and choreographical societies, dance and song state national companies. What is interesting, Ossetia used to have their own national broadcasting system as well as their own periodicals and own fiction. It must be nonetheless interesting, that in comparison to the North Ossetia, South Osseti Autonomous Region issued books - five times more in amount and three times larger vis-a-vis circulation per every ten thousand inhabitants of Ossetian origin. It is clear as a daylight, the Georgian state and Georgian people gave to people of Ossetia an opportunity to evolve nationally, culturally, socially, politically and economically. To reflect on the circumstances in the North Ossetia, who, to-date, is in the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, it would be apt to draw a small excerpt from the publication of Head of the North Ossetia Supreme Council A. Galazov – “I sincerely feel grieved to see the young of my nationality, because despite their knowing foreign languages and the civilizations of the world, they do feel uncomfortable at home due to their not knowing even the basics of the Ossetian culture…. The national youngsters have been deprived of their mother tongue. Until last year, for instance, there was no school in the North Ossetia that would render teaching in the Ossetian language”. ¬[gazeta “Pravda”,1989,11-XI]. No comment needed. To-date, when the devastated villages of Tskhinvali come to mind, when our fellowmen go uprooted from their abode in thousands having been turned into refugees in their own country, when along pains we do suffer from the offence of defeat, we acknowledge the circumstances realistically. Having to state a sorry fact, we realize that in the XXIst century of hopes and expectations, Man remains as covetous and vicious as in the former centuries; violence has not as yet been curbed. We firmly believe the world community ought to vociferously argue against the criminal intent of the Tskhinvali officials. It must be made clear for all that the Tskhinvali Region is the real Georgia and that Georgia is not Alania.




MARCH 17 - 20, 2017

Art Connections: The UK Gov’t Art Collection on Display at British Embassy Tbilisi

Candoco – World’s Leading Inclusive Dance Company Returns to Tbilisi REVIEW BY MAKA LOMADZE



he British Embassy in Georgia presented a new display of works from the UK Government Art Collection to guests at a reception hosted by the Ambassador, Justin McKenzie Smith, on Wednesday. The selection and installation of the new display, showcasing more than 30 works from internationally renowned artists, including Phyllida Barlow, Michael Landy, Marc Quinn, and Hamish Fulton, was curated by Adrian George, Senior Curator and Deputy Director of the UK Government Art Collection. “Georgia is a country defined by its culture, and so is Britain. I hope this will start new conversations between Britain and Georgia in the future,” Ambassador Smith said in his speech at the reception, going on to thank the Bank of Georgia Group for their support in bringing the art works from Britain to Georgia and



making the event possible. “Bank of Georgia rightly sees itself as one of the bridges between the UK and Georgia,” the British Ambassador added. “The Government Art Collection is the largest collection of British artists in the world,” George told guests. “It was set up 118 years ago with the sole intention of promoting British art and engaging in cultural diplomacy. Several years ago, when this [embassy] building was still being designed, the architect, Michael Wilford, came to us asking for suggestions about the works we could install here. What we’ve done now is to present a display of works of some very young British artists, but also some recognized British artists alongside them.” It is hoped that a connection will be made with the ambitions and aspirations of the British Embassy in Georgia. “The Embassy [here] is very forward-looking, very aware of what’s happening in terms of arts and culture, and particularly because the arts and culture scene in Tbilisi is very vibrant right now and rapidly expanding,” George concluded.


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he British Council in Georgia presented a striking double bill from the Candoco Dance Company, a contemporary group of disabled and non-disabled dancers, on 11 and 12 March at the Marjanishvili Theater. The performances were called Unlimited and the performers fully justified the title. The core of the inclusive dances is to make people see the dance and not the disability. That disabled and nondisabled people could cooperate each of their moves so aesthetically is never more difficult to imagine- and Candoco, last here in 2013, showed us how in their sell-out shows. Their popularity was proven in Georgia and it is a clear step towards making the necessary changes to combat social stigma against the disabled. Candoco has three main directions: performing, teaching and advocating rights of the disabled by means of bringing changes to the relevant policy. In 2012, the company performed alongside Coldplay at the Paralympic Games closing ceremony in London, and in 2015 won the UK Theater Award's 'Achievement in Dance' award. Their inclusiveness gives a new flavor to the work, inspiring it with new movements and style. It is impossible not to be at once captivated with the exquisiteness and lightless of the dance. The dancers move as if released from the weight of their bodies in a manner almost too good to be true- the most beautiful proof that genuine art has no boundaries at all...

