July 17 - 23, 2015
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Georgia Today 24 p.
R ussia Creeping Closer
IN THIS WEEK’S ISSUE
Wha eek hatt the Gr Greek Bailout Ag Agrreement Looks Lik e Like PM Tsipras and Greek negotiating team accept bailout, harsh terms and all, with the Eurozone having made only slight concessions. P.2
US Dona tes 85 Donates Million USD to South Caucasus
New signposts on South Ossetian ABL leave farmland and BP pipeline under Russian control. P.6
Value of Pr ague Pra Talks Questioned Amid South der Ossetia Bor Border over sy Contr ersy Contro
No progress to report: "Russia does not trade its allies,” PM Medvedev says.
Good Cop Bad Cop Zugdidi Incident Pr ompts Expa ts Prompts Expats to R eveal P olice Concer ns Re Police Concerns
Foreigners come forward with their own tales of negligent or even aggressive treatment from police in Georgia. P.8
Tea: a P otential Potential Gold Mine of Geor gian Georgian Ag ricultur e? Agricultur riculture?
Tir es and Tic kets: Tires Tick Rec laiming the eclaiming Side walks in Sidew Tbilisi Citizens fight for their right to walk on sidewalks while City Hall works on new parking schemes. P.17
JULY 17 - 23
What the Greek Bailout Agreement Looks Like By Joseph Larsen Months of bitter negotiations between Greece and its Eurozone creditors are nearly over. Early Monday morning the two sides agreed on a cashfor-reform agreement that will provide Greece with an EUR86 billion bailout allowing it to meet its debt obligations for the next three years. Most importantly, the troubled Mediterannean nation will remain in the Eurozone. It will be the third bailout program extended to Greece since 2010. The agreement comes with a cost, however. Barely a week after voting to reject the Eurozone’s bailout conditions in a stunning July 5 referendum, the Greek people will be forced to swallow yet another round of harsh austerity measures including tax increases and spending cuts. Greek banks currently remain closed, and Greek Economy Minister George Stathakis has predicted that it will be “a couple of months” before capital controls are fully lifted. THE ANATOMY OF AN AUSTERITY PACKAGE Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his left-wing Syriza party lobbied hard for the public to vote “no” in the referendum on whether to accept a set of economic reforms proposed by the Eurozone on 26 June. The move was intended to gain leverage in negotiations, with Tsipras telling a state-run TV station that “the greater the number of no [votes], the greater weapon the government will have to re-launch negotiations. Greece
Greeks protest the country’s bailout agreement with the EU near the steps of the parliament in Athens on July 13.
never left the negotiating table; it is still at the negotiating table.” Sixty-one percent of voters checked the “no” box, but it did little to strengthen Greece’s position vis a vis its ceditors. The Euro Summit Statement issued on July 12 set out the list of reforms and fiscal measures, that Greece had to implement, on Wednesday evening before negotiations could begin on a Memorandum of Understanding (the conclusion of which would result in the actual dispersal of bailout funds). The four preliminary points include increasing tax revenue, implementing pension reform, introducing automatic spending cuts in case budget surplus targets are missed, and ensuring full independence of the national statistics office. The document contains a second list of required reforms that must be implemented in order for the Memorandum of Understanding to be agreed upon.
Measures include privatizing the country’s electricity transmission network, liberalizing markets for products, professional services and labor, and cutting spending on public administration, among other measures. Perhaps most difficult to accept for Syriza’s staunch leftist base, the deal will require the government to place EUR50 billion in state assets in an “independent fund that will monetize the assets through privatisations and other means.” Half of the proceeds (EUR25 billion) will go to recapitalizing Greek banks; the remainder will be divided between paying down Greece’s external debts and funding growth initiatives.
FEW CONCESSIONS BY EUROZONE The statement shows that Eurozone negotiators made only slight concessions from the June 26 proposal. The EUR50 billion privatization fund will be managed by the Greek authorities, an easing of previous demands that it be “transferred to an existing external and independent fund.” Furthermore, only one part of the fund must be earmarked to pay down Greek debt. The previous proposal demanded that the full EUR50 billion be used for debt reduction. The Eurozone also pledged to “work closely with the Greek authorities to mobilise up to EUR35 bn (under various EU programmes) to fund investment and economic activity” over the next three-to-five years. This is widely seen as the most significant concession made by the creditors. A previous German proposal that Greece be given a five-year “time-out from the euro area” if a deal wasn’t reached was also removed from the final text. Dashing the hopes of many Greeks who hoped that Tsipras could successfully negotiate a write-down of some of Greece’s debt, both the agreement and the previous proposal take the same hard line: “nominal haircuts on the debt cannot be taken.” However, the final text mentions
“possible longer grace and payment periods” which could be extended to Greece in order to make its debt more sustainable. REBELLION IN SYRIZA RANKS Tsipras and the Greek negotiating team accepted the bailout, harsh terms and all. But getting the agreement through Greek parliament came at the cost of alienating much of the party’s base. “With this deal, the public mandate and the proud ‘No’ of the Greek people in the referendum is canceled,” railed Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, one of Syriza’s staunch leftist members. Lafazanis was one of 38 Syriza members, including former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and Deputy Labor Minister Dimitris Stratoulis, who voted against the agreement. The agreement was passed with 229 votes in Greece’s 300-seat parliament, with Tsipras being forced to rely on support from opposition parties PASOK and New Democracy, both groups his party defeated in parliamentary elections earlier this year. The full text of the Euro Summit Statement can be accessed here: https:// www.google.ge/?gws_rd=cr,ssl&ei=VISnVbHmL-4fiywPXl4CIAQ#q=News-+Armenia+News+Agency
For mer PM Zhv ania’ s Dea th ormer Zhvania’ ania’s Death Still a Myster y 10 Year s On Mystery ears By Steven Jones
HA VE YOUR HAIR CUT AT OUR SAL ON HAVE SALON AND GET HAIR DIA GNOSTIC AS A GIFT! DIAGNOSTIC
The death of former Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania has been a controversial subject for Georgian society for several years. The current government promised a full investigation of the case prior to the 2012 elections, with many claiming that Zhvania’s death was not accidental and alleging that the United National Movement, then in power, had been involved. The Georgian prosecutor’s office has accused two members of Zhvania’s former private guard of neglecting their duties to protect the former PM, who was found dead in a private apartment on February 2, 2005. “I am a prosecutor and embarrassing topics do not exist for me. The defendants violated the law, official regulations, internal regulations and security requirements. The General Inspection delivered a report that Kharshiladze and Dzadzamia did not perform their duties in a proper way,” Revaz Nadoi, the Georgian prosecutor commented. “We have heard that the accused are going to break their silence and tell truth in court. They have changed their evidence five times. The word of a man, who has changed his evidence five times, is worthless. They are guilty and must be punished,” Nadoi underlined. The former PM Zhvania according to the prosecutor’s office was taken to an unknown place and Kharshiladze and Dzadzamia (private guards) were obligated to provide Zhvania with security but did not. According to Nadoi “in fact, they abandoned him”. “All this resulted in a terrible incident. The PM died under vague circumstances; this means Kharshiladze and Dzadzamia did not fulfill their obligations properly and must be held accountable. They violated the special service
Zurab Zhvania, Georgian Ex-Prime Minister.
of state security protocol, according to which they were committed to provide security to a high-ranking official,” declared the prosecutor in the courtroom. Kharshiladze, the head of Zhvania’s private guards says: “February 2, 2005 was a normal working day. I went to work and then back home. Dzadzamia called me at about 03:30 saying something was wrong. I went to the Saburtalo district from Gldani, it took 10 minutes”. When I got to the flat, the door was locked, so I entered through a window. Zura was sitting in an armchair. We checked his pulse and then performed CPR on his lifeless body. No signs of violence were visible at the scene,” Kharshiladze recalls. “The situation was like this: Usupov (Governor of Kvemo Kartli Region, who died along with Zhvania), and Zhvania were naked. We dressed and cleaned the bodies, as any other person would do. Then we took Usupov’s body
to the car but then realized it would be absurd for Zura to be found in a strange flat in such a condition, so we took Usupov’s body back to the flat. I had already called Baramidze (Interior minister that time), after which I phoned the President. When law enforcers came the public became aware of the situation. I had no intentions of saying these words publicly, let Zura’s soul forgive me,” Koba Kharshiladze said. Zhvania’s widow says the suspects are lying: “The apartment was not supplied with natural gas at 3:00 AM. They are simply rambling, saying Dzadzamia called Kharshiladze.” The former PM’s brother Gogla Zhvania also accuses the ex-government in covering the ‘authentic facts’. Zhvania’s death remains a cloudy chapter in Georgia’s recent history and it may still be some time before a universally accepted version of events materializes.
JULY 17 - 23
The ISET Policy Institute (ISET-PI, www.iset-pi.ge) is an independent think-tank associated with the International School of Economics at TSU (ISET). Our blog carries economic analysis of current events and policies in Georgia and the South Caucasus region ranging from agriculture, to economic growth, energy, labor markets and the nexus of economics, culture and religion. Thought-provoking and fun to read, our blog posts are written by international faculty teaching at ISET and recent graduates representing the new generation of Georgian, Azerbaijani and Armenian economists.
Tea: a P otential Gold Mine of Geor gian Ag ricultur e? Potential Georgian Agricultur riculture? By Tamari Giorgadze and Irakli Kochlamazashvili The first tea bushes appeared in Western Georgia in 1847, and since then tea production has played a significant, yet widely unknown, role in Georgia’s history. The humid and subtropical climate of Western Georgia in the regions of Guria, Samegrelo, Adjara, Imereti and Abkhazia are ideal for harvesting tea, and this was a fact eventually recognized by businessmen outside Georgia. With a commission to produce tea in the country, Lao Jin Jao, an experienced tea farmer, arrived from China in 1893. By 1900, the tea he was producing was world-class in quality, winning the gold medal at the Paris World Expo, a competition in which all countries producing tea (apart from China) participated. Since that peak, the history of tea in Georgia has been tumultuous, moving from the emphasis on quality to over-production and exploitation, and finally to practical abandonment. However, the prospective Georgia has of once again producing tea of the caliber achieved in 1900 is an important fact to keep in mind when thinking about what potential tea has in Georgia today. THE GEORGIAN TEA INDUSTRY IN SOVIET TIMES AND TODAY In the early 1920s, Georgia’s new status as a Soviet Socialist Republic led to the government taking an active role in the development and exploitation of the tea industry. The volume of tea produced was ratcheted up, and by mid-1900s Georgia was a leading producer of tea within the USSR, providing approximately 95% of the produce distributed across the Soviet Union (Nakhutsrishvili, 215). High production yields came at a high cost: the compromise of quality. Traditional hand plucking methodology that emerged in the 1890s was replaced by mass mechanical harvesting. The harvested quantity peaked in 1985 at 152,000 tons, a colossal volume of production compared to the 1,800 tons produced today (Hall 61; Geostat data 2014). Between the fall of the Soviet Union and today, the tea sector in Georgia has practically collapsed for both political and politico-economic reasons. With the fall of the USSR, the government could no longer play a supervisory and organizational role in tea production. Neither was it fit for the task of helping re-orient the Georgian tea industry to new markets. The war of 1993-1995 in Abkhazia, a key teaharvesting region in the northwestern cor-
ner of Georgia, also led to plummeting production levels, and, many of the abandoned tea factories were robbed, with their capital exported out of the country (mostly as scrap metal). Due to the protracted halt in harvesting, tea plantations became overgrown. Re-cultivating them is costly, approximately 7-8 thousand lari per hectare. The meager incomes of local farmers (about 495 lari a month on average (Geostat, 2013)) are insufficient to finance rehabilitation efforts. Farmers’ uncertain and low income in combination with relatively high interest rates set by private banks are key barriers for farmers’ access to credit. Moreover, banks do not accept tea plantations or processing equipment as collateral, and the overwhelming majority of small-scale farmers are unwilling to risk losing their private property to take out a loan. Due to these financial constraints and the lack of necessary resources to rehabilitate overgrown plantations, the amount of land fit for harvesting tea is plummeting. According to Tengiz Svanidze from the Tea Producers’ Association of Georgia, approximately 20,000 hectares of land were still suitable for tea harvesting in 2013; in May 2015 this quantity was halved to about 10,000 available hectares. Compare this to the 67 thousand hectares under tea plantations in the 1980s, and one sees the extent to which this sector has shrunk. Disorganization has led to practical abandonment, and the main challenge nowadays is to keep intact whatever knowledge and capital still remain. THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC SIGNIFICANCE OF TEA PRODUCTION In many villages of Western Georgia tea harvesting was a way of life. It formed the social fabric that towns such as Tsalenjikha in the Samegrelo region were built upon. Tea production is a labor intensive art, and in the 1980s about 180,000 people were involved in the tea value chain. The collapse of tea production has had the most detrimental effect on these tea farmer communities. As a consequence, many families fell into poverty. The most able among tea farmers migrated to Turkey, mostly for seasonal work in the Turkish tea sector. The glorious past of the Georgian tea industry suggests that reviving the tea sector could bring huge economic and social benefits to Western Georgia’s rural communities. It could be key to alleviating rural poverty by providing families with
Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia (2015). *Preliminary figures for 2014.
