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Issue no: 1151



In this week’s issue... Chairs of Georgia, Azerbaijan Border Delimitation Commissions Hold Meeting NEWS PAGE 2

Georgia, Kazakhstan to Offer Joint Logistic Projects


The CoE Sec Gen speaks out for human rights


Controversy Already Swirling Around Elections in Zugdidi BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

Trial against Former Armenian President Kocharyan Launched amid Rising Tensions POLITICS PAGE 6

TBC Insurance Launches Health Insurance Service BUSINESS PAGE 9


n May 19, mayoral by-elections will be held in five cities across Georgia. The race which has drawn the most attention, and risen the most preliminary controversies, has been in Zugdidi. The capital of the SamegreloZemo Svaneti region in western Georgia, the Zugdidi municipality has a population of approximately 105,000 people. Facing off at the polls on Sunday for the leadership of the municipality are Sandra Roelofs, the wife of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, representing the United Opposition coalition, and Giorgi Shengelia, backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party. Continued on page 2


Bubbles in the Operating Room – Psychosocial Assistance in Children’s Hospitals SOCIETY PAGE 10

Image source: Civil.ge

Art & Innovation Hub Opens in Tbilisi CULTURE PAGE 13

Tbilisi Opera for Young Singers





MAY 17 - 20, 2019

CoE Sec Gen: All LGBTI Persons Must Be Protected from Discrimination in Law & Practice COE PRESS RELEASE


head of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia marked on May 17, Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland urged for justice and full protection against discrimination for all persons, irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics, in all the Council of Europe member states. “There must be no discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, and this prohibition must be clearly spelled out in the law and implemented in practice in all our member States,” Jagland said. He added that the future discussions in the Committee of Ministers on the review of the 2010 Recommendation on Combatting Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity will allow member states to show political will and further the progress in protecting everyone from discrimination. The majority of the Council of Europe member states have expressly prohibited

discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination legislation, or in specific laws regulating employment, education, health, goods and services. A smaller number of states have expressly banned discrimination on the gender identity basis. Secretary General also raised the issue

of medical operations required for legal gender recognition (the process of changing name and gender of transgender persons in official documents and registries). “European states must bring their legislation and practices in line with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights in this area,” he said.

Compulsory sterilization requirements are still applied in the process of gender recognition in thirteen member states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Georgia, Latvia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Turkey); this contravenes the landmark ECtHR

judgment on the case of A.P., Garçon & Nicot vs France (2017) in which the European Court ruled that making legal gender recognition conditional on undergoing operation or sterilizing treatment amounted to a breach of the right to respect for private life. In many of the Council of Europe member states, no formal procedures for legal gender recognition exist altogether, despite the 2010 Recommendation by the Committee of Ministers which called on states to guarantee “the change of name and gender in official documents in a quick, transparent and accessible way.” Medical operations are an issue for intersex persons, too. Stereotyping and lack of awareness often result in medically unnecessary interventions which violate the bodily integrity and the rights of intersex persons. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in its Resolution 2191 (2017) called on all member states to ban unnecessary “sex-normalizing” surgeries carried out without the informed consent of the person concerned. The protection of bodily integrity has been addressed by the Council of Europe through various legal instruments, including the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.

Chairs of Georgia, Azerbaijan Border Delimitation Commissions Hold Meeting BY THEA MORRISON

T Ryanair May Fly from Tbilisi and Kutaisi BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


iorgi Chogovadze – the GM of United Airports of Georgia – states that the wellknown low-cost Irish airline, Ryanair, plans on expanding its route network to includeGeorgia. He said the agreement "will be created soon and signed officially." Chogovadze also reported that Tbilisi Airport will not be the only one welcom-

ing Ryanair as Kutaisi International Airport is also being considered. “Following the command from PM (Mamuka Bakhtadze), we have leveled up negotiations with Ryanair. These negotiations are almost done and resolved. In the near future we will most likely sign a contract. But at this point, I don’t find it appropriate to discuss anything about the [Kutaisi] subject in advance. We are in the process of on-going negotiations so that customers can fly with Ryanair airline from both Tbilisi and Kutaisi Airports,” said Chogovadze in an interview.

he Heads of Georgia and Azerbaijan’s border delimitation commissions held a meeting on May 14. The special representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia, Deputy Foreign Minister Lasha Daraselia, and the special representative of the President of Azerbaijan, Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov, held a working meeting in Baku. “The sides discussed the delimitation of the state border and discussed future steps. It was noted that approximately 2/3 of the state border is agreed by the relevant commissions and it is necessary to update active communication with the purpose of reconciling the positions of the parties on the disputed sections,” the MFA said. The ministry noted that the parties underlined the importance of the issue and noted that any provocations are unacceptable. “The sides agreed that they will be guided by the spirit of strategic partnership. They expressed their willingness

to conduct constructive negotiations and emphasized the need to take good neighborly relations and strategic partnership between the two countries into consideration,” the statement reads. It was agreed that the official session of governmental commissions of the two countries’ will be held next week. Negotiations on the border demarcation became active after Azerbaijan restricted access to some parts of the Davit Gareji monastery complex, located at the border of the two countries, in

early May. The site is a Georgian Orthodox cave monastery complex located in the Kakheti region of Eastern Georgia, on the halfdesert slopes of Mount Gareji, 60–70 km southeast of Georgia's capital Tbilisi. The complex includes hundreds of cells, churches, chapels, refectories and living quarters hollowed out of the rock face. Part of the complex is located in the Aghstafa district of Azerbaijan, which has many times been the subject of a dispute.

Controversy Already Swirling Around Elections in Zugdidi Continued from page 1 Political commentator Zaza Jgarkava predicts that the battle in Zugdidi “could be decisive for Georgian Dream...[made] obvious from the fact that Bidzina Ivanishvili himself has been seen there recently,” he wrote in a recent op-ed for GEORGIA TODAY. The Roelofs campaign is betting that Zugdidi will initiate a wave of opposition victories nationwide, with the slogan “Victory Begins with Zugdidi.” On Tuesday, Roelofs’s party, United National Movement (UNM), reported that she and her team were physically assaulted by five attackers. The attack was allegedly led by a Samegrelo local named Gela Kvaratskhelia, who was

detained after the incident. While being brought into the police station, he shouted to reporters gathered outside, “I have always been and will always be a supporter of Zviad Gamsakhurdia. I will not allow Sandra Roelofs to enter Samegrelo.” The clash is reported to have lasted about 15 minutes, and UNM claims that police were slow to arrive to break it up. Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia, however, denied that accusation, promising that criminals will be brought to justice regardless of political affiliations, and that the elections will be “free from violence and clean,” as the previous elections were. Roelofs responded to the incident by meeting with Georgia’s diplomatic core, calling on them to ensure that the elec-

tions are free and fair. “We saw yesterday evening that the situation is very tense... We asked the diplomatic corps to react to this situation in order to prevent the repetition of what happened in the second round of presidential elections bribery, rigging and pressure,” Roelofs briefed reporters after the meetings. Later Tuesday afternoon, the SamegreloZemo Svaneti Regional Prosecutor's Office opened an investigation into an alleged vote-buying scheme in the Zugdidi municipality, in connection with a hidden camera video recording that appears to show a member of the Georgian Dream party discussing orders “received from above” related to votebuying and bribery with a member of

the Zugdidi City Assembly. Both sides are accusing the other of manufacturing controversy and conflict. “It seems [the government is] preparing for a massive special operation,” said Roelofs. On the Georgian Dream side, Vice Speaker of Parliament Tamar Chugoshvili said on Wednesday that “there are are obvious signs that the opposition have plans to stir unrest” in Zugdidi, and called on the diplomatic corps, local and foreign organizations to pay particular attention to the Zugdidi elections. Earlier on Wednesday, UNM and its allied parties, forming the United Opposition, held a rally in front of the Zugdidi district election commission to protest the abuse of UNM members and what they

say was the early, illegal transfer of voters’ lists to polling stations in Zugdidi. The United Opposition plans to send 5,000 activists from across the country to monitor the elections in Zugdidi on Sunday. The United Opposition also demanded the return of voter rolls and seals issued by the district electoral commission. Although the Central Election Commission claims that the distribution was in line with regular standards, they agreed to return the lists and seals. The voter lists, the United Opposition feared, could be used to unfairly influence voters. The voter rolls and seals will be redistributed to the Zugdidi polling stations, together with ballot papers, a few hours before the elections.




MAY 17 - 20, 2019

Georgia, Kazakhstan to Offer Joint Logistic Projects BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze announced that together with Kazakhstan, the country will offer international companies joint logistics projects. Bakhtadze made the statement during his official working visit to Kazakhstan on May 15-16. The PM said the two countries together make up a crucial transit axis, adding Kazakhstan is an exceptionally important partner and friend of Georgia. “Together, we are implementing vital joint projects of regional importance. At the same time, Kazakhstan is one of the largest investors in our economy. Last year, our trade grew 35%. Similarly, our export to Kazakhstan is growing in leaps and bounds, which is commendable, though I believe that there is more untapped potential. Consequently, today a very important agreement was signed:the Roadmap seeking to double the trade between the two countries over the next couple of years," he said. He noted that with Kazakh officials, he discussed agricultural cooperation, among other fields of cooperation, which will enable Kazakhstan to export more wheat to Georgia. “In addition, using Georgia's ports will

enable Kazakhstan to increase export to the Mediterranean. It is a complex project that requires prudent development, but I am convinced that, together, we will make it work. At the same time, directions have been identified in which we can offer absolutely new products to the international market, such as the chemical industry, for example, and I strongly believe that we will also make concrete success in these directions," he added. The Prime Minister said the visit was quite productive and expressed his strong belief that it will be a new impetus further deepening the economic and political relations between the two countries. He also took part in the Astana Economic Forum and discussed Georgia's investment potential and possibilities. Before that, Bakhtadze had a meeting with his Kazakh counterpart, Askar Mamin, face-to-face and in an extended format too. The meeting underlined the importance of tapping into the potential of more active bilateral economic ties, and the role of the two countries' Intergovernmental Economic Commission in this process. According to the parties, Georgia and Kazakhstan are good traditional partners who have jointly implemented numerous far-reaching projects, though it is certainly possible to achieve much more. The Georgian delegation welcomed Kazakh investors' interest in teaming up with Georgian partners to invest in logis-

Image source: PM’s Press Office

tics and to develop different types of processing enterprises. The parties signed the Memorandum on Social Labor and Agricultural Cooperation, an Agreement Protocol on Automobile Transport between the Government of Georgia and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the 2019-2020 Roadmap for Enhancing Goods Nomenclature between the Republic of Kazakhstan and Georgia.

