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Issue no: 913

• JANUARY 20 - 23, 2017



In this week’s issue... Health Ministry Detects Violations in Clinics NEWS PAGE 2

In God We Trust- The White House as Trump’s Purgatory POLITICS PAGE 4

President Says Deal with Gazprom Harms Georgia’s Political & Economic Interests POLITICS PAGE 6

Ex-President Saakashvili Approves of UNM Fracture



ON PRESIDENTS Trump enters "purgatory," Margvelashvili fights Gazprom deal PAGE


Photo: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

Georgia’s Kvirikashvili Holds Meetings in Spain BY THEA MORRISON


s a part of his official visit to Spain, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili met with King Felipe VI of Spain on January 18. Tourism was the main topic discussed. Kvirikashvili spoke about Georgia's growing tourism sector and untapped potential, noting that in 2016 around 6.4 million guests visited the country and that revenue from tourism exceeded $2 billion. After the meeting, a reception was held at the royal palace, celebrating the declaration of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development. The event was attended by representatives from a number of global organizations, including the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Taleb Rifai. Kvirikashvili and his foreign minister, Mikheil Janelidze, later held a face-to-face meeting with the Secretary General, at the UNWTO headquarters in Madrid. Kvirikashvili and Rifai afterwards installed a plaque at the headquarters in honor of the visit. “Georgia is a wonderful country, a country full of life and energy, the most beautiful people, happy and smiling, making you feel at home,” the UNWTO Secretary General said after the meeting. Kvirikashvili said that under the leadership of

Harper’s Bazaar Includes Georgia on List of 17 Places to Honeymoon SOCIETY PAGE 8

Boosting Tourism? Perhaps over My Dead Body: Ogden on Georgian Taxi Drivers SOCIETY PAGE 10

Liepa Hosts 10th Anniversary Celebration of Friends of the Georgian Ballet CULTURE PAGE 15

Reception was held at the royal palace of King Felipe VI of Spain

Secretary General Rifai, the UNWTO and the tourism industry have achieved tremendous success and have become one of the most important social-economic sectors worldwide. He also invited the delegates to taste some Georgian wine. "With 8,000 years of wine-making traditions recognized by UNESCO, Georgia is considered to be the birthplace of wine, and we are happy to share these traditions with you," he said.

During his visit, Georgia’s Prime Minister met Florentino Perez, head of the construction company ACS Group and president of the Real Madrid football club. Perez expressed interest in infrastructure projects across Georgia, both current and projected. He specifically discussed a closer relationship with the Anaklia Deep Sea Port Project, which when completed would help facilitate new levels of commerce between China and Europe.




JANUARY 20 - 23, 2017

Health Ministry Detects Violations in Clinics BY THEA MORRISON

G Hong Kong Delegation during the second round of negtiations on free trade

Georgia, Hong Kong Hold 2nd Round of Negotiations on FreeTrade BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


he Georgian government held the second round of negotiations on free trade with the special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, on January 16-18 in Tbilisi, Georgia. Genadi Arveladze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, headed the Georgian delegation participating in the meetings. “It is the declared policy of the Georgian government to open new markets for exporters,” Arveladze said. “It is of vital importance to finalize negotiations

on regulations regarding free trade in the second round, though work is to continue further regarding a number of remaining issues.” Product and service trade, custom procedures, institutional isssues and trade safety measures were discussed during the meetings, with parties agreeing on all major subjects. The free trade agreement with Hong Kong will open an additional 7.3 million market for Georgia that will boost the investment potential of the country and have a positive impact on Georgia’s economic development. The free trade negotiations between Hong Kong and Georgia were preceded by negotiations on free trade with China, which were successfully finalized in 2016.