steady jobs and income generation opportunities. The art and science of tea production would continue to be passed down from generation to generation, keeping intact Georgia’s social and cultural uniqueness. Revitalizing the tea sector would also help diversify Georgia’s agricultural production and thus help insure farmers against price fluctuations of alternate crops, such as hazelnuts and blueberries, while also promoting bio-diversity and food security. This is a serious issue given the current tendency, observed in Guria and Samegrelo, to uproot tea plantations and plant hazelnut trees instead. Triggered by an exceptionally good season (and very high international prices) for hazelnuts, this tendency runs the risk of putting too many eggs in one basket. The relatively low risk of tea due to its ability to withstand relatively severe weather conditions is an additional benefit, safeguarding farmers against bad harvests. Moreover, high quality teas that can be produced in Georgia would be competitive on world markets. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and private stakeholders, Georgian tea could fill the niche market of bio-clean produce that is in demand in advanced economies. THE YET-TO-BE-REALIZED POTENTIAL OF GEORGIAN TEA Georgia is one of the Northern-most tea harvesting regions in the world. Perhaps surprisingly for some, cool weather conditions at night and during winter months serve as protection against diseases – greatly reducing the need in pesticides. At least for the time being, Georgian tea is ecologically clean also because Georgian farmers rarely use (expensive and difficult to access) herbicides. The combination of cool climate and acidic soil provides Georgian tea with a unique chemical composition, particularly fit for green tea: given these conditions,
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tea leaves mature more slowly, eliminating any bitterness in the tea’s aftertaste. Georgia is already producing high-quality tea that is exported to countries like Germany, but, production volumes not sufficiently large for large-scale export. It is dumbfounding to think that Georgia is currently a net importer of tea given the industry’s history and potential. In terms of trade volume, 357 more tons of tea is imported than exported (2014). In value, (negative) net exports totaled more than 6 million USD in 2014. In light of the above trade figures, it is easy to see that Georgian tea producers have not be able to capture their own domestic market. Why this is the case? Why should Georgia import tea when local production potential can fully meet domestic demand? Some answers are provided by a study of the tea value chain which has been recently undertaken by ISET’s Agricultural Policy Research Center within the EU-financed ENPARD project. A key issue for the sector, so it appears, is the lack of appropriate linkages between producers and other actors in the value chain. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Georgia’s has about 15,000 small-scale tea growers, cultivating less than 1 hectare of land. While constituting the overwhelming majority of tea producers in Georgia, these farmers face major problems in the “sorting, packaging & branding” department. As a result, most of them cannot get their product to any market outside of their respective villages. Not having long-term contracts with buyers further down the value chain, small farmers have no incentives to invest in the quality of their products, and, moreover, are looking for opportunities to shift to other crops (such as hazelnuts). MOVING FORWARD Broadly speaking there seem to be two ways forward in reviving the tea sector. First, those small-scale farmers who are
willing and able to adjust their product to the requirements of the already-established Georgian tea brands, such as Gurieli, could be integrated into their supply chains. However, this would require a sustained effort on the part of the farmers to ensure consistent quality. Another way forward, currently supported by the ENPARD project, is the creation of farmer cooperatives that could join forces in sorting, blending, packaging and branding unique tea varieties. In contrast to the rest of Europe, in Georgia, modern agricultural cooperatives – as opposed to Soviet era collective farms – are a relatively recent phenomenon. Perhaps one of the reasons farmers drug their feet on formal cooperation is the (wrong) association of this concept with the forced collectivization experience under the USSR. The Tea Forum, which ISET-PI organized in Kutaisi early July 2015, was instrumental in dismantling such an association. The majority of farmers appear to understand the benefits of operating as a cooperative. The CARE consortium under the ENPARD project (which ISET is part of), is currently supporting two tea cooperatives. Other proposals will be reviewed in the coming months. Most of these are micro factories specializing in the production of high quality tea. The money granted by ENPARD will be paid back into a fund to finance additional cooperatives, allowing to further expand farmer cooperation. Already today, 27 tea cooperatives are registered in Georgia (including one secondlevel cooperative, uniting several production-focused cooperatives), and the numbers are steadily increasing. Georgia currently stands at a major crossroads as far as the future of its tea industry is concerned. If overgrown plantations are not systematically re-harvested, and appropriate supply-side linkages are not formed, small-scale tea farmers will shift to other crops, and the tea sector would suffer its final blow. The government could clearly play a role in deciding the future of the sector. The Ministry of Agriculture has recently formed a committee to develop a strategy for the tea industry, but, as yet, no concrete plans are available for professional review and public discussion. Given the extent to which the art of harvesting tea is cherished and respected in Western Georgia, it would be a shame to let the sector fail. This is not a sentimental judgment. The benefits of reviving the industry are also plain when looking through a purely economic lens.
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JULY 17 - 23
Russia Creeping Closer
Hand-made signs protesting the creeping border near the South Ossetian ABL. Photo by Teona Surmava/GT.
By Nino Japarashvili Soon after Georgia signed an air defense agreement with France, and NATO’s multi-national training “Fragile Spirit” began in the country, Russian occupational forces illegally placed signposts marking the so-called “state border” on the territory adjacent to the village of Tsitelubani of Gori municipality, and the village of Orchosani, occupied Akhalgori district, near Georgia’s main highway. These markers, placed on July 10, cut part of the farmland of the Georgian local population and lay claim to 70% of the village, insolently appropriating 10 hectares of agricultural land. As a result locals in the area have lost their agricultural land and their livestock - in many cases their only livelihood. Furthermore, as a result of the illegal border installation, certain segments of the Baku-Supsa pipeline (near Orchosani) now falls within the territory under Russian control. The pipeline, also known as the Western Route Export Pipeline (WREP), at 833 km in length and with a capacity of 145,000 barrels a day, runs from Azerbaijan to the Georgian Black Sea terminal of Supsa and is operated by British Petroleum (BP). “We’ve lost most of our fields. Russians said we are no longer allowed there,” a farmer from one of the villages affected by the creeping occupation told Georgia Today journalist Teona Surmava. BP Chief Spokesman in Georgia, Gia
Gvaladze, stated: “This changes nothing. We don’t need physical access to maintain [the pipe].” Marking borders by putting barbed wire fences was first started by the administrative boundary line (ABL) guard troops of the Russian Federation Security Service in April-May 2011, when fences were installed in the immediate vicinity of the villages of Didi Khurvaleti and Kveshi, southeast of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia’s administrative center). Later, a new wave of intensified fencing efforts by the Russian Federation took place from February 2013 in the village of Ditsi: metal fencing posts were installed in late May about 120 meters into Tbilisi administered territory. Also, in the village of Dvani, moving the administrative boundary line deeper into the Tbilisi controlled area resulted in cutting off local residents from an irrigational water supply. International society has showed its support to Georgia regarding the fact. On July 13, John Kirby, spokesperson of the US department of State, said Russia should fulfill all of its obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement to withdraw its forces to pre-conflict positions. The EU issued a statement on July 15, saying “the installation of new demarcation signposts along the administrative boundary line of Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia has led to tension in the area.” The statement re-affirmed the EU’s full support to Georgia’s internationally recognized borders and called on both
sides for restraint and the use of existing mechanisms such as the Geneva International Discussions and the Incident Prevention and Response mechanism (IPRM) to defuse tensions. Individual countries, such as Ukraine and Lithuania, also released relevant statements, condemning the Russian actions. However, as international society is currently occupied with the Iran nuclear talks and Greek bailout negotiations, dealing with the Russian occupation primarily falls to the Georgian government and Georgian society. Georgia’s Foreign Ministry (MFA) in its first statement on the issue condemned the actions aimed against peace and security, which “violated the fundamental principles of international law.” Later, Tamar Beruchashvili, Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with the Head of the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) and expressed concern over the illegal placement of signposts. MFA officials also informed the diplomatic corps of Georgia and emphasized that the process within Georgia’s territory also violates the provisions of the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement. On July 15, the MFA handed a note of protest to the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Switzerland to Georgia for submission to the Russian side. Illegal borderization was also discussed at the Abashidze-Karasin meeting in Prague on July 15- bilateral talks which do not normally cover political issues. Georgia will further discuss the incident in the frames of the Geneva format. Alongside the official diplomatic efforts, Georgian societal groups actively protested against the illegal Russian actions. On July 14, Georgian media representatives held a protest rally “No to Occupation” in the village of Khurvaleti and participants took down the Russian signposts which claimed “Republic of South Ossetia.” The Young Diplomat’s Club of Georgia and other youth organizations also organized protests against the “creeping occupation” of Russia. Young Georgians gathered with NATO and EU flags in Khurvaleti, near the occupational line. A demonstration is expected to be held in front of the Georgian State Administration building in Tbilisi on July 18.
Bur janadz e’ s R ussian R oulette Burjanadz janadze’ e’s Russian Roulette By Zviad Adzinbaia Nino Burjanadze, leader of the Democratic Movement, left for Moscow on July 10 upon the invitation of Russian State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin. Despite the adversarial relations between Georgia and Russia since 2008 and Russia’s occupation of over 20 percent of Georgia’s territory, Burjanadze was to participate in a round table called “World and regional security challenges of the 21st century” organized by Russia’s Foreign Ministry (MFA). Some questioned the credibility of Russia organizing such meetings, when it itself represents one of the main challenges to international law in the region. Burjanadze, who is widely criticized in Georgia for being anti-western and therefore perceived as pro-Russian, held highlevel meetings in the Federation Council and the Russian MFA. “If we restore confidence with Abkhazians and Ossetians and Russia fulfills a positive role, we will regulate the conflict,” stated Burjanadze in her interview with NTV, the Putin-affiliated media source in Russia. Details of Burjanadze’s meeting with Naryshkin were not revealed publicly with the Georgian policitian simply admitting that “painful issues were discussed.” Burjanadze also stated that NATO integration is unrealistic for Georgia adding “Georgia should be a western-type,
Burjanadze playing Putin’s gamble.
democratic country but it does not mean it should be a member of any certain organization to do so.” “We should realize that nobody is waiting for us in NATO. NATO integration is unrealistic,” she added. Senior experts and Georgian citizens have been heavily critical of Burjanadze’s visit with many even considering it a clear admission of Burjanadze’s role in Russia’s ideological so-called “fifth column”. After openly stating her Russian aspirations in 2007 and attempting a coup against the legitimate government, Burjanadze was targeted by then President Saakashvili who aimed to limit her activities. In spite of Russia’s occupation of territories in Georgia and Ukraine, Burjanadze insists that “the attitude of the Georgian people is gradually changing
and more and more Georgians do not perceive Russia as their enemy.” Being given more airtime than she would ever likely receive in her home country, Russian news outlets reported that Burjanadze perceives Georgian reformers’ involvement in Ukraine’s modernization processes as “humiliation by Ukraine’s government, which slapped Georgia in the face by appointing its former officials to the Ukrainian government.” Upon her return to Georgia, Burjanadze’s already ailing political credence is unlikely to have been boosted by the Moscow visit unless her assertion of growing sympathy towards a Russian, rather than a European, path among Georgian citizens is accurate. With very little to lose, Burjanadze can afford the gamble.
Value of Pr ague Talks Pra Questioned Amid South Ossetia Bor der Contr over sy Border Contro ersy
Zurab Abashidze [Georgian PM’s special representative for relations with Russia] and Gregory Karasin [Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister].
