Issue no: 871
• AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Armenian Opposition Party to Boycott Elections
NEWS PAGE 2
FOCUS ON GOLD
Georgian weightlifter Lasha Talakhadze wins Georgia's first 2016 gold at Rio Olympics, breaks world record PAGE 14-15
German Ambassador Completes Her Mission in Georgia POLITICS PAGE 5
The Best of a Bad Lot: Ogden on Who to Vote For
New Airport Planned for Georgia’s Mountainous Racha Region
POLITICS PAGE 7
BY NICHOLAS WALLER
Batumi’s Modern Street Art & Freedom of Expression
onstruction works for a new airport in Ambrolauri – a town located in western Georgia’s mountainous Racha region – are moving into their final stages, according to a statement released by the Government on Tuesday. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said the future airport would promote tourism in the region and help boost Racha’s economy, which suffers from high unemployment and depopulation. Continued on page 2
Iranian Airlines Launches Seasonal Direct Flights to Georgia SOCIETY PAGE 10
CULTURE PAGE 11
Going for Gold & Smiling When You Lose Racha. Photo: Maia Chkhaidze
SPORTS PAGE 14
AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
Chair of the Heritage party, Armen Martirosyan, was arrested Monday but released on bail Wednesday
Armenian Opposition Party to Boycott Elections BY NICHOLAS WALLER
rmenia's opposition Heritage party has formally withdrawn from the country’s upcoming local elections, saying the recent arrest of its three leaders delegitimizes the polls. Party leaders Armen Martirosyan, David Sanasaryan, Hovsep Khurshudyan and opposition activist Andrias Ghukasyan, were arrested Monday on charges of organizing mass disturbances and unsanctioned public protests on July 29. Following their arrest, all four faced up to 10 years
in prison. Martirosyan, however, was unexpectedly granted bail Wednesday after posting a USD 2,100 bond for his release. The remaining three are still being held in pretrial detention in the Armenian capital, Yerevan. In a statement released shortly after the group’s arrest, the Heritage party condemned the authorities’ decision to detain the party’s leadership, calling the charges “baseless and ridiculous.” Most of Armenia’s opposition parties are sitting out the country’s local elections as a way to protest authoritarian President Serzh Sargsyan’s pro-Russian Republican Party, who they accuse of dominating and manipulating elections through votebuying and intimidation.
Georgia Launches New National Strategy to Eliminate Hepatitis C BY THEA MORRISON
he Georgian Government approved a National Strategy for the Elimination of Hepatitis C during a cabinet session on Tuesday. The new campaign will run until 2020 and aims to cure 90 percent of patients infected with the virus, as well as treat 95 percent of those who suffer from Hepatitis. The program was originally proposed in April 2015 as a way to eliminate the spread of the virus.
According to Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the overall budget of the program amounts to over USD 50 million (116 million GEL), USD 24 million of which will come from the state budget. USD 15 billion-worth of prescription drugs will be donated by the State. American biotechnology company Gilead has signed on to take part in the program, to provide research, analysis and expertise to the Georgian government. Georgia is one of the top 5 countries in the world with the highest rate of Hepatitis C. An average of 7.7 people out of every 100 are afflicted with the virus.
New Airport Planned for Georgia’s Mountainous Racha Region Continued from page 1
"This will give a significant boost to the development of tourism in Racha. We plan on completing the construction by the end of the year; the runways will be operational by this time and the terminal will be able to accommodate travellers," Kvirikashvili said. According to the Government’s plans, additional infrastructure will also be constructed to link the
future airport to the heavily trafficked Kutaisi International Airport. Racha is widely regarded as a potential major tourist destination for Georgia. Its mountainous landscapes, vineyards, historical sites and natural environment have only recently been given full attention by the Tourism Ministry. Mirroring many of Georgia’s more isolated regions, Racha’s poverty, unemployment and poor infrastructure have hindered its development.
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
Two Georgian Servicemen Go Missing During Training Exercise BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
wo Georgian servicemen went missing Tuesday night during military exercises on the country’s Black Sea coast, near the border with Turkey, the Defense Ministry said in an official statement. According to the statement, Special Forces members Corporal Iago Sharadze and Private First Class Giorgi Nanetashvili disappeared after taking part in scheduled amphibious combat drills. Georgia’s Military Police and Special Operations Groups are currently carrying out a search and rescue operation in tandem with the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The Georgian Government has also requested help from US forces assigned to the Special Operations Command Europe. Sharadze’s father told local media that his son was a good swimmer and only the negligence of the trainers could have been responsible for Sharadze’s disappearance. “My son went missing because of the negligence of his instructors. If they had thoroughly explained everything in advance and given him instructions, he would be alive now,” Sharadze’s father said. Military Police officials said Wednesday that an investigation into the cause of death has been launched under Article 116 of the Georgian Criminal Code, a code which specifically covers deaths related to negligence.
First Georgia International Maritime Forum will be Held in Batumi
he Georgian government has announced that the country’s international maritime forum is to be held in September in the Black Sea port city of Batumi. The Forum will cover topics ranging from ways to assure open shipping lanes in the Black Sea, environmental concerns, and the importance of creating an integrated maritime policy with Georgia’s neighboring countries. The International Maritime Forum was created by the Georgian government earlier this year to promote the country as an emerging maritime nation and to encourage greater cooperation between the countries bordering the Black and Mediterranean seas.
South Ossetia’s Rebel Government to Issue Coins Honoring Soviet Heroes BY TAMAR SVANIDZE AND NICHOLAS WALLER
he National Bank of Georgia’s breakaway region South Ossetia plans to issue silver and gold coins with images of Heroes of the Soviet Union, Russian news outlet Sputnik Ossetia said. The bank’s head Felix Zaseyev said the coins would feature Giorgi Khetagurov, a Red Army commander during the Russian Civil War; Army General Issa Pliyev, best known for his role as commander of the Soviet Union’s strategic rocket forces in Cuba during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis; and Hajji Umar Mamsurov, an ethnic Ossetian and general in Joseph Stalin’s feared NKVD – the forerunner of the KGB – who is credited with founding the Soviet Union’s special operations military intelligence units known as Spetsnaz. Mamsurov is also known for having run the Soviet Union’s clandestine intelligence operations during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, where he reportedly met famed American author Ernest Hemingway. South Ossetia first minted commemorative coins in 2013 to mark the rebel republic’s fifth anniversary of Russia's recognition of its independence.
Commemorative events and imagery glorifying the Soviet Union are common in South Ossetia, which still maintains an intelligence unit known as the KGB. Fed by a constant diet of Russian propaganda, pro-Moscow – more precisely, pro-Soviet – sentiment in the region is widespread. Rebel groups closely aligned to the Kremlin and who opposed the breakup of the Soviet Union fought a bloody war against newly independent Georgia’s fledgling government forces in 1991-92. Russian and secessionist forces routed Georgia’s poorly armed military and has operated as a Kremlin-backed puppet state for the last 25 years. A brief five-day war between Russia
and Georgia over South Ossetia in August 2008 killed hundreds and drove thousands from their homes after Moscow’s massive invasion force came within an hour’s drive of Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. Formal relations between Tbilisi and Moscow have been frozen since the Kremlin recognized South Ossetia and Georgia’s other Russian-occupied region Abkhazia as independent states. International law and the United Nations continue to state that the regions remain parts of Georgia. Russia continues to violate a 2008 ceasefire agreement by maintaining a massive military presence in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia by basing thousands of occupation forces in the two regions.
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AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
Europarties, Georgia's Upcoming Parliamentary Elections, and the Unused Potential of Cross-Party Partnership BY TEONA LAVRELASHVILI
hile the European Union (EU) is overloaded by multiple crises, the upcoming Georgian election is still in the spotlight of international attention. One should not overestimate either Georgia's strategic importance for Europe or its symbolic significance. Still, Georgia deserves the interest as a test-case of the EU's soft power in the region, which – with few exceptions among post-Soviet countries – has not opted for subordination to a former metropolitan state and/or full-fledged authoritarianism. This interest towards Georgia has many realizations, and among other things is actualized by European political parties, also known as Europarties. Four major Europarties have their affiliated members in Georgia, although their degree of engagement varies. Cross-party cooperation of Georgian and European political parties is dominated by pragmatic reasoning. For Georgian parties these include enhancing legitimacy, visibility and credibility at the national level, while external support may also be used as protection vis-à-vis ruling elites. The ideological dimension also plays a role, though due to the ideological fussiness of Georgian politics, it is often of less relevance. As the parliamentary elections rapidly
approach, all possible means for enhancing the visibility and attractiveness of political parties are in demand, and partnership with Europarties should be seen mainly from this perspective. It is important to understand to what extent partnership with major Europarties may influence the outcomes of the Georgia's election. The European People's Party (EPP) will certainly support its sister party United National Movement (UNM), though respective motivation is divided between the intention to support the Georgian case and the responsibility to promote the interests of its sister-party. There is speculation that if the UNM does not fare well in this year’s election, EPP support may further decline, early signs of which are already discernible. Another important Europarty – the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) has a newly affiliated member –Georgian Dream (GD). However, the conceptual approach of the S&D to its international cross-party relations and engagement with its member parties is less intense. Additionally, as Georgian Dream is a new member of S&D, from the European side there is more observation and less direct support. Finally, GD compared to UNM lacks the same quality of strategic communication with European political allies. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) has two affiliated parties – the Free Democrats and the Republican Party of Georgia. ALDE pos-
sesses relatively modest institutional resources at its disposal and this certainly affects its degree of direct support of sister parties and its overall influence. Furthermore, with two different Georgian partners it is difficult to strike a balance and ALDE is cautious in its actions. Cooperation between the European Conservative and Reformist party (ECR) and the Conservative Party of Georgia is even less actualized. The Georgian party has been a junior coalition partner of Georgian Dream, which has a different affiliation. This illustrates well how cross-party relations become influenced by domestic factors. There is also some potential for political partnership between the European Greens and the Georgian political groups, although for the time being the Georgian Greens are not yet up to serious political challenges. MEPs from the European Greens have strongly supported Geor-
gia's European aspirations, although after the passing of prime-minister Zurab Zhvania back in 2005, relations have markedly shrunk. Engaging in cross-party cooperation offers important yet insufficiently used opportunities. Such cooperation not only contributes to the development of domestic political parties but also plays a huge role in constructing the country's international image, and in mobilizing international support for it. However, today's cross-party partnerships are rather embryonic and largely depend on leaders’ personalities instead of ideological affinities. Frequently, immediate political goals get priority over long-term party development, refining ideological framework, introducing internal democracy and effective party management, building capacity for strategic communication, and last but not least, in promoting Europeanization. It is also of utmost importance that
Georgian political parties not just start thinking and planning with a long-term perspective, but choose to prioritize and pursue the overall policy goals of the country rather than party interests or those of respective political families, going here beyond any content-deficient populist rhetoric. However, this is hardly enough, unless not only the Europarties but also the European political foundations and think tanks work closely with their respective Georgian political partners, assisting them to effectively frame strategic cross-party cooperation formats. It seems highly probable that as the Georgian political scene becomes more competitive, democratic, and less dependent on the leaders’ personalities, partnership with Europarties will be playing an increasingly important role both in party politics and the general Europeanization process of Georgia. It remains to be seen whether Georgian politicians understand the huge potential of such engagement and appear able to use it for both serving the interests of the country and developing the capacity and democratic credentials of their respective parties. Teona Lavrelashvili holds a Master's degree from the College of Europe and another from Speyer University of Public Administration. Before joining the Martens Center, she worked in the European Parliament as well as at the International School of Protocol & Diplomacy in Brussels. While focusing on European politics, she maintains close contacts with the political and civic community in Georgia.
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Sanjha Chulha Indian Restaurant
Website www.sanjhachulha.ge Mail firstname.lastname@example.org Agmashenebeli Avenue, 130 Tbilisi 0112 Georgia
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GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
Georgia’s Election Committee Disqualifies Pro-Russian Centrist Party BY THEA MORRISON
eorgia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) Chair Tamar Zhvania announced Tuesday that the controversial pro-Russian Centrist Party has been barred from taking part in the upcoming October Parliamentary Elections following the party’s release of a campaign ad promoting integration with Moscow. Zhvania said the party’s leadership had failed to legally register themselves and would be barred from running in the October polls. “The Centrists’ leadership is not legal, therefore I signed a decree cancelling the registration of the party," said Tamar Zhvania at a special briefing. Prior to the CEC’s decision, the ruling Georgian Dream coalition and the country’s main opposition parties appealed to the CEC to ban the party after a Centrist campaign advertisement aired on Georgia’s Public Broadcaster on August 13 that featured a Russian flag, Russian soldiers and a photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin, with a voiceover message that promised “Russian pensions, a dual citizenship law with Moscow and Russian military bases inside Georgia’s borders."
The public broadcaster immediately suspended the advertisement, saying “it (the ad) contains messages that threaten Georgia’s sovereignty and contradicts the Constitution.” On Saturday, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) filed a motion with the Tbilisi City Court to ban the Centrists from taking part in the parliamentary elections, but their motion was rejected.
The public broadcaster immediately suspended the party’s TV advertisement, saying “it contains messages that threaten Georgia’s sovereignty and contradicts the Constitution”
The ISFED, Georgian Dream and the opposition Republican and United National Movement (UNM) parties said they would appeal the court’s decision. The Centrists Party was first registered in June, led by Temur Khachishvili and Lado Bedukadze. Khachishvili is a former interior minister and warlord in the Mkhedrioni militia, heavily armed groups that terrorized civilians in the early 1990s during the rule of Georgia’s first President, Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Khachishvili spent seven years in prison after being found guilty of plotting to kill former President Eduard Shevardnadze. He was released from jail in 2002 and lived in Russia for the next decade before returning to Georgia when Georgian Dream came to power. A former prison guard, Bedukadze published several videos that allegedly showed inmates being tortured just two weeks before the 2012 elections. The videos were credited for having tipped the election in favor of Georgian Dream. Bedukadze had been charged by the previous UNM government for his own involvement in the torture of prisoners. His case was dropped, however, after Bedukadze made a plea bargain with the courts after Georgian Dream came to power, in exchange for his full cooperation.
Bettina Cadenbach holding a farewell meeting at Georgian Foreign Ministry
German Ambassador Completes Her Mission in Georgia BY STEVEN JONES
n 15 August, Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze held a farewell meeting for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Germany to Georgia, Bettina Cadenbach. The Foreign Ministry (MFA) says the parties positively appraised the friendly relations and close partnership between the two countries in the political and trade-economic areas. Progress in cooperation in education and culture fields was also recognized. According to the MFA, Minister Janelidze emphasized the importance of
Germany’s strong support for Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, as well as for sovereignty and territorial integrity. Special attention was paid to the need for timely and successful completion of the procedures of visa-free travel with the EU. In addition, issues related to the up-coming 2017 celebration of the anniversary of Georgia-Germany friendship, and Georgia’s participation in the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2018, were included in the discussion agenda. The Georgian Minister thanked Bettina Cadenbach for her contribution to strengthening bilateral relations between Georgia and Germany, wishing her success in her future endeavors. Bettina Cadenbach was appointed to the position in July 2015.
AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
Russia’s “Soft Power” in Action, with Full-Pledge Operational Scope BY DR. VAKHTANG MAISAIA
eorgia is preparing for forthcoming parliamentary elections, which will prove to be very critical to further development of the whole nation. These elections are dominated by discussions on foreign policy matters – just as in the Europe we are so craving to be a part of, the Parliament of Georgia has a final say on formulating decisions on foreign and defense policy issues. Hence, the “battle for parliament” has already turned into a melee, with parties trying to get as much leverage (in the form of seats, mostly) in their hands as possible, as it will be exactly parliament and not government that will decide in which direction the country ought to go. One of the major battles the new parliament will get in its allegorical hands (and will be expected to muck out a jolly good show of) is countering clearly expressed Pro-Russian sentiments, a rather persistent practice which seems to have found a foothold of late. Unfortunately even the tragic events of the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia weren’t enough to prevent this from happening and the Kremlin narrative is still powerful enough to attract about 20-25 percent of the population (according to the recent NDI research poll survey). So, what is happening and why is the Kremlin geopolitical agenda becoming attractive to a sizable (and as much as I do hope that this percentage will see a sharp downfall come next parliament, so far it has proven itself to be
Kremlin’s “Soft Power” strategy has become more and more elaborate since 2010 and has so far secured some important “victories” in its quest to farcically present itself as a counterweight to all things Western. Source: russia-insider.com
incredibly resilient, especially in the regions) minority? Besides the geopolitical shifts at global and regional levels, the Russian incumbent policy-makers are picking up new methods and skills to promote their information warfare in those areas considered being of geostrategic importance for hegemony. Certainly, Georgia is thought to be one such area from the viewpoint of the current Kremlin leadership. When talking about the information warfare or, more precisely, about “network-centric warfare,” which Russia has comfortably channeled into a “soft power,” it is important to outline that the warfare is borne of the new generation of battle field strategy – called the
“fourth warfare generation dimension,” the final goal of which is to destroy your opponent’s cultural values and subvert its political will for resistance. Since the 2008 Georgia-Russia August war, the Russian incumbent policy-makers reconsidered their adherence to solely “Hard Power” capabilities and reinforced their own strategies, introducing the Russian version of a “Soft Power” strategy based on several unique leverages and components: mass-media monopoly, aggressive propaganda campaign, “historic memory” invocation or political mythology, modern communication technologies (cyber-warfare), networkcentric dominance (social network and social media), ideological imperatives,
cultural warfare/antagonism and ideological confrontation (such as aggressive anti-American rhetoric). Kremlin’s “Soft Power” strategy has become more and more elaborate since 2010 and has so far secured some important “victories” in its quest to farcically present itself as a counterweight to all things Western: • Setting up and further promulgation of geopolitical media project: “Russia Today” (now just RT), to dominate and compete with American CNN on a global scale; • Setting up and promotion of military TV channel: “ZVEZDA,” which reaches an impressive numbers of viewers in the Post-Soviet space; • Introduction of Russian originated socialmediaprojects:ODNOKLASNIKI, VKontakte, etc.; • Creation and launching of an American style – “SKOLKOVO”
The Kremlin narrative is still powerful enough to attract about 20-25 percent of the population
ultramodern technology development center project; • Setting up and running FSB-initiated (Russian analogy of Soviet KGB) special hacker-team “YASTREB” to strike down and infiltrate Western communication systems (mainly USA military structures). As for Georgia, the Kremlin “visionaries” have launched a strategy consonant with the abovementioned formula. For instance, the contemporary Russian “Soft Power” policy towards Georgia on the eve of the parliamentary elections can be grounded into several concrete directions and components: 1) Very open and aggressive “pro-Russian” narrative: legitimization of Russian military bases in Georgian occupied territories, granted dual citizenship status to Georgians residing abroad (main target group is obviously people working in the Russian Federation – these proposals stemming from a very pro-Russian oriented political party “Centrists” (Temur Khachishvili- infamous Vladimir Bedukadze of Gldani prison fame); 2) A foreign policy of non-alignment and neutrality, creating a false sense of security if Georgia abandons its path to the West; 3) Lately re-emerged on screen, the so-called “Socialist Georgia” publicpolitical movement (Stalin aficionados Grisha Oniani and Temur Pipia) which relies on: political mythology and an aggressive propaganda campaign. All three are linked with the most coveted objective of Russia’s soft power agenda: aggressive Anti-American rhetoric and propaganda and an even deeper “strategic encroachment” of Georgia.
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
The Best of a Bad Lot: Ogden on Who to Vote For OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN
olitics and the weather are two things that British people discuss with strangers the most, and talk about both in much the same way; that they are bad and likely to get worse. There's a similar feeling in Georgia, but with much more apathy than there once was. People in Britain positively enjoy scoffing at the idiocy of those with other opinions, smiling and shaking their heads at left-wing or right-wing ignorance, but things have undergone rather a rapid change in Georgia since the last election four years ago. Anyone who has been in Georgia for longer than two hours will know that Georgians are a passionate sort of people, but even old Georgia hands who had been here for years were shocked in 2012 at the displays of loyalty to politicians and their parties. Cars screeching around the streets with flags streaming from their windows, and chaotic rallies with people shouting 'Misha!', 'Bidzina!' and the Georgian for 'Mr. Chairman!' while calmer heads looked on and wondered if they were going to trash the place. Supporters of both sides had strong beliefs about the future; Saakashvili's United National Movement (UNM) party loyalists believed that if Bidzina Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream (GD) came to power then Georgia would once again find itself under the yoke of Russia with its European ambitions sunk. GD fans, meanwhile, thought that Ivanishvili, with eight billion dollars in the bank, would share his wealth with his native people.
Neither scenario from either side has happened. (Incidentally, it did not seem to have occurred to Georgian Dream fans that if Bidzina really wanted to make his people rich by gifting them portions of his immense wealth he would have done it long ago. I challenged people on this, and received the same answer: 'Saakashvili prevented it'.) Since I was not yet a Georgian citizen back then, I didn't vote in the elections, but personally my support was for the UNM; not because I particularly liked them, but because they had run the ship of state for the better part of a decade and dragged it out of the Third World into a rapidly developing nation which was serving as a shining example that other former Soviet republics have not been able to follow. It seemed reasonable to back a party made up of experienced pro-Western politicians rather than take a chance on a billionaire with no political experience who people had never heard of a year previously and had made all of his money in Russia...and, to wit, barely spoke Georgian. Even I could hear him substitute Georgian words for Russian ones; whether this was out of habit or ignorance of his native language, it was hardly in line with his party's supporters yelling 'Georgia for the Georgians!' Naturally, admitting that I would prefer it if the UNM won the elections branded me as a diehard supporter of Saakashvili; at that time, you couldn't be anything else. The cynical British attitude of voting for the best of a bad lot was alien to Georgians back then. Saakashvili was an angel, or the devil, in human skin; Ivanishvili was a saviour, or a Russian infiltrator bent on dragging Georgia
People just don't seem to care. Whoever they vote for, they believe they will be disappointed- it's gospel truth, and something that countries like Britain or the United States are more than used to. Source: georgiaphiles.wordpress.com
back under Moscow. Now, though, people just don't seem to care. Whoever they vote for, they believe they will be disappointed; it's gospel truth, and something that countries like Britain or the United States are more than used to. One doesn't have to like politicians or their parties to vote for them, the only difference in Georgia is that people are accustomed to voting for the man rather his party. Georgia was never going to evolve into a healthy (?) two-party system in the Westminster style when its principle characters were synonymous with the parties themselves. Bidzina denies that he is still part of
Georgian Dream, yet is always the keynote speaker at party conferences; for his part, Saakashvili makes no secret of his contact with the UNM and makes video addresses from his new stronghold in Odessa, blind to the fact that his party (and his legacy) would stand the test of time if he just stood back and let others take the reins. As things are, no dominant personality has emerged from the UNM to replace him. As a Georgian citizen now, I personally don't want to see either party succeed. As much as I admire Saakashvili for what he did for Georgia years ago, his time has passed. If nothing else, it hardly
speaks in a country's favour if it needs one man and one man alone to lead it. Nor do I want Georgian Dream to return to power, with their footballers in senior government posts, their constant reshuffles (even of the Premiership) and the small shadowy figure of a billionaire with a vacant grin. These two parties have shown themselves incapable of shaking their founders and former (?) leaders. As a citizen, then, it is my wish for a new party to rise; a party, not a man. Let's start the establishment of a truly democratic system all over again. It's the best of a bad set of choices, but that's democracy.
AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
Lies & More Lies OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA
lthough summer is known as a dead season for politics, this pattern is not true for Georgian reality, since the most significant political cataclysms happen just this time of year. This year is no exception, especially since it is a pre-election period. Apparently, the main character of this season is to be Vladimer Bedukadze –as the inspirator of the “Broom Revolution” has become active again, though in a slightly different direction. Last week the Public Broadcast aired the free political video ad of the political party Centrists Khachishvili – Bedukadze, which, together with its author, became the main political intrigue of the month. With Russian tanks and a portrait of Vladimir Putin in the background, Bedukadze promised to establish a pension of 400 GEL (equivalent to the current pension in Russia) for the Georgian population, to legalize the Russian military bases and double citizenship and to promote for new Russian military bases in Georgia. Naturally the United National Movement (UNM) grasped this chance and accused Georgian Dream of agitating the Kremlin politics and violating the law. Other oppositional parties
jumped aboard and as a result the Public Broadcast took the video off the air, while the Central Election Committee canceled Bedukadze’s political party from electoral registration. At a glance you might think the problem has been solved, but don’t rush. After the cancelation of electoral registration, Bedukadze announced another and even larger political scandal: “You are playing with fire! I will not stop and you can blame yourself for what happens next. You are traitors and enemies of our homeland, all of you! The only person whose position and opinion I will consider is Bidzina Ivanishvili. The only person whom I will ask for advice is His Holiness Patriarch Ilia II. The rest of you are worthless, washed away by the government of Saakashvili!” Bedukadze told agency Pirveli. Nobody can predict what Bedukadze’s new “impromptu” might be, the only opinion spread over social networks is that the governmental party was exposed for playing the Bedukadze card before the elections again. “But this time Bedukadze has been made to look a dark power in light of which Georgian Dream seems a progressive one,” wrote Paata Davitaia, leader of the European Democrats party. As time passes it becomes more and more obvious that on October 8th the population will have to make a choice
between pro-Russian and pro-Western directions. And although all polls suggest that the number one problem is unemployment and jobs, it seems that the active political parties in Georgia have different issues on their agenda. Unlike the population, political parties regard the “issue of foreign political orientation” as the main one. While this does not mean that the political discourse is not important for ordinary voters, what matters here is that Georgian voters are already confident that everything is clear in this regard and that they do not have any basis to have doubts about anybody wanting to change it. Because the Georgian “political class” has historically agreed: the country must become a member of NATO and the
European Council. As usual, the politicians are lying to the electorate on this issue as well. Apart from Bedukadze, others also call to change the political orientation. The most important figure of these is the ex-Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze. Recently, the leader of the Democratic Movement has been repeating the term “blocless status,” meaning she promises her supporters that upon coming to power, Georgia will announce a blocless status and will try to balance the interests between West and Russia this way. In the case of Georgia, the chances of executing this narra-
tive equals to zero, at the very least because our territories are occupied and while these are not recognized as independent, the UN Security Council won’t even consider our neutrality. “Blocless” means we no longer plan to become a member of the European Council and that we are cancelling the Association Agreement; that we are withdrawing our army from the NATO military programs and aren’t participating in any civilized processes regarding integration. This means that Burjanadze is lying and that this is just another option of a well-packaged Bedukadze’s political “impromptu.” Last century, during the Communistic regime, we all knew that lies were guaranteed by law, so we were not angry when politicians lied to us. Why would we be? While freedom of speech was guaranteed constitutionally, the country spoke with the articles published in Pravda. It seems nothing has changed over the last 25 years and the Pravda articles have been substituted by preelectoral promises. “Blocless Georgia” is as unimaginable as “Neutral Georgia”, so what can we do? Just put up with such promises, because lying is the ordinary, natural way of conduct for Georgian politicians, just as it is for many of us... and so we are living together from one lie to another, as we have been for 25 years already.
AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
Branching Out: Svaneti BY TONY HANMER
few weeks ago I was in the tourism information center on Seti Square in Mestia. This is an understaffed place of hard-working people who struggle to help the many foreigners who come to Svaneti, especially during the busy summer season. A surprising number of free takeaways are available, including the new maps of most of Georgia's regions and some nicely detailed local hiking maps. And, now, a book bringing together a good set of services from villages all over the Mestia region: places to stay, horse owners, drivers, pilgrimages, trails, eateries and guides. It's even trilingual, in Georgian, English and Russian together, and I was gratified to find my guest house listed, too. Now, with our new 2008 Toyota 4Runner in action, we can also offer driving, anything from pickups off the main road 1 km away to trips as far as the client is willing to pay, on most if not all of the roads that Svaneti challenges one with. (Well, the one from Mestia up to the cross and Koruldi Lakes was quite hairraising for me a couple of years ago, with its deep, wide gully running along the center and meandering maliciously here and there. I might not be willing to do that again- Iâ€™d rather pay someone who actually enjoys that kind of driving!) A current guest and his specific wishes also allowed me to test how else we can help. A German based in the USA, where he works for national parks, he managed to do some guidebook and internet research and come up with a few places of interest to him of which I had not even heard, including a monastery among
This is an example of trickle-down economic benefits of a guest house into the whole village, and I'm keen to see how it plays out
Latali's many churches. But he desperately wants to avoid areas and routes already overrun with tourists; anything as wide as a logging trail is anathema. Solitude and quite if demanding walks, please! The first walk was rather a disaster, due to changing expectations and realities, guides unknown to me hitherto, and not having a native English speaker on the tour. Neither he nor the local guides, who I think were not ready for the requirements of such a foreigner (nor he for theirs, to be fair), came away satisfied. Rinse, repeat, as they say. Now he's off on horseback, a new thing for him, with two of my village friends to an abandoned village called Usgviri, where he has asked them to leave him
for about two weeks (all his responsibility), then come and get him again for the journey back to my house. This is an example of trickle-down economic benefits of a guest house into the whole village, and I'm keen to see how it plays out. The men have impressed him so far with their questions and professionalism, so I have high hopes that this will go much better. He has his own tent, food, ice ax, camera equipment and all else needed, and apparently will enjoy the solitude, exploring here and there and resting in between expeditions. No stranger to this: he had to bang a black bear on the nose with that ax when it poked its head into his tent in Alaska, then it waited outside and in a tree above his tent for more than an
hour before giving up in disgust. He has no cell phone; not that it would do him any good anyway where he'll be, as there is neither coverage nor electricity there. Just houses falling back into the wildness of encroaching nature, and tower stumps. One of the guides was just there a few days prior, which allows important fresh news of how the trail is on foot and for horses. This information is crucial to success or failure here. They set off in the early evening, crossing the Enguri to overnight in another village, on the edge of being abandoned itself, so as to give them a whole day to cross the mountain wall south of us and continue as long as daylight allows. I crossed that wall myself, also on horseback, in 2005 with a local friend. Just a little way over the other side, to where other villagers were pasturing their cows for the summer, sending the cheese back home once a week. But that relatively near location gave spectacular enough views of the Caucasus to the north of us. All the peaks were cloudhidden: except the one which must not be, Ushba, magnificently rearing up above it all. If this test run goes well, connecting guides and visitors will become another item in our portfolio, along with the driving. We'll know soon, after a report from the returning men. 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 â€œSvaneti Renaissanceâ€? Facebook group, now with over 1300 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
AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
Iranian Airlines Launches Seasonal Direct Flights to Georgia
eorgia’s Civil Aviation Agency (GCAA) announced Tuesday that new seasonal direct flights would begin between Iran and Georgia. According to the agency, Iran’s Zagros Airlines will launch direct flights between Tehran and Tbilisi on August 19. The twice-weekly flights will continue until the
end of the summer season. Iran’s ATA Airlines launched seasonal direct flights from Tehran to Georgia’s Black Sea coastal city Batumi on August 12, and will continue until September 23. ATA first offered two flights per week to Tbilisi, but due to increased demand, that number has been raised to four.
North Caucasus Grand Mufti Endorses Female Circumcision
BY NICHOLAS WALLER
he Grand Mufti of Russia’s North Caucasus republic KarachayCherkessia, Ismail Berdyev, has endorsed the practice of genital mutilation of young girls in nearby Dagestan, saying female circumcision “does not contradict the tenants of Islam and is necessary to quell unnecessary energy, and guarantees the purity of future brides,” according to news portal Kavkaz-Uzel. In an August 15 radio interview with Russia’s Govorit Moskva, Berdyev said that the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is "a ritual particular to Dagestan", but one that does not violate the region’s social or religious mores. Berdyev’s comments came only days after Moscow-based human rights organization Pravovaya Initsiativa, or Legal Initiative, filed a report on FGM in Dagestan. According to Pravovaya Initsiativa’s findings, female circumcision operations take place in makeshift, unsanitary conditions and are usually carried out on girls under the age of three. Villagers and local religious clerics justify the
practice as a way to reduce the sensitivity of young girls’ genital organs to avoid any future "immoral behavior" once they become adults, the human rights group’s report said. The human rights organization accused Russian authorities of doing little to crack down on the practice, saying local law enforcement officials and the FSB security services turn a blind eye to the ritual. Pravovaya Initsiativa’s report included a comment from Dagestan’s children's ombudswoman, Intizar Mamutayeva, who condemned the ritual as "human rights violation against children." Mamutayeva was dismissed from her position on Monday and replaced by the republic’s former Deputy Justice Minister Rabiyat Zakavova, RFE/ RL reported Tuesday. UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s organization, estimates that over 200 million women have undergone FGM in more than 30 countries around the world. Dagestan, a Scotland-sized Muslim republic on Russia’s southern fringe, has suffered from a violent anti-Moscow insurgency since the late 1990s. The isolated mountainous region, home to dozens of ethnic groups, has historically been a stronghold of religious and cultural practices that operate outside Moscow’s authority.
AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
Batumi’s Modern Street Art & Freedom of Expression By far the most popular street artwork in Batumi is “Selfie” by Dr. Love, to be found on the side-wall of the Batumi State University
BY MARIKO NATSARISHVILI
atumi is the ultimate cultural hub, where ethnicities and religions become obsolete and freedom of expression acquires space to breathe. Art has been an essential pillar of Georgian existence for centuries, and it can be seen everywhere - from the city-center down to the most rural parts of the region. Time-torn, cracked buildings are reincarnated with a little touch of color that gives viewers a unique mixture of feelings. The messages sent by different talented artists are many; some of them cultural, involving traditional features, others more satirical or realistic. The impact that wall paintings have on everyday life is mesmerizing. Each of Batumi's street artworks has its own story that people can relate to, and as you might agree, there is nothing more beautiful than seeing a connection between souls. Street Art first appeared on the walls of Batumi in 2013 and it has since become wildly popular all over Adjara. These walls have gathered so much attention that many well-known artists, including Gela Tsuladze, were so impressed that, with the support of the Adjaran Government, an annual Street Art Festival was set up. Offbeat artworks, sometimes deviating from the local perception of art, constitute an immense cultural volume stretching between the gaps of age, gender and identity. Batumi has many controversial yet brilliant compositions on display, but by far the most popular street artwork in Batumi is “Selfie” by Dr. Love, to be found on the side-wall of the Batumi State University. Sky blue azure overlaps dark cobalt, creating a beautiful painting of the sea, where a young girl in a bikini is diving in and taking a selfie at the same time. The scale of this work suggests an emergence of
a modern, multi-dimensional, pop-culture-based breakthrough on the Georgian art scene. Despite the critiques and controversies, the public is learning to appreciate the raw full color graffiti and street installations that Batumi can so proudly boast. The young generation, who spent most of their lives living in this gorgeous, Black Sea pearl, also acknowledge and welcome the increasing popularity of Street Art. As Natia Sirabidze, Deputy Minister of Education, Culture and Sport of Adjara says, “All these paintings become a tourist destination. It creates novelty and embellishes the streets of Batumi, attracting locals and guests to take pictures in front of them. Our aim is to convert cultural products into tourism products. The more people coming to see the paintings, the more people promoting it on social media, the more popular the place becomes and the greater the economical benefit the region has.” The Street Art Festival, launched two years ago, had 24 participants- 18 artists from Spain and 6 from Georgia. The festival lasted a week and generated numerous exclusive and extraordinary art pieces all around the region. This year, as the founder of Batumi Street Festival, Gela Tsuladze, announced, the Festival will incorporate four Georgian and two foreign artists. The only requirement for the participants was to work in the 3D style; otherwise, the festival strongly prohibits boundaries and has become increasingly attractive for its liberal approach towards limitations. Any concept or idea will be accepted and appreciated within its frameworks; all artists are free to express themselves and communicate with the people in the deepest way possible. The Festival inspires faith and confidence in Street Art and its ability to change the old perceptions and push people to move forwards, to grow, to love and to tolerate. The 2016 Street Art Festival: 14 - 19 August.
Contact: www.edelbrand.ge Phone: 599 461908
AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 August 19, 26 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 21:00 Free Entry CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari August 19-25 WAR DOGS Directed by Todd Phillips Genre: Drama, Comedy, War Cast: Miles Teller, Bradley Cooper, Ana de Armas Language: Russian Start time: 14:15, 19:30 Ticket: 9-14 GEL THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS Directed by Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney Genre: Animation Cast: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney Language: Russian Start time: 14:15, 20:20 Ticket: 9-14 GEL THE INFILTRATOR Directed by Brad Furman Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama Cast: Paul M. Brennan Language: Russian Start time: 19:30, 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL PETE’S DRAGON Directed by David Lowery Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban, Robert Redford Language: Russian Start time: 16:30 Ticket: 10-11 GEL CAFÉ SOCIETY Directed by Woody Allen
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell Language: Russian Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 11-12 GEL
the 6th century BC. to 1834.
RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge
THE EXHIBITION “MEDIEVAL TREASURY”
Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL August 19-25 THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (Info Above) Start time: 13:45, 15:25, 22:30 Ticket: 9-14 GEL WAR DOGS (Info Above) Start time: 14:00, 20:00, 22:40 Ticket: 9-14 GEL THE INFILTRATOR (Info Above) Start time: 16:30, 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL PETE’S DRAGON (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 16:30 Ticket: 10-11 GEL MUSEUM
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION: GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY FROM 8TH MILLENNIUM B.C. TO 4TH CENTURY A.D THE CAUCASUS NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM COLLECTION RENEWED EXHIBITION EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY The exhibition showcases a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from
June 11 – March 11 (2017) Georgian National Museum and Korneli Kekelidze National Center of Manuscripts present
June 16 – December 16 THE EXHIBITION “NEW DISCOVERIES - GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY” The exhibition will be held in the frame of the international conference On Salt, Copper, and Gold: The Origins of Early Mining and Metallurgy in the Caucasus" June 12 – August 20 GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM AND ART CENTER " FOLIANT " PRESENT EXHIBITION "I SEE WITH MY FINGERS" MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 July 6 – August 30 EXHIBITION “QUARTER OF THE DAY” BY TAMAR MELIKISHVILI SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 www.museum.ge May 18 – September 11 AVANT-GARDE 1900-1937 The exposition showcases the collections of the Museum, including around 100 paintings and graphic works, archival material, avant-garde posters and books by Vasily Kandinsky, Niko Pirosmani, Mikhail Gelonov, Natalya Goncharova, Olga Rozanova, Kiril Zdanevich, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili, Ziga
Valishevsky, Kazimir Malevich, Alexei Kruchenykh, Robert Falk, Osvaldo Lichin, Alexander Shevchenko, Shalva Kikodze, Mikhail Bilanishvili, Voldemar Boberman, Lev Brun and Kliment Redko. GIORGI CHALADZE PERSONAL EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO HIS 85TH ANNIVERSARY The exhibition showcases 40 paintings and sculptures created from the 1960s to present day. Giorgi Chaladze is a painter and sculptor, and the founder of the Union of Artists from Rustavi. He was awarded the Medal of Honor of Georgia. GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze. June 24, 2016 – June 24, 2017 NIKO PIROSMANASHVILI’S WORKS “YARD CLEANER” AND “EAGLE SEIZING A HARE” Both paintings were the ownership of Ilya and Kirill Zdanevich until 1930 when Dimitri Shevardnadze bought part of their collection (39 paintings) including the "Yard Cleaner" and "Eagle Seizing a Hare". Today, both paintings are among the collection of Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts. August 5-25 TEMO JAVAKHI'S RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION MUSIC
MOVEMENT THEATRE Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 August 20, 23 JAM SESSION AT MT LEADERS:
RESO KIKNAZE QUINTET AND PAPUNA SHARIKADZE Free Admission Start time: 21:00 August 24 TANGO EVENING “MILONGA, LA CUMPARSITA” ARGENTINE TANGO DANCE NIGHT Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 5 GEL BATUMI
BLACK SEA ARENA Address: Shekvetili August 20 SCORPIONS CONCERT Start time: 19:00 BATUMI TENNIS CLUB Address: Batumi Boulevard August 21 NINO KATAMADZE AND INSIGHT CONCERT PARTICIPANTS: ENSEMBLE SHVIDKATSA, GEORGIAN NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CONDUCTOR: NIKOLOZ RACHVELI Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20-40 GEL August 22 HYPNO FEST GEORGIAN HIP HOP CULTURE FESTIVAL Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 20 GEL MANDARIN CLUB Address: Batumi Beach August 19 MIYAGI ENDSHPIL New album presentation: HAJIME Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 25 GEL BATUMI ART CENTER Address: 1 O. Dimitriadis Str. August 21 ENSEMBLE SUKHISHVILEBI CONCERT Start time: 21:00 CLUB VERTIGO Address: Near Batumi Beach August 21 NINO KATAMADZE CONCERT’S AFTER PARTY SPECIAL GUEST: DJ PAUL ANDERSON Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL CLUB SECTOR 26 Address: Batumi Boulevard August 22 CLUB SECTOR 26 GRAND OPENNING WITH TEZ CADEY Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 30 GEL VITAMIN CUBES Address: Turtle Lake Telephone: 599 17 44 22 August 19 VITAMIN CUBES INVITES: MIKE PARKER MYI LIVE ROMAN Start time: 23:30 Ticket: 10-20 GEL August 19 LAKE SESSIONS: TALLA SEVERIANE LIVE Start time: 23:30 Ticket: 20 GEL
AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
British Physical Theater Gecko Performs in Batumi BY THEA MORRISON
ulti-award winning and internationally acclaimed British physical t h e a t e r c o m p a ny Gecko presented ‘Institute,’ an intimate, funny and moving exploration of what it means to care, at Batumi Art Center on 12, 13 and 14 August. Institute uses movement, imagery and a range of choreographic styles to further explore the complexity of human behavior. As well as being visually captivating, Institute is extremely intimate and often very funny- an incisive dissection of the way we nurture and care for ourselves and each other. According to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Adjara, the three-day performance of Gecko was a big hit, highly appreciated by local and foreign audience members alike. "I was particularly impressed by the performance. All the movements were very dynamic and intriguing,” Natia Sirabidze, Deputy Minister of Education, Culture and Sports of Adjara said after the performance. Gecko has a reputation for generating unique worlds, exquisite stage craft and
TBILISI - ISTANBUL ATATURK AIRPORT
ISTANBUL ATATURK AIRPORT - TBILISI TBILISI - ISTANBUL SABIHA GOKCEN AIRPORT ISTANBUL SABIHA GOKCEN AIRPORT - TBILISI BATUMI - ISTANBUL ISTANBUL - BATUMI
Gecko meets an audience member after the show. Photo: Vakho Shalibashvili
breath-taking choreography from the all-male cast led by Director Amit Lahav and three other participants: Ryen Perkins-Gangnes, Francois Testory and Chris Evans. “Institute shows male psychology and human relationships…It is physically and emotionally expressive,” Amit Lahav told Batumi local broadcaster, Adjara TV. A Gecko show is visual, visceral, ambitious theater crafted to inspire, move
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EVERYDAY 1/2/4/5/6/7 3 EVERYDAY 1/2/4/6/7 1/3/4/5/7 1/2/4/6/7 1/3/4/5/7
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and entertain. Gecko strives to make their work wide open to interpretation and put their audience at the heart of the narrative. With an expanding ensemble of international performers and makers, Gecko works across diverse age groups, nationalities and forms. The company tours nationally and internationally and continues to develop strong partnerships around the world. Moreover, Gecko is an artist-led organ-
10 Galaktion Street
The three-day performance of Gecko was a big hit, highly appreciated by local and foreign audience members alike. Photo: Vakhtang Shalibashvili
ization and the creation of artistic product drives all conversations from education to marketing. The creation process is incredibly rigorous and productive to ensure the high quality demanded by Gecko. It is a proven process which has created six celebrated shows over a decade in this way. The performances in Batumi were held as a result of the long term partnership between the British Council and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport
of Adjara Autonomous Republic. The tour was the part of the Performing Arts Support Program of the British Council and Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Adjara, in order to strengthen the capacity of the Georgian theater sector through introducing UK expertise. The partnership project is being developed in two directions: capacity building of the theaters in Adjara, and creative collaboration with UK companies.
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AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
Going for Gold & Smiling When You Lose
FOR SALE: BMW – 321 model Date of issue 1936
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CONTACT PERSON 557 12 38 90
OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
e all heard the legendary American swimmer, the perennially young and strong Michael Phelps, utter during the Rio Games: “We are competitors. I don’t want him to win and he doesn’t want me to. But the kid has talent.” You can’t put the Olympic spirit in words more meaningful and expressive than these. They indeed come here to compete and are destined to either win or lose. And losing with elegance is a kind of art – some of them have mastered that art of losing with dignity, but some look plain ugly in the role of a loser. Concerning the winners, they are always nice to look at. Certainly, with losing a bout, an athlete might also say goodbye to future glory and a nice chunk of money on top of it –a prospect that could easily instigate a very bad mood. Usually, in the Olympics, this becomes the reason for tears, nervous breakdowns, moodiness and grumpy fits. For instance, a couple of Georgia’s defeated athletes refused to give a quick postbattle interview to our journalists, the reason clearly being the overpowered sportsman’s overly effectual frustration. Not good! In the first place, Olympic
athletes are simply obligated, whether winner or loser, to talk to the people at home who are rooting for them with bated breath and this may only happen via the journalistic effort, and, secondly, you can’t be a winner all the time. On the one hand, this could purely be a matter of good or bad luck, and on the other, winning takes a huge amount of physical and moral endeavor on the Olympic altar. Only the best and the strongest can do that. Only the best! And the strongest! This is part of the competitive world! As Mike said, nobody wants a rival to win, but talent has to be appreciated. You want to be better than your defeater? Then go ahead and be better. If you can, of course. If you can’t, try at least not to get mad either at your triumphing competitor or with your own unfortunate self. Just make a dignified attempt, no matter how hard this is in the moment, to pay the well-deserved dues to somebody else’s ability to be the best. That’s what the Olympic movement is all about in general – to bring the world together in peace and understanding, using as much benevolence and objectivity as possible. Anger, grudge and attitude have nothing to do with it. That said, I would still love to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's: Rio2106 is today a spacious sports venue which is successfully – so far – hosting 11,551 athletes from 203 countries to compete
in 306 events of 28 sports, and most of them are well-behaved. None of us is perfect and not all of us are able to digest our occasional successes and failures in the same agreeable and elevated way. We all have our merits and flaws, and most of these strapping young men and women from all over the planet make together the ablest and healthiest part of Mankind. You should have seen them live- beautifully uniformed and elegantly striding through the lavishly decorated and illuminated Maracana Stadium the day of the Rio Games opening ceremony. Recollecting the grand moment, you start believing that the minor failures in correct demeanor should most probably be forgivable to those new Olympian ‘gods’. They indeed do a huge service to humanity: they generate good will versus the extant evil one; they symbolize the power we all need to manage to be good and useful; they entertain us in the best possible way; and they set an example to the generations to come for achieving heights that are indispensable in order for the world to become a better place to live in than it is now. And because they function as an epitome of good will and behavior to our youth, they have to be as perfect as possible in every noticeable detail, including the dignified endurance of contest losses. And still, let us forgive them magnanimously those little weaknesses, shall we?
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 19 - 22, 2016
Georgia Wins First Olympic Gold in Rio, G Sets New World Record
BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
eorgian weightlifter Lasha talakhadze won the country's first gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games and set a new World Record in the Over 105-kilogram Division. Talakhadze, 22, went big on his final attempt by lifting 215 kg on the Snatch and 258 kg on the Clean and Jerk to break the previous world record of 473 kilograms. Salimi - nicknamed the 'Iranian Hercules' - set the World Record for the Snatch with 216 kg, but was unable to complete any of his three attempts on the Clean and Jerk. With the victory, Georgia doubled its medal count as Talakhadze's teammate, Irakli Turmanidze, took home a bronze medal in the over 105 kilogram category.
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