During the meeting with the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, focus was put on the performance of the Inter-Governmental Commission of the two countries, which is mandated to find ways for doubling the trade volumes. Active cooperation and achievements made in the area of investments was praised. One of the topics of discussion was the intensified cooperation between the marine ports of the two countries.

Tokayev extended advance congratulations to Prime Minister Bakhtadze on the Independence Day of Georgia celebrated on May 26, and wished prosperity to the people of Georgia. In addition, Bakhtadze met with Chairwoman of the Senate of the Republic of Kazakhstan Dariga Nazarbayeva. The conversation focused on the friendly relations and successful investment cooperation between the two countries.

It Is Crucial to Watch Changes among the Russian Elites

Image source: photo-moskva.ru



eorgia's and to a large extent any other post-Soviet state's foreign policy depends on what happens in/to Russia. Problems in the Russian economy might be causing reverberations in Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, etc., but it still is not a long-term problem. What should matter more fundamentally to us are internal developments within the Russian ruling class, changes in the gov-

ernment, struggle among powerful groupings, and relations between the civil and military branches. In other words, we need to pay closer attention to the Russian elites which govern the country and therefore control the country's foreign policy. This is important since Russia's internal situation often has a bearing on foreign policy, and that is where it matters to us. To be sure, watching developments in a country's ruling elites is crucial for almost every modern state which is geopolitically active. But with Russia, this is even more important as the political power in the country does not derive

from the people as in the European democracies, but rather from powerful security and military agencies which enable the central government in Moscow to control efficiently large swathes of territories, usually of unfriendly geographic conditions. The way modern Russian elites operate is very similar to the way how Soviet and imperial (Romanov) governments worked. Quite surprisingly, in all the cases Russian elites have been always perceptible of changing economic or geopolitical situation inside or outside the country. It is often believed that a ruler, again whether during the imperial or Soviet times, wielded ultimate power over the fate of the population and the governing elites. The same notion works for Vladimir Putin. Westerners often portray him as a sole ruler to all the affairs Russian and non-Russian and a major voice in what should be done. True, the incumbent president is powerful, but he gained this authority more as a balancer among several powerful groups of interests such as military, economic, security, cultural and numerous smaller factions inside each of these large groups. To many, it might seem strange and hardly possible that the Russian president balances rather than rules, but generally a Russian ruler, despite the historically autocratic models of government, always had to pay attention to changing

winds among the country’s elites. In the beginning, if all goes badly, the elites might be silent for the fear of oppression, but slowly and steadily they would always try to influence the government. If this did not work, the Russian elites would not hesitate to abandon the ‘sinking ship'. Indeed, Russian history shows how powerful the Russian elites are and how vital their support for a government is. Take the example of the Romanov dynasty before World War I. There was a big disenchantment with the way the government operated and once the Tsarist rule failed in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 and the WWI, the result was immediate: the elites turned their back on the Romanovs and the Empire ceased to exist in 1917. Perhaps an even better example is how the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Though there were military problems, corruption as well as economic woes, it was still in the minds and hearts of the ruling Russian and Ukrainian, Georgian and other governing circles that the idea of a common state failed. Nowadays, Russia is experiencing serious problems, ranging from economic and educational to purely geopolitical. There are occasional signs that the Russian elites are getting more worried about the future prospects of the country. Where before the Ukrainian crisis there was still hope of final European-Russian

rapprochement and the idea that Russians had to model themselves on Europe, now this idea is dead. Thus, along with social and foreign policy troubles, the Russians are also experiencing a purely spiritual problem. All point to the fact that there are too many issues which have accumulated during Putin's rule, which, surely, will not be easy to change overnight, but there is a growing understanding that this chosen way is not getting Russia to a spectacularly good place in the world arena. This brings us to the pivotal question of what Russia will be like after Putin. Is a change to the existing status quo possible? Many developments show that it is a plausible scenario. Considering how many problems have accumulated and considering how troublesome historically it has been for the Russian elites to act openly against the government, it is possible that once Putin is out, internal infighting among elite groups will take place. As a result, reverberations to foreign policy will follow. It is not about wishful thinking on the part of the western community, but rather the result of an analysis of Russian history and the Russian mentality. Almost always, changes at the top of the government, whether peaceful or otherwise, have an impact on the foreign and internal situation. This is what should be meticulously studied by the Georgians.

Zurabishvili: Russia's Aggression Strengthens Our Euro-Atlantic Aspirations BY THEA MORRISON


eorgian President Salome Zurabishvili says that Russia's aggressive policy makes Georgia’s EuroAtlantic aspirations even stronger. She made the statement at the meeting with the Prime Minister of Latvia Arturs Krišjanis Karinš, held within the framework of Zurabishvili’s

official visit to Latvia. The Georgian President provided the Latvian PM with detailed information about the situation in the occupied territories of Georgia, noting that Russia had turned occupied regions of Georgia into military bases, where it systematically violates human rights. She also said that Russia should be under constant pressure at the meetings held by international organizations to fulfill its obligations. Arturs Krišjanis Karinš said that Georgia's partner countries should remind

Russia of the importance of resolving Georgia's problem. During her visit, Zurabishvili also met President of Latvia Raimonds Vejonis and the Speaker of the Latvian Saeima Inara Murniece. According to Inara Murniece, Latvia is well aware of the conflict with Russia and it helps Georgia to better inform Europeans of the occupation. Inara Murniece called Georgia a "best friend" and a leading Eastern Partnership country. She said the EU should have special approaches to Georgia.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 17 - 20, 2019


EU Commissioner Hahn Says All Fine with Georgia's Visa-Free Regime



uropean Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, says everything is going well with regards Georgia’s visa-free regime with the European Union. The Commissioner made the statement on Monday, ahead of the opening of the Ministerial in connection with the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership in Brussels. Hahn was asked a question regarding the possibility of the activation of the suspension mechanism, as there have been concerns from some EU countries regarding the increased number of Georgian asylum-seekers. However, he said everything is fine regarding the issue. “Today, we celebrate ten years since the establishment of a very intensive partnership. Over the past few years, we

have particularly activated the Eastern Partnership from a political point of view. In parallel, we have very individual bilateral relations with each country. In general, I think that we’ve given a big boost to economic development, communication, and contacts between people,” he said.

On 13 May 2019, the Foreign Ministers and representatives of Member States of the European Union, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Foreign Ministers of the six Eastern European Partners met in Brussels to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership, to reiterate its importance, to celebrate its success and achievements so far, as well as to reflect on the future of our continued strategic and ambitious partnership. EaP is a joint initiative involving the EU, its Member States, and six Eastern European Partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. It is a specific dimension of the European Neighborhood Policy. The Eastern Partnership aims at building a common area of shared democracy, prosperity, stability and increased cooperation. Additionally, bonds forged through the Eastern Partnership help to strengthen state and societal resilience: it makes both the EU and the partners stronger and better able to deal with internal and external challenges.

Georgia and France Reach Agreement on Legal Employment of Georgians BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani stated that the legal employment of Georgian citizens abroad is one of the priority directions, adding an agreement on the issue has already been reached with France. “This is an important step for preventing the growth of the number of asylum seekers,” he added. The Minister said similar negotiations are also underway with several other countries. "This is one of the main directions of integration with the European Union and is a part of people-to-people contact and mobility. We are working on this issue with Germany, Poland, the Baltic States, Romania, Portugal and Israel,

which is not an EU member,” he said. Zalkaliani noted certain pilot projects are being carried out together with the International Organization for Migration. “We already have specific results. An inter-agency working group has been set up, which involves representatives of the Ministries of Health, Education and Foreign Affairs and, naturally, we will take more steps in the future,” he added. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that together with the Ministry of Health, they are actively cooperating with EU/ Schengen member states, and with Israel, to facilitate temporary labor migration. “In terms of circular migration, the Georgian side cooperates with the Federal Republic of Germany, where the German government is actively considering the revision of approaches relating to the immigrant workforce in general,” the ministry added.




MAY 17 - 20, 2019

The Pre-Electoral Mood OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


ension and discomfort saturate the spectrum of political beliefs and practices in Georgia, and that’s not all our worn-out and fed-up, although still responsive, electorate has started feeling prior to the parliamentary elections of 2020, and prior to some of the midterm ones too. Also noticeable in the country’s heatingup political minefield are the explosive public moods, among them apprehension about possible errors lurking behind the scene; likely wrongs that will need extraordinary adjustments; anxiety and fear that something bad or unpleasant might happen; misgivings about the honesty of politicians in general; uneasiness and worry concerning the chances of the promoted aspirants to eminence; heightened disbelief in the integrity of participating political forces in the incipient electoral marathon; second thoughts about who deserves to be trusted more with the future of the nation. Georgia has seen countless elections of various levels and significance in the last thirty years but has never been completely happy with the consequential post-electoral developments because something has always gone wrong with the choice of the people. This is why the pre-electoral strain and fretfulness are always present, our electorate having

learnt many good and bad lessons in the post-soviet political past. In this overall picture of electoral feelings and attitudes, the most definitive moment is certainly the struggle for power between the ruling party, assisted by the media working on their side, and the oppositional forces, helped by the means of mass communication, acting in their favor. I would not be very far from the truth if I said a neutral and objective media would have been the best thing that could happen to an average voter in Georgia to help them make a good decision at the solemn moment of his or her thoughtful privacy within the confines of the palling station. To wit, the voter who is safe from brainwashing would feel politically and morally independent to make the most reasonable choice. I tend to qualify the entire situation, tongue-in-cheek of course, as a split bunch of kids on the block, ready to beat each other black-and-blue for the best girl in the neighborhood, in our case, the girl being sweet power and the cherished right to rule the motherland, mandated by its majesty, the people. The ‘kids’ would do anything, literally anything, to win the ‘girl’s’ heart and conquer her mind: fact-finding against each other; hurling derogatory recriminations on the opponent’s head; hissing deprecationcentered rhymes upon one another; showering the adversary with dirty slanderous inferences; celebrating any bad news connected with the challenger;

Image source: neweurope.eu

ruining each other’s life and career with venomous insinuations; using a muscle to physically overpower the foe; desperately pursuing the goals that serve for their survival; relentlessly fighting for the triumph of the party of affiliation and the defeat of the rivaling alliance. Now the question is if the nation is a winner or loser as a result of this kind of electoral collision. Another question is if this might be called a sample of democracy in the immediate meaning

of the word which, in the best-case scenario, should be working on our people’s better future and current quality of life. There is a third question that might be the most imperative among the raised three: on whose shoulders will the blame be loaded if the development of the country suffers a serious drawback because the rulers of the nation and their opponents are incapable of entering constructive competition to give our people a chance to proceed productively

on the road to success and happiness? I’m afraid, when push comes to shove, every responsible shoulder will momentarily break away from the burden of fault with habitual political cunning and professional skill. Meanwhile, the election-ridden nation will continue the ever-flowing electoral process wistfully to somehow find itself at the gate of the thirty-year promise of post-communist paradise. Blessed are the hopeful, aren’t they?

Trial against Former Armenian President Kocharyan Launched amid Rising Tensions BY KAREN TOVMASYAN


he trials of the former president of Armenia, Robert Kocharian (1998-2008), and three of his key officials have been launched. The former president faces charges of overthrowing the constitutional order on March 1, 2008 and stands in violation of the Constitution of Armenia for using army units to shoot at and disperse the ten-day sit-in and non-stop demonstrations which came as a result of the disputed and widely criticized 2008 presidential elections. On February 19, 2008, the first President of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosyan (1991-1998), succeeded in uniting the opposition forces in support of his nomination. According to the official results of the most criticized Armenian presidential elections, President TerPetrosyan, who was the second in the race, failed to recognize the official results of the elections and urged his supporters to start non-stop peaceful demonstrations in the center of Yerevan until the hearings of his lawsuit at the Constitutional Court. The non-stop demonstrations soon brought results, as a number of key governmental officials, including ambassadors and diplomats, spoke out in support of the opposition movement. According to the investigation, on the third consecutive day of the non-stop demonstrations, Kocharyan ordered his Defense Minister Mikael Harutyunyan to form special army units made up of officers loyal to Kocharyan, and locate them in the capital of Armenia to use them against the opposition movement, which was increasing in size and power by the day. On the 10th consecutive day of the peaceful demonstrations, the opposition protesters were attacked by police forces on Freedom Square. The leader of the

peaceful demonstrations was forcefully taken to his residence and kept there, while his supporters started another demonstration lead by current Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, calling for the immediate release of the first president and for the government to secure the safety of the peaceful demonstrations. Hours later, the government attacked the demonstration, opening fire and shooting at least eight peaceful demonstrators. As a result of the attack, two police officers were killed. The heads of the National Security and Special Investigative Service, during their joint interview in September 2018, said one of the officers was killed by an officer of a special regiments unit for propaganda purposes so as to allow a state of emergency to be announced and to show that the opposi-

tion movement was not peaceful and was violent. After the dispersion of the peaceful demonstration, Kocharyan’s administration launched a wave of political repressions against the opposition supporters, arresting hundreds of political activists and supporters of opposition and suspending the media from publishing for 40 days. Pashinyan, who was one of the key members of Ter-Petrosyan’s political camp, went into hiding for 1.4 years, after which he voluntarily went to the Prosecutor’s Office and as a result spent two years in prison, only released as a result of Ter-Petrosyan’s political dialogue with the government in 2011. Kocharyan and his officials, charged for overthrowing the constitutional order, do not recognize themselves as guilty and say they are victims of a political vendetta launched by Pashinyan as

revenge for his imprisonment. Public opinion and leading experts find these justifications amusing. Kocharyan, who was the only person responsible for giving orders to the Army, now says that he was not informed about the commands of his Defense Ministry and that he would have been unable to overthrow the constitutional order as he was the guardian of that very same order. A representative of the victims of the March 1 attack, Vahe Grigoryan, said the investigation has disclosed “shocking information” about the tragedy of 11 years ago. This trial, which is one of the most important in the history of Armenia, however, has generated problems in Armenian-Russian relations, as Russian President Vladimir Putin is publicly demonstrating his support for Kocharyan, congratulating his imprisoned colleague,

a fact which has become a topic of anecdotes and jokes in Armenia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has also criticized Pashinyan’s government for political revenge against the political opponents of the government. The leading Russian state-owned TV channels have already released several news manipulations on this topic blaming Pashinyan for political vendetta and revenge. Russia even rejected the extradition of the former Defense Minister of Armenia, Mikael Harutyunyan, one of the key actors of the March 1 shooting, claiming that the former Armenian Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General HQ of the Armenian army has received Russian citizenship. According to an adviser of the government of Russia and the editor in chief of Regnum news agency, Modest Kovelov’s interview on Armenian online portal 1in.am, Pashinyan categorically refused to listen to Putin’s opinion on the Kocharyan trial or discuss the topic, which was received with anger in Moscow, as Kocharyan had worked in the interest of Kremlin and is recognized as a friend and ally of the Kremlin in Armenia. The trials of Kocharyan and the key members of his administration who had connections to the attack have increased tensions in Armenia. Kocharyan’s supporters attacked a prominent Armenian civil activist Vardges Gaspari when he attempted to enter to the hearings with a poster “Robert murderer.” Last Thursday, a large number of civil activists gathered to support Gaspari against Kocharyan, while down the street a smaller number of Kocharyan-supporters were demonstrating. According to rumors, Kocharyan’s team is offering 20.000 AMD (about 100 GEL) for citizens to participate in demonstrations in support of Kocharyan, however this GT reporter in Armenia failed to confirm this..




MAY 17 - 20, 2019

MKD on Competition Law I

t has been five years since the creation of the Competition Agency and reactivation of the Law of Georgia On Competition. The law regulates competitive behavior of the undertakings operating on the Georgian market and imposes fines for violating the rules of competition. The Competition Agency has been active in the enforcement of the law. To identify current trends and enforcement practices of the Competition Agency, GEORGIA TODAY interviewed Baqar Palavandishvili, lawyer and leading practitioner of Competition Law at the Mgaloblishvili Kipiani Dzidziguri (MKD) law firm. MKD has been operating on the legal market of Georgia for over two decades, offering a full range of legal services to its local and international clients. The firm, among other matters, advises on legal and commercial issues in connection with various investment projects in Georgia, covering both the public and private sectors, as well as actively participating in the improvement of the Georgian regulatory framework. MKD has advised wide range of clients on competition and merger control, including major international airlines, tobacco companies, hotel chains, online travel agencies, oil and gas corporations, local distributors, importers, and manufacturers. MKD lawyers are regularly praised by the most renowned global legal directories (Chambers&Partners, The Legal 500, IFLR1000) for their extensive track record, commitment and for maintaining the highest professional standards. According to rankings 2019 by the Legal 500, Baqar Palavandishvili received an individual recommendation as a ‘Next Generation Lawyer’.


Due to the novelty of the law and absence of Georgian court practice, it is not always clear what type of actions are permitted under the competition law


The purpose of the Law of Georgia On Competition is to support the liberalization of the Georgian market and ensure free trade and competition. It regulates matters related to the issuance of State aid, concentration of undertakings, unfair competition and prohibits the abuse of dominant position and agreements which are restrictive of the competitive process. The law applies to a broad spectrum of undertakings, such as manufacturers, distributors, importers, service providers and others. The State actors also fall within the ambit of the law. The Georgian Competition Law is based on European Union law. In fact, the reactivation of the competition law in 2014 was one of the obligations Georgia undertook under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, which required the creation of a functioning body administering competition law matters in the country.

IN WHAT TERMS IS GEORGIAN COMPETITION LAW SIMILAR TO EU LAW AND WHAT DOES THIS ENTAIL? Two main articles of the law, Article 6 on the abuse of dominant position and Article 7 on anti-competitive agreements, are very similar in wording to articles 102 and 101 respectively of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Besides, according to the explanatory note to the 2014 amendments to the Law of Georgia on Competition and Free Trade (as it was called before 2014), which reactivated the law, introduced major changes and created the Competition Agency, the law is based on and is in full compliance with EU regulations and directives. The Georgian Competition Agency frequently relies on the decisions of the European Union court and European Commission. In its 2017 decisions on cases concerning tobacco companies and oil importers, the Supreme Court of Georgia also referred to the cases decided by the European Court of Justice. Reference to and reliance on European Union law has very important implications: first, Georgia, in effect, subscribed to legal and economic reasoning prevalent in the EU to assess competitive practices; second, the Georgian business sector has to navigate through a completely new legal terrain, with its inconsistencies and unresolved matters; and thirdly, Georgian judges would have to embrace and apply new legal and economic concepts to decide competition matters.

HOW ARE COMPETITIVE PRACTICES ASSESSED IN EUROPE? The question can be best answered if we contrast European and American approaches to the abuse of dominant cases (monopolization as it is called in the US).

generally, pricing practices of the undertakings having a dominant position.


In the United States, the competition (antitrust) authorities would delay intervention into the conduct of the market participants to the last moment, leaving the market to provide as far as possible by itself for a definition of its own dynamics. In contrast, the European Commission seeks to prevent the risk of breach of competition law and distortion of the competitive process and inserts itself more frequently and earlier into ongoing market dynamics. The approach of US authorities sets the boundary of public power as far ahead as possible, accepting the risk of private power. The European Commission, however, does not accept that risk and instead runs the risk of preventive intrusions by public power. Georgian policymakers would have to decide which of the two approaches above would be most appropriate for the Georgian market. It seems to me that for the moment the enforcement practice of the Competition Agency of Georgia is akin to the US approach.

WHAT DOES GEORGIAN BUSINESS THINK ABOUT COMPLIANCE WITH THE COMPETITION LAW? Due to the novelty of the law and absence of Georgian court practice, it is not always clear what type of actions are permitted under the competition law and if economic actors are allowed to enter into particular transactions. In these circumstances, undertakings may opt for the avoidance of the risk altogether by not engaging in a particular course of action, which could potentially have a chilling effect on the overall economic activity. For example, it is not infrequent that a client of ours asks if particular clause in the contract with its supplier, or its unilateral action in relation to other undertakings, complies with the Georgian Competition Law. This seemingly simple question requires legal and eco-

nomic analysis before giving any specific advice. Various factors must be evaluated and taken into account, including the relevant market and the market definition, entry barriers, existence of inter and intra brand competition, existing web of agreements, market share and the market power of other participants, substitute goods and services and more. Typically, our advice to clients includes citations of European law and cases which, at times, provide much needed clarity to important topics; however, in Europe too certain competition law matters remain opaque and unresolved.

YOU SAY THAT ON CERTAIN COMPETITION LAW MATTERS, THERE ARE NO STRAIGHTFORWARD ANSWERS. CAN YOU GIVE AN EXAMPLE? Competition law is very fact-specific discipline; therefore, it is “safe” to claim that mostly there are no straightforward answers. One of the problematic topics that comes to mind (and which was the subject matter of my speech at a seminar organized recently by MKD and the Competition Agency) is conditional rebates. Simply put, a conditional rebate is a discount which the customer (distributor, intermediary or other entity buying the product or service for subsequent resell) receives from the dominant undertaking if the customer buys more than a certain volume of a product. The discount may apply to only those purchased above a certain threshold (called incremental rebates) or all previous purchases (called retroactive rebates). In certain circumstances, offering conditional rebates by the dominant undertaking to a customer may result in violation of the rules on competition. These circumstances are yet to be cleared by the European Union Court, which took a seminal decision in 2017 in the case of Intel and overturned nearly a 40-year long previous court practice regarding the analysis of conditional rebates and,

Georgian courts are not particularly eager to apply and take into consideration EU court practice. Before giving specific reasons, it should be stressed that neither EU court decisions, not EU law has a binding effect for Georgia. However, given the influence of EU law on Georgian competition law and practice, it serves as a primary source for interpretation, provides authoritative guidance and offers thinking tools necessary to assess competitive practices. There are objective reasons why Georgian courts are reluctant to refer to European law and practice: EU law is not part of the Georgian legal system, the judges are not trained in EU law and at times (especially in lower tiers of the court), there are language barriers preventing access to the relevant decisions. Hopefully, with the passage of time and development of competition law in Georgia, these barriers will be overcome.

WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE ENFORCEMENT PRACTICE OF THE COMPETITION AGENCY? The Competition Agency has been active in regulating State aid and the approval of the mergers between companies. Besides, there have been number of important cases with respect to anticompetitive agreements (including cartels) and abuse of dominant position. Not infrequently, the Competition Agency embarks on a comprehensive factual, economic and legal assessment of various competitive practices, which provide a very useful source for future reference. The Agency is consistent in applying decisions of the European Union Court and the Commission in its analysis.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE TO GEORGIAN BUSINESSES REGARDING COMPETITION LAW? The Law of Georgia on Competition is in full force and effect. It is being consistently enforced by the Competition Agency, which is authorized to initiate the inspection and inquiry on its own initiative as well as on the basis of an application/complaint. Given the potential fines, it is much advised that Georgian companies remain complaint with the law. There are important changes planned to be made to the current law. The changes will most likely enhance the enforcement powers of the Competition Agency, including with respect to the concentration of the undertakings and obtainment of the information from Georgian companies; and will introduce new types of fines for failure to comply.

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GEORGIA TODAY MAY 17 - 20, 2019

TBC Insurance Launches Health Insurance Service



n May 14, the Management of TBC Insurance brought together the representatives of media to announce yet another initiative: a health insurance service. Prior to the launch of health insurance, the company offered auto, travel, credit and motor third party liability insurance services. Paata Ghadzadze, Director General of TBC Insurance, and Nino Gachechiladze, Health Insurance Director, present the new project to the audience. “It took quite a long time to launch the health insurance service,” stated Ghadzadze. “But it was a major priority for us to thoroughly investigate and profoundly study Georgian, as well as the international, markets and the client needs in this direction.” Ghadzadze noted that the team of TBC Insurance explored the sector from the customers’ perspective and took their sensitivities and needs very much into account. He spoke of the outstanding features of TBC Health Insurance. “Bilateral cooperation for long-term partnership is of crucial importance to us. That is why we have details very much in mind, interact consistently with the provider medical institutions and plan to offer the best and most flexible services to our clientele,” he said.

Ghadzadze also outlined the major challenges faced in this sector. “The high quality and right time management in terms of making payments represent the most problematic issues in the health insurance sphere. We are totally qualityoriented and have put a lot of effort into launching the fastest and most convenient payment methods for our clientele.” “The health insurance field is fastgrowing and dynamic, with lots of ongoing changes in terms of services and technologies. TBC is to adapt to this system and offer all traditional, as well as the latest services to its customers,” stated Ghadzadze. Nino Gachechiladze briefed the audience about the outstanding features of TBC Health Insurance. “Our team, boasting only professionals, who base their knowledge not only on statistics, but also on multiple years of experience, is well aware of its clients’ demands, as well as their preferences,” she told the attendees. “We know what is most important for modern individuals: simplicity and speed. Through studying all the models of services present on the international markets, we do our best to offer clientele the most flexible solutions. TBC Insurance is also distinguished with high financial limits and few exceptions,” she said. Gachchiladze also accentuated the multiplicity of provider medical institutions, the vast majority of them being equipped with the latest technologies,

and the right of the customers to choose clinics according to their preference, even if they are not on the list of providers. There are nearly 200 provider medical clinics and five standard packages offered by TBC Insurance, with prices varying from 38 to 110 GEL. The reimbursement of utilized services will take place immediately if less than 500 GEL, and within a maximum of three working days for claims above 500 GEL. Gachechiladze also stated that digitalization is of crucial importance these days, which is why TBC is to launch a flexible web platform in June which will facilitate access to services. At the end of the presentation, Ghadzadze stated that TBC is open to feedback from clientele and expressed readiness to work on their demands. He noted that no mistakes are tolerable when it comes to health. Finally, he announced yet another innovation that is to be introduced in September-October, related to digitalization in the field of health, but left it as a surprise. “I would like to congratulate TBC on this new achievement. The reason we made the decision to collaborate with this company was catalyzed by their focus on premium-quality and individual care of partner companies, as well as clients, which is of crucial importance for us,” said Lasha Chkhaidze, Head of the Administration JSC United Financial Corporation, one of the partner companies of TBC in this project.

EBRD First Vice-President: Georgia Is Regional Leader BY THEA MORRISON


he European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) First Vice President Jürgen Rigterink stated Georgia is the region's leader in economic growth, adding the EBRD attaches great importance to its partnership with Georgia. The statement was made during a meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze in Brussels on May 14, where the conference dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Eastern partnership took place. Successful cooperation between Georgia and the EBRD, as evidenced by the

latter's diverse portfolio in Georgia, was mentioned by the parties. The sides also discussed EBRD's future plans and projects considered by the bank for implementation in Georgia. The country's educational reform, involving the allocation of 6% of the GDP to financing said sector, was singled out and commended.

The work of the Investors Council, as an important platform for interaction between the government and investors, was one of the topics discussed during the meeting. Bakhtadze thanked the First Vice President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for supporting Georgia.





MAY 17 - 20, 2019

Bubbles in the Operating Room – Psychosocial Assistance in Children’s Hospitals BY LISA MAIER


long white corridor crosses the department, intersecting with another. Grey light shines on naked walls; mumbling voices can be heard behind the doors. “This is the surgical department of the Cicishvili – Children´s New Clinic,” Marleen Hemmert, a volunteer at the Hospital, explains. “In this department, most of our patients have to recover from hard operations and often can’t even leave their beds.” After a walk through the confusing labyrinth of look-alike corridors, there is finally a child-friendly space to be found in the basement. Here, the kids can have a break from their clinical surroundings, play with other children or the volunteers, paint something and feel like a child again. The playroom is part of the program of psycho-social services in children’s hospitals which is slowly being implemented and recognized in Georgia. There are just two hospitals, both in Tbilisi, working with a psycho-social approach: Joann’s Medical Center and the Cicishvili Children’s New Clinic. In 1996, the first department started its work, shortly followed by the oncological center, which offered hospital school programs for long-term child patients. Today, the initiative offers three different services in two hospitals and tries to make the stay for child patients, and their parents, easier. The service works with the children in multifaceted ways and tries to approach each child individually regarding their needs, wishes and problems. The staff of the psycho-social assistance program, psychologists and child life specialists are part of an integrated hospital service following the main aim to help the patients and their families to cope with the stress of the procedures, health problems and to provide a patient and child-oriented environment. GEORGIA TODAY had the chance to meet Khatuna Dolidze, head of psychosocial assistance at the Joann´s Medical Center, and Salome Tskhvitava, head of

psycho-social assistance in Cicishvili – Children´s New Clinic for an interview. Dolidze was one of the first advocates in the field of psycho-social assistance in children´s hospitals in Georgia, there from start to present and promoting its importance for children and their parents as well as for doctors and medical staff. “Research has proven that you need fewer painkillers when you have psychosocial assistance. It is a fact that nonpharmacological methods do a great job,” she told us. Dolidze, Tskhvitava and their teams provide holistic care for the children at all phases of the patient’s process, from preparation, attendance during surgeries and helping them with the challenges the face during recuperation. “The preparation process is very important. Kids who are prepared are calmer and less stressed and are more cooperative with the medical staff.” In the preparation phase, psychologists come to the child and try to find an individual way to talk with them about the upcoming surgery. A helpful method is ‘medical play,’ an educational method to show the children, with the help of a special doll, what their procedure will look like. A child friendly approach and age-appropriate language is very important, finding reassuring (non-frightening) descriptions and words. The therapeutic value is extremely high since the play

aims to cover all their fears and misbeliefs. Another well-liked method is exchanging with other children who had similar surgeries, or the use of real medical instruments as toys. “It all helps to dampen the children’s fears and prepare them mentally for their surgeries. Sometimes, they even want to take the medical instruments home to show them to their siblings and friends!” Before this service was implemented, no-one explained the child patients what the surgery would mean for them, leading to them becoming extremely stressed and scared. The doctors neither had the time nor the training to deal with the children’s fears and the parents in such cases became overprotective, telling their children it “wouldn´t hurt at all,” which often had a negative effect. “We get very positive feedback from parents. Now, they even choose our hospitals specifically because we can help them to deal with the situation and find a way to communicate with their children. The parents see that their kids feeling more comfortable knowing what the surgery means for them.” The medical staff and especially the doctors also give very positive feedback and include the service in their procedures, especially in the surgical departments. “In the beginning, it was very hard to introduce the service [to doctors]. Now,

they are asking for our assistance in the surgical department and intensive care, recognizing the positive effects of our work.” Despite the countless positives, the implementation of psycho-social assistance is a very slow process. 90% of the hospitals in Georgia are private, which means that each manager must be approached individually and persuaded of the effectiveness of the program. “If the Ministry of Health published recommendations for the hospitals to show the great value of the service in the pediatric field, it would help to a great extent. There would be no need to explain to each hospital management the effects and advantages again and again, and we could do our work more effectively.” The psycho-social assistance also accompanies the children into the surgery room to provide distraction during the medical procedures. Helpful tools are toys or even bubbles, so the level of anxiety is decreased. The surgeons can do their jobs more productively when the children are cooperating, and fewer artificial methods and drugs are needed. In the Joann’s Medical Center, the psycho-social assistance has five staff members, a playroom and play corners distributed throughout the hospital. The Cicishvili Children’s New Clinic has just recently tried to expand the program, as a lot of the departments are not yet designed to be child-friendly. Salome Tskhvitava has worked since

2017 to establish a better service in all the departments of the hospital. The recent plans contain a redesign of the surgical department, as the current surroundings are still far from child-friendly. The sticking point for the remodeling is to decrease the level of ‘negative stress’ and to lower the risk of a trauma resulting from hospitalization. The current financial capabilities of Georgian hospitals can only cover the absolute necessities. Due to that and the urgent need to bring change, a fundraising project called ‘Make The Surgical Department Great For Them’ was initiated to raise the needed money. The clinic works in cooperation with the Samaritan Association of Georgia (SSK Georgia) and the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Germany. The project aims to create a surgical department which can make the children’s lives easier and minimalize their stress. The current plans involve a repainting of the grey floors to brighten up the whole area and to provide two new play corners for those unable to get down to the basement playground. Small things can effect a big change in these children’s lives, just like bubbles in the operating room. Donations are welcome to help and create a child-friendly surgery department in the Cicishvili Children´s New Clinic: THE SAMARITAN ASSOCIATION GEORGIA Bank Name: TBC BANK SWIFT: TBCBGE22 IBAN: GE24TB7532436080100008

One Year Since the “Rave Revolution” - Has Anything Changed? BY AMY JONES


n the early hours of 12 May, 2018, when riot police stormed two clubs in Tbilisi, a wave of protest spread across the city. Hundreds of dancers were swaying under the flashing strobe lights to a pulsating techno beat in the sweaty former-swimming pool in Bassiani club when the police arrived in full riot gear, lining everyone against the wall. On the other side of the Mtkvari River, police raided Cafe Gallery, another club at the forefront of Tbilisi’s nightlife scene. The police claimed that the raids were drug-related. In the previous few weeks, five youngsters had gone to sleep after partying to never wake up, due to drug usage. However, none of the deaths happened at the clubs. Additionally, the police only found 2,000 GEL-worth of drugs during the raids. Many in Tbilisi considered the raids to be an attack on freedom and symbolic of a restrictive government with archaic drug laws. “What happened yesterday, it’s not just about clubs.” Mariam Murusidze, the former booker of Cafe Gallery told Resident Advisor after the raids. “It’s a fight between the Soviet past of this country and the dictatorship we used to live in, the police country we used to live in and the future we want for our country.” Indeed, as news spread across the city, people began to gather in front of Bassiani to show their support. Soon, the crowd

Image source - Noizll

moved to Rustaveli Avenue, where DJ decks were set up in front of the parliament building and a crowd of thousands danced for their right to freedom of expression. This was the birth of the socalled “rave revolution” in Tbilisi. On May 13, as ultranationalists and farright groups gathered around the young protestors threatening violence, Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia apologized to demonstrators, promising them that he would change Georgia’s drug policies.

However, with a year gone by since the two-day protest under the slogan of “we dance together, we fight together,” has anything changed? On the anniversary since the protests, human rights groups have accused Gakharia of failing to deliver on his promise. “Despite the unilateral political promises of the Interior Minister that the issue of narcotics reform will be resolved ‘in the coming days,’ the issue has finally been withdrawn from the

political and legislative agenda,” reads a statement by the local Human Rights Monitoring and Education Centre (EMC). In fact, no meetings regarding drugs reform have taken place at all following the protests. Georgia has very strict drug laws in comparison to the majority of its European neighbors. Every year in Georgia, police randomly detain thousands of people for drug testing, reports Human Rights Watch, of which, fewer than 30% are positive.

Those who are tested positive for drug use pay dearly, with a minimum prison sentence of eight years, even if they have only taken drugs for personal use. However, studies show that strict drug laws do not minimize drug use in a country. “Many people understandably want the government to address the harmful use of drugs, but the most effective way is to focus on public health responses,” said Giorgi Gogia, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Criminalization and locking people up for using drugs is not the answer.” Six weeks after the protests, in July 2018, the government surprised many by decriminalizing cannabis consumption and releasing plans to legalize cannabis production and exports. However, following criticism from the Church, the legalization plans were swiftly dropped. Drugs have become a symbolic issue between liberal youth and Georgia’s conservative values. On 12 May, 2019, a group of activists installed a white statue of Giorgi Gakharia in front of the Parliament building in Tbilisi. The statue played an audio recording of Gakharia’s apology from one year earlier. Newly formed advocacy group 12 May, named after the protests last year, published a statement: “the Georgian government pointed guns at the people gathered in free spaces to dance and got in response the unity of thousands of committed individuals... What you fear is a voice calling for change.” It’s clear that the change, promised since the protests, never came.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 17 - 20, 2019


New Draft Law Envisages Mandatory Registration of Pets BY THEA MORRISON


eorgian Parliament has started discussions on a new draft Law on Animal Welfare which envisages mandatory registration of pets. The annual control of pets will also be compul-

sory. The bill says the registration of domestic animals will be free of charge and will see them registered on a special database. “In order to achieve this goal, along with other services, a special database will be created on which owners have to register their domestic animals,” the explanatory part of the document reads. The draft also reads that the legislative record aims to establish a quality living environment for pets and ensure their well-being and protection. Registration of domestic animals will be mandatory from 1 month of age. If there is any change with regard to the domestic animal, re-registration should take place in a month. In case of loss of a domestic animal, the owner is obliged to notify the agency within a week. According to the authors of the draft law, it will not be permitted to bury a deceased domestic animal just anywhere: if a pet dies, the owner has to notify the agency within a week so the animal can be buried in a special area designated by the municipality, be cremated or be placed in a bio-thermal pit. The bill reads that having more than five pets may be prohibited for those living in a flat. Also, if the carer does not fulfil their obligations towards the animals, treats them severely or neglects their needs, administrative or criminal responsibility will be imposed on the owner. The draft law says that all domestic animals have

Image source: mnn.com

the right to live in a natural environment. Their abandonment and killing (except for cases envisaged by the bill) are unacceptable. As for the welfare of animals, the draft reads that the specific needs of the animal must be satisfied by their owners: · Proper nutrition and water supply for pets; · Creation of a favorable environment for domestic animals - allocation of a sleeping place, heating and lighting if necessary; · Proper physical activities and walks;

Days of Nature in Tbilisi



kick-off event for the Days of Nature in Tbilisi will take place in Tbilisi on May 17 from 4.30 PM to 5.30 PM at the National Botanical Garden of Georgia. The ever-growing technological advancement resulting in air pollution and the loss of biodiversity calls for ecological awareness. Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, where almost half of the country’s population resides, is no exception when it comes to the side-effects of fast city life. Green spaces are disappearing swiftly, with trees cut down and replaced with residential and office blocks. A huge amount of concrete, roads and cars have taken over nature. That is why Georgians often refer to Tbilisi, with a pinch of sorrow and irony, as ‘the city of concrete’. Despite the sad reality, Tbilisi is still rich in terms of biodiversity, boasting more than 100 bird species, many species of snakes, lizards, and even bears and jackals living around the wider city limits. Cities with a range of functioning ecosystems make for better places for human residence. Acknowledging the ecological and social value of nature in Tbilisi, protecting and appreciating existing green spaces is essential for supporting the biodiversity in the capital of Georgia. Having

that in mind, an urban biodiversity partner network was established in 2018. Urban green spaces are known to help combat air and noise pollution, soak up rainwater that might otherwise cause flooding, ease traffic, create a natural habitat for local wildlife and crucially improve the psychological wellbeing of city residents. The network comprises the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture, the Environmental Information and Education Centre (EIEC), Tbilisi City Hall, the National Botanical Garden, the Tbilisi Zoo, the NGOs National Geographic Georgia, Ecovision, the Society for Nature Conservation (Sabuko), Science, Environment, Education and Development (SEED), and the film documentary company EcoFilms. The partner network was initiated by and received support from the Intergrated Biodiversity Management, South Caucasus program of the GIZ on behalf of the German government. Green initiatives, as identified by the work of the partner network, like recreational activities, ecotourism and nature-based education, need to be put in place to help urban biodiversity survive. An urban biodiversity campaign was launched in 2018 to raise awareness on the importance of urban nature among the citizens of Tbilisi. To honor the International Day of Biological Diversity (UN) which is celebrated on 22 May, many events are scheduled as a concentrated effort to address the population of the capital of Georgia, starting May 17 at the Botanical Garden.

· Timely and appropriate veterinary services; · Establishment of appropriate sanitary-hygienic conditions for domestic animals; · Availability of appropriate training facilities for their domestic living and integration into a social environment. The draft law states that any person who looks after a domestic animal is responsible for their health and well-being and must take all reasonable actions to prevent the escape or loss of the animal. It is also not permissible to give a domestic animal

to somebody as a reward, prize or bonus. In addition, the owner of a domestic animal is obliged to provide care for the animal in their possession as well as their babies. "It is not permissible to keep animals chained or in a closed space for a long period of time,” the draft underlines. Mistreatment of pets or violation of the rules will result in the following sanctions: · Use of domestic animals for conducting scientific and laboratory experiments and carrying out surgery without the purpose of veterinary treatmentshall be punishable by fine or by imprisonment for up to one year; · Unlawful killing of a domestic animal shall be punishable by fine or by imprisonment from one year to two years; · Animal training and distribution of video or photography of animal fights shall be punishable by fine or by imprisonment up to one year; · Betting money on pet fights or allowing usage of personal facilities or buildings for such fights shall be punishable by fine or imprisonment for up to two years; · Arranging, propagating or spreading of footage or photos of animal fights will be subject to a fine or imprisonment from two to three years; · Violation of the rules of animal living conditions will result in a fine to the amount of one fifth of the violator’s monthly income. If the violator is an official, they have to pay half of their salary to create safe conditions for the pet(s). · Violation of domestic animal transport rules will be subject to a fine of GEL 100; · Abandoning of pets will result in a GEL 100 fine; · Having more pets in one flat than allowed will be punished by GEL 300; · Violation of pets’ health conditions will cost owners GEL 150. Georgian Parliament starts discussions on the new draft about pets from May 17.




MAY 17 - 20, 2019



s an avid bibliovore from early childhood, and a writer to boot, occasionally I find myself inventing new ways to play with one of the fundamental tools of the trade, the word; or I’ll use established games as exercises in creativity. Some examples follow. Some years ago, I asked what would be the longest joining of two-syllable English words into one long string, such that meaning flowed through them from start to finish? Each word would have two parts, themselves words, and they would link together thus: bookwormwoodlandfalloutbackpackhorseflywheelbaseballparkwaylayoffcutoffhandgunfiremankinderringsidearmrestless… and so on. Each one-syllable word could be used only once; names should be omitted; and adding the next part should not change the pronunciation of what came before it. My most recent play has been to add or substitute one or more letters to a word, in (brackets) or with /slashes, to change or extend its meaning and offer alternates. Such as: tr(i)ump(h), immor(t)al, do(d)g(e), out(r)age, hat(t)er, (th)in(k), p(l)a(i)n, f(l)an, (night)mare, (g)host, cat(ch), sea/e, floa/ut, ni/ou/ght, and more. A text using too many of these types of extension

would become too cumbersome to read easily, especially in today’s age of the micro-attention span, so perhaps merely a single such wor(l)d per sentence or paragraph would do. One does not want to make the reader work TOO hard! What about my name, or the name of someone famous, as an anagram, the letters rearranged? Anthony Hanmer becomes: annoy then harm; on an earth hymn; thy name a horn; or nth Roman hyena… along with 3359 others. There are online anagram generators you can google to try your own name, with huge lists of variations and possibly hilarious results. Here are some more famous name anagrams: George Bush = He bugs Gore Osama bin Laden = A bad man (no lies) Saddam Hussein = UN's said he's mad Milosevic = Cos I'm evil Adolf Hitler = Do real filth Margaret Thatcher = That great charmer Chairman Mao = I am on a march Emperor Octavian = Captain over Rome Elvis = Lives Elvis Aaron Presley = Seen alive? Sorry, pal! Madonna Louise Ciccone = One cool dance musician Clint Eastwood = Old West action Alec Guinness = Genuine class William Shakespeare = I am a weakish speller; I'll make a wise phrase; He's like a lamp, I swear Madame Curie = Me, Radium ace Leonardo da Vinci = Did color in a nave

In the Beginning

Florence Nightingale = Angel of the reclining Here is where you can try anagrams of any word or phrase online: https:// wordsmith.org/anagram/ Acronyms are made of the initial 1 or 2 letters of a set of words, such as radar (which was invented so long ago that perhaps most of us don’t know what it stands for: “radio detection and ranging”). Could there be another type, the NESTED acronym, in which repeatedly removing the first letter results in another well-known acronym, until you are down to the last letter? Radar would extend to

adar, dar, ar and r, none of which is a famous acronym, however. Are there examples of this nesting? What is the longest such in English? Sometimes one can find highly amusing rearrangements of a phrase’s parts into nonsense fragments, and here adjusting spelling to retain pronunciation is allowed. “Hazel nuts” becomes “nasal huts”; what other examples can you think of? Such word play reminds me of the literally infinite power of “groups of letters” to become new things, startling, surprising, hilarious, deep things. I’m

glad to still be able to be delighted by what can turn up in this rich landscape, millions of words, thousands of books from where I started decades ago. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti

Scott Thornbury Conducts Training Session for British Council & European School Teachers BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


n May 11-12, as a part of its collaboration with the British Council, the European School hosted the biggest name in teaching English, Scott Thornbury, who conducted a two-day session for the teachers of the British Council and the European School. One of the most prominent figures in the field, he delivered a training aimed at the presentation of innovative methodologies and augmenting skills when

conducting lessons with youngsters in the very best way. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Scott Thornbury, EFL Expert, to find out more. “Over 30 years, I’ve been teaching teacher training; I ran a school in Egypt, I’ve done courses and conferences all around the world and all of that also led to the writing of a number of books on methodology and on language. So, I have covered a lot of different aspects of the same profession,” he told us. “This is the first time I’ve been to Georgia and I was a little nervous before the session about how the teachers would respond to the kinds of ideas I’m bringing from outside, and

how they’d interact. But I was delighted with the degree of enthusiasm from them all.” “What I think makes the best teacher is no single quality,” he said. “Personality is very important, but you have to have knowledge of the subject, enthusiasm for the subject and more importantly, the ability to communicate the subject. That is what we call pedagogical skills and they come from experience, as well as from trainings.” Stephen Shelley, Teaching Center Manager at British Council, told us he has been working in Georgia for 2.5 years and what makes it special is “the new hunger from students to learn English.”

“Students in Georgia are really enthusiastic about learning English,” he said. “My job as Teaching Center Manager at British Council increases as more and more people want to learn English and it’s a really great time to be here. What makes the British Council different is the emphasis on communication, on speaking English with confidence. We encourage our students to communicate in the classroom with each other and with the teacher. Teachers are there to support the students, but we want the students to speak, we want students to

work,” he said, going on to note that the British Council has a very successful partnership with the European School and both are very much committed to the professional development of their teachers. “If teachers do not keep studying, they will not improve,” Stephen tells us. “And we want our teachers to get better and better. Our teachers were very enthusiastic to use this opportunity and attend the training with one of the biggest names in the industry. We can see that they certainly took advantage of it!”


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 17 - 20, 2019


Art & Innovation Hub Opens in Tbilisi BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


his week, the Center of Contemporary Art – Tbilisi announced the creation of the first Art and Innovation Hub in Georgia. At a press conference at Rooms Hotel on Monday, May 13, the Center of Contemporary Art – Tbilisi explained that the new Hub is being established in large part thanks to a new cooperation agreement with Adjara Group Hospitality, who agreed to a long-term transfer of property to CCA-Tbilisi to serve as the Center’s new home base. The press conference featured several presenters: Vato Tsereteli, founder of the Center of Contemporary Art – Tbilisi, Valeria Chekheria – CEO of Adjara Group Hospitality, Ana Riaboshenko – Director of Creative Georgia, and Levan Kharatishvili – Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia. The speakers discussed the importance of supporting the development of creativity and the arts in Georgia. The Center of Contemporary Art – Tbilisi is an independent, non-profit, community-based institution that serves as a station for people working in international, regional and local art scenes to connect and collaborate. The center aims to promote sharing and knowledge production among diverse populations, including art curators, artists, students and people simply interested in art. While the center emphasizes that education remains at the core of its work, they are also active in other realms: exhibition practice, research, residence programs and consulting. 2019 marks 10 years of the Center of Contemporary Art – Tbilisi, which implements public projects related to arts, culture, and education. During the press conference, the center took the oppor-

Image: Center of Contemporary Art – Tbilisi

tunity to summarize their key projects from the last decade, and presented their plan for the future of the institution, including a reshaped strategy. The creation of the Hub is financed in part with funds disbursed from a competition held by Creative Georgia titled “Developing Creative Industries.” The competition was run under the purview of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport. The funds will support the long-term development of the

Art and Innovation Hub, which includes the creation of several clusters which will promote the sustainable development of creative industries, and innovative ideas and projects in the long-term. The Hub’s physical space, donated by Adjara Group, is a 650 m2 building on Dodo Abashidze St., near Marjanishvili metro station. The interdisciplinary project brings together leading innovators and bright young startups from various creative industries: fine arts, digital tech-

nologies, architecture, design, handicraft, gastronomy, and others. Creative Georgia is a legal entity of public law within the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport, tasked with creating an appropriate environment for creative industries to develop, via relevant programs, projects and grants. Their work is predicated on the concept that creative industries create jobs, and generate economic growth and social well-being. Creative Georgia works

to raise awareness of creative industries; build the capacity of creative entrepreneurs though training programs, seminars and other activities; establish networking platforms; create funding opportunities and spread information about existing funding opportunities; support the export of creative goods and the internationalization of the sector; support the development of research activities in the creative industries sector.

Tbilisi Art Fair Opens with the Support of TBC Status, Organized by Expo Georgia collectors, supervisors, representatives of media and art circles can discover art and galleries within the same space. The price for each day of TAF is 10 GEL, with tickets available at www.tkt. ge and on-site at Expo Georgia. For more information, please visit: www.tbilisiartfair.art



n May 17-19, with the organization of the Expo Georgia Exhibition Hall and support of TBC Status, the Tbilisi Art Fair (TAF) is to be held for the second time. The exhibition was opened with a

closed show on May 16. The four-day sales-exhibition is to bring together 33 galleries and 38 independent artists from 16 countries, among them Georgia, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Switzerland, Austria, China, the USA, Cuba, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Lithuania. The TAF exhibition area is divided in two major parts. The main hall is to host local, as well as international galleries, while The Hive, a specific studio-format

section, will give novices and artists without gallery representation the chance to showcase their works. The Tbilisi Art Fair covers the gardens and pavilions of Expo Georgia, as well as museums, theaters and art areas across Tbilisi. A number of lectures, masterclasses, open forums and other events are scheduled within the scope of the Fair. The series of events will commence with ‘Four Talks’ on May 16, at 15:00 and will be completed with the official open-

ing ceremony of the Clarisse Hahn exhibition at Amirani Cinema on May 17, at 16:00. The TAF is focused on the galleries and art institutions of the countries of Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus region, which have not been presented at the art fairs so far. It aims to support the establishment of new communication and to strengthen partnership between local and international art institutions. TAF is an annual platform where the

• Four Discourses – Pavilion 6. • Palette of Pain – Pavilion 11. • To Be a Woman – Pavilion 3. • Medea: Icons vs Logos – Pavilion 4. • The David Kakabadze Fund, Archive Exhibtion – Pavilion 4. • The exhibition of the scientific works and studies of David Kakabadze at the orangery, is part of a large-scale, multi-stage project launched for the 130th anniversary since the birth of the artist and organized by TBC and the David Kakabadze Fund. The showcased exhibits represent Kakabadze, an artist, physicist, art critic and researcher. This is the process of exploring the universe, distilling and processing information, as a result of which creative forms are obtained. This material brings together, historical, cultural, scientific, social and other values which are followed by the creation of a series of art works. • Hotel Europa: Their Past, Your Present, Our Future – Tbilisi Open Area; May 17, 17:00. • IN SITU/IN VIVO – Silk Museum; 17 May, 15:00. • Jeff Cowen, 30 works – the Museum of Modern Art (Moma Tbilisi); May 17, 20:00. • Clarisse Hahn – Amirani Cinema – May 17, 16:00.




MAY 17 - 20, 2019


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 04 56 May 17, 18, 19 LA FILLE MAL GARDÉE * Premiere Ballet in Two Acts Music by Ferdinand Hérold and Peter Ludwig Hertel Choreography and staging by Nina Ananiashvili and Alexey Fadeechev Conductor: Papuna Ghvaberidze Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-120 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 37 Rustaveli Ave. May 17 KRIMANCHULI In the performance is presented mostly comedy genre novels based on Georgian national motives (Pantomime novels) Review, Cinema, Sailors, Today is a football, Fire, Chichetura, Vineyard, Krimanchuli, Bath-house attendants, Final Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 13 Shavtelis St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 65 93 May 17 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL May 18 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL May 21 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36

May 17 THE TEMPEST Sandro Nikoladze's Musical Alegry Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL May 18 Premiere FAUST After Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL May 19 IGGI After Jemal Karchkhadze story Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL May 23 PARADISO After Jemal Karchkhadze story Directed by Irakli Khoshtaria Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL MUSIC & DRAMA STATE THEATER 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. May 21 WELCOME TO GEORGIA The Musical A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge May 18 From 9 pm till 1 am, entrance to all GNM museums will be free of charge! Georgian National Museum traditionally joins the campaign– NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. Program: S. JANASHIA MUSEUM OF GEORGIA: Visiting permanent and temporary exhibitions, Educational games and

activities in the museum hall, Museum courtyard: Georgian National Youth Palace ensemble “Shvidkatsa”, Georgian National Youth Palace vocal-instrumental ensemble “Mziuri”, Museum Hall: choir of the #28 public school "Bichebi", Costume performance and photo session “Mythological Night at the Museum“. D. SHEVARDNADZE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Shota Rustaveli Ave. Visiting permanent and temporary exhibitions, Guided tours, Georgian National Youth Palace Violin ensemble “Si-Mi”, Educational games and activities. TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM (KARVASLA) 8 Sioni Str. 8 Opening of Kako Topuria’s exhibition, Visiting permanent and temporary exhibitions, Educational program– “Museum– Magical World,” Georgian honored dance ensemble “Egrisi”. ELENE AKHVLEDIANI HOUSEMUSEUM 12 Leo Kiacheli Str. Visiting Museum, 21:00-22:30– Pupils of musical School "Musical Decade". IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 May 16 – June 10 Georgian National Museum in the framework of Museum Festival presents the photo exhibition “1993” of Swiss artist – Daniel Spehr. MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave enough to jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in a Mirror Room, be free in the Infinity room, resist the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms, and discover optical illusions.

The unique collection of the museum aims to provoke feelings of understanding among individuals and serve as some kind of therapy for those who have experience break-ups. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 Until February 26 (2020) GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY Until May 27 Georgian National Museum and Italian embassy in Georgia present the exhibition ESOTERIC DE CHIRICO. A TRAVELER BETWEEN TWO WORLDS KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO May 4-27 Kunsthalle Tbilisi and GoetheInstitute Georgia present TABULA RASA An exhibition of stainless steel sculptures by Gabriela Von Habsburg. Exhibition includes works by: Giorgi Geladze, Salome Chigilashvili, Liza Tsindeliani, Giorgi Vardiashvili Curated by: Irena Popiashvili Venue: GNM Courtyard, 3 Shota Rustaveli Ave. TBILISI ART FAIR- TAF May 15-19 DESIGN GEORGIA Contemporary product design exhibition Venue: Zurab Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art, 27 Rustaveli Ave.


May 17-19 TAF showcases Georgian and international galleries, independent artists, curated exhibitions, performances, workshops, artists and professional talks, and many other events within the modernist pavilions of ExpoGeorgia and across the city of Tbilisi. Venue: Exhibition center Expogeorgia, Venue: 118 Tsereteli Ave.



May 16-25 In the frames of Oxygen Tbilisi No Fair, Dédicace Gallery presents a site and context-specific pavilion encompassing the works of three artists with different visions and style. Exhibition: OXYGEN FLOW Participants: Zura Abkhazi, Koka Ramishvili, Manuchar Okrostsvaridze MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL 1 Melikishvili Ave May 18 BEL SUONO Piano trio The show includes Vivaldi and Queen, Glinka and Brahms, Beethoven and Strauss, Game of Thrones and Rossini and other original and best musical works in the unique BEL SUONO arrangement! Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20-100 GEL 4GB The Center of Space Constructions, Saguramo May 17, 18, 24, 25 4GB- ELECTRONIC MUSIC FESTIVAL Start time: 22:20 Ticket: 150 GEL SOUNDS OF GEORGIA May 17, 18, 22, 23 SING AND DRINK Mini concerts in the cozy atmosphere of Old Tbilisi, a mix of traditional Georgian music of different genres: folklore, a capella, guitar, and Georgian pop and city songs. Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 24 GEL Venue: May 17- 10 Erekle II Sq., Tekla Palace Hotel, May 18- New Tiflis, 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’, May 22- Corner of 2 Turgenev Str., and 37 Javakhishvili Str., deep yard, May 23- Europe Square, 2 D. Megreli Str., Hotel “Nata” KAKHIDZE MUSIC CENTER 123a D. Agmashenebeli Ave. May 17 Concert of world jazz star, double bass player, composer and singer AVISHAI COHEN With the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra Under the baton of MaestroVakhtang Kakhidze. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 30-60 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Griboedov Str. May 17 CLASSICAL MUSIC COGNITIVE PROGRAM MODERN MUSIC Leader- Nino Zhvania Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 10 GEL May 19 DRUM SCHOOL & GEORGIAN MARCHING BAND K. Vardeli String Quartet Conductor- Irakli Shermazanashvili In Program: Music from movies and famous works Head- George Vartanov Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL IN THE DENSE FOREST Tskneti, last stop May 20 BEKA, MIKE & FRIENDS Beka Gochiashvili, Mike Mitchell, Levan Deisadze, Misho Urushadze and the special guest present extraordinary nightUnique Hip Hop, House, Jazz, Funk, Fusion compositions. Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 30-70 GEL


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 17 - 20, 2019


Tbilisi Opera for Young Singers BY LIKA CHIGLADZE


he Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theater carries out a number of projects to support young Georgian singers. One of them is Opera (e)Studio, a joint project by the Tbilisi Opera, Ópera de Tenerife and the Teatro Comunale di Bologna. The project is aimed at assisting young vocalists in their professional development. The initiative is co-funded by Creative Europe, the European Commission's framework program for support to the culture and audiovisual sectors. The project fosters firm and long-term cooperation between the Tbilisi Opera, Ópera de Tenerife and Teatro Comunale di Bologna. Opera(e) Studio is designed for young singers who have obtained a formal education, but who are in need of developing professional skills, to become more competitive and meet the requirements of the contemporary market. 10 young singers were selected through international auditions that took place in February in the following cities: Tbilisi, Bologna, Madrid and Tenerife. In total, 181 singers from 33 countries took part in the competition. The participants were selected by an Artistic Board comprised of Giulio Zappa, Director of the Opera(e)Studio Academy; José Luis Rivero, Artistic Director, Auditorio de Tenerife; Alejandro Abrante, Opera Intendant, Opera de Tenerife; Fulvio Macciardi, Opera Intendant, Teatro Comunale di Bologna; Badri Maisuradze, Artistic Director, Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater. The selected candidates will undergo a one-month professional intensive course in all disciplines related to the opera in Tenerife, Spain. Additionally, they will attend workshops and most importantly will take part in a famous opera, Gaetano

Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love. The opera is a co-production that will be premiered in all three participating theaters in the course of the 2019-2020 season. Selected singers from different countries are: Maria Rita Combattelli and Beatriz de Sousa in the role of Adina; Klodjan Kaçani and César Arrieta in the role of Nemorino; Alberto Bonifazio and Jacobo Ochoa in the role of Belcore; Givi Gigineishvili and Matteo Andrea Mollica in the role of Dulcamara; and Sofía Esparza and Eleonora Boaretto in the role of Giannetta. Badri Maisuradze, Artistic Director of the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater, spoke to GEORGIA TODAY about the joint project. “As a result of international auditions, two casts were selected for Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love). These 10 winners represent seven countries, including Georgia, Spain, Italy, Albania, Columbia, Portugal and Venezuela. The production team is made up of young professionals. The director of the production is Pablo Maritano, who is inspired by the Golden Age of cinematography, and a magical world will be created through different Hollywood film sets of that time. In Tbilisi, the opera will be premiered in February 2020,” he told us, adding that yet another successful premiere awaits the audience in Tbilisi. “The international project co-funded by Creative Europe is being implemented in collaboration with partner theaters,” Rusudan Matsaberidze, Director of International Relations and Development Department, Project Manager in Georgia, told GEORGIA TODAY. “The program is increasingly important not only for the advancement of young vocalists, but also for deepening cooperation with European theaters, one of the top priorities for the Tbilisi Opera. In the project, Georgia will be represented by talented young singer Givi Gigineishvili, who is known to the Georgian public

Photo: Members of Artistic Board

and who will have an opportunity to enter the international musical scene,” she noted. We spoke to Givi Gigineishvili about his success. “I feel lucky to be one of the 10 participants chosen by the project’s Artistic Board. In September, I’ll be traveling to Tenerife where for two months I’ll take an intensive course and together with my colleagues work on the opera L’elisir d’amore by Gaetano Donizetti, that will premiere in the theaters of Tenerife, Bolo-

“Behind the Curtain” in Georgia BY GABRIELLE COLCHEN


lisa Berger’s Georgian show is called “Behind the Curtain” and is part of the "OXYGEN-Tbilisi No fair" exhibition. It represents the future possibilities of Georgia’s liberal society, free from the Soviet past. She insists on the liberation movements and impulses to freedom that exist in all countries and capitals of the PostSoviet sphere. The “Iron Curtain” not only represents the separation between two parts of the world during the Cold War, it is also a more global term to refer to the impenetrability between two things. In Alisa Berger’s exhibition, the curtain describes the war that exists in Georgia between the past and the future. The Soviet past and the strong influence of the Orthodox Church being in conflict with the homosexual community, the use of soft drugs and the clubbing culture, that became political simply because of its existence. “A unironed curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw,

Berlin, Prague, Tbilisi, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the PostSoviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Post-Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing new measure of liberation from a decentered force of movement, heat and the freedom of flashing lights.” (pataragallery.com, based on a speech by Winston Churchill) Alisa Berger is an artist who was born in the Republic of Dagestan and raised in Ukraine and Germany. She works within film, video art, mixed media installations and performances. She currently lives and works in Tokyo and Cologne. She studied film and fine arts at the Academy of Media Art Cologne (KHM) and Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. Berger is part of the curating team of the FAR OFF art fair and also part of the performance duo "bergernissen." Her artistic works have been presented at a variety of venues, festivals and museums worldwide, among them the BACC - Bangkok Art & Culture Center, MOMA Moscow, Anthology Film Archives and European Media Art Festival EMAF. In her art, recurring themes are psychological processes and structures,



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the human relationship to value systems, the human body, ritual actions, and the play with stylistic elements from the horror genre. Throughout her works, the autonomy of the individual and his/ her body is illuminated as an insecure area. The exhibition is accompanied by the music of Georgian Techno-artist Michail Todua. Michel Todua is 33 years old. He was a promoter of DJs and parties before being arrested in the street for drug testing and condemned to nine years in prison without legal or financial help. He is now releasing music from within his prison cell. Thousands of others have been locked up in the same circumstances. Date: 16-20 May Venue: Hotel STAMBA D block, Tbilisi For more information: http://pataragallery.com/en/exhibition/alisa-bergerbehind-the-curtain/

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

gna and Tbilisi. I will perform the role of Dulcamara. Performing in such theaters is a big honor and a great experience for me on the international scene,” he. Givi Gigineishvili was educated in Georgia. He graduated from the Batumi Art Teaching University (Bachelor’s degree) and V. Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire (Master’s degree). He has performed different roles in well-known classics over the course of his career, among them Don Basilio in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Tbilisi State

Conservatoire Opera Studio (2015); Dulcamara in Donizetti’s L’elisir d'amore (2017) and Zuniga in Bizet’s Carmen (2017) at Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater; A Monk in Verdi ‘s Don Carlo (2018) and Colline in Puccini’s La Bohème (2018) at Immling Festival, Hafling; A Sacristan in Puccini ‘s Tosca (2019) at the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater. In 2015, he was a Finalist of the Georgian Competition Of Musician-Performers and won the prize for the Best Verdi Performer at the Lado Ataneli Competition.

CinéDOC-Tbilisi, Throwback to the Intense Five Days of Festival

Photo Source: CinéDOC-Tbilisi Facebook page



inéDOC-Tbilisi’s 7th edition ended Monday, having screened a total of 60 films, some of them twice. The two competitions, the Focus Caucasus and the International, awarded winners. In the International Competition, the winner for Best Film Award 2019 was “The Disappearance of My Mother” by Beniamino Barrese, and the Special Jury Award went to the wonderful documentary "Honeyland" directed by Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska. In the Focus Caucasus Competition, the Main Award went to the film "Wound" by Artur Sukiasian, while

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the Public Broadcaster Award was given to "Before Father Gets Back" by Mari Gulbiani, and the Special Jury Mention awarded "A Life of her Own" by Tamara Mshvenieradze. The documentaries screened were all of very high quality and each showed something special about our world. Most of the films were full of strong emotions that often arouse reactions from the spectators. It was a huge opportunity to discover diverse, amazing and beautiful stories from all around the world, made by talented artists. The rooms were often more than full and the public was very enthusiastic about the festival that unfolded perfectly. We cannot wait for next year's edition since this festival was such a source of richness!


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1151  

May 17 - 20, 2019

Issue #1151  

May 17 - 20, 2019