By Zaza Jgharkava The 4-hour meeting of Zurab Abashidze [Georgian PM’s special representative for relations with Russia] and Gregory Karasin [Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister] concluded in Prague on July 15 where the main topic of discussion was the process of borderization of the occupied region of South Ossetia. Before the meeting of Karasin and Abashidze, the situation at the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) intensified after one part of the ABL was pushed further into Georgian territory meaning that part of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline found itself outside Georgian control, close to the village of Khurvaleti. The controversial step also pushed the ABL nearly half a kilometer closer to the main east-west highway of the country. Before the meeting in Prague, views were expressed in both Tbilisi and Moscow that South Ossetian authorities had initiated the fresh border tension. In fact, if the South Ossetian (as well as Abkhazian) separatists were and are afraid of anything, it is the possibility of an agreement between Georgia and Russia at the expense of their interests. Nevertheless, it is very doubtful that border guards would fulfill orders from Tskhinvali to erect barbed wire without receiving an order from Moscow. Therefore, Moscow’s role and motivation has been the subject of widespread speculation. At the meeting of Abashidze and Karasin, the Georgian diplomat claimed he had to raise the border issue because of “pressure from Tbilisi” but there was no progress to report on this front. “We should not be naïve and expect that after some meeting Russia will change its politics towards Georgia. Therefore, I did not expect that I would convince him and someone would feel ashamed, take the signpost and go back to Moscow. We had no such expectations,” Abashidze told the TV Imedi jour-
nalist in Prague, upon leaving Hotel “Diplomat”. The Georgian diplomat’s point was beyond debate. Moscow’s strategy has not changed for the last 20 years. A Russian political scientist Konstantin Zatulin phrased the essense of Russia’s attitude in the following way: “Let’s have relations with Georgia as if there was no problem with Abkhazia and South Ossetia and let’s have relations with its former autonomies as if there is no Georgia.” Later, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev put the Georgia policy of the Kremlin in the following words: “No matter what you do, what kind of concession you make, in response we are ready to talk with you about trade, culture, sports, visas but Abkhazia and South Ossetia are not issues of bargaining. Russia does not trade its allies,” Medvedev said. According to the political opposition in Georgia, the format of the meeting with Karasin itself lacks logic. “The situation is very dangerous and is getting worse daily, as we have seen today. This is why it is necessary to abolish this harmful format, make a diplomatic step, take the diplomatic initiative and fully focus on the Geneva format,” said the UNM’s Giga Bokeria. In fact, when establishing the negotiation format parallel to the Geneva format three years ago in order to normalize relations with Russia, the Georgian Dream government should have been aware that it would be fruitless. The latest Prague meeting finally confirmed that Russia has achieved what it wanted – Tbilisi has accepted this formula where trade is facilitated providing the two elephants in the room, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, are not mentioned. So the flow of mineral waters and wine over barbed wire fences continues, but when these fences start to move further south, the number of Georgians willing to suffer territorial losses for the sake of economic benefit will reduce further still.
JULY 17 - 23
Good Cop Bad Cop Zugdidi Incident Prompts Expats to Reveal Police Concerns By Katie Ruth Davies Last week Georgia Today published the troubling story of an attack in June by an unknown number of Zugdidians on a Spanish couple as they were camping for the night before heading up to Mestia. The result left not only fractured limbs and sutured head wounds (and a sense of suspicion and disappointment towards police officers and doctors involved), but sent out a shockwave that resounded through the ex-pat community. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), on seeing the story in Georgia Today, launched an immediate investigation and the Georgian Tourism Administration asked to contact the Spanish couple directly. Hardly surprising that they would want quick closure with the European Youth Olympic Festival and the UEFA Super Cup on the near horizon. But why did they start investigating only after the incident was exposed in the media? Did the Zugdidi police who interviewed the victims not report the incident to the MIA? Were they [the local police] trying to protect relatives or friends who they knew to have been involved? Or did they see it as an insignificant issue, a blip on the radar of the otherwise warm image of Georgian hospitality? Following on from the Zugdidi attack exposed last week, Georgia Today heard from other foreigners who came
forward with their own tales of negligent or even aggressive treatment from police in Georgia. “I was treated worse than my (Georgian, with no relatives in the police as far as I know) attacker.” A native English speaking gentleman said: “I got beaten up and forcibly evicted by my [drunk] landlord two years ago - he struck me over the head with a panduri (a Georgian folk guitar), missing my eye (and possibly my brain) by mere centimeters, gave a few swings with a saw for good measure, smashed my cellphone so I couldn’t call for help, and there were traces of my blood all over the floor (though the police didn’t take any samples and never asked me to give any)… I still had a week left on my rent but it was an oral contract, and the receipt showing I’d transferred money to him, along with most of the other evidence (including said panduri and other destroyed property - without which there wasn’t much basis even for a civil case) ended up in the trash. The police, who gave the guy plenty of time to clean up the evidence, were no help at all, neither were the neighbors (one of whom responded to my cries of help by complaining about the noise), nor the embassy (who gave me the address of a cheap hostel) or “honorary consulate” (who didn’t even bother responding) of the countries I’m a citizen of. Needless to say there was not a whimper from
MIA Investigation Rejects Alleged Police Assault in Turtle Lake
By Steven Jones The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs has released a statement saying they have already completed an investigation into the case concluding that Lika Kikiani was not assaulted by police near Turtle Lake. “Due to the high public interest provoked by the incident that happened in the vicinity of Turtle Lake, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia conducted an inquiry shortly after the video from Lika Kikiani was disseminated on the internet and checked all the circumstances that Lika Kikiani depicts in the video mentioned above,” said the statement. “The General Inspection under the MIA has procured video evidence and interviewed every person involved in the incident. It is noteworthy that Lika Kikiani herself refused to give any explanations and did not go to the General Inspection,” the statement says. According to the information, Kikiani had alleged that she was physically assaulted by up to 20 police officers and named – Grigol B. – who allegedly helped her and was severely beaten by officers afterwards. “It is worth noting that video footage reviewed by us clearly shows that Lika Kikiani and Grigol B. freely entered and left the Vake Police building. She also politely waves farewell to the police officers. According to Grigol
B., the officers did not harm Lika Kikiani and he denies being subjected to any physical abuse by police officers himself,” added the statement. The statement maintains that Kikiani’s claims about being severely beaten and suffering multiple injuries as a result are groundless: “It was established that medics from the ambulance crew did not detect any visible injuries and offered to transport her to the hospital, which she declined. This was entered in the ambulance activity records”. Kikiani, who initially published a video address to Georgian public, allowed media representatives to make video recordings of injuries apparently inflicted on her body. Kikiani, manager of a nearby club “Vitamin”, also believed that the incident may have been captured on CCTV. The alleged victim, 21-year-old manager Kikiani, demands an independent investigation of the incident. The Head of Turtle Lake’s Security Service says that no one has requested the CCTV material, which Kikiani believes in itself gives grounds for further investigation. Ana Natsvlishvili, Chairwoman of Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) said that the Prosecutor’s Office should pursue the video recordings. Kikiani has speculated that police may be attempting to delay the investigation so that CCTV records are automatically deleted.
the media or anybody else. These [Spanish] guys are lucky they at least got their story aired.” Another ex-pat, who asked to remain anonymous, told Georgia Today how she and her spouse have had people throw stones at them as they walk their dog. When asked if they had ever reported the abuse, she replied: “Why? The police wouldn’t bother because
we’re foreign.” “Isn’t giving a false statement perjury? Yet the police were encouraging me to do just this.” The language barrier seems one of the most problematic issues for foreigners here wishing to take up an issue involving police. In most cases the police will arrange for a translator, although even this does not necessarily guarantee the cor-
rect detailing of a statement. This was seen in the case of the Spaniards last month: “The translator, “whose command of English was questionable”, altered numerous facts about the attack and later stated that these were unimportant.” Other foreigners have said that they have been ‘bullied’ by police into withdrawing a complaint (in one young man’s case by threatening him with deportation) and in another by a tiring repetition and twisting of facts until the complainant feels too numbed to pursue the issue, signing the incident off as “no problem.” “Yes, Westerners will often get the red-carpet treatment but not everyone, and nowadays even that is far from a sure thing.” That said, one ex-pat lady has had quite the opposite experience and claims she feels safe and lucky: “In the small town of 13,000 in which I live, when police see us, they always ask if we’re ok and make sure that none of the local drunkards are disturbing us.” Another gentleman spoke of nostalgia for the Saakashvili regime of order and discipline but said of today’s police that they seem to “go the extra mile for foreigners here, although unfortunately it can sometimes depend on a person’s skin color.” All in all, foreigners can rest assured that Georgia is a safer place to live than many western countries, but there is no question that the police do need stricter regulation… and a few English classes.
Paris 2015: Georgia Steps Up its Efforts to Combat Climate Change By Nino Japarashvili Climate change is on top of the international agenda for the end of 2015. From November 30 to December 11 Paris will be hosting the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21), otherwise known as “Paris 2015”. The conference is crucial, as it intends to achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. The European Union has already pledged to slash its emissions by at least 40% by 2030. Last year world’s two biggest economies, the United States and China also signed a game-changer agreement which envisages the two countries working together to meet respective emissions targets. As part of the agreement, China raised its goal for non-emitting power sources (nuclear and renewables) to 20% of total energy production, to be achieved by 2030. President Barack Obama said the United States would cut its own emissions by more than a quarter by 2025. Georgia has been part of international climate change efforts since its independence. The country ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1994 and the Kyoto Protocol in 1999. In 2010, the country associated itself with the Copenhagen Accord. Tbilisi, capital of Georgia, has also joined the Covenant of Mayors Initiative of the EU aimed at significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Currently, Official Tbilisi is also cooperating on environmental issues with regional countries, under the common EU policy framework, the Eastern Partnership (EaP). The recent informal EaP dialogue in Minsk on June 29 allowed Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for the European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations; Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries; and representatives
of the Latvian Presidency of the EU Council, and respective Environment Ministers of six EaP partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) to discuss areas of common interest and shared challenges on environment, including the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements. Georgia’s complicated relief is quite fragile towards natural disasters caused by climate change. Geographical location, meteorological conditions, high anthropological pressure on the environment and limited mechanisms to minimize the damage create conditions for disasters such as floods, heavy rains, erosion, drought, wildfires and heat waves. In the last decade, Georgian mountainous regions, such as Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Racha-Lechkhumi, Achara and Guria, have been affected by natural disasters. In fact, between 1995 and 2011 the total amount of damage occurred in consequence of geological and hydro–meteorological natural disasters amounted to GEL 2.338.5 million, according to the National Environmental Agency of the Ministry of Environment Protection of Georgia. But being a developing country with 92% of its electricity generated by environmentally sound hydropower, 43% of the Georgian territories covered by forest eligible for support, and with national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions only about 0.03% of global emissions, climate change and environment have not been key issues of political discussion inside the country. The recent deadly flood,
Photo of COP21, from http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/
which hit the capital city Tbilisi on June 13 killing 21 people and dozens of zoo animals, and which resulted in GEL 100 million financial damage, helped the country to become more alert on environmental issues. On June 27, Grigol Lazriev, Head of Climate Change Department of the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection of Georgia, in his presentation “New Climate Change Agreement: Georgia’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)” at the EU-funded project “Clima East” Riga workshop, said Georgia plans to step up its efforts to combat climate change. For the first time Georgia’s INDC includes GHG mitigation commitment. The country “is committed to reducing unconditionally 15% of its GHG emissions below business as usual (BAU) by the year 2030. Emissions intensity per unit of GDP will be reduced by around 37% from 2013 to 2030. As for the conditional reduction, the 15% commitment could increase up to a 25% in a conditional manner, subject to a global agreement addressing important topics including technical cooperation, access to low-cost financial resources and technology transfer,” Lazriev said. Georgia cannot avoid disasters caused by climate change, but full commitment to the global efforts to combat the phenomenon, and national political insurancerelated mechanisms, will be necessary to dampen the negative effects of natural disasters and to minimize financial risks in the years and decades to come.
JULY 17 - 23
Yoga Ananda Center: Flexible Offers All Summer Long P.13
US Donates 85 Million USD to South Caucasus
According to the US Foreign Aid project 2015-2016, approved by the Appropriations Committee of the US Senate, the US intends to allocate USD 85 million in total to three republics of the South Caucasus for various programs. Azerbaijan will receive economic aid in the amount of 8,778,000 USD, Armenia – 20.06 million USD, and Georgia – 54 million USD, according to Radio Liberty. At the same time, Yerevan can count on 1.7 million USD for a foreign military financing program and 600 thousand USD for an international military education and training program. According to the Armenia News Agency, the committee also expressed solidarity with Senator Mark Kirk for Humanitarian Assistance of the occupation regime of separatists in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR). “This program aims toward human-
itarian needs and symbolizes the United States’ solidarity with the democratic aspirations of the NKR people,” said Ken Hachikian, Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). US Foreign Aid is given to a variety of recipients, including developing countries, countries of strategic importance to the US, and countries recovering from war. The government channels about half of its economic assistance through a specialized agency, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Governmentsponsored foreign aid began a systematic fashion after World War II. Today, the US government operates five major categories of foreign assistance: bilateral development aid (the largest amount), economic assistance supporting US political and security goals, humanitarian aid, multilateral economic contributions, and military aid.