eorgia’s Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs has detected violations in a number of clinics, which, as a result, may be withdrawn from the state-led Universal Healthcare Program. The information was released on January 18 by the Health Minister, Davit Sergeenko, who held a meeting with the heads of the clinics and gave them certain warnings and recommendations. Sergeenko stressed that several clinics had used the state money for management and dividends, and spent only a small amount on medical personnel and patients. “The state funds paid to the clinics were spent on the management and only a little on patient care and the wages of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel,” the Minister stressed, going on to underline that the ministry would not cooperate with such medical institutions. Moreover, Sergeenko said that around 12 clinics and hospitals may be withdrawn from the state program and placed on a “black list.” However, these clinics will be able to continue functioning. Sergeenko added that the number of withdrawn clinics would be lower if the clinics heeded the warnings and took the recommendations into consideration. Another problem detected by the Ministry is delay in payment of medical personnel salaries. “The state funds are transferred to the clinics on time, however, the managers of some clinics pay the personnel with delays. This is a big problem,” he stressed.

Davit Sergeenko, Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia

The Minister added that monitoring of clinics would be tightened and new reforms launched in order to upgrade the Universal Healthcare Program and improve quality in clinics. The managers of the clinics stated at the meeting that there were no violations in their clinics and expressed readiness to consider the new recommendations of the Health Ministry. “There are no violations in our clinics. However, some problems were detected in the field and the Health Ministry should take timely and proper measures. We will continue cooperation with the state,” Director General of the largest medical corporation - Evex - said.

The Universal Healthcare Program was launched in February 2013 and partially covers the medical treatment expenses of all non-insured citizens of Georgia. The government made changes to the Program in September 2014, which meant that medical aid for pensioners, children under five, students and persons with disabilities would be administered by the State instead of private insurance companies. Moreover, the general waiting time for planned surgeries decreased from four months to two. The second wave of the Program will be launched from February and the government is planning to include the funding of medicines for vulnerable people.

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NDI: Most Georgians Assess Parliamentary Elections as Calm and Orderly BY THEA MORRISON


he National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC Georgia released the results of the political part of their survey on Wednesday, suggesting that the majority of Georgians feel positively about last year’s parliamentary elections. The polls showed that the vast majority of voters knew where to cast their ballots (92 percent), felt the process was safe (96 percent) and well-ordered (96 percent), and found election officials to be well-prepared (92 percent). The dominant reason cited for voting in the first place, according to 68 percent of respondents, was “civic duty.” Of GD voters, only 11 percent said they went out to vote in order to support the party, and 8 percent to support the government. 71 percent of GD voters gave civic duty as their reason for going to the polls. “A fascinating finding from this poll is that unlike in many countries where the primary motivation for voting is to either keep or change the government -- and express support for a political party, mandate, or ideology -- in Georgia it appears that voters were primarily motivated by obligation for participation rather than strong favorability toward a particular political choice,” said Laura Thornton, NDI senior director after release of the poll findings. “While parliament has strong support and a favorable opinion from GD supporters, it is critical that the institution and its members work to represent all citizens even those that hold a more

cynical view of the nation’s legislative body,” she added. The survey reads that 74 percent of the interviewed said they took part in the elections, while according to official data, the turnout to the October 8 parliamentary election was 51.63 percent. 46 percent of the respondents said they voted in the run-offs on October 30th, while 31 percent failed to participate. 40 percent of respondents said ruling party Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) is closest to them, while 22 percent said they had no favorite party.

10 percent named the opposition United National Movement (UNM) as the party closest to them and 3 percent of respondents named Alliance of Patriots of Georgia and the Free Democrats as the parties closest to them. Attachment to individual majoritarian candidates did not appear particularly strong either, as, only a few weeks after the election, one-third of voters surveyed could not correctly name their majoritarian MP. 42 percent of respondents think that the new parliament will work much bet-

ter than the previous one. 30 percent of respondents believe that the new parliament will be the same, while 8 percent think that the new parliament will be worse than the previous one. The poll results also showed that the majority of respondents – 47 percent – felt that there was no pressure to vote a particular way during either the 2012 or 2016 elections. 17 percent of respondents did say that there was more pressure during the 2012 elections than in last year’s, while 11% of respondents think that there was more

pressure in 2016 than in 2012. 10% said that the pressure was equal. The results were released on January 18 and reflect data collected from November 4th to December 4th, through faceto-face interviews with a nationwide, representative sample of citizens. 3,141 interviews were carried out. The organization says the average margin of error is +/- 1.8 percent. NDI’s survey work is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and carried out by the CRRC Georgia.




JANUARY 20 - 23, 2017

In God We Trust- The White House as Trump’s Purgatory



rump is not an angel, and the world knows it. America is well aware of the fact, too, but it has still lit a green light for him to enter the White House – the most powerful institution the world has ever known. As unexpected as his election was to the most important job on the planet, Americans are little by little getting used to a new reality in the country, and the new reality is that an outrageously novel style in politics, both local and global, is going to be recognized and executed. Trump is thought to be a sinful man – aren’t we all? And his sins are regis-

The American democratic system of governance has always proven to be stable, yet flexible enough to adapt to new and unforeseen challenges

tered accurately, especially in liberal log-books, and the books are getting thicker by the day. The fittest of the quotes in this context would probably be the memorable words by Mahatma Gandhi – ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’. What else is left for us to do, especially for those who hate the guy for his outstanding victory right out of the blue? By the way, Donald Trump happens to be not only a basket of sins, but also a bag of money. Mammon has always been his ultimate goal and ideal, which does not mean that he is totally devoid of a sense of romanticism. Vice versa! Family, women, kids, friends, charities ... this is all his natural lot. What a great chance for this inaugural hero to have all his actual, presumed and imaginary sins redressed elegantly in his presidential status, and do this not only by regular confessions but thanks to the deeds that are in store for him to commit, thus cleansing himself of all the wrongs that are perhaps embossed on his personal social slate. The White House could very well become Trump’s purgatory, if he needs one, and if he is ready to present himself to his great country as a good and wise man – a real new father of the troubled nation, expected to become ‘great again’ in his politically inexperienced but powerful hands – the idea which his election campaign would dexterously elevate into the rank of a magic conservative battle cry. Donald Trump has a historical chance to be a man of his word and give back to his fellow country men and women the motherland they once had – blissful, prosperous, secure and based on ideals, resonating with the times of the famous Mayflower. Oh, please do not be afraid of these words and do not take it as an insult to the current American melting pot which is more melting and diverse

now than ever before. The Mayflower Ideals are, in the first place, still budding and impeccable democratic values that need to be restored to America by virtue of the famous Manifest Destiny that the history books have preserved for us to read and learn from. Don’t the Americans have the right to love and respect their history, certain passages of which are becoming a little bleak for a modern eye?! Friday, January 20 is the new American president’s inauguration day, and America is, at time of going to press, getting ready for the big event – albeit half the country reluctantly. The inaugural preparation in the States is a matter of a very regular routine: all is known well and thoroughly rehearsed a myriad of times. The situation at this inauguration is a pure reflection of a take-it-or-leave-it standard. One feature of the American Character I adore is that this nation would make better of anything they do, no matter

how disastrous that ‘anything’ might be. The American democratic system of governance has always proven to be stable, yet flexible enough to adapt to new and unforeseen challenges, and when problems demanding innovative solutions arise, the system of government permits reasonable handling of those problems; emphasizing one of the textbooks of history. If the past is any indication, the United States has gone through political labyrinths even more complicated than the result of the recent elections and the current inaugural efforts. Nothing extraordinary will happen. America will remain strong and free through its people's knowledge of, and respect for, history and traditions, because in God they trust, not just in another presidential election. The White House can be a purgatory for Donald Trump only if he rules it without bungling up the American presidency, even for an instant, to the delight of his happy electorate and to the chagrin

of his frustrated denouncers – a huge test for the new ‘sinful’ president of the shining white purgatory.

The White House can be a purgatory for Donald Trump only if he rules it without bungling up the American presidency




Michael Jannsen of GRECO on the 4th Report on Corruption in Georgia BY RYAN KELLEY


n January 7, the Council of Europe's anti-corruption body, the Group of States a ga i n s t C o r r u p t i o n (GRECO), published its fourth report on corruption in the Republic of Georgia (See page 7). The report includes 16 recommendations with the goal of reducing corruption among parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors. The report acknowledges considerable progress against corruption in recent years under three different governments, and highlights recent amendments to the Law on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Service — specifically, a system for monitoring asset declarations for public officials — as evidence of the current government’s efforts to reduce corruption. Current anti-corruption reforms in Georgia are overseen by the Anti-corruption Interagency Coordination Council (ACC), which contains representatives from all three branches of government and civil society organizations. The report is divided into three sections, with each section focusing on either parliamentarians, judges or prosecutors. With respect to parliamentarians, GRECO makes three recommendations to increase transparency in the legislative process by focusing on draft legislation and conflicts of interest “between specific private

interests of individual members of parliament and a matter under consideration in parliamentary proceedings,” as described by the report. Michael Jannsen from the GRECO Secretariat organized a week-long visit to Georgia for himself and the four GRECO evaluators from May 30 to June 3 last year and also co-authored the report. Janssen described the proposed system for reducing the impact of conflicts of interest. “Parliamentarians themselves should declare conflicts of interest which arise in their parliamentary work. Such cases occur quite frequently in practice, and it’s important that the public knows about these cases,” Janssen told GEORGIA TODAY. Janssen acknowledged that enforcing such declarations can be difficult. “It would be important to have a particular body that has awareness of parliamentarians’ economic interests,” Janssen said. “It could be a parliamentary committee which deals with related issues, [such as] the Procedural Issues and Rules Committee which deals with some issues of corruption prevention and could have a stronger role in the process.” GRECO did not investigate the impact of Parliament’s movement from Tbilisi to Kutaisi in 2012. The report also focuses on the need for continued reform of the judicial system. After two rounds of reform supported by the Council of Europe through the Venice Commission, a third round

of legislation is currently pending in parliament with a focus on “increasing the independence of the judiciary, amending the rules on appointment, the promotion and transfer of judges, automatic case assignment, [and] disciplinary procedures,” as described by the report. In addition to supporting the pending legislation, GRECO offers six additional recommendations for the judiciary, including increased oversight of the transfer of judges and more effective and transparent disciplinary proceedings. The report also calls for the limitation of the immunity of judges to “activities relating to their participation in judicial decision-making” — which the report calls “functional immunity.” “An important issue is the impression that people have that judges are to some extent above the law,” Janssen told us. “Our report recommends limiting immunity only to the judicial decision making [process], so that for other offenses, judges could be prosecuted like every other citizen.” Jansen highlighted the need for reform in the disciplinary proceedings for cases brought against judges. “In the last five

years, there have been sanctions in only four disciplinary cases imposed on judges,” Janssen said. “This is a very low number compared to other countries.” Such reforms to the judiciary are intended to prevent future corruption and restore trust in the system. GRECO reports that trust in the judicial system is low compared to other state institutions. However, building trust from the public will take time: “We understand that reform is underway, but we think that more has to be done to regain the trust of citizens in the judicial branch,” Janssen said. The report also includes six recommendations regarding prosecutors with a focus on the further depoliticization of the current system. GRECO also recommends that the rules of asset declaration outlined in the Law on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Service be extended to all prosecutors. Reforms to the prosecution service already in the implementation phase must be kept under review according to the report. “The recent reforms must be kept under to review to see how it works and ensure that the news bodies function in a transparent way. We trust that

the civil society is strong in Georgia and will [draw attention to] any possible problems,” Janssen said. Authorities in Georgia have 18 months to begin adopting the recommendations summarized in the report. By the end of June 2018, the government is expected to report back on changes made, and GRECO will then assess implementation in the second half of 2018. As one of 49 members of GRECO, Georgia undergoes routine evaluations of corruption. The first round examined national bodies engaged in the prevention and fight against corruption, the second round focused on the executive branch of public administration, and the third on the incriminations of corruption and corruption prevention in the context of political financing. “All member states go through the same evolution rounds and are evaluated on the same topics,” Janssen said. “All international observers agree that Georgia has made tremendous efforts and has had success in reducing corruption,” Janssen told us. “But it’s difficult to measure, of course, because corruption is a hidden crime.”




JANUARY 20 - 23, 2017

Confronting the President OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

President Says Deal with Gazprom Harms Georgia’s Political & Economic Interests BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s President, Giorgi Margvelashvili, believes that the new agreement reached with Russian energy giant Gazprom endangers Georgia’s energy independence and harms the country’s political and economic interests. The President’s position was voiced by his spokesperson, Eka Mishveladze, on January 17. “The deal has worsened our energy sector, harming the country politically as well as economically, and finally we have encountered a situation that in many respects may be followed by a whole set of problems in the future,” Mishveladze said. She reminded all of the President’s emphasis of the Gazprom issue in 2015 and his requesting of a governmental session concerning Georgia’s energy security. However, his request was not met. The President believes the talks with

Gazprom should be conducted transparently. “The President believes the Gazprom issue is far more than a business deal. It refers to security, foreign policy, geopolitics and only after – energy and economy,’ Mishveladze stressed. She underlined that from the President’s point of view, the deal means that Georgia has weakened its position in its relations with Russia. The President is calling on Parliament to strengthen supervision of the deal with Gazprom and present a plan to minimalize risks. The new deal with Gazprom was agreed on January 10 and means that Georgia, as a transit country for the transportation of Russian gas to Armenia, will from 2018 receive payment from Gazprom. Under the previous agreement, which expired on December 31, 2016, but which will continue into 2017, Russia has been paying Georgia for gas transportation by supplying natural gas to the amount of 10% of the volume of transported gas. NGOs have called on the authorities to disclose the agreement details and hold a special parliamentary hearing.


he main character of the ongoing week is yet again the President. It hasn’t been a full three weeks since New Year and he has already been predicted to leave his post, then exposed as the lobbyist of criminals and now accused of blackmailing and mischief. This time the main accuser was the VicePrime Minister and Minister of Energy of Georgia, Kakha Kaladze who confronted the President after the latter published a public letter in which he asked the government to make the terms of the “secret” agreement, signed by Mr. Kaladze with Gazprom, public. However, there is yet another reason for the conflict between the President and Vice-Premier. Kaladze is one of the main political figures of the Georgian Dream government. After billionaire ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, he is the second person to be entrusted to manage the human resources policy in the government. After the October 8 elections, many believed that he would take the post of Interior Minister of Georgia, though this did not happen- he went back to the Ministry of Energy, certainly no career advancement. This was followed by rumors about him running for the post of Tbilisi Major or even President of Georgia. He openly denied interest towards becoming Major, which indicates that his main goal is to become the President. The idea that Mr. Kaladze might be aiming towards the President’s post seems quite legitimate to political analyst Gia Khukhashvili. He says that if the law about electing the President does change, the candidate for presidency will definitely be Kakha Kaladze, “There

are just three or four groups in the Georgian Dream which are ready to take steps to get the high-profile posts. Kaladze is among them, and is certainly counting on his future presidency. He has been supporting MPs in the majority, brought to parliament by him, and, most importantly, he has good relations with the main manager of the party, as well as the country, Mr. Ivanishvili.” Vice-PM Kaladze’s presidential ambitions were first revealed in the elections of 2008, when he was considered an ardent supporter of Mikheil Saakashvili. In one of his TV interviews, Kaladze mentioned that his dream was to become the President of Georgia. Nine years ago, the footballer’s dream of becoming the President was perceived with humor by the political elites. However, as it turned out, this is quite realistic today. The main question raised after the briefing held between the Vice-PM and President about Gazprom is what chances does President Margvelashvili have in this confrontation? The answer is “none”, if the law on the election of President changes and the power shifts to Parliament. The chances of President Margvelashvili keeping his position will be clear only after the

elections. Maybe this is what ex-Parliament Speaker Usupashvili was on about when he suggested the President resign and call early Presidential elections. It wasