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Issue no: 1015

• JANUARY 19 - 22, 2018



In this week’s issue... World Health Organization Recommends Suspension of Rabies Vaccine NEWS PAGE 2

Three Pankisi Gorge Residents Questioned over Ahmed Chatayev Group POLITICS PAGE 5

Focus on the Total Defense


FOCUS ON ACCOUNTABILITY NGOs push for law enforcers to be investigated for crimes transparently and fairly.




head of New Year’s Eve, when the whole country was enjoying the holidays, GEORGIA TODAY and Panorama TV Show paid a visit to a particularly watchful group of people, the European Union Monitoring Mission, which continues to carry out its patrolling routine 24/7 and which recently embarked on its epic 60,000th patrol since coming here. We joined them on this perilous journey, alongside the Mtskheta field office team (subject of a future issue of GEORGIA TODAY). Before that, we had the privilege of an exclusive, if brief, interview with the newly-appointed Head of Mission, Erik Høeg. Continued on page 4

Making the Picture Look Perfect POLITICS PAGE 7

East Meets West: The Merging of Two Cultures SOCIETY PAGE 8

Saving the Soul: First Georgian Motion Comic CULTURE PAGE 9

Georgian Woman Wins Chess World Championship SPORTS PAGE 11




JANUARY 19 - 22, 2018

World Health Organization Recommends Suspension of Rabies Vaccine

Photo: The Sarpi border crossing connects Georgia and Turkey on the Black Sea coast. Photo source: Pinterest

Georgians Protest Tightened BorderCrossing Regulations Imposed by Turkey BY THEA MORRISON



n inquiry has revealed that the World Health Organization recommended the suspension of a specific vaccine against rabies, with up to 29,000 doses of the vaccine to be withdrawn. Yet, Georgia’s State Audit Office has publicly stated that there is nothing to be concerned about. In an official press release, the Audit Office said that, “This fact is one of the reasons for including the audit of the immunization program in the Audit Plan 2018. The State Audit Office con-

sidered it necessary to study the implementation of the recommendations issued by the World Health Organization. After the publication of the Audit Plan 2018, a work meeting was held between the State Audit Office and the Ministry, where the Ministry presented various arguments and evidence, including the quality of the anti-rabies vaccine. The State Audit Office does not doubt the state immunization program, including the vaccine against rabies." Some Georgian media reports have suggested that this information was taken out of proportion and that the facts remain blurry; but with Georgia’s Audit Office standing firm on the country’s vaccination program, it seems there is little to worry about.


eorgian citizens living near the Georgia-Turkey border in western Georgia, are holding protest rallies against new tightened border-crossing regulations imposed by the Turkish side, which took effect on January 1. Based on these changes, Georgian citizens have the right to stay on the territory of Turkey for 90 days in any 180-day period. After 90 days, Georgian citizens now need to obtain a residency permit or working visa, otherwise they will be told to leave the Turkish territory. Moreover, according to the new regulations, crossing the border even for an hour will be considered as one calendar day. Previously, crossing the Turkish border for one day or less was not recorded in the database. Turkey’s Consulate in Batumi, Adjara

region, reported last week that the border-crossing changes refer to all checkpoints and customs, and apply to all foreigners. Georgians who work in Turkey but live in Georgia say the changes will leave them without jobs, as they leave for Turkey every morning, and come back to Georgia at the end of the day. The protesters are calling on the Turkish authorities to make exceptions to the new regulations that will enable them to continue working in Turkey as before. In parallel with the local Georgians, Turkish vendors who have shops on the Turkish territory near the border also disapprove of the regulations. They say if Georgians are not allowed to cross the border as usual, they will lose Georgian employees and customers. “Since the regulations went into force, the number of Georgian customers has significantly reduced. We call on our government to change the regulations,” a Turkish shopkeeper stated.

In order to solve the problem, the Head of Georgia’s Adjara government, Zurab Pataradze left for Turkey and met the representatives of various structures. “The Turkish side expressed readiness to cooperate in this field. In the near future, we will elaborate ways how to solve this problem,” he stated. Georgia’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Giorgi Gakharia, had a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Süleyman Soylu, and the sides agreed to suspend the new regulations until consultations over the issue had taken place. Turkey is one of the 99 countries where Georgian citizens can travel visa-free. Protocol “between the governments of Georgia and the Republic of Turkey on changes and amendments to the visa agreement of April 4, 1996” that took effect on 10 December, 2011, provides visa-free movement for Georgian citizens on the territory of Turkey during 90 days in a 180-day period.

Chiatura Cableway, David Gareji Included in Europe's 12 Most Endangered Sites BY THEA MORRISON


uropa Nostra, the most representative heritage organization in Europe, has included Georgia’s Chiatura Cableway and David Gareji Monastery Complex in its list of Europe’s 12 sites shortlisted for the 7 Most Endangered Program 2018. The endangered heritage landmarks from 10 European countries are: • The Historic Centre of Gjirokastra, Albania; • The Post-Byzantine Churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuqi, Albania; • The Historic Centre of Vienna, Austria; • The Coal Preparation Plant in Beringen, Belgium; • The Buzludzha Monument, Bulgaria; • The Aerial Cableway Network in Chiatura, Georgia; • The David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage, Georgia; • The Castle of Sammezzano, Tuscany, Italy; • The Constanta Casino, Romania; • The Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the province of Cadiz, Spain; • The Prinkipo Greek Orphanage, Princes’ Islands, Turkey; • The Grimsby Ice Factory, United Kingdom.

The David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage

Some of these sites are in danger due to neglect or inadequate development, others due to a lack of resources or expertise.

These 12 sites were shortlisted by a panel of experts in history, archaeology, architecture, conservation, project analysis and finance.

The final list of the 7 Most Endangered heritage sites in Europe will be selected by the Board of Europa Nostra on 15 March, 2018.

If selected for the final list, the two Georgian monuments will become subject to rehabilitation efforts involving recommendations by Europa Nostra experts. Europa Nostra says that the Aerial Cableway Network in Chiatura is an important site of industrial heritage. “The network – composed of 18 passenger and 27 cargo cableways – is striking in its diversity of architectural styles and engineering solutions. The absolute majority of cableways retain their original architectural and technological components,” the article reads, adding that due to the lack of maintenance, many of the passenger cableways have deteriorated and have been closed down. The David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage, located in in Eastern Georgia on the semi-desert Iori plateau, dates back to the 6th-century and is comprised of 22 rock-hewn monasteries and more than 5,000 sanctuaries and cave-cells. “The combination of rock architecture, medieval murals, prehistoric archaeology and paleontological fields makes the entire ensemble a masterpiece of Georgian culture. It is registered as a Monument of National Importance,” Europa Nostra reports, adding the site faces the threat of irreversible deterioration. The Georgian Arts and Culture Center submitted the nomination for the 7 Most Endangered Program 2018. For more on Chiatura, chek out Where. ge’s article here.



NGOs Claim Georgia Needs Independent Investigative Body BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia-based Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have spoken out about the increased number of crimes allegedly committed by law enforcers, and are demanding the creation of an independent investigative mechanism as soon as possible. The NGOs explain that the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG) is unable to conduct a proper and fair investigation into the abuse of power of police officers or high-rank law enforcers because they are part of the same system. The Criminal Justice Network, which unites 14 NGOs, conducted a study, according to which in 2014-2017, NGOs or the Public Defender of Georgia addressed the Prosecutor’s Office 91 times regarding possible abuse of power by law enforcers. However, the POG started persecution only in two cases, and the court delivered the verdict - not guilty. Open Society- Georgia member Giorgi Burjanadze says the main problem is in the Prosecutor’s Office, saying it is necessary to urgently create an independent mechanism which will investigate only crimes and violations allegedly committed by law enforcers. NGO Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) lawyer, Sopo Verdzeuli, says the POG will never be impartial while investigating crimes committed by policemen, adding there are question marks surrounding many such cases.

Eka Gigauri, Executive Director of the NGO Transparency International-Georgia, called on the government to accelerate the establishment of a such a body, adding that allegations of offences and violations committed by law enforcers have become more common recently. The NGOs say the investigative mechanism should be absolutely independent from both the government and the POG. According to the draft they prepared, the body will be headed by a commissioner, who will be elected for a sevenyear term and who will be required to present a report to Parliament twice a year. The commissioner will be approved when 3/5 of MPs (of the 150-seat legislative body) support the candidate. The draft also reads that the investigative body should have three main func-

tions: Investigation, persecution and support of the prosecution in court. Parliamentary minority MP, Giorgi Tugushi, also supports the position of the NGOs, saying the work of the mechanism should be absolutely independent from the other law enforcement bodies, and its activities should be transparent. “This body should have functional independence in order to really carry out effective and impartial investigation,” he said. Majority MP Eka Beselia stated that discussions are underway within the ruling Georgian Dream party, adding they have not agreed on the issue yet. “We should take into account the practice of the other countries. The Justice Ministry is working on the issue and we are waiting for their feedback,” Beselia explained.


Austrian & German Helicopters to Serve Georgian Winter Resorts BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


ustrian Wucher Helicopter Gmbh and German HTM Helicopter Travel Munich GmbH will be operating flights to the winter resorts of Georgia during the winter season. Serving the Heli-Skiing tours offered to groups of skiers and snowboarders, the Austrian Wucher Helikopter Gmbh will fly January 15 to April 15, to Gudauri and Mestia, with three AS 350 B3 Ecureuil type helicopters. HTM Helicopter Travel Munich GmbH will be operating flights for Heli-Ski tours to Gudauri with AS 350 B3E helicopters.

The permits for flights were issued by the Georgian Civil Aviation Agency. Flights are to be operated only in appropriate weather conditions in accordance with the Visual Flight Rules (VFR).

NGOs Call on Parliament Not to Override Presidential Veto on Broadcasting Bill BY THEA MORRISON


hirty-seven Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) operating in Georgia have called on Parliament not to override President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s veto on the amendments to the broadcasting law. The organizations welcomed the President’s decision to veto the bill, which gives state-financedGeorgianPublicBroadcaster (GPB) more independency, power, and also the right of commercial advertising. The NGOs say the bill foresees the possibility the public procurement will be conducted in a non-transparent way, increasing the time for placing commercial advertisements or sponsorship. “The proposed law significantly

increases the risk of non-transparency and corruption from the Georgian Public Service broadcaster. Furthermore, the law could harm private broadcasters and the Georgian media environment in general,” the NGOs stated. They asked Parliament not to override the veto in order to ensure that the amendments to the law will be formulated in a way that will not harm the media environment, and will be in line with the role and function of the idea of the public service broadcaster. On January 15, Margvelashvili vetoed the amendments adopted by Parliament in December 2017, and with motivated remarks sent it back to the legislative body for re-consideration. The Georgian Dream has 116 MPs in a 150-member legislative body. In order to overcome the presidential veto, the votes of at least 76 MPs are needed.




JANUARY 19 - 22, 2018

On the Ukrainians Leaving Ukraine BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


he current economic situation in Ukraine is causing an increasing number of citizens to go abroad for work. According to recent opinion polls, 35% of the residents of Nezalezhnaya dream of leaving the country forever, while more than 70% are ready to leave for other countries, at least temporarily, for the sake of normal work. And many successfully implement these desires in life. Especially as there are conditions for this: Russia is open to Ukrainians and Europe now has a visa-free regime agreement with Ukraine. There is a plethora of agencies in Ukraine advertising their employment and relocation services. Mainly young and middle-aged people leave Ukraine (the elderly doing so is not feasible), coming from a spectrum of employment backgrounds, both qualified and not. Those with low qualifications who choose to leave, opt for jobs as waiters, salespeople of agricultural helpers in Poland rather than remaining in their own country. Perhaps they would prefer to stay in Nezalezh-

naya. But salaries in the country are very low; an average of 3-5 thousand hryvnia ($105 – 175) per month. Ukrainians say this was originally a factor preventing them from moving. Should the salaries grow, they will be compared with European salaries and, if nothing changes, people will be further prompted to leave the country. Some say that, as a result, in the next few years, Ukraine could end up without a labor force and become a “country of pensioners,” though without that workforce, the pensions themselves will suffer. Already in some regions there is a large deficit of cooks, salespeople, electricians, waiters, and technical specialists.

24/7: EUMM Head on the Mission

Continued from page 1

WHAT IS THE RELEVANCE AND IMPORTANCE OF THE EUMM? We’re the only international monitors on the ground. We’ve been in Georgia since Oct 1, 2008, having been deployed immediately after the war. Since then we have been out patrolling and monitoring 24/7. We have done 60.000 patrols. Our key task is to look after the stability out there, with our patrols mostly moving along what we call the ABL (Administrative Boundary Line) between Georgia’s central government controlled and breakaway republics. We are also in the rest of Georgia. We follow the lives of men and women who have been affected by the conflict in villages along the ABL, and also IDPs. We have an important role in confidence building. We’ve established channels of communication and are very active in formats to discuss incidents and developments that could undermine stability, threaten security or raise tensions. These are the key things we’ve been doing here, and we will continue doing so. As of today, we have the strength of around 320 staff in the Mission. It’s a big commitment from the EU towards stability here in Georgia and the region. 2/3 of our staff are internationals, coming from most of the EU countries. 25 EU member states are represented in the Mission. 1/3 of colleagues are Georgian nationals, 114 to be exact, as of today. They help us in essential tasks: everything from translating/interpreting when we are out in the field to ensuring our finances are OK so we can run our Mission properly. Without their support, we would not be out there doing our job 24/7 all year.


AND CHALLENGES FOR THE EUMM WHEN IT COMES TO CARRYING OUT ITS MANDATE? The main limitation when it comes to carrying out our mandate, to doing what we are expected to do, is the lack of access of the mission to parts of Georgia which are not under central government control, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Our mandate, formally speaking, encompasses the whole of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders, but from the beginning, we were denied access to the breakaways. We cannot patrol or monitor [there] and we do not have a presence there. We still find ways to see what’s going on; we gather info through other channels. We have a pretty good impression of what’s happening there but the fact we cannot fully implement our mandate is a problem and challenge; something raised by the EU and a priority for the EU to ensure that we implement the mandate as expected.

WHAT WOULD CHANGE IF THE EUMM HAD ACCESS TO THE DE FACTO REPUBLICS OF ABKHAZIA AND SOUTH OSSETIA? If we had access, we would be able to ensure better security and stability; we would be able to monitor the activities of security actors, follow conditions and the rights of the population on the other side of the ABL to a much higher degree. We would have a more complete picture. We would also be able to debunk, frankly, numerous inaccurate reports which we see in the regional media and, for number of reasons, it would be a big advantage. We still hope that one day we will have patrol cars of the EUMM crossing the ABL and doing our job as we should in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.




Stalin Resurrected? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


here are so many historical personalities that have seriously influenced life on earth, but for some reason, without even a tinge of exaggeration, Joseph Stalin is one of the most talked and written about dead political figures among them all. Most reference books would mention him as a ‘soviet dictator’. Why is he so talked about? What is so specifically controversial about him? The answer to this question cannot be sought for in a tiny article by a non-specialist like the author of these lines. The response should probably be fished for in hundreds of books and thousands of articles that had been published about old Uncle Joe. Here is a sample of his latest approval ratings: 58% in Russia, 57% in Georgia and 37% in Armenia. Let us trust this internet data for a second and make comment: in Georgia, this is understandable because Stalin’s adulation here is based on his ethnic Georgian origin. The same in Armenia: Stalin’s low rating here is also the consequence of an ethnic attitude. Had the former soviet boss been an Armenian, his ratings would have been at least twice as high in Hayastan. Yet, the former Kremlin highlander’s sky-rocketing ratings in Russia comes as a big surprise. Why do the Russians cherish the Red Tsar’s dark memory so much? On December 21, Stalin’s birthday, the Internet was infested with material about the erstwhile Dear Father. Where does this uncanny nostalgia for the Soviet Vozhd come from? Why are the Russians interested in the reinstatement of the once defamed generalissimos? Maybe the Russians crave the governing style of the Man of Steel because what Russia needs today most is discipline in ruling the country. Stalin is indeed said to have been a man of modesty and discipline, imposing law and order on his own self in the first place and then on the entire soviet people and the newly-created USSR. There might be another reason for well-known Russian political analysts’ intensive deliberation on the image and legacy of this giant communist

Photo source:

figure of world history: the imperial character of the Russian nation, to which the current Russian president is playing so actively, does not want to put up with the decline of its clout on global events, thus is trying to regenerate the lost influence by bringing back to life the powerful Stalinist dictatorial hand. I wonder if the vicious tyrant is purposefully being turned by Russians into the nation’s biggest hero and the symbol of national greatness. One of the dominating thoughts here is that the attempt of Stalin’s renaissance could be a prerequisite for the realizing of Putin’s latent dream of resuscitat-

ing the good old country of soviets. Russia is a weird place to live in, and anything can happen there. There are many thoughtful heads today, living in the former soviet land, that would see the fallen Soviet Union back in action with great pleasure, but the world doesn’t take this wild idea very seriously. Stalin’s restored potent image might very well work as an effective banner for turning words into the deeds, but the rehabilitation of the Soviet conglomerate, especially the soviet autocratic regime, seems to be practically impossible at this stage of global development. I don’t think the raised

Stalin could serve as enough ideological force to put together what was recently nicknamed the Evil Empire. On the other hand, many would think that Georgia, for example, felt better in those brutal times than now because its territorial integrity was intact. Understandably, territorial integrity is crucial for us, but the overwhelming modern logic is that looking back is sick, and only looking forward is healthy. So, if Russians want to look back and feel nostalgic about the bygone vicious times, let them do so. They are headstrong, and we can’t do anything about it. No more pain for us! Enough is enough!

Three Pankisi Gorge Residents Questioned Over Ahmed Chatayev Group



hree young Pankisi Gorge residents were questioned this week over their alleged involvement with Ahmed Chatayev’s group, who clashed with Georgian security services on November 21-22 in Tbilisi, according to the Georgian State Security Service (SSS). The father of one of the residents remains adamant that his son’s involvement with the terrorism suspects “does not prove anything,� except that Pankisi gorge residents are “hospitable people.� The other two individuals whom the SSS questioned this week were Jibrail Kushanashvili and the son of Ramaz (Khizir) Margoshvili. The mother of Kushanashvili told reporters that her son was

seen in a photograph together with the group because of a one-off meeting. The other individual was one of the men detained by security services on December 26. Several residents of the Pankisi Gorge area say that the group members had visited Georgia many times previously, and that they weren’t suspected of being terrorists. One of them, Meqa Khangoshvili, told reporters that the group members "had been entering Georgia over the course of two years legally.� Khangoshvili says they visited Pankisi Gorge many times, and “moved freely in all parts of Georgia,� and could not be identified as terrorists by the locals. Malkhaz Machalikashvili, Temirlan Machalikashvili’s father, said the suspects “came up to the [Pankisi] gorge and freely moved in Tbilisi.� Machalikashvili also said “at least a half if not the whole gorge knew they came from Russia for business purposes or as tourists. Everyone knew them.�

FIRST BRAND HOTEL IN KUTAISI UNDER BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL Within the framework of the Georgian Hotels’ Regional Network Development Project “12 hotels in 12 regionsâ€? by GHYHORSPHQWFRPSDQ\Âł6LPHWULD´WKHÂżUVWEUDQGKRWHOKDV been opened in Kutaisi under the Best Western International brand. The hotel accommodates 45 guest rooms, including 40 standard rooms and 5 suites. The hotel was designed taking into consideration special conditions and safety for guests with disabilities.

Address: 11 Grishashvili Str., 4600, Kutaisi, Georgia TEL 219 71 00

Three mobile conference halls are available with a total capacity of about 100 persons. (XURSHDQFXLVLQHFDQEHHQMR\HGLQWKHJURXQGĂ€RRUFDIp and a grill-bar menu in the roof top restaurant with panoramic views over the city. The International Hotels Management Company “T3 Hospitality Management,â€? providing the hotel management, has 20 years’ experience in hotel management in different countries globally.




JANUARY 19 - 22, 2018

Focus on the TOTAL DEFENSE Everything you need to know about the MoD's plans


o find out more about where Georgia stands militarily, GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Lela Chikovani, First Deputy Minister of Defense, in an exclusive interview.

WHAT CHANGES DID THE MINISTRY MAKE LAST YEAR TO GEORGIA'S MANDATORY CONSCRIPTION PROGRAM? The notion of Total Defense, introduced by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in the “Strategic Defense Review 2017-2020” document (SDR) places significant emphasis on the role and proper functioning of the military conscription system. We introduced a qualitatively improved conscription. More specifically, we significantly increased the training load for conscripts by involving them in the standard GAF Basic Combat Training (BCT) program, which is then followed by sustainment training. Conscripts also enjoy free weekend privilege and higher salaries. 1400 conscripts were drafted in spring and are undergoing training with different units of the GAF. Not least, the trained conscripts constitute a continued supply line for military reserve, a key component for a resilient national defense. Additional options for further development of the conscription mechanisms are also being reviewed.

WHAT STEPS DID THE MINISTRY TAKE IN TERMS OF INCREASING GEORGIA’S SELF-DEFENSE CAPABILITIES? The Total Defense concept has been recognized by the MoD as a key concept featuring national defense policy to respond to existing threats and challenges. The mission of territorial defense has been elevated and put forth, which makes a sharp contrast to the past priorities of the GAF, oriented towards creating a more deployable and peacekeeping mission force. Improving the overall readiness of the GAF and combat capabilities of units became a key priority, which prompted the MoD leadership to seek new initiatives and mechanisms. In this regard, the Georgian Defense Readiness Program (GDRP), implemented in partnership with the US, has a particular importance. GDRP aims at providing training to Georgian military personnel and commanders, and envisages institutional mechanisms for manning, equipping, training and sustaining units to significantly improve GAF combat capabilities and defensibility of the country. The new “Total Defense” approach places great emphasis on enhancing interagency cooperation as a way to ensure the whole-of-nation approach and effective use of all national resources to defend the country. The interagency pillar is the cornerstone of effective plan-

ning and implementation, which the MoD routinely tests during the annual strategic “Didgori” exercise and other activities at operational or tactical levels. As one of the key components of “Total Defense,” we have focused on the development of a new Reserve and Mobilization System (RMS). The new system introduces active reserve service, based on voluntary participation and includes “Army Reserve”, “Territorial Reserve” and “Specialists Reserve” to provide support to the armed forces and to develop territorial defense capabilities. In 2018, two company level units will be trained under the pilot project, which will be subsequently analyzed for further improvement of the RMS. Specific measures, aimed at increasing Georgia’s self-defense capabilities, are outlined in the Strategic Defense Review 2017-2020 document. The document determines the GAF-structure for 2020, sets out a number of optimization measures to erase functional duplication and structural (rank) disbalance of the armed forces, identifies priority areas for GAF development, and facilitates capability and institutional development of the defense system. All actions identified under the SDR make up a considerable share of the “Transformation Plan” approved by the MoD, which itself follows five major lines: • Strategic Management and Direction • Force Optimization • Force Readiness • Institutional Development • International Cooperation All five pillars are supportive to each other and contribute to the effective implementation of national defense objectives. The SDR analysis identified a list of critical capability requirements without which Georgia cannot provide effective self-defense and credible deterrence, thus turning those to top priorities for resource allocation: • Anti-Armor • Air Defense • Artillery • Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) • Counter Mobility In order to provide required funding for the development of the abovementioned capabilities, freed funds resulted from optimization have been allocated in line with the SDR 2017-2020. Moreover, compared to 2016, we increased the funding for the infrastructural projects and armament acquisition. In 2018, we will spend 18% of the defense budget on major systems acquisition and will continue to work in the mid and long-term perspective on achieving the standard set by the North Atlantic Alliance to allocate 20% of the defense budget for modernization and major systems acquisition.

Lela Chikovani, First Deputy Minister of Defense of Georgia

HOW MANY CIVILIAN AND MILITARY PERSONNEL DID THE MINISTRY DISMISS WITHIN THE FRAMES OF THE OPTIMIZATION PROCESS IN 2016? DOES THE MINISTRY PLAN REORGANIZATION THIS YEAR? Facing the challenge of restructuring and optimizing the ministry and the GAF to increase the effectiveness and combat readiness of the forces, the Ministry made a difficult but inevitable decision to eliminate some positions and reduce the number of military and civilian personnel. The overall share (67%) of salaries and social benefits in the defense budget left no space for improving combat readiness of units with little training, aging equipment and distorted rank structure. Commissions were created to manage the evaluation of individual competences and structural effectiveness/duplications of functions. The decision to dismiss officers was balanced by offering financial compensation in accordance with the military rank occupied. During the optimization process, 2250 individuals were discharged in 2017 (incl. 1750 civilians).

DEFENSE MINISTER LEVAN IZORIA STATED THE US WILL SPEND MORE THAN $100 MILLION FOR GEORGIA’S DEFENSE REFORM. HOW MUCH WILL THE US FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO GEORGIA’S DEFENSE AMOUNT TO IN 2018? The growth of cooperation intensity and dynamics between the US and Georgia is vivid proof of the solid confidence and trust in our strategic partnership and the reform efforts, the Georgian Ministry of Defense is undertaking. The US continued and increased their substantial support to Georgian defense reforms both in terms of capability and institutional development. As a result of the coherent defense reform efforts of the current MoD administration, US-financial support has increased, which allowed us to accumulate in 2017 the US provided funds with the funds not spent in the years before and appropriate around $100 mln for the GDRP and other capability development programs to boost combat readiness of

10 Galaktion Street

forces and ensure territorial defense of the country as well as interoperability with NATO-forces.

HOW ARE GEORGIA AND THE US GOING TO BOOST MUTUAL STRATEGIC COOPERATION IN 2018? The US-support to Georgian defense transformation efforts remains a key factor for successful development of the GAF. Over the last year, the cooperation dynamics increased and reached levels never imaginable before. The recognition of this growing dynamics and the strategic partnership with Georgia was manifested in the highest political meetings between the Georgian Prime Minister and the President of the United States, Vice President Pence’s visit to Georgia and the meeting between defense ministers in the Pentagon in 2017. Naturally, the cornerstone of US-Georgia cooperation in 2018 is the launched US supported Georgian Defense Readiness Program (GDRP). It is a major body of the multi-year bilateral military planning framework and is designed to rapidly improve the combat readiness of Georgian units and further develop a self-sustaining institutional capacity to man, train, equip, and sustain a force prepared to accomplish assigned national missions under the National Defense Plan. Additional efforts are also underway to support GDRP and improve the training and evaluation capacity of GAF by building new training and simulation facilities such as the CTC (combat training center). Another manifestation of the mutual strategic cooperation is the increased scale of training and exercises conducted in bilateral and multilateral formats. Exercises such as “Nobel Partner” and “Agile Spirit”, planned also for 2018, contribute to a much higher degree of NATO/ US visibility and presence in Georgia and the region.


WILL GEORGIA BE ABLE TO PURCHASE THESE MISSILES? The need to perform the mission of effective territorial defense prerequisites a credible set of capabilities that additionally increase the deterrence element of the GAF. Some of these critical capabilities are anti-armor, air defense and counter-mobility. The decision of the US-government to agree on delivering Javelin missile systems to Georgia and respective contract of purchase, signed by parties is an additional proof of the US confidence in the Georgian government and ministry of defense, in particular.

FRANCE IS GEORGIA’S STRATEGIC PARTNER AND HELPS GEORGIA TO DEVELOP ITS DEFENSE CAPABILITIES. WHAT ARE THE GEORGIAFRANCE COOPERATION PLANS FOR 2018? NATO integration is one of Georgia’s major strategic objectives, representing the resolute and continuous choice of its population. Naturally, defense priorities reflect this choice and incorporate all mechanisms available to achieve NATO-membership. The SNGP (Substantial NATO Georgia Package) is the most important mechanism in this regard, allowing for effective implementation of plans, aimed at boosting national defense capabilities and resilience of forces, among which Air Defense is one of the most critical areas. Thus, we very much appreciate the cooperation with France in this regard, started several years ago. The major aspect of Georgia-France cooperation plans for 2018 focuses on a contract aimed at enhancing the air defense capabilities of Georgia. Within the framework of the contract, special attention will be paid to training necessary personnel and prepare needed infrastructure for new air defense capabilities, to establish a NATO interoperable Air Operation Center and to implement other important measures. In the course of 2018, the first phase of the contract will be completed. Additional areas of cooperation include educational and training courses as well as exchange of expertise. Continued on page 7

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Geopolitical Forecast for Eurasia in 2018 OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI


eopolitics consists of a number of components which rarely change, and if they do, it happens over a period of several years, sending clear signals to analysts what political and economic shifts are likely to happen in the future. Therefore, although it is not always 100% sure as to what will happen, at least it gives you a clear perspective on where the things now stand between major powers in the region and whether we are going to witness further deterioration or improvement in relations between Russia and the US, or the enlargement of the EU in the former Soviet space. From a grand strategic view, Russia will continue facing pressure from the US and the EU. It is unlikely that the sanctions imposed on Russia will be lifted when the official deadline comes in mid-2018. Moreover, Putin’s gamble to revive far-right parties across Europe and thus divide the EU from the inside will not materialize for the moment. Russia hopes that President Trump will be able to improve bilateral relations between the two countries will be minimal. In fact, there are indications that the US will introduce new sanctions against Russian high officials and people close to the government. In 2017, the US considerably increased its military pressure on Russia in her borderlands. This trend will likely continue as there are indications that the US government has evolved in its position on provision of lethal arms to Ukraine and Georgia, both countries which suffer from Russian military presence on their territories. Georgia and Ukraine have already received US military assistance with enhanced defensive capabilities to help the countries boost their capabilities. It is true that through minor pro-

Photo source: foreignpolicymag/gettyimages

vision of lethal weapons, the military balance is far from being overturned, but the move nevertheless shows how sensitive the question is and will likely remain in 2018. Moscow, as a result, will enhance its military position in eastern Ukraine and Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It is also quite likely that fighting in eastern Ukraine will flare up and become deadlier than in 2017. In fact, January has already witnessed high numbers of casualties from the government forces in Donbass. Differences between Russia and the US will also touch upon more global military issues. Moscow and Washington will move closer to the final destruction of the iconic Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). The treaty, signed between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987, eliminated for the first time an entire class of cruise and ballistic missiles in Europe. There are many reasons why the countries do so; one of them is that other smaller actors also get their hands on nuclear arsenals. The bilateral INF should be replaced with another mechanism which embraces other world powers. The death of the INF would signal yet another step towards the ever-widening

gap between the two countries. In the Middle East, the US will remain preoccupied with Russian military and diplomatic successes. As Moscow reached high levels of cooperation with Turkey and Iran in 2017, the trend is likely to continue this year as the three countries’ geopolitical imperatives for the moment do not collide with one another. This triangle of Russia, Turkey and Iran is not void of disagreements, but in 2018 it could limit the projection of US power across the Middle East. Moreover, as they experience increased US pressure, cooperation between Tehran, Moscow and Ankara will be further solidified. Looking at a map of the Eurasian continent, one can see Russia in the northern part of the landmass and two bridges which connect it to the Middle East: Turkey and Iran. Having these two countries as close partners increases Russia’s influence in the post-war Syria and elsewhere. Overall, this year will be yet another one with likely confrontations among major powers, while smaller countries with breakaway conflicts will feel firsthand the ongoing military and diplomatic competition between Russia and the US.

Focus on the TOTAL DEFENSE Continued from page 6

DOES THE MINISTRY PLAN TO INCREASE OR DECREASE THE GEORGIAN CONTINGENT IN INTERNATIONAL PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS IN 2018? As a reliable partner and future alliance member, Georgia remains committed to its international obligations and will continue contributing to international security and confidence building measures. There will be no significant changes in the number of Georgian contingent participating in international peacekeeping missions in 2018, which will consist of approximately 900 individuals. Additionally, Georgia will continue hosting and participating in NATO and international exercises.

WHEN WILL THE ACTIVE MILITARY RESERVE SERVICE BE INTRODUCED? The newly developed “Reserve and Mobilization” system (RMS) went under intensive parliamentary, interagency and public scrutiny, is finalized and will be presented for governmental review in the weeks to come. At the moment, we are working on the pilot program of RMS (training of two territorial reserve companies) starting in 2018. The pilot program will help us assess the new approach and in case of additional resources, expand and further develop the system.


As a result of the effective and priority oriented defense planning in the MoD/GAF, as well as national defense priorities, the defense budget for 2018 has increased to GEL 802 mln. The MoD budgetary funds for 2018 (2% of GDP) allocated in 10 major programs are based on the modernization and capability development priorities and include GDRP along with the allocations to sustain and develop defense capabilities, logistical support, infrastructure, military training and education, etc. In the budgetary planning and execution, the MoD was able to reduce the personnel and social benefits share in the defense budget down to 53% from 67%. In 2018, we’ll stick to our objective to appropriate 18% of the budgetary allocations for defense modernization and acquisition.


Making the Picture Look Perfect OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


his year will mark the 100th year since Georgia declared independence and 10th since the August War. Where, over the last 100 years, we were defeated and lost independence and then were able to regain them, since the war in August 2008, we seem to have been beaten. The victorious Russians are widening the occupied territories one step at a time, creating symbolic states and holding presidential or parliamentary performances. The only thing we managed to gain was an agreement in return for letting Russia into the WTO, where the results of the war are in a way neglected. Otherwise, everything looks like a landscape in Greenland; like the picture which falls on the head of the main character at the end of the famous Georgian film Blue Mountains. At the end of 2017, minutes before Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili’s swearing impromptu, a highly important piece of information was communicated. The PM said that he is personally planning to take part in the Geneva discussions. As the year came to a close, this message disappeared behind the abovementioned expletives incident, but when the passions subsided and now the days of Christmas hangover are behind us, this statement has gained a truly revolutionary meaning in light of the Georgian-Russian controversy. The format of the Geneva Talks conveys the participation of both parties of a disagreement. For instance, the representatives from de facto governments of Sokhumi or Tskhinvali face IDP representatives of the Abkhazian and Ossetian government. Russian and Georgian diplomats argue over the existing problematic issues together. If we look closer at Kvirikashvili’s statement, this means that the leading Georgian official will talk with the leading official from Russia, meaning President Putin. Everyone, including officials in Geneva, knows that Putin won’t sit at a table with Kvirikashvili, which means that PM Kvirikashvili will probably meet Khajimba and Bibilov, which could be interpreted as acknowledgement of what Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has been trying to put in our heads: “accept the new reality and put up with it.” Additionally, PM Kvirikashvili is also planning to grant the political decision mandate to the Geneva international discussions format. Translating this initiative into political language would mean that the government of the Georgian Dream plans to sign a non-aggression pact with the de-facto governments of the occupied territories, which was another demand from Russia that Lavrov tried to impose on us. It’s sad that this statement from Kvirikashvili remained beyond the attention of the political class, otherwise it wouldn’t have been hard to guess who’d “swear” at whom, the government at the opposition, or vice versa. Meanwhile, the events developing on the occupied territories are such that we might not need to travel to Prague, let alone Geneva. The de facto government of South Ossetia is opening up a socalled customs checkpoint near the occupational line in Mosabrune village, near Akhalgori, where we already see the cabins the “customs officers” will live in and from which they will check any cargo that travels from the rest of Georgia into their “republic.” The occupational regime has already set the rule that the population residing in the Akhalgori region have the right to carry only up to 50 kg of goods per person. Moreover, it is prohibited to carry any kind of meat, eggs, and livestock or related products. The opening of this so-called customs checkpoint is, in a way, blocking the agreement which was signed between the Revenue Service of Georgia and the Swiss SGS company. It is easy to imagine the tariffs that Tskhinvalian customs officers will impose on cargo carried from Armenia. Notably, following in the footsteps of Tskhinvali, the de facto government of Abkhazia has also announced that goods carried over the Enguri bridge will also be subject to taxes. As we see the finale is underway in the Russian-Georgian politics, the only thing in question now is when the “Greenland” will crash down on our heads.




JANUARY 19 - 22, 2018

Which End Do I Light? you have to press the paired strings of nuts into it with the spoon; one such dip will be enough. You hang the pairs of strings over a broom handle between two chairs, with newspaper underneath in case there are any drips. Distance them from each other so they won’t stick. Then leave them overnight to cool and slightly harden, cut each pair into separate strings, and begin to enjoy, pulling the thread through first if you can so you don’t have to chew it! Other variations I could think of might involve other nuts, even ones not native to Georgia, such as Brazils, Macadamias or any other that you can push a needle through without them breaking; other local or exotic fruit juices instead of grape, such as pear, apple, peach, apricot. Any combination might do, you only need to experiment. Spices, the sweet ones such as cinnamon, coriander, ginger, nutmeg or cardamom, powdered from fresh so as



erewith, a set of possible misinterpretationsofthebelovedChurchkhela, Georgia’s all-natural candy, inspired by seeing my wife and neighbors making some recently in her parents’ home in Kakheti. Can you tell which stories are real and which are fake? Someone was given one by a Georgian in New York, and asked which end to light this obvious candle. It’s been mistaken for a scary looking sausage in a market in the former USSR, and simply avoided (for YEARS) instead of the observer asking what it really was. An obscure variety of banana (of which there are

many hundreds in South America)? Simply a rare new tropical fruit? The first two are the real ones. I was the avoider, for seven whole years, living in St Petersburg, delaying my introduction to Churchkhela by my assumption until I arrived in Georgia! The things are made by dipping a strong thread of walnut pieces or whole hazelnuts in a flourthickened grape juice paste and hanging it to dry, and are justifiably famous here. Their three ingredients mean you know exactly what you’re getting (presuming there’s been no hanky-panky going on behind the scenes). The making process, like much of Georgian cuisine, involves a good deal of hard work stirring the paste on heat while making sure it doesn’t burn, which would of course ruin everything. Possibly an hour, as it thickens and burps its way to the right consistency. Then it’s no longer a liquid at all, and

not to texture, to flavor? It only depends on how far you’re willing to stray from the “canonical” forms, into what conservatives would call “heresy”. Why would I even contemplate such things? After eighteen years living in Georgia and loving its food and dishes, I’m also ready to play with them. The sky’s the limit! Your local friends might think you crazy or even twisted, but you might also come up with a great variation. Some restaurants in Tbilisi are also trying their hands at fusion cooking, generally with great success, and I say it’s about time. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1800 members, at www.facebook. com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

East Meets West: The Merging of Two Cultures



nce upon a time, I was a Londoner. Born and bred. Whilst I was aware of other cultures, beliefs and ways of living, I myself was a product of British values and traditions. Christmas fell on the 25th December, you drank tea with jam and bread, and one wore their thick-knit school uniform with pride. Yes, thinking back, I really was a product of my country. When my life became intertwined with Georgia, the change in me was gradual. Things here were very alien to me, and whilst I fully appreciated and was somewhat in awe of such a different way of life, I couldn’t have imagined, at that time, that I would inherit Georgian values as my own. Well, I won’t rant on about my history with Georgia (mostly because I’ve already written about it) – but suffice to say that, 5 years on, both Georgian and British cultures are an integral part of who I am. The only time this really makes me feel as if I alienate the great people of both countries is when I actually explain what life is like in said country. Picture this: explaining to a Brit that Georgians have two New Year’s, and that Christmas is in JANUARY. I think, though, that what strikes people most is not that there are two New Year’s or that Christmas falls after it, but more

that I choose to celebrate these as well as the western holidays. For me, it’s always been easy to adjust. If I go to London, it may take a few days, but I’m pretty confident that I fit back in to everyday life there. Yet, I can never quite shake the feeling of alienating those around me. If I receive a call from a friend in Tbilisi whilst in London, you should see the look on people’s faces when I start to speak in Georgian. I often wonder if people in the UK see it as a betrayal, as if they are thinking, “don’t forget you’re British!”. Yet having two counties to call home, two nationalities, two passports; makes me even prouder of my British heritage. It makes me appreciate things in the UK which before I took for granted. Paradoxically, the modernity that my country of birth possesses makes me truly appreciate the traditional cultural landscape that Georgia has. So, to demonstrate the true meaning of dualcultures: I stream UK comedy shows such as ‘Have I Got News for You’ on my laptop to get a good dose of that unique humour, yet curse in Georgian when I stub my toe. I’m an editor for Georgia Today, yet often ask my Georgian friends “how do you say [that word] in English?” The beauty of new direct routes connecting the two great nations has meant I can visit the UK more often, meaning said ‘merging’ of my cultures is even more apparent. I have a good friend here who is also British, her favorite dish? Khinkali and chips. What better defines a Georgian-Brit than that?



Saving the Soul: First Georgian Motion Comic



ecently, an intriguing fantasy animation titled Saving the Soul went viral on social media and it turned out the creators were enthusiastic Georgian friends with vastly different backgrounds. The people behind the short animation say it is the first Georgian-produced motion comic, seeing a book written first, and then the pages brought to life through the animated characters. The first episode was released in English, since the fantasy animation is aimed at the international market. Yet, as the creators say, all the series will be voiced in Georgian for the local audience as well. Each episode lasts around 20 minutes and unveils the lives of three different characters living in different periods. The animation instantly captured our attention since it is the first of its kind. In order to get a deeper insight into contemporary Georgian cartoon, GEORGIA TODAY contacted George Badashvili, founder of Archivarius Studios, director and scriptwriter, and the main person behind the ambitious animation project.

WHAT IS THE ANIMATION ABOUT? Saving the Soul is an animated urban fantasy series that tells the stories of three characters, all of them narrated in first person. The characters have very different mindsets and each of their sto-

ries is set in a different timeframe. They share the same world, though: a fictional universe that has, since its inception, been a battlefield for conflict between Heaven and Hell. This universe is full of dark and light magic, mysticism, monsters, and those who hunt them.

HOW DID IT ALL COME ABOUT? The idea of making an animated series came to mind only after the setting itself was shaped and established. It was a monumental task that took us a lot of time and effort. We had to create continents, countries, their histories – everything – from total scratch. I was always amazed by the imagination of great fiction writers and the worlds created by them. Titans like Tolkien and C.S. Lewis set a standard that served as a manual to our world-building. The world itself was inspired by works such as Hellblazer, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.

WHAT IS THE MAIN IDEA OF THE CARTOON AND WHO IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE? The purpose of Saving the Soul is simple: to convey the hopelessness of situations that people can end up in when the world they live in is inhabited by beings far more powerful and ancient than them. Unfortunately, a single episode does not even come close to fulfilling this purpose; it is merely a foundation for what we want to tell. The universe of Saving the Soul is grim and full of violence. It is aimed at those 16 or older.


OF THE PROJECT? The creation of a franchise recognizable worldwide. We also want to contribute to the development of Georgian animation as well as make the fantasy genre more popular here.

TELL US ABOUT ARCHIVARIUS STUDIOS Archivarius Studios was created in 2017 by a group of friends with various backgrounds. Some of us like visual art, others are into music, some are skilled in video editing, others in storytelling. At the moment, there are five of us, but we plan to expand.

COULD YOU EXPLAIN THE PROCESS AND TECHNIQUE OF CREATING ANIMATIONS? The style we use is called Digital Motion Comic. What we do is create the illusion of 3D motion with 2D graphics. We achieve this by drawing multiple layers, which serve as different planes of movement, and use them to construct scenes with the help of various graphic software. In future episodes, we plan to add some classic 2D animation as well.

DID YOU DO IT ALL BY YOURSELVES? The pilot episode and everything it includes, art, voice acting, audio effects and music, were created using our own resources. At the moment, we are looking for partners and sponsors who would be interested in working with us. We’re also planning to present our animation at the international platform Indiegogo for funding.





JANUARY 19 - 22, 2018


GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 January 20 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL January 21, 25 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 January 20 Roma Rtskhiladze and Pantomime Theater Along with electronic music present: WISHING THREE Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 19 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 598 19 29 36 January 19 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY El banda del "მუდო"Kakha Bakuradze, Sandro Nikoladze, Irakli Menagarishvili, Simon Bitadze, Dato Kakulia Start time: 21:30 Ticket: 10 GEL January 20 SIMBIOSIS Directed by George Ghonghadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL January 21 DON JUAN Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL TBILISI CIRCUS Address: Heroes’ Sq. January 20 NEW YEAR CIRCUS SHOW Start time: 13:00, 17:00 Ticket: 10-25 GEL


AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL January 19-25 DARKEST HOUR Directed by Joe Wright Cast: Gary Oldman, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas Genre: Biography, Drama, History Language: English Start time: 19:15 Language: Russian Start time: 21:50 Ticket: 13-17 GEL THE SHAPE OF WATER Directed by Guillermo del Toro Cast: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy Language: English Start time: 22:00 Language: Russian Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 13-17 GEL THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US Directed by Hany Abu-Assad Cast: Idris Elba, Kate Winslet, Beau Bridges Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 19:05 Ticket: 13-14 GEL MOLLY’S GAME Directed by Aaron Sorkin Cast: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera Genre: Biography, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 21:35 Ticket: 13-14 GEL THE GREATEST SHOWMAN Directed by Michael Gracey Cast: Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams Genre: Biography, Drama, Musical Language: Russian Start time: 16:45 Ticket: 12 GEL JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE Directed by Jake Kasdan Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 14:00 Ticket: 12 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL January 19-25 THE SHAPE OF WATER (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 19:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US (Info Above) Start time: 16:45 Ticket: 10-11 GEL THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (Info Above) Start time: 16:45, 22:30 Ticket: 10-14 GEL JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (Info Above) Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL SANTA & CIE (Info Above) Start time: 12:10, 14:40 Ticket: 8-10 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 January 19-25 DARKEST HOUR (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 22:30 Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 19:45 Ticket: 10-17 GEL THE SHAPE OF WATER (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 19:15 Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 16-17 GEL MOLLY’S GAME (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 14:15, 21:55 Ticket: 13-19 GEL

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI Directed by Rian Johnson Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Tom Hardy, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 13:00 Ticket: 11-15 GEL THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 17:00 Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:30, 22:15 Ticket: 15-19 GEL JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (Info Above) Start time: 16:15, 19:00 Ticket: 13-19 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 Exhibition GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES The royal dress of King Teimuraz II, Nino Gurieli's Georgian dress, Tekla Batonishvili's personal sewing machine, robe of Alexander Bariatinsky - Deputy of the Caucasus, Tambourine painted by Mihaly Zichy, feminine attire of Abkhazian and Ingilo women and more. Exhibition NUMISMATIC TREASURY Showcases a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. December 29 - January 30 EXHIBITION: THE GEORGIAN CHURCH 1917-2017 Dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the restoration of the 15-centuries-old autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Georgia, the 40th anniversary of enthronement and the 85th jubilee of His Holiness and Beatitude, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Archbishop of Mtskheta-Tbilisi and Metropolitan of Bichvinta and Tskhum-Abkhazia Ilia II.

LITERATURE MUSEUM Address: 8 Chanturia Str. November 17 – January 25 (2018) 200TH ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION OF FAMOUS GEORGIAN POET NIKOLOZ BARATASHVILI MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 December 14 – March 14 ANNIVERSARY-RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION GIGO GABASHVILI 155 This retrospective exhibition showcases various paintings and graphic works, manuscripts and electronic versions of his photographs. The exhibition also features a reconstruction of the artist's room with his furniture and personal items, some displayed to the public for the first time. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. GALLERY

DIMITRI SHEVARDNADZE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Shota Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00 December 20-January 20 EXHIBITION KARLO KACHARAVA TODAY Karlo Kacharava's solo exhibition takes up two galleries on the museum's ground floor. With a few exceptions the majority of the works on show are oil paintings. The first gallery is dedicated to the General-one of his largest paintings, done in1988-and several other romantic-heroic portraits. In the second gallery, the late artist's paintings are displayed together with the works of three young Georgian artists. MUSIC

DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC AND CULTURE Address: 125 Aghmashenebeli ave. Telephone: 2 96 12 43 January 21 CONCERT OF A CAPELLA CHOIR SINGING Participants: Boy’s folk choir “Erkvani”, Pupil’s choir of Gori music high school, Boys’ choir “Mdzlevari”, Youth choir “Tutarchela” “Baroque” choir, Pupil’s choir of E. Mikeladze central music high school, Rustavi chamber choir, Vocal ensemble “Renaissance”, Abhkhazian State Choir Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 18-28 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 January 20 PIANO RECITAL BORIS BEREZOVSKI Piano Recital Start time: 19:00 MZIURI Address: Mziuri Cafe January 21 SAKVIRAO Entertainment program for children Start time: 12:00




Karate Champion on Georgian Success in the Field INTERVIEW BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


eet Chabuka Makharadze, who won the Gold Medal at the International Karate Cup held in Tehran, Iran, this December, adding another trophy to the many victories he had already gained. He holds a black belt, the 4th dan, and is a certified karate referee, instructor and examiner, with certificates assigned by the International Karate Federation. GEORGIA TODAY talked to Chabuka about his recent triumph, his passion for Karate, and his vibrant career to date.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT STARTED YOU OFF IN KARATE? There was a Karate boom in Georgia in the 90s. At the time, it was quite new as a sport, and it felt very interesting. Back then, the strongest Karate team [in Georgia] was headed by Zurab Lejava, in the sports hall of the Tbilisi Ivane Javakhishvili State University first building. Lejava is the first Georgian Karate sportsman, and started practicing back in the 60s. My father took me to join and over time, my interest in Japanese martial arts grew to become my profession.

WHEN DID YOUR PROFESSIONAL CAREER IN KARATE REALLY KICK OFF AND WHICH PARTICULAR MOMENTS WOULD YOU HIGHLIGHT? I’ve been participating in tournaments since the age of 13, winning world and European championships,

many prestigious competitions in different age categories, both at individual level and in and teams Kata and Kumite. For me, 1999 was very important, as that’s when the Georgian Youth Team in Karate won at the Shotokan Karate World Championship in Moscow, and our team became world champion for the first time in the history of Karate in Georgia. I was a member of that team, participating in the world championship competition for the first time, and I won the world champion title in team Kumite. Davit Jvania, Koba Tsertvadze and Giorgi Nadiradze were in our team, too. Then, in 2003, at the world championship held in London, I came third place in individual Kumite. In 2012, I won bronze at the European Championship in Turin, Italy, and a bronze medal in Kumite at the World Championship in Varna, Bulgaria, in 2013. I would certainly highlight the world championship held in Tokio in 2015, when in the Central Hall of the traditional Martial Arts of Tokyo, Budokan, I won a silver medal in individual Kata. The Georgian karate team also took part in that championship. In 2015, I won four medals at the European championship of Shotokan Karate in Kyiv, winning one gold in individual Kata in the adult category, a bronze medal in individual Kumite, and two bronze medals in team Kata. The same year, I came 2nd place in individual Kumite and 3rd place in Kata at the world Championship in Istanbul.

eration. Our team, the Georgian Shotokan-Do Karate Federation, won two gold medals. I got gold in individual Kata, and Nodar Khachishvili won gold in individual Kata in the veteran’s category. I’ve been regularly participating in the international championships in Iran since 2008, and have medals in every individual category.



It was an annual international championship held in Tehran, a major international karate competition bringing together some 1500 sportsmen from all around the world, organized by the Karate Fed-

There are karate clubs in almost every region of Georgia; there are many talented sports people participating in various championships and getting good results. It’s very important that karate was

officially included in the program of the Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo, Japan; that alone will raise interest in karate as a sport, and will help to promote it. The Georgian Shotokan-Do Karate Federation has functioned since 2005 and we have many young, aspiring sports people training there, and generations of successful sports people who regularly participate at championships and bring significant results.

WHAT DO YOU DO PERSONALLY TO DEVELOP YOURSELF IN THE SPORT? Apart from the sports achievements gained, it is important to work on raising your qualification and knowledge every year, so I attend many of the international training meetings and seminars, which are essential for professional development.

North & South Korea to Enter as One in Winter Olympics Georgian Woman BY TOM DAY


t was announced on Wednesday that North Korea and South Korea will introduce their athletes together at the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony and are to make a joint women’s ice hockey team. Athletes from both countries will march together carrying the “unified Korea” flag, the emblem of which depicts an undivided Korean peninsula. The tournament will be hosted in Pyeongchang, South Korea, starting February 9. The women’s ice hockey team will be the first unified Korean team in the Olympics, and the first time Koreans have merged sporting teams since they played together in an international table-tennis championship and a soccer tournament in 1991. South Korea – the host country – said that it hopes this sporting gesture will help to defuse the tensions between the two nations which have grown over previous years; coming as the threat of war over the North’s nuclear missile threat to the South becomes frighteningly possible. It is not expected that this decision alone will instigate a quick solution to the nuclear arms standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons program, but it gave relief to the South who have become anxious over the possibility of missile attacks. Diplomats from both sides declared the news in a joint press release after negotiations in the border village of Panmunjom. They also agreed that supporters can cheer for both the North and the South. The North agreed to send 230 supporters to the games. South Korean President Moon Jae-in hopes that the Olympics agreement will allow them to open a channel of communication with the North, after years of silence. News of the agreement was welcomed by members of the United Nations, and Secretary General António Guterres said that he plans to attend the

opening ceremony. The President of the General Assembly, Miroslav Lajcak, tweeted: “Heartened by reports that Koreans from DPRK & RoK will march together in @Olympics opening ceremony.” Alongside this decision, both countries decided on Wednesday that their skiing teams would train together at the Masikryong ski resort in North Korea. So far, the only North Korean athletes to qualify for the games are a pairs figure skating team; the deadline to accept invitations from South Korea was missed by the North, but the international body has said that it is willing to make an exception. President Moon proposed the idea of having a unified Korean team for the Winter Olympics back in June, but the idea was not taken seriously until Kim Jong-un proposed a dialogue with the South to discuss the North’s participation in the games in his New Year’s Day speech. This led to a series of discussions between government officials of both countries in Panmunjom.



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Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

For a long time, the South has tried negotiating a completely joint Olympics team, which they think would aid reconciliation between the two nations. Some breakthroughs have occurred – in 2000, after the first Korean summit meeting, the countries’ athletes marched together at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics. This has happened nine times, including in Athens in 2004 and at the 2006 Winter Olympics. They last marched together in the Asian Winter Games in 2007. But forming a unified team seemed impossible. Negotiations broke down over such things as whether a joint team would have an equal number of athletes from each country, where the athletes would train and who would choose the coaches. South Korea first attempted to cool-off military tensions through sports in the 1960s, suggesting joint teams for international athletic events, but ideas such as this have never led to anything substantial between the two nations, who have been technically at war since the Korean War in 1950-53, which was halted by a truce.

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Wins Chess World Championship



eorgian mother-of-two and Chess Master Nana Dzagnidze won the gold medal at the World Chess Championship in Saudi Arabia. The competition hosted both male and female competitors from 50 countries, 21 of whom were the world’s top players. Dzagnidze says that this is her best achievement in her 26-year chess career. “It was very exciting,” she told reporters. She currently holds the title of European Champion, too, and was a part of the gold medal-winning Georgian team in the Women's Chess Olympiad in 2008 and the Women's World Team Chess Championship in 2015. Talking about the coming year, she said, “I have a many more interesting and important tournaments this year, such as the European Women’s Chess Championship in April in Slovakia, there I will have to defend my title. Also, the World Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia, and the World Women’s Chess Championship in classic chess in KhantyMansiysk, Russia. And hopefully all of them will be as successful as the Saudi blitz event for me.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1015  

January 19 - 22, 2018

Issue #1015  

January 19 - 22, 2018