Think-Tank: First Quarter Say Significant Decrease of Remittances By Baia Dzagnidze
By Eka Karsaulidze
BRICS and SCO Summit Results
By the end of 2015, remittances to Georgia are expected to decline by $330 million, reports the local independent think-tank PMCG in its Economic Outlook and Indicators report adding that considering the exchange rate and a multiplier effect, this will represent nominal GDP (GEL) reduction of no more than 1%. The organization states that in the first quarter of 2015, 72% of the GDP come from remittances. The top five countries that transfer money are Russia (37%), Greece (16%), Italy (10%), the US (9%) and Turkey (7%), “which does not give the grounds of optimism
The remittances during January - May period decreased by 23.2% compared to the same period of last year.
[as] Greece and Russia have an economic crisis, while Italy sees a slight economic growth.” The report notes that the remittances during the January - May period de-
creased by 23.2% compared to the same period of last year. Looking at specific countries, transfers from Russia reduced by 42.4%, while remittances from Greece and Italy dropped by 18.1% and 11.6% respectfully. “According to the conservative viewpoint, if remittances maintain this current trend, the volume of 2015 remittances will be reduced by $40 million from Greece and by $290 million from Russia compared to last year,” reads the report. However, there were some positive trends amid the overall reduction as remittances from the US increased by 26.2% while transfers from Turkey rose by 21.9%.
Garibashvili: “Georgia is Not Just Looking West” By Joseph Larsen Next month Tbilisi will host economic ministers from 57 countries for the first round of negotiations for the launch of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Georgia is a founding member of the Chinese-led institution. On August 24-25 Tbilisi will host the ministers of each AIIB member country, a group that includes Asian heavyweights China and India as well as western economies like France and the United Kingdom. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili
said that “This is further evidence that Georgia is not just looking West. My country has always been a regional hub and a gateway between Europe and Asia, which is why I am so strongly in favour of a Tbilisi Silk Road Forum.” The bank will use its capital of USD500 billion to provide preferential loans for infrastructure projects in member countries, including Georgia. AIIB member officials hope the bank will issue its first loans by the end of the year. Georgia became the institution’s 45th member on June 30 when Finance Minis-
ter Nodar Khaduri signed the AIIB’s founder’s agreement. The country’s political and business community see membership as an affirmation of Georgia’s unique status as a bridge between East and West. Tbilisi will also host the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum on October 15-16, an event sponsored by the Asian Development Bank, the AIIB’s sister organization. Georgia remains committed to integration with NATO and the European Union but enjoys strong economic relationships with non-Western countries such as China, Iran and Azerbaijan.
JULY 17 - 23
Wha ould ffood ood pair s be lik e hatt w would pairs like if the yw er e actual couples? they wer ere Everyone likes coupling. Mornings go with coffee, cinema with popcorn, and football with beer. We mix and match, but ultimately some couples just work better together. This applies to many cases, the first being love relationships and a close second, foods. Still, there are pairings and pairings: some are unpredictable, some eccentric, some odd, some explosive and some just perfect. Foodpanda (www.foodpanda.ge) loves pairing foods and analyzed their relationship as if they were actual couples. 1. The socially silent couple: Spaghetti & Meatballs The socially silent couple is actually only silent about one topic – their relationship. These two are social media-active across multiple platforms, posting selfies, having brunch with friends on Instagram, etc. But this couple has no social media posts about each other. If you didn’t know they are in a relationship you might as well think they are single. My guess is either they’re both trying to play it cool (while being horrified by the idea of commitment), or they just want to keep their options open. 2. The PDA (Public Display of Affection) couple: Burger & Fries Ugh. Whether these two are fighting or are just going to the supermarket, they can’t stop talking about each other. These oversharers’ posts are the most recurrent you see when scrolling through your news feed. They spend more time kissing than talking. They’re the type who will go to a party and will spend the whole time just the two of them, making out or just being ridiculously happy. 3. The couple where one is way more into it: Pancakes & Maple Syrup It’s instantly obvious when
The jealous couple: Fish & Chips
you come across one of these couples. It’s a combination of the above two categories – one part oversharer, one part socially silent. She’s totally head over heels in love with him, becoming all syrupy and gooey, while he’s not all that bothered, really. He just sits there, without really putting any effort into the relationship. She’s totally in love daydreaming about their wedding day, meanwhile he’s on Tinder, keen on meeting different people and clearly not ready for a commitment. 4. The awkward couple: Peanut butter & Jelly They are quite clearly not good for each other, and it’s a pretty unhealthy relationship, but somehow they just can’t keep away. No matter how many times you tell them that it’s not a clever idea to be with each other, they ignore all advice and invest on in a dysfunctional union, and act all Romeo & Juliet about the situation. 5. The always-arguing couple: Chocolate & Orange It’s the couple you have long given up in trying to separate or reunite. They might even make you pick sides. These two love each other, but in such strange ways. Both are strong, opinionated and autonomous and don’t like to be told what to do. None of them surrenders or admits defeat easily. They act completely different when they are apart and hang out with dissimilar groups
of people, and yet, when they are in truce they are such an invigorating duo. 6. The secret affair couple: Chocolate & Salt Giveaway details: Paranoid glances around the room, secretive hand touching, giggling, and looking intensely in the eyes. This pairing can’t go unnoticed as they bring out each other’s flavors. They think people don’t know they love each other, but everybody knows really. 7. The effortlessly cool couple: Cheese & Wine They look like best friends, fight like brother and sister and dance like a duet. The most astounding characteristic is the balance between independence and interdependence. They have clear boundaries; they are separate people with separate interests, and when they come together their qualities are amplified. 8. The power couple: Strawberries & Cream She’s the most beautiful girl, he’s the most hansome boy. They are proficient in multiple sports, they have super white teeth and they wear matching clothes. Oh, and they are usually blond and slightly posh. 9. The couple that never goes out. Ever.: Milk & Cookies They are so wrapped up with each other that you forget if you’ve seen either of them the last month. They always go for the stay-in option to cuddle on the
couch, watching romantic comedies. You have a feeling there is absolutely nothing that they do not do together. 10. The jealous couple: Fish & Chips They are so paranoid about the other cheating; they check each other’s phones and stalk the Facebook profiles. The are always asking about their ex, still worrying they are not over them. You always feel their distrust and competitiveness when you are around them. 11. The unexpected couple: Melon & Prosciutto You have no idea how these two work so well together, but they definitely do. They are diametrically opposed. She likes to read, he doesn’t even have a magazine at his place. He’s sporty, she can’t even be bothered to take the dog out for a chilled walk. She’s fiery and passionate, he’s calm and comforting. He’s really, really tall, she’s tiny. About foodpanda foodpanda, together with its affiliated brands hellofood and Delivery Club, is the leading online marketplace for food delivery, being active in more than 40 countries across five continents. The company enables restaurants to bring their menus online and extend their customer base. For consumers, foodpanda offers an online marketplace with the widest gastronomic range from where they can choose their favorite meal on the platform or via the app that is available for free on AppStore and Google Play. The brand began its operations in Georgia in 2014, and already spans over 70 restaurants throughout the largest cities in the country, including Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Mtskheta and Rustavi. www.foodpanda.ge
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PASHA Bank Named Fastest Growing Corporate Bank in Georgia 2015 PASHA Bank was named the Fastest Growing Corporate Bank in Georgia 2015 by the Global Banking and Finance Review Awards. PASHA Bank is a Bakubased financial institution operating in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey providing a full range of corporate and investment banking services to large and medium-sized enterprises. PASHA
Bank has been operating in Georgia for over two years already and it was named the Fastest Growing Corporate Bank in Georgia 2015 by Global Banking and Finance Review Awards. Since its inception in 2011, the Global Banking and Finance Review Awards have reflected the innovation, achievement, strategy, progressive and inspirational changes taking place
within the Global Financial community. The awards were created to recognize companies of all sizes which are prominent in particular areas of expertise and excellence within the financial world. The Awards have evolved and
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EBRD Facilitates Large Carbon Credit Deal in Georgia Enguri Hydro Power Plant concludes sale of carbon credits to Norwegian utility Engurhesi Ltd, the stateowned operator of Enguri hydropower plant (HPP), recently concluded the first sale of carbon credits. This deal crowns years of investment, which led to the project’s registration under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) towards the end of 2012. The financial closure of this transaction in difficult market circumstances has a strong demonstration effect. This is a major milestone for Engurhesi, which is now well-positioned to generate additional financial revenues from the sale of its emission re-
ductions going forward. The deal was supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) through its Carbon Project and Asset Development Facility (CPADF), which provided technical assistance to help Engurhesi decide on a sales strategy as well as the verification of emission reductions realised between January 2013 and August 2014. Over 400,000 carbon credits were sub-
sequently issued and sold by Engurhesi to Norwegian utility Statkraft. The important feature of this deal is that this is the first time that part of the costs involved in concluding the carbon project development cycle are recovered under the CPADF. Cost recovery is linked to the successful sale of carbon credits, hence the EBRDtakes the carbon project development risk. In doing so, it seeks to increase the participation of its clients in the global carbon market. The EBRD has financed the rehabilitation of Enguri HPP, which now produces over 40 per cent of the electricity consumed in Georgia. As a result of the refurbishment, the overall output
from Enguri HPP has increased by 10 to 15 per cent, leading to significant emission reductions. Part of these emission reductions also compensated for the environmental impact of the Bank’s 2015 Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Tbilisi, which was recently certified as a carbon neutral event The EBRD is the largest institutional investor in Georgia with over ˆ2.5 billion investments in more than 184 projects. In addition to being a leading investor in many sectors of the Georgian economy, the Bank also provides advisory services and is committed to helping attract additional investment to the country.
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BRICS and SCO Summit R esults Results
By Eka Karsaulidze The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summits completed the work in Ufa city, Russia, which took place on July 8-10.
In addition, the leaders called for acceleration of the UN and IMF reform, condemned unilateral sanctions, strongly condemned the crimes of the Islamic State (terrorist organization ISIS) and called for sides to abide by the Minsk Agreement in Ukraine.
BRICS The importance of the BRICS summit lies in the great potential of developing countries and their serious impact on the global situation. “All member countries of the BRICS may offer an alternative way of development. And we feel the need for cooperation, especially in the economic field,” said President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. The main event of the BRICS summit was the creation of 200 billion USD first financial institutions in the framework of the associations. Also at the final press conference, Mr. Putin stated his intention to create a new payment system, an alternative of the Visa and MasterCard which currently serve 97% of the population in Russia. In the framework of the summit a declaration was signed which reflected the issues that are in the focus of the international community such as the Syrian conflict and civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Afghanistan, problems of the environment, the fight against corruption, and drug trafficking.
SCO Participants of the SCO summit (Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) showed that the organization aims to become a platform where traditionally bitter rivals can solve the world’s major political and economic problems. India and Pakistan, which are the main rivals in the region, began the procedure of entry into the organization as full members, and Armenia and Azerbaijan, which has had nearly three decades of debate about the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh, joined the organization with the status of dialogue partners, alongside Cambodia and Nepal. “The SCO expansion will radically change the geopolitical landscape of the Eurasian region and will connect SCO countries with the economic and political potential of the Arabian Peninsula with the help of Pakistan’s existing land and sea routes,” said Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif. It was also reported that 11 states have shown interest in joining the orga-
nization in one form or another. One potential future member is Iran. The leaders at SCO agreed to work together to fight terrorism and create a Development Fund and SCO Development Bank. They expressed support for the most ambitious infrastructure initiatives of China – the creation of the Silk Road economic zones, called for observance of the treaty on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and approved the strategy of the SCO’s development by 2025. “Ufa brought together the heads of 15 states, who represented several continents: Eurasia, South America and Africa. Each of these countries has its unique development way, its model of economic growth, a rich history and culture. And the power and the enormous potential of the BRICS and the SCO lies on these countries diversity and conjunction of traditions,” said President Putin. BRICS1 – the BRICS’s logo from google.com BRICS2 – the BRICS Leaders and Leaders of the invited states, in Ufa from www.narendramodi.in BRICS3 – the BRICS Leaders from google.com BRICS4 – Ufa city’s logo at the BRICS and the SCO summits from dp.ru BRICS5 – Ufa city during the BRICS and the SCO summits from dp.ru
Yoga Ananda Center le xib le Center:: F Fle lexib xible Of s All Summer Long Offfer ers
By Tatia Megeneishvili The popularity of Yoga is increasing every day around the globe, and Georgia is no exception. The founder of Ananda Yoga Center, Edita Dilanyan, says that with the interest grows demand for quality and flexibility, too. “In the modern world, people are finally realized how important a healthy lifestyle really is. Proof of this can be found in the fact that this year the world, for the first time, celebrated the International Day of Yoga. Georgia also joined the other 100 countries taking part in the event. With the Embassy of India in Armenia and Georgia, the United Nations (UN) in Georgia, Tbilisi City Hall, Yoga Ananda Center also was among the organizers,” stated Dilanyan. According to Dilanyan, Ananda Center has a number of tempting of-
fers for their clients. “We have weekend trip offers for our clients and not only at a reasonable price. On the weekends we organize trips to different resort zones, accommodating participants in the best hotels surrounded by incredible nature. Yoga tours unite people and we try to combine the pleasant and the practical. This is a community where everyone feels at home,” Dilanyan said. “Last year we had a contract with Geocell Purple Umbrella beach, where we held open air trainings. This year we added the SECTOR 26 beach club where, throughout the summer, we’ll be holding group trainings.” Ananda Yoga Center also offers two week atonements for clients who are lacking in time and plan to leave the city on vacation. “It is an economy package for those
who plan to go somewhere else but want to keep training while they are in the city,” explained Dilanyan. Anana Yoga Center welcomed the summer season with two new teachers: Zaza Barkalaia and Zura Kazishvili. “We have always been proud of the fact that all our trainers and teachers are highly qualified. Both of them [our new additions] are professionals of high level and are a worthy addition to our great staff,” said Dilanyan. Ananda Yoga Center also added LatinAmerican dances with well-known dancer Juliana Bargnar to their service. Soon they plan to start Zumba classes, too. “Our center is a veteran in the yoga field in Georgia. I am very proud of our achievements. However, we always try to improve and add more and more services for our clients,” concluded Dilanyan.
JULY 17 - 23
IF AD Media Tour in IFAD Seme grelo-Zemo Sv aneti Semeg Svaneti Ministry of Agriculture conducted a media tour in Semegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region with the support of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) A media tour was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture on July 3 to July 5th, inviting central and regional media representatives to the Semegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region. Otar Danelia, the Minister of Agriculture, personally introduced the journalists to completed and ongoing projects in the Semegrelo-Zemo Svaneti area in the directions of agricultural crediting, agricultural insurance, and safety of goods, agricultural cooperation, ministry laboratory and helping the matters of the scientific-research center. In order to service the agricultural production development goal, various projects (beneficial agricultural crediting project, processing plan co-financ-
house construction) and the “Georgian Products Renaissance” (nut processing) which was financed in frames of a cofinancing project. Other activities the journalists participated in included: observation of the Zugdidi-based laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture; Nosiri-based greenhouse farm; and the Mechanization Center in Abasha town where the journalists were presented with the Georgian plough. The journalists were also given the chance to see the new greenhouse farm in Samtredia, “Imereti Greenery” Ltd, a subsidiary of the Dutch company “Foodventures”. Greenhouse farms were built in November, 2014, in Samtredia, on thermal water deposits. The company produces 800 000 lettuces annually for the local market. The greenhouse farming received financial aid from both beneficial agricultural crediting and the Inter-
ing project, the “Produce in Georgia” program) are being carried out under the initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture. In their frames, 136 new plants have been financed. From these, 20 were built in the Samegrelo region, which were financed with $24.5 million and created jobs for 1000 people. 30 plants were expanded and re-equipped, financed by $4 529 000 and creating 1272 jobs. In the frames of the media tour the journalists observed two new plants – the “Produce in Georgia” financed “Stimor Representation in Georgia” (green-
national Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The media tour was carried out under the financial support of one of the largest donors in the agriculture sector, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). During the media tour, the project head for IFAD, Lali Durmishidze, briefly talked about the activities of IFAD in Georgia, as well as their ongoing and future projects. She also showed journalists finished activities in frames of the “Agriculture Support Project (ASP)”.
Geosta eveals Highs and Geostatt R Re Lo ws of Prices in Geor gia Lows Georgia By Nino Melikishvili According to Georgia’s National Statistics Office (Geostat), the monthly inflation rate amounted to 0.02 percent. The prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages decreased 1.9 percent, contributing 0.59 percentage points to the overall monthly inflation. However, people still pay more for fruit. The prices for fruit and grapes increased by 5.6 percent while prices are continuing to drop for milk, cheese, eggs and vegetables. In June 2015 costs related to housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels were 0.7 percent lower than in May 2015. In the same time frame, clothing and footwear costs dropped by 3.3 percent while the prices rose for alcoholic beverages and tobacco by 13.8 percent and 8.7 percent respectively. In June 2015 the annual inflation rate equaled 4.5 percent. The rate was mainly formed by price changes for food and non-alcoholic beverages (increasing by
5.7 percent over the year), health (increasing by 7.4 percent) in which category the prices rose for medical products, appliances and equipment, and hospital services. Geostat also noted that the cost of transport has increased by 3.1 percent.
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“Ride ffor or Women omen’’s Rights” visits Geor gia to Pr omote Gender Promote Georgia Equality and Women omen’’s Rights
On July 10, 2015, the Netherlandsbased charity NGO “Ride for Women’s Rights” (R4WR) traveled to Tbilisi, to meet with the UN Women Representative in Georgia, Assistant Representative of UNFPA Georgia, Members of the UNFPA Youth Advisory Panel, UN Youth Delegate – Georgia and Youth Activists, in order to receive first-hand information on women’s and girls’ rights and the gender equality situation in Georgia, as well as share experiences and youth vision on gender-related issues in the country. The meeting took place in the Round Garden, in front of the UN House in Tbilisi. Within the frames of the meeting, an outdoor photo exhibition on Youth, Healthy Lifestyle and Gender-based Violence was organized. R4WR was founded by four young women from Amsterdam who “are committed to creating awareness for women’s rights worldwide and inspiring others to join the efforts in bettering women’s lives”. R4WR has three main focus areas and believe that every girl and woman should have the right to Family Planning, Gender Equality and Education. They started a fascinating 400-day trip last September in Jakarta, Indonesia, and aim to cycle all the way to the Netherlands, which means cycling some 14,000 kilometers and passing through 22 countries in total. The distance that the girls
pass [in one go] when on the road is around 70-80km. “After graduating from university, we wanted to engage in something truly meaningful. We also wanted to travel, so we combined the two and set a goal of traveling with bikes around the globe with the cause to create awareness for women’s rights in our home country, the Netherlands, as well as all the countries we pass through on our journey. Many people take much of the women’s rights and equality in our region for granted, so we wanted to know about the experiences of those women, who are often unable to make different choices and practice their rights,” said Monique, one of the members of R4WR. While discussing the different gender-related issues in Georgia, the Assistant Representative of UNFPA Georgia Country Office, Ms. Lela Bakradze told the members of R4WR: “Along with the violence against women, the practice of early marriage is also present in Georgia. Qualitative research conducted in 2013 by UNFPA showed that it is practiced across the country among different ethnic groups, although its causes and practices vary and largely depend on geographical and cultural factors,” added Ms. Bakradze. “Unfortunately, the seriousness of child marriage and its negative impact on girls’ future and sustainable development is not fully recognized by society.
Child marriage primarily deprives a girl of the opportunity to receive education and make informed decisions about her future. A girl who is 12 years old today will in 10 to 15 years be shaping the future development of the country. Therefore it is of utmost importance to create an environment which will enable girls to fully realize their potential.” Another issue discussed at the meeting was gender-biased sex selection practice. Besides being a radical strategy of gender discrimination, prenatal sex selection will also lead to future population imbalances. According to UNFPA research, it had already been estimated that in 2010 about 25,000 girls aged 0-19 years were missing from the country’s population owing to the sex imbalances at birth that had occurred since the 1990s. Most probably, the main source of change will be the transformation of cultural attitudes resulting in a decline in son preference and strengthening substantial gender equality. At the end of the meeting, the young women from R4WR were handed the gifts from the UN Agencies, including informational materials, T-shirts and bags. R4WR left for Yerevan the very same day, planning to return to Georgia from Armenia and head to Turkey. Their journey is expected to come to an end in October this year.
Heading ffor or a Hot Summer in Ba tumi… Batumi… “Heat Batumi 2015” is a special Batumi summer season project which covers a two-month schedule of various festivals and entertainment events in a non-stop fashion. From July 6th to September 15th, each week Batumi will play host to various kinds of events which will be communicated under an umbrella brand of “Heat Batumi”. The project opened on July 6th with its week-long Georgian folk art celebration, hosting various ensembles and vocal and dancing groups on Batumi’s open stage and in the Batumi Summer Theater. The 60 days of Heat Batumi will cover over 200 events hosting 259 foreign artists from over 20 countries. With up to 2000 participants overall, Heat Batumi will be split into 11 thematic weeks, with each and every one of them having a unique topic and artistic accent. Heat Batumi is suitable for people of all ages and allows visitors to plan their vacation based on what they wish to see most with fun going down all day long. The Batumi City Hall and City Council are the executors of the project, along with the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, “The Investment Fund for Culture Development”, National Administration for Tourism and the Adjara Tourism Department. “Heat Batumi” is a government project that has the goal of promoting Adjara’s tourism potential on one hand and the entire country as a whole to inner and outer target audiences on the other.
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Geor gia Toda y Meets Georgia oday Ride ffor or Women omen’’s Rights By Meri Taliashvili Georgia Today met the Dutch cyclists and interviewed them about their time in Georgia. Q: What do you hope to change in women’s lives by cycling? Carlijn Bettink, 25, graduate of Medical Anthropology & Sociology: We founded our organization “Ride for Women’s Rights” in 2013. Its main purpose is to raise awareness of women’s rights worldwide. And we are doing this by cycling 14000 km. We started in September in 2014 in Indonesia. After cycling in Georgia we are cycling through Turkey and then back to the Netherlands. It takes four hundred days so we have 4 months left. Q: There are many other ways to raise awareness for women. Why did you decided to cycle? A: Cycling is very popular in Holland. Since an early age we have used bikes a lot. All we wanted was sport and physical challenge to raise awareness of the issue. With the bicycle we can visit many places throughout the countries we pass. We come outside the tourist areas,
tion about women’s condition here. It was just a vacation. But when we enter a new country we enter with an open mind and start meeting with various organizations focusing on women to learn as much as possible about women’s rights, and then we share the information with our followers. In Tbilisi, we met with the UNFPA and UN Women. Besides the capital, we are going to cycle through rural areas to talk to women, although the language barrier has to be taken into consideration. Some people speak English, some can’t. At this moment we don’t know much about the situation [here] but we hope to learn about it during our trip. We are staying in Tbilisi for a few days and then we are cycling from Tbilisi toward Batumi and then into Trabzon, Turkey. After finishing cycling we plan to give lectures back in Holland about the issues in order to expand on it. Since gender issue is a worldwide problem, we don’t confine ourselves to only cycling: it’s better to involve as many people as possible. Q: What have you changed regarding the issue so far, and what do you hope for?
thus we get attention by cycling. Generally, we cycle around 70/80 kilo meters per day and stay in different villages and places every night. Q: Have you made contact with organizations to help with your trip or you are doing it on your own? A: We have connections with two International NGOs: “Plan International” and “Care International.” Before we started cycling we contact their Netherlands offices to tell them we were going to cross several countries and to ask if they had projects or offices in those countries. But we also contacted other organizations en-route. If there is a Dutch Embassy, we go there and to other organizations to get information and visit projects focused on women empowerment. Besides cycling, in every country we take photos and videos of women and girls we meet to show why they and their lives are inspiring to us. Q: Is it your first trip in Georgia? Monique van der Veeken, 25, graduate of Culture, Organization & Management Logistics: We had visited Georgia before but we didn’t get much informa-
A: What we noticed is that the women we talked to are very happy to share their stories. There are places where women are empowered and have changed some things but people don’t know about it and we are trying to bring attention to it. They are very happy that we continue to hear their voices. Through social media, we spread the information about what’s going on in the countries regarding women in a positive sense. What was the history and what it is now; how women made a difference or empowered themselves. First of all, we want to learn about Georgia from Georgian women. Of course, there will be change but it doesn’t mean that we want to create change. We want to give people some sort of motivation. In other countries women told us that we gave them strength and motivation. We want women to be free in the sense of what they want to be. And we hope to achieve this here as well. Lastly, we would like to tell people to follow our ride via our Facebook page R4WR and become part of our move to fight together for women’s rights.
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Tir es and Tic kets: R ec laiming Tires Tick Rec eclaiming the Side walks in Tbilisi Sidew
By Tamar Svanidze Citizens of the Georgian capital often complain that Tbilisi has become a city for cars, not for people, where sidewalks are used as parking spots and even, on occasion, as additional traffic lanes. Yet at the beginning of last week some young Georgians found a way to reclaim the city sidewalks. They laid out four tires across the pavement, filled them with earth and flowers and left a letter to neighboring shops asking them to take care of the flowers and water them. Later, the Guerrilla Gardening Movement in Tbilisi joined the effort to reclaim the sidewalks with the ‘flower tires,’ freeing said sidewalks for pedestrians. For their activities, members of the Movement were fined 150 Gel by police for ‘littering’ the city center with old tires. “Parking is not allowed in this area, and yet they [cars] are still parked here. We tried to impose a nice partisan order,” Guerrilla Gardening Movement wrote on their Facebook page. “We are going to appeal the fine imposed on us. It was not littering. We just placed tires; we did not litter the street. Chavchavadze Ave was selected as a venue because there was no parking allowed but cars are still standing [in the way of pedestrians]. As soon as we arrived and began our activity, five police crews stopped in front of us. We got the impression that this was an attempt at intimidation. Therefore, we intend to appeal,” Guerrilla Gardening Movement representative Nata Peradze told Liberali magazine. “Our first ‘Guerrilla action’ was on Chavchavadze Avenue and people meet
with this very positively. They also understand that sidewalks belong to pedestrians, not cars. For this uncontrolled parking Tbilisi is one of the worst cities for walkers and we should urge ‘free-for road culture’ where drivers follow the rules,” said Mariam Kanchaveli, member of the Guerrilla Gardening Movement. The Guerrilla Gardening Movement is not alone in fighting against violations of the rights of pedestrian free movement. There are even two Facebook campaigns, named “Introducing Shameless Drivers” and “Parking Gurus” (see Issue #741, 13.11.2014 of Georgia Today), which collect photos about serious violations of parking and traffic laws in order to name and shame bad parkers in online posts. Uncontrolled parking creates problems not only for pedestrians but also for disabled persons moving in wheelchairs as well as for people carrying children in strollers. Sometimes you need Spiderman’s power to squeeze through the narrow space left between cars parked on sidewalks. A private company named C.T. Park is the only business which aims to control parking areas on the Tbilisi roads, and has been doing so for several years now. The municipal government gave the company the right to implement Article 37 of the Georgian Law on Road Traffic and issue fines to offenders. “According to Article 37 of the Georgian Law on Road Traffic, parking a car on a sidewalk is prohibited except for cases where an appropriate sign is installed on the sidewalk and the relevant marking is present. It is debatable
whether the law should allow for parking on a sidewalk even as an exception but it is clear that a large majority of drivers whose cars are parked on Tbilisi’s sidewalks are violating the law even in its current wording,” Erekle Urushadze, researcher of Transparency International Georgia (TI) and a volunteer activist of the Guerrilla Gardening Movement, wrote in a blog for TI. The C.T. Park website announced that a car parked close to a sidewalk, on a road with a “No Parking” sign, is prohibited from doing so and is liable to have a fine imposed as well as having the vehicle removed to a pound. Civil activities just impulse changes, however to approve these changes requires the active involvement of the local government and the good will of the legislative body of the country. At the beginning of the year Tbilisi Mayor Davit Narmania discussed the achievements of 2014 and plans for 2015 with local businessmen and government officials, announcing that to fix the illegal parking problem on narrow sidewalks, Tbilisi City Hall will construct a multi-story car park in order to help ease traffic woes, as well as the issue of parking on the sidewalks. “There are many places with narrow footpaths where the parking of cars has created additional discomfort for pedestrians. I want to implement the relevant services to timely resolve this issue,” the Tbilisi Mayor noted in January 2015. Narmania highlighted that new parking system would be a competitor to City Park; the sole company to currently provide parking and similar services in Tbilisi. The Tbilisi Mayor pointed a finger at the previous government which had given permission for authorized people to park on more than 2,000 of Tbilisi’s sidewalks. Within seven months of this accusation, Tbilisi City Hall press office said that City Hall had canceled 300 parking places in central Tbilisi and at the same time the creation of new parking facilities was in progress. Further plans on how to create an effective mechanism to prevent the current chaos on Tbilisi roads and sidewalks is expected to be presented soon.
Films a bout Tbilisi, P ar about Par artt 1 By Tsiko Inauri/Focus magazine In this two-part series we will offer you five films that best depict old and new Tbilisi: the streets, human relationships, problems of its citizens, and their ideas. The first film recommendation we have for you was directed by Armenian Sergo Parajanov who lived and worked in Georgia, and which tells the story of ethnic Armenian poet living in Georgia, Sayat Nova. The Color of Pomegranates / 1968 Director: Sergei Parajanov Starring: Sopiko Chiaureli, Melkon Alekyan, Vilen Galstyan, Giorgi Gegechkori, Spartak Bagashvili, Medea Japaridze Genre: Drama, Biograpy, Music The film reveals the life of ethnic Armenian poet, singer and troubadour, Sayat Nova, who lived and worked in Georgia. It tells the story of the poet’s childhood, first love, old age and death. These events are depicted in the context of images from Parajanov’s imagination and Sayat Nova’s poems. Sopiko Chiaureli plays six roles, both female and male, and Parajanov takes part in almost every aspect of the film. “The Color of Pomegranates” was acclaimed as a masterpiece by Federico Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard and Michelangelo Antonioni. Nevertheless, the Soviet state
The Color of Pomegranates / 1968
banned its screenings and Parajanov was sentenced to five years in a hard labor camp in 1973. Nowadays, The Color of Pomegranates is regarded as one of the best works of the 20th century, together with Kalatozov’s Jim Shvante (Salt for Svanetia, 1930). Tbilisi, I Love You / 2014 Directors: Nika Agiashvili, Irakli Chkhikvadze, Levan Glonti, Aleksandre Kviria, Tako Shavgulidze, others. Starring: Ia Sukhitashvili, Nutsa Kukhianidze, Giorgi Kipshidze, Ron Perlman, Malcolm Mcdowell, Sara Deaumon, etc. The film “Tbilisi, I Love You” is part of Cities of Love franchise (concept by Emmanuel Benbihy) that started with the film “Paris, Je t’aime,” released in
2006 and which became one of the most commercially profitable films in the series. “Tbilisi, I Love You” unites ten different novels and is a collection of various stories written and directed by natives of Tbilisi. We see the familiar city, recognized views, relationships that we are used to and real characters and stories. The world premier took place on 20th February 2014 and received the praise of critics. “Tbilisi, I Love You” was nominated at numerous international film festivals and Georgian audiences had the chance see the film in movie theatres. Check out the next three recommended “Tbilisi” films in next week’s Georgia Today.
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“Don te R oad R ules” “Don’’t Viola iolate Road Rules” es Place in Tela vi Campaign Tak akes elavi
By Beqa Kirtava According to GeoStat, the number of road accidents reached an approximate figure of 6,000 in 2014, becoming the highest sum in 6 years. Thus it must come as no surprise that numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations are actively engaged in raising awareness of the general public with regard to this issue. On July 15, 2015 the National Department of Roads, in association with the Partnership for Road Safety and the World Bank, organized a special informative event in Telavi, within the framework of “Don’t Violate Road Rules” campaign. Many individuals including school students and actors of Telavi Theater took
part in the event, which was attended by the representatives of the National Department of Roads, the Georgian Police and local government officials. During the gathering booklets, containing information regarding road safety both for the drivers and the pedestrians, were given out to the attendees. Later the same day, another event was held to demonstrate the effectiveness and convenience of reflectors, which enables drivers to see pedestrians (equipped with those reflectors) from a distance of 150 meters. Those who took part in this event were given free reflectors. The National Department of Roads, the Partnership for Road Safety and the World Bank plan to organize many more such events in the near future.
Pla ywrite Inc kstar ter Playwrite Inc.. Using Kic Kickstar kstarter to Bring their P erf or mance Perf erfor ormance Model to Youth in Geor gia Georgia PlayWrite is hoping to take a giant, ocean-bounding step towards making their tried-and-true model available to youth everywhere, using the crowdfunding juggernaut, Kickstarter. This campaign will bring five remarkable women from Tbilisi, Georgia to Portland, OR this October to learn how to lead PlayWrite’s life-changing workshops for youth-at-the-edge. The country of Georgia has been wracked with violence since declaring independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and young people are especially vulnerable to its effects. There are few resources to help them cope with their trauma, and PlayWrite wants to change that. Bruce Livingston, PlayWrite’s founder and Executive Director, developed a unique and highly successful 10-day playwriting workshop, steeped in recent research advancements in interpersonal neurobiology and experimental psychology. Serving youth-atthe-edge in Portland for over a decade, young playwrights use dramatic narrative to work through their own emotional conflicts toward healing and resolution. Livingston’s connection to Georgia emerged 2 years ago, but it is rooted in a relationship nearly four decades old. With two degrees in Anthropology, Livingston spent the 1970s teaching in Shiraz, Iran. One of his best students, Manouchehr Shiva, went on to become a Fulbright Scholar in Tbilisi in 2012. After watching Livingston’s TEDx talk on YouTube in June 2013, Shiva was convinced PlayWrite’s model would be of immense value to Georgian youth, and contacted his mentor, asking about replication. Excited by the possibility of taking PlayWrite, Inc. international, Bruce responded that it would take a team of passionate, smart and sensitive individuals with grit and perseverance to actualize this endeavor. Using Shiva’s Georgian network, a groundswell of over 240 individu-
als expressed interest in bringing PlayWrite to the region. After a year of in-depth discussion via email, FaceTime and Skype, it became clear that a the five-member team from the Georgian Centre for the Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT) and Social Change Supporters (SCS) is the right fit to replicate PlayWrite’s model. Last September, along with Program Director Lyndsay Hogland, Livingston went to Tbilisi to meet the GCRT/SCS team face-to-face and spent two weeks with them. After witnessing their work in Children’s Houses (like group foster homes, in which 10-12 children are in the care of 2-3 adults), Livingston and Hogland were confidant this partnership would be a success. “Elene, Tina, Anka, Nato and Sopo are incredibly talented, skilled, and savvy women, devoting their working life to bettering the lives of traumaexposed young people in Georgia. They function beautifully in American culture as well as their native Georgian culture, and are passionate about the chance to bring PlayWrite to their country.” This training is an endeavor that reaches beyond PlayWrite’s budget, so Livingston has turned to Kickstarter to raise the $28,789 needed to bring this venture to fruition. In accordance with Kickstarter guidelines, if the funding goal hasn’t been reached by July 29th, all pledges are cancelled and the project doesn’t move forward. Livingston is hoping to make an international appeal that supporting this project has the capacity to impact countless youth in a huge, life-changing way. To learn more about this project, visit tinyurl.com/Playwrite
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Le gac y of Le gendar y Avia tor Ale xander K ar tv eli Inspir es Geor gians Leg acy Leg endary viator Alexander Kar artv tveli Inspires Georgians By Maka Lomadze On July 14, at the Georgian National Academy of Sciences, Alexander Kartvelishvili known as Alexander Kartveli (Georgian), a famous aviation constructor and pioneer in the American aviation history, was remembered, within the framework of a lecture that bore his name on Georgian-US relations. As highlighted by the US ambassador, he was the founder of modern USGeorgian relations. Originating from a noble family, Alexander was sent to France to pursue his studies, where he graduated from the Highest School of Aviation in Paris. After starting out as a pilot, he suffered a serious injury after which his focus switched to the design and construction of aircraft. During his time in France, the Soviet Union had been established, consuming Georgia in the process, which meant Kartveli was not to return to Tbilisi. Already by 1924, at the age of 30, one of his aircraft – the legendary P47 broke a world speed record. Another notable creation of his was the A10, which is still being used by the American forces today and will continue to be produced until at least 2025. Roin Metreveli, Vice-President of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences, opened the meeting: “It is so important to have such names nowadays, when Georgia is striving for broad democracy and our young men are fighting for the US security, as there is no other way out and all countries will have to contribute,” he thanked the US ambassador for his positive disposition towards
Alexander Kartvelishvili, a famous aviation constructor and pioneer in the American aviation history
Georgia and presented as a gift a golden lion, which dates back 5000 years. The Alexander Kartveli Society was established in 2013. Lela Kartvelishvili, president of the society, said: “There is little information about our glorious ancestor. We are glad that his name has been actualized recently, and even more so in the format of Georgian-US relations development. The bas-relief was created and we intend to install it on the façade of the former Aviation Factory of Tbilisi. Zviad Tsikolia, designer, created the trademark watches P47, which also partly serves to popularize Kartveli’s legacy. We plan to hold Georgian aviation week annually and dedicate it to Alexander Kartveli. Next year
would have been his 120th birthday and we will hold a number of events to mark this.” Davit Narmania, Mayor of Tbilisi stated: “He was born in Tbilisi, therefore, we will do all we can to support the popularization and the research of the road our great aviator has taken.” Tina Kidasheli, Minister of Defense, mentioned: “Alexander Kartveli’s story shows us very vividly what Georgia lost by becoming a Soviet country. He is one of those exceptional Georgians of whom we are extremely proud. Our Ministry expresses its readiness to support this society in his name. Such Georgians will lead our way to Europe, US and the civilized world and use these wonderful
RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 255 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge
THE EXHIBITION IS DEDICATED TO THE HISTORY OF THE ANTIOCCUPATIONAL, NATIONAL-LIBERATION MOVEMENT OF GEORGIA AND TO THE VICTIMS OF THE SOVIET POLITICAL REPRESSION THROUGHOUT THIS PERIOD.
opportunities to tell the rest of the world how important our role is in modern civilization history.” Katuna Tortladze, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, mentioned other Georgians who also helped to found US-Georgian relations: “Michael Gregor, aircraft engineer and Army General JohnMalkhaz Shalikashvili who was the first foreigner on such a post. Since the first day I learnt about this project, it was something that captured my imagination, because there is something so compelling about the story of this young engineer going to United States, developing some of the most important aircrafts in world military aviation history, and only later it was discovered that he was Georgian, not a Russian. For me it was a natural thing to try to support this project in terms of supporting Georgian-US relations. He noted with regret that he did fully fulfill his mission as he did not manage to take A10 to Georgia but did not exclude that in fu-
ture this plan can come true. It is a time of challenge for Georgia’s security and stability in the region. As Minister Khidasheli mentioned a while ago, Alexander Kartveli was the first man from Georgia who supported US security and it’s time to think about returning the favor.” Ramaz Bluashvili was a student several years ago in the US when he came across Alexander Kartveli’s name and found out that he was a celebrated scientist. He spent hundreds of hours in NASA, the pentagon, reading materials that are not easily available. “I believe that his name will be a big stimulus for youngsters, as sciences need popularization, as nowadays there are very few children who will tell you they wish to become physician, astronaut, or choose any other scientific sphere. He is the man who tells us that we, Georgians, also can be producers and not only users of technologies, planes, telephones, etc.” said Bluashvili.
Bor jom-Khar agauli Na tional Borjom-Khar jom-Khara National Par k to Open Book Cor ner ark Corner The Agency of Protected Areas (APA) and the Ilia Chavchavadze State University have signed a memorandum to establish a book corner at the tourist information center of Borjom-Kharagauli National Park enabling visitors to read in Georgian, English, Russian, French and German. The APA plans on opening similar book corners in Lagodekhi and Mtirala National Parks.
WHAT'S ON IN TBILISI CINEMA AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 299 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge July 17-23 UNFRIENDED Directed by Levan Gabriadze Cast: Heather Sossaman, Matthew Bohrer, Courtney Halverson Genre: Horror, Thriller Language: English Start time: 20:00 Language: Russian Start time: 17:50, 19:50, 22:40 Ticket price: 9.50 – 12.50 Lari INSIDE OUT 3D Directed by Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen Cast: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen Genre: Animation, Comedy, Drama Language: English Start time: 15:30 Ticket price: 8.50 – 9.50 Lari MINIONS 3D Directed by Colin Trevorrow Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: English Start time: 19:50 Language: Russian Start time: 22:20 Ticket price: 11.50 – 12.50 Lari TERMINATOR GENESIS Directed by Alan Taylor Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 14:10 Ticket price: 8:50 – 9.50 Lari MAGIC MIKE XXL Directed by Gregory Jacobs Cast: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music Language: Russian Start time: 12:30 Ticket price: 7:50 – 8.50 Lari
July 17-23 ANT-MAN Directed by Peyton Reed Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll Genre: Action, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 11:50, 14:30, 17:10, 19:50, 22:40 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12.50 Lari JURASSIC WORLD Directed by Colin Trevorrow Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 19:30 Ticket price: 11.50 – 12.50 Lari UNFRIENDED (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 20:30, 22:30 Ticket price: 11.50 – 12.50 Lari MINIONS 3D (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 16:30 Ticket price: 9.50 – 10.50 Lari TERMINATOR GENESIS (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket price: 11:50 – 12.50 Lari MAGIC MIKE XXL (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 11:45 Ticket price: 7:50 – 8.50 Lari MUSEUM MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 1 Rustaveli ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22
SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM OF GEORGIA Address: 3 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22 July 17 THE SCREENING OF VIDEO ARTS: “IRINA GABIANI – RECENT VIDEOS” Opening: 18:00 ARCHAEOLOGICAL TREASURE June 27 – October 31 “GEORGIANS IN WORLD WAR II” IS AN EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE VICTORY OVER FASCISM. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 SERGO PARAJANOVI – “21ST CENTURY DREAM” GALLERY THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge June 17- July 17 THE EXHIBITION “THE CAUCASUS FRONT THROUGH NINO JORJADZE’S CAMERA LENS” IS DEDICATED TO THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF WWI. PIROSMANI’S 150TH
POPIASHVILI GVABERIDZE WINDOW PROJECT Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 577 55 35 53 July 18 ONE-DAY CHARITY EXHIBITION TO SUPPORT YOUNG GEORGIAN ARTISTS ANA JIKIA AND GVANCA JISHKARIANI. GALLERY NECTAR Address: 16 Agmashenebeli ave. Telephone: 2950021 July 21-22 CATRIN BOLT, GIORGI OKROPIRIDSE PRINZGAU/PODGORSCHEK The four artists who are all living in Vienna work completely differently, both formally and conceptually. The exhibition and art-works are both experimental. NATIONAL LIBRARY OF GEORGIA Address: 7 Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 97 16 61 July 17-19 TBILISI ZOO EMPLOYEE SOPHIO TATARASHVILI’S CHARITY EXHIBITION-SALE TO SUPPORT TBILISI ZOO Opening: 18:30 GIPA Address: 7 Ietim Gurji St. Telephone: 2 245 75 45 July 18 GIPA PRESENTS STUDENTS EXHIBITION UNLOCK Venue: Rooms Hotel Tbilisi, 14 Kostava st. MUSIC ART GENE Address: Ethnographic Museum Telephone.: 291 70 78
July 19-26 12:00-23:00 – exhibition-fair of Georgian crafts, folk games and Georgian cuisine. July 19 18:30-22:00 – folklore, Kvemo Kartli, Lechkhumi 22:00 – evening concert, Sukhishvilebi July 20 18:30-22:00 – Folklore – Imereti Evening concert – Robi Kukhianidze and The Outsider July 21 18:30-22:00 – Folklore – Guria, Samtskhe-Javakheti Evening concert – Region July 22 18:30-22:00 – folklore, Samegrelo 22:00 – evening concert, Bakur Burduli, Nika Kocharov July 23 18:30-22:00 – folklore, Kakheti, Pankisi, Svaneti 22:00 – evening concert, Frani July 24 18:30-22:00 – folklore, Poti, Shida Kartli 22:00 – evening concert, Mgzavrebi July 25 18:30-22:00 – folklore, MtskhetaMtianeti, Racha 22:00 – evening concert, Nino Katamadze and Insight July 26 18:30-22:00 – folklore, Ajara 22:00 – evening concert, Niaz Diasamidze and 33a CAFE CALLERY Address: 34 Driboedovi st. July 24 BARBARA PREISINGER (SLICES OF LIFE - BERLIN) TOMMA FACE/AGE CONTROL Start time: 23:00 Ticket price: 10 Lari
JULY 17 - 23
Clunk & Tinkle d of Hell: Etseri, Sv aneti Tinkle,, Her Herd Svaneti By Tony Hanmer As I promised in my last article, I would have more to write about the subject of herding one’s cows up and down mountains, a daily summer occurrence in Svaneti. This new writing is mostly happening because our carefully arranged deal with the paid herder fell through after exactly one evening of his work, defaulting back to my neighbor and myself. I’m doing said herding until I leave for a month in Canada, and he’s doing it in my absence. Not ideal, but what can one do? At least the neighbor gave me a couple of training runs, going up the mountain with me and marking a few tree trunks with his axe to help me remember the way. And so far I’ve only had one run which included a bit of rain; other than that it’s been dry, which makes a big difference to the mood of the thing. But it hasn’t been all smooth, oh no. Not by any means. My first few solo runs I was about an hour early on a sunny day, and the cows simply weren’t ready to be told to come down. I had wanted them home in good time for the sake of those (including myself) who milk them, so we wouldn’t have to do this in encroaching darkness. Too bad! The group of about 25 split into two, then one of these bifurcated further, leaving me a tough choice which set to follow and try to force down. I made my choice and persuaded my group at least
to within sight of the village... left them there, and went back up for the other group. All this with a lot of shouting and sweating and some backsides feeling the wrath of my walking stick, as is done here. When I finally emerged into my neighbor’s yard, I was stressed to the max., not to mention furious at my charges’ charges. They were playing with me! I complained. Yes, he said, but you were a bit early, they weren’t done stuffing their four stomachs, and next time you must stick with the cow who has the bell on her, and the rest will, sooner or later, join her. (One group had led me a merry chase through low-hanging forest branches, bent double, while thick mud from stream overflows simultaneously did its sucking best to pull the boots right off my feet as I struggled to keep up and not start shouting obscenities at the top of my lungs. Did I need this?) And... the
cows weren’t even his! Okay, stay with the Belled One. The neighbor gave my own cow a bell too, an antique one which goes “clunk;” his is from a car part, and has a melodious ring to it. Whatever, at least both sounds are different from each other and from any other bell. Now I can hear them long before I see them, and can follow them when they disappear too! Also, half of the disappearing is simply a momentary caprice by one or another animal, taking a parallel path into the forest for a few meters instead of staying on the well-trodden path. A few seconds or minutes later, they’re back with the herd. Relax, it’s all just a head game, don’t let them get to you! Of our little personal “herd” of three, one is a bullock of a year and a half, not castrated and thus heading into rebellious teenagerhood. He sometimes doesn’t even come down, preferring to overnight
with the steers (castrated bulls), who don’t need to come down at all unless they’re needed for pulling work. I’ve also learned not to worry about this; I have enough things to focus on, and he shows up sooner or later. I also added a free altimeter to my smartphone, and thus I can report that our house is at 1550 m above sea level, while the top of the cows’ feeding range is at 2000 m. Next I’ll try adding an app which shows my actual walks taken and their times and distances, to give me a better idea of these things. Each way currently takes me about 70 minutes, going at a sweat-inducing clip.
So my ideal run up and back down the mountain, still a definite theoretical possibility, looks like this: Neither overcast (chance of rain) nor cloudless (too hot), just a bit of cloud to cool things off and make better landscape photos. The ground as dry as it can be; there are places where mud is permanent, from streams, but that’s okay, I’m in rubber boots. I find all 12 or 13 cattle together, late enough that they’re ready to come down without a struggle or truancy but not so late that we descend into darkness. We don’t meet wolves or bears—I’ve never seen either, but their skins are on display in a few local homes. I’m getting close to this perfect run, and warming up to my role as well, leveling the steep learning curve into something that doesn’t send my blood pressure soaring through the Apoplectic Ceiling. Cows, I’ve got your number. Just remember who eats whom, alright? If you’d like to see some more recent photos from my morning (edge of the village) or evening (up the mountain) herding runs, head over to www.facebook.com/ hanmer.house.svaneti and there they are.
Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1000 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
Ar esenting a Tr ue Artt Gene: Pr Presenting Feast of Geor gian Cultur e Georgian Culture
Photo showing Art Gene 2010 from the Art Gene facebook page.
By Maka Lomadze On July 19-26, the Art Gene Festival awaits Georgians and foreigners alike; Tbilisians and those from the regions, all of whom are invited to a special occasion that unites the whole country in a unique focus – Georgian traditions. It is often said that though Georgia is quite small in its territory and population, it is very diverse in its regions; in landscape, local people and character. All these diversities are reflected in the colorful expression of culture and arts as well. Art Gene, founded in 2004, has managed to raise interest among the Georgian youth who once only cared for modern music in folk culture. Many of them since decided to stay in the regions, which is a rare thing and a big business in the present epoch of urbanization, where they get better acquainted with unique musical polyphonic traditions and realize that it is their duty to continue and preserve these traditions. In Tbilisi this energy can be best experienced at the Art Gene Festival which cumulates at the Ethnographic Museum down from Turtle Lake (Kustba). The founders are the Georgian painters Tamriko Melikishvii and Giorgi Baramidze. “Tbilisi was just recovering from those ‘hard days of 1990s’. Giorgi lived in Great Britain then. When he came, we thought that the country badly needed something new and interesting. We began to travel and collect singers. The majority of locals didn’t even know the meaning of the word craft! In those days, Georgian youth only listened to modern music, but we set up a trick for
them: we included modern bands in evening shows, and folk groups earlier, so they had to listen to both! Our greatest achievement was that folklore became fashionable!” Tamriko Melikishvili told Georgia Today. “The main novelty is that this year our main topic is Library and Literacy. We signed a Memorandum with the Georgian National Library. It was symbolic that the festival was opened in famous Georgian writer Davit Kldiashvili’s house museum in his village, Simoneti. Then, we continued in Surami with 5000 attendees, which shows how much those people miss such occasions in the regions,” Solomon Gogashvili, presenter and co-organizer, told us. Reportedly, a lot of materials – films, videos, albums, magazines – have been collected within these years of the festival’s existence and the Georgian National Library will take care that they are all preserved for those who wish to get acquainted, any time. The main focus of Art-Gene is Georgian traditions – food, beverages, folk medicine, singing, dancing, crafts, eyecatching multicolored canvases, painting… The concerts of famous troupes such as the Sukhishvili National Ballet will whet the taste buds, followed by Zumba, Nino Katamadze, Robi Kukhianidze, Bakur Burduli, “Reggaeon” and, finally, 33a and Niaz Diasamidze; all in store for listeners as a delicious cultural dessert. Art Gene will give you the sense that you have traveled around Georgia in terms of both material and spiritual cultural heritage, without ever leaving the capital city.
JULY 17 - 23
Beach Rugby Blossoming in Batumi Eng lishman ealiz ed on Blac k Sea coast Englishman lishman’’s vision being rrealiz ealized Black By Alastair Watt As the Georgian Beach Rugby Federation prepares to host the Batumi Beach Rugby Festival 2015 on July 25-26, England’s Anthony Lynn will arrive in the country pleased to see the continuing growth of an occasion that started out as his brainchild eight years ago. Originally from Northallerton in the northern English county of Yorkshire, Lynn now finds himself living in the rugby heartland of Gloucestershire, a fitting location for a man immersed in the oval ball game. Now working as Grassroots Director of Touraid, an organization which uses the medium of rugby to assist vulnerable children in the developing world, it was during a previous role that Lynn arrived at the idea of a beach rugby tournament in Georgia. “I was on a visit to Georgia whilst I was working with a charity IRB SOS kit aid helping less advantaged children with rugby kit. We had just finished a tournament in Poti and had a swim in the black sea then chatted to some of the coaches about my experiences of beach rugby in Italy and its place in rugby development and the idea was born,” recalls Lynn. And since then, the Georgian Beach Rugby Union has been established and staged several summer tournaments, attracting one team from the UK this year – the Bulldogs, of which Lynn himself is a member. The Bulldogs, made up of players
from all across England and Wales, adopt an “attitude over ability” approach and Lynn outlines the club’s plans for a wholesome week in Georgia. “One of the main ethos of the Bulldogs Rugby is helping local communities when we go on tour. While we are in Georgia, we are going to coach rugby with Rheas Union which has projects throughout Georgia that help children with special needs and to help them with integration into Georgian society. They have a base in Tbilisi at Rheas Squirrels Café. Then doing the same in Batumi with the Mayor’s office working with children with special needs,” states the Englishman. Other teams at this year’s event include teams from Kutaisi and Tbilisi with VTB Bank and ProCredit Bank both represented, in addition to sides from the host city Batumi as well. Lynn recognizes the passion for rugby in Georgia and acknowledges that his idea would never have come to fruition without the dedication of many Georgians. One such devoted Georgian is the Georgian Beach Rugby Union’s Zura Dugladze, who also works for rugby equipment supplier Rhino, and he hopes that the event, which will involve ten teams this year, can attract more interest from abroad in the coming years. “Next year we’ll have a women’s competition, and we have already had some interest from Kazakhstan and Ukraine. If we are organized well in advance then this improves the chances of bringing in more
times from abroad. For example, the UK amateur teams are really organized and sometimes have their calendars arranged a year in advance, clearly Georgians are a bit different in this regard!” said Dugladze, whose wife Pam Kemsley, an experienced amateur rugby player herself, is also contributing to the event. Her company Education and Training International Georgia will be assisting with guests and providing translation where necessary. Other partners of the event include WMTR and Kemsley Tours. The main organizers though are the Georgian Rugby Union, the Georgian Beach Rugby Union and the Batumi Municipality whose Deputy Chairman Irakli Chavleishvili speaks enthusiasti-
cally about the beach rugby event. “It is growing in popularity every year and the municipality supports various sports, as you can see in the city, especially rugby,” said Chavleishvili. Indeed, after many years of Batumi’s rugby team having to play ‘home’ matches outside the city, construction of a 2500-capacity stadium is well underway in the city, with a beach rugby stadium being built next door. There are great similarities between an ancient Georgian game known as Lelo (after which the national team are nicknamed, also the name for a try in rugby in Georgian) but Chavleishvili asserts that rugby was properly established in the country in the 19th century, courtesy of touring British navy personnel who
played with local Georgians in Poti and Batumi. Many years on, that British-Georgian rugby connection remains alive and well as shown by the efforts of Lynn and his Bulldogs, which now have a Georgian edition. “We have also helped launch a Georgian Bulldogs team to create links with our team and hopefully support them with equipment and of course they’ll play with the same ethos. Next year we are looking to bring a women’s squad to play a 7s and beach rugby to help support women’s rugby in Georgia. We want to continue our great bond with Georgia and rugby,” added Lynn. Of course, all rugby enthusiasts are looking forward to the World Cup which starts in September in England and Lynn will be perhaps the most interested of the locals when Georgia play their opening match against Tonga only a few miles from his home. “For me personally, it’s going to be great to see Georgia play in the RWC2015 at my local world cup venue at Kingsholm in Gloucester and seeing some of my rugby friends in England,” said the upbeat Lynn whose club produced an excellent short video of last year’s tournament. The video was dedicated to the memory of Guram Gugenishvili, the celebrated kickboxer who was killed in a car accident earlier this year. Gugenishvili had competed at last year’s beach rugby event.
Book Review: Kvachi Kvachantiradze By Joseph Larsen (Kvachi Kvachantiradze by Mikheil Javakhishvili, translated into English by Donald Rayfield and published by Dalkey Press in 2014.) If you want to breathe in the essence of Georgia in literary form, Kvachi Kvachantiradze is a good place to start. Georgian author Mikheil Javakhishvili’s magnum opus is a boisterous picaresque bringing to life one of the country’s most compelling fictional characters. The main character is Kvachi Kvachantiradze, an anti-hero evoking other unwholesome literary rogues like Thackeray’s Barry Lyndon and Balzac’s Lucien de Rubempré. Kvachi is the perfect picaresque protagonist: born to a family of innkeepers in dusty, provincial Georgia – “on a deceitful, false, and treacherous day” – he is destined by hook or by crook to become a great man. For Kvachi’s father Silibistro that means becoming a titled aristocrat. For our amoral anti-hero, it means amassing fame, fortune, and women in unlimited quantities: “Life is a struggle. What you can grab from it is yours, what you can’t is lost.” Kvachi spends his youth occupied in small-time swindles. It is here the reader realizes that the boy from Samtredia (a town in Imeretia in western Georgia, a region famed for its people’s hard-drinking, hot-blooded ways) is less lovable than supposed. He cynically cons his elderly landlady out of her home, leaving the poor woman penniless. Eventually Georgia grows too small for the larger-than-life Kvachi. He makes way for Odessa. There his misdeeds become darker. He attempts to rape a classmate and impregnates another young girl, only to cruelly abandon her. Later exploits in Saint Petersburg, Paris and London see Kvachi commit countless murders and scams, including blackmailing a
Eventually he finds himself serving in the Russian army, fomenting revolution against the Tsar, and on the run from the Bolsheviks. He remains the same through it all: without integrity or scruples, always looking to “crack a new big job” without ever stopping to ask why. The protagonist’s persona is made of hot air. He goes by the false name of Prince Napoleon Apollonovich Kvachantiradze, his family’s aristocratic
another’s blood. The flames from the fires will reach the heavens, rivers will run red, and the groans of the dying with deafen the land. A new earth will be born: alien and unfamiliar, strange and puzzling.” The book’s most beautiful passage doesn’t concern its namesake at all. Javakhishvili tells the story of Russia’s history through a parable of two brothers, sons of Russia’s Mongol mother and Scythian father. Ivan is swarthy,
“Brother will attack brother, father – son, and they will not be sated by one another’s blood. The flames from the fires will reach the heavens, rivers will run red, and the groans of the dying with deafen the land. A new earth will be born: alien and unfamiliar, strange and puzzling.” Author Mikheil Javakhishvili was executed by the Soviet state in 1937.
noblewoman out of her entire fortune. Kvachi’s misdeeds are appalling, but some are too whimsical to be easily condemned. One of his first swindles is selling the same grand piano to three different buyers. Later he and his men rob a bank by posing as a crew filming a bank robbery scene. The novel plays upon Russian stereotypes of the shifty, uncouth Caucasian. Kvachi and his circle of friends Beso, Chipi, Jalil, Ladi, Sedrak, and Gabo spend most of their time exacting revenge on the Russian people who have so wronged Georgia. In the process they themselves become crude caricatures: liars, thieves, murderers, and blackmailers. Midway through the novel, Kvachi and his band of ruffians are living in Paris, up to their elbows in cash and
women. Here they are given the chance to ditch the double-dealing, move back to Georgia and become honest men. Only Gabo and Sedrak accept the offer: “Gabo and Sedrak had reverted to being Asiatics, they lagged behind the world and lost their civilized habits … On the other hand, they were living in their own country, breathing its air, ploughing its soil and, feeling and sensing its mystery, they suffered its griefs and enjoyed its delights.” Like any great historical epic, Kvachi does more than entertain us with tales of a charismatic fraudster. Javakhishvili uses the main character to chart Georgian and Russian history. Kvachi is born in 1890, comes of age during revolutionary upheaval, and later becomes a member of Grigori Rasputin’s inner circle.
title is begotten by purchase, not pedigree, and his public image is constructed by an army of paid journalists. Kvachi’s self barely exists, but it speaks to him while he sits in the Peter and Paul Fortress, awaiting execution for sabotage against the Russian army: “You still don’t recognize me: I’m Kvachi Kvachantiradze, Silibistro’s son.” “Don’t be silly. I’m Kvachi.” “I’m Kvachi Kvachantiradze, and I’m not fake Ashordia gentry, or a fake prince, or a fake lord in waiting, nor a pickpocket, pimp, or traitor.” This tale is a biting social criticism. Only an amoral man like Kvachi could make a fortune in the corrupt, bloodstained Russia of the Tsars and Bolsheviks. The author uses the title character to express his own views on the revolution: “Brother will attack brother, father – son, and they will not be sated by one
austere, and Asiatic; Peter is dainty, self-indulgent, and European. Their personal conflict is made to represent the revolution. Javakhishvili himself was a victim of that terrible revolution, declared an “enemy of the people” and executed in 1937 for speaking out in support of a writer who chose suicide rather than denounce his counterparts. He originally intended the story to be published in serial format, which explains the book’s peculiar layout: a stream of short chapters, each named for the main character’s present exploit. Ultimately, the ill-fated author plays a cruel game with the reader, enchanting us with Kvachi’s charm just to bring us crashing back to Earth with his shocking depravity. This libertine is anything but worthy of celebration. But this much is certain: Kvachi Kvachantiradze is a character who can neither be ignored nor forgotten.
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