The Sunday Times names Candoco performances ‘a joy to watch’, while The Guardian described it as ‘one of the most potent moments of theater’. Through their performances and educational activities, Candoco twists perceptions of what dance is, who can dance and who can experience it. The performances in Tbilisi were supplemented by a practical workshop with Candoco choreographers on inclusive contemporary dance. The company of disabled and nondisabled dancers creates excellent and profound experiences to excite, challenge and broaden perceptions of art, aesthetics and ability. First and foremost, Candoco encourages all disabled people to get involved in art, to use it as a form of self-expression, giving a sense of life, entertainment, and fun in which the student may even find a profession. Candoco’s performances in Tbilisi mark the launch of the British Council’s new program that aims to offer disabled artists in Georgia unprecedented and unique opportunities to develop professionally, create new work and collaborate internationally. GEORGIA TODAY talked to Zaza Purtseladze, Country Director of British Council Georgia: “This tour is not the only activity that is planned within the project. It aims to develop the professional network of disabled artists in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. We also aim at deepening this cooperation within the aforementioned countries, as well as creating a relevant platform. The latter should enable artists with disabilities to develop professionally, as well as participate in trainings that are also planned within the project,” he said. A workshop was also held that united disabled and non-disabled people, as

well as representatives from different sectors in order to raise awareness. The parties discussed problems and challenges that are present in this direction in Georgia. Concurrent to that, inclusive sectors are being researched in the four abovementioned countries. Stine Nilsen, Co-Director of Candoco, confirmed the progress among Georgians in this direction: “I have been cooperating with Candoco since 2000, the first seven years as a dancer and the last 10 as an artistic director. I’m really passionate about what we’re doing. I think that bringing dance out to more people is a great way to make changes happen. In terms of Georgia, there are more disabled people coming [to our shows/workshops] than there were three years ago. This is a small thing, but it’s an improvement. More disabled people are doing dance now in Georgia than 12 years ago when I first came here. It’s great!” GEORGIA TODAY asked Nilsen if they’ll be back. “We hope that within the British Council project, we will come back again. With its support, we’ve already set up a dance company in Armenia.” The privately-owned Armenian dance company is already training new dancers, and it is Nilsen’s desire to have the same happen in Georgia. “We want Georgians to be inspired by this unity of disabled and non-disabled dancers”. Eka Mazmishvili, Director of the Marjanishvili Theater, host of the event for the second time, noted: “This is the part of our long-term partnership with the British Council in many different directions. In this case, our welcome is special, as this is a really distinguished dance company in terms of artistic level as well as priorities. We are happy and proud and hope to cooperate with them again in future.”

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Jamiroquai to Perform at Black Sea Jazz Festival 2017 BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


he Black Sea Jazz Festival 2017 will run from July 27-30 in Batumi, Georgia, with concerts to be held at the Take 5 and Batumi Tennis

clubs. Jamiroquai, the headliner of the festival, will be presenting its new album to the audience along with popular older hits. The event’s size grows by the year and this year individual entrances will be added to the VIP, Silver and Gold zones which are expected to make access easier for the crowds. Ticket insurance is a novelty introduced for the Black Sea Jazz Festival 2017- those who buy tickets together with insurance will be able to receive a 100% refund in case you return them. Kids Stone, De La Soul, Cory Henry & The Apostles, and MF Robots are also featured in the announced 2017 line-up: CORY HENRY and THE FUNK APOSTLES at Take Five club July 27, 23:00 JAMIROQUAI Batumi Tennis Club July 28, 20:00 DE LA SOUL Batumi Tennis Club July 29, 20:00 JOSS STONE Batumi Tennis Club July 30, 20:00 MF ROBOTS Take Five club July 30, 23:00 A three-day VIP Zone ticket is priced

as 400 GEL, while one day tickets will only be available for the Silver Zone, priced from 100 to 250 GEL. The number of tickets is limited. Ticket sales will open at 9 am on March 27 on

TBC Status continues to support the Black Sea Jazz Festival, so tickets purchased with TBC Status or TBC Prime Cards will have an exclusive price, and TBC Bank clients will have a chance to buy tickets at a 20% discount.




MARCH 17 - 20, 2017


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 March 18 AIDA Starring: Irine Ratiani, Giorgi Oniani, Tea Demurishvili, Nikoloz Lagvilava, Kakhaber Tetvadze, Gia Asatiani, Nutsa Zakaidze, Tamaz Saginadze, Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater choir, Ballet dancers, orchestra Stage Director and Set Designer: Franco Zeffirelli Assistant Director and Light Designer: Stefano Trespidi Conductor: Zaza Azmaiparashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-80 GEL March 20 GIORGI ZAGARELI AND GEORGIAN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA Conductor: Ilya Inaishvili Giorgi Zagareli - viola Program: Valeriy Antonyuk - Concert for Viola and Orchestra (world premiere) Pyotr Tchaikovsky - Symphony N6 "Pathetique" Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-80 GEL GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 March 18 STOP AIDS Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL GRIBOEDOVI THEATER Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 March 16 MAYAKOVSKY Directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10 GEL

March 17 ENGLISH DETECTIVE Agatha Christie Directed by Vakhtang Nikolava Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10 GEL March 18 SCARLET SAIL Alexander Grin Directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 10 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 March 17, 18 IGI Jemal Karchkhade Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL March 19 PERFORMANCE LABYRINTH Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari March 17-23 LOGAN Directed by James Mangold Cast: Doris Morgado, Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 16:30 Ticket: 10-14 GEL KONG: SKULL ISLAND Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts Cast: Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 19:30, 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL TRAINSPOTTING Directed by Danny Boyle Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ewen

Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller Genre: Drama Language: Russian Start time: 13:45 Ticket: 9-14 GEL BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Directed by Bill Condon Cast: Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor Genre: Family, Fantasy, Musical Language: Russian Start time: 12:30, 15:30, 16:45, 19:00, 22:00 Ticket: 9-14 GEL SPLIT Directed by M. Night Shyamalan Cast: James McAvoy, Anya TaylorJoy, Haley Lu Richardson Genre: Horror, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 19:30, 22:15 Ticket: 9-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL March 16-23 LOGAN (Info Above) Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Info Above) Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 9-14 GEL SPLIT (Info Above) Start time: 14:15, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket: 9-14 GEL MUSEUM


The exhibition showcases money circulation on the territory of Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. THE TESTAMENT OF DAVID THE BUILDER AND THE NEW EXHIBITS OF MEDIEVAL TREASURY The exhibition showcases: a fragment of the only surviving testament of David the Builder, a copy of its glass negative made by Aleksandre Roinashvili in 1895, paleographical blades of David the Builder's handicrafts created by Sargis Kakabadze in 1911, the richly embellished gospel "Ceremonial" (Sazeimo) which is thought to have belonged to Queen Tamar, and more. September 27 (2016) – September 22 (2017) EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. EXHIBITION LADO GUDIASHVILI AND GEORGIAN MONUMENTAL PAINTING March 6 – April 6 THE EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION The exhibition showcases unique masterpieces of Georgian and world art preserved in the Museum of Fine Arts: Bernardo Daddi, Lucas Cranach (Elder), Guido Reni, Jan Steen, Jacob Van Ruisdael, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Vassily Kandinski, Robert Falk, Masterpieces by Niko Pirosmanashvili, Lado Gudiashvili and David Kakabadze. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 March 15 – April 15 THE EXHIBITION "DIFFERENTLY THAN USUAL MODERN DESIGN AND THE POWER OF CUSTOMS /ANDERS ALS IMMER. ZEITGENÖSSISCHES DESIGN UND DIE MACHT DES

GEWOHNTEN" The exhibition showcases 148 works by designers and groups of designers from 47 European countries. Miscellaneous projects are free from influence: their structure, function and meaning is perfectly comprehensible. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION Visitors can discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Soviet-era cultural and political repression in Georgia. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. March 10 - 28 RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION OF AMIR KAKABADZE Dedicated to the 75-year anniversary of the artist. The exhibition showcases artworks created in different media: painting, graphic, sculpture, pop art, film and theater painting. MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 March 23 MOEIN CONCERT Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 125-300 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 07 50 61 March 21, 23 JAZZ AT MT RESO KIKNADZE QUINTET Free Admission Start time: 21:00 March 22 MILONGA, LA CUMPARSITA ARGENTINE TANGO DANCE NIGHT Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 5 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE March 15 CONCERT OF WELL-KNOWN GEORGIAN COMPOSER AND CONDUCTOR SHAVLEG SHILAKADZE Start time: 19:30 Tickets: 5 GEL March 18 90-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF SULKHAN NASIDZE Start time: 19:30 Tickets: 5-20 GEL March 21 EVENING OF CHAMBER MUSIC Conductor: Shavleg Shilakadze Participants: pupils of the Zakharia Paliashvili Tbilisi Central Music School for “Gifted Children” Start time: 19:30 Tickets: 10 GEL TBILISI SPORTS PALACE Address: 1 26 May Sq. Telephone: 233 33 11 March 19 FOR LIFE Charity concert Participants: Niaz Diasamidze & 33A, Regioni, Nikolshow, Goofy Land, Banderoli, Loudspeakers, Windows and Levan Maspindzelashvili Start time: 19:00 Tickets: 10 GEL





National Gallery Pays Tribute to Amir Kakabadze BY MAKA LOMADZE


n March 10, at the Georgian National Museum Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery, the retrospective exhibition of the late Amir Kakabadze was opened, dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the artist. Amir Kakabadze was born to renowned Georgian artist David Kakabadze and Eter Andronikashvili. After graduating from the Tbilisi State Academy of Fine Arts, he lived and worked in Georgia, Russia and France. Visitors will have the chance to discover Kakabadze’s multifaceted art in an exhibition taking up all four halls of the ground floor which showcases artworks created in different media: paint, graphic, sculpture, collage, pop art, film and theater painting. He was awarded at a number of film and theater festivals and his filmography counts, among others, ‘On the Way Home,’ ‘Old House,’ ‘Sea,’ ‘Georgian Chronicle of the 19th Century,’ ‘Autumn on Tbilisi Balconies’ and ‘Pirosmani’. Art critic Khatuna Khabuliani writes: “Amir Kakabadze is an artist who visualized psychological formulas constructed on free nerve endings and surrealistic paradoxes. It is not easy to give perfect definitions for his oeuvre due to the variety and quantity he offered. It seems there are other meanings behind his art works. Enigma-codes or hidden contents of mysteries - that’s why his art always resembles a question which is never answered. “ “Amir and I were classmates and used to paint together as interns,” Gogi Alexi-Meskhishvili,

renowned theater painter, told GEORGIA TODAY. “I painted his portraits and presented them to his family. It’s great to see such an exhibition organized in his memory. The wider public will get to know him as a painter at the National Gallery.” David Andriadze, art critic, remembered Amir Kakabadze’s first exhibition. “It took place in 1988. I was a rookie then,” he told GEORGIA TODAY. “This exhibition will be a discovery for many artlovers. However, there are no surprises here for me as I’m very familiar with his work. I even dedicated a book to him named ‘Allegories of Seeing Paintings’. All his works represent a review of world culture with which Amir was very well acquainted. This exposition is full of allusions and reminiscences from world art, from Diurer to Salvador Dali. He was verily intelligent and an amazingly modest painter who well realized the responsibility of being the son of the great David Kakabadze.” Amir Kakabadze was an honorable artist of Georgia. During his life, he had 14 solo exhibitions in Georgia, Russia, Germany and France. His works were exhibited at: Gallery Vernisaje, Tbilisi, Georgia; the Georgian Embassy in London, Great Britain; the Bad Rappenau, Germany; the Central Artist’s House, Moscow, Russia and more, and he participated in many more group expos, including in Canada, Spain, Germany, France, and Russia. The organizer of the exhibition is the David Kakabadze Fund. Supporters are: Tbilisi City Hall, the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, Artarea and two private companies. Where: Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery, Shota Rustaveli 11 Ave. When: The exhibition will last until March 29.

Zaza Pachulia on the EuroBasket and Georgian Basketball Source: yahoosports



Spain, Lithuania, France, Serbia…there are so many good teams. I’ve played against many European teams and anyone can be a surprise if they play hard. With the tight schedule, you need the contribution of everybody in your team. To have 5 games in 7 nights is worse than the NBA schedule. You have to prepare really well and try to win as much as possible.



n his 14th season in the league, Georgian center Zaza Pachulia has a serious shot at winning the NBA ring this time, as he’s now part of one of the most talented teams in NBA history. While enjoying his role in the Warriors, Pachulia took time out to check on his basketball academy in Tbilisi and to talk to us about the upcoming EuroBasket.

It’s a very special situation here: a great team, very good coaching staff, very nice organization. There is a lot of talent in this locker room. We have good chemistry; we’re all on the same page; we get along with each other; and all this helps us to perform on the court.

WHAT MAKES THIS TEAM SO SPECIAL? There’s no secret formula. The talent in this team is, obviously, amazing. We use our talent and, with the guidance of our coaching staff, share the ball and help each other. It’s fun when you do the right things.

THE EUROBASKET IS THIS SUMMER. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS? We enjoy playing for coach Zouros. He’s brought a lot of positive things. We climbed the rope and qualified for EuroBasket. It’s exciting for the country, for the team and for myself. We’re looking forward to competing at EuroBasket. It’s a special moment when you represent your country; it’s something to always take seriously. Hopefully, we’ll have everybody healthy, have a good training camp, and make another round. Let’s see what happens.



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Yes, the floor is laid in my academy in Tbilisi. We have almost 600 kids. The academy is doing pretty well. The kids are excited, working hard, practicing, playing a lot of games, and getting better. There is progress. I see their enthusiasm. They want to get better, become good basketball players and represent the country. It’s exciting when someone -with your help- is trying to pursue a goal. The kids understand that the coaches are doing a good job, teaching them the right habits, the fundamentals, and that success doesn’t come in one day. It’s going to take hard work and a lot time on the court.



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MARCH 17 - 20, 2017

Full House Roars Georgia on to 16th Straight Win over Russia BY ALASTAIR WATT


raucous home crowd of over 55,000 at Tbilisi’s Dinamo Arena, which exceeded the attendance at Rome’s Olympic Stadium for Italy v France the previous day, roared Georgia on to a 28-14 victory over neighbors Russia last Sunday evening in the penultimate round of matches in this year’s Rugby Europe Championship. The Georgia v Russia fixture has become a reliable annual boost to the national morale here, with this the sixteenth Georgian success in a row. Scenes of adulation and joy followed the final whistle at a packed Dinamo Arena but this wasn’t quite as emphatic as the Georgian fans perhaps expected. Indeed, this was Georgia’s narrowest winning margin over the Russians on their home turf since a slender 9-3 success in 2004. Under Milton Haig, prior to this match the Russians had lost 46-0, 36-10 and 33-0 in Tbilisi. With the Russians having endured a poor campaign so far, including a loss to Spain, expectations among the home support were of a similarly merciless demolition. Such hopes were only further encouraged when Georgia notched their first score of the evening inside four minutes. After some typically robust forward pressure, the ball was swept left from scrumhalf Vasil Lobzhanidze and eventually found center Giorgi Koshadze who dived

over for the opener as the Dinamo erupted. Full-back Merab Kvirikashvili did the honours with the resulting conversion to hand the Lelos a 7-0 advantage. And the experienced Kvirikashvili would then produce the moment of the match, embarking on a thrilling run from deep in his own half, sliding past three Russians before setting up Lobzhanidze

for Georgia’s second score in the 27th minute, which was duly converted. Georgia couldn’t add to their tally before the break, although their 14-0 lead should have been reduced on the stroke of halftime. A rash decision to run with the ball, rather than kick to touch for the half-time whistle, ultimately led to Russia winning a penalty.

Home blushes were spared when Russian fly-half Yuri Kushnarev fired wide. Following the restart, the Georgians continued on the front foot with the uncompromising Mamuka Gorgodze spearheading much of their attack. It was after another spell of sustained pressure near the Russian line that Lobzhanidze pounced to touch down for his

second of the afternoon. Kvirikashvili’s conversion extended the advantage to 21-0, with over half an hour to go. However, there was to be no humiliation for the Russians who fought back valiantly. The dogged determination of full-back Ramil Gaisin would secure the visitors a first try of the game in the 55th minute, scoring a meter from the posts to give Kushnarev a straight forward conversion to reduce the arrears to 21-7. The Russians conceded a penalty almost immediately but Kvirikashvili missed a routine kick which briefly kept the visitors in the game. Georgia soon restored their 21-point cushion though when Lobzhanidze found Davit Kacharava, and the experience replacement slid over the whitewash for the fourth Georgian score of the match. The final try of the evening would go to the Russians though as a breakdown in Georgian defensive lines allowed Bogdan Fedotko to score his first international try. Kushnarev’s conversion brought it back to 28-14 but the Russians had limited time remaining to snatch a defensive bonus point, let alone a draw. A lap of honor ensued for the home side upon the final whistle, which the fans embraced vociferously, suggesting that the extent of the winning margin was actually of minimal concern. The result keeps the Georgians top of the table going into the decider against second-placed Romania in Bucharest on March 19, while Russia are in danger of finishing bottom and a subsequent relegation play-off.

Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #929  

March 17 - 20, 2017

Issue #929  

March 17 - 20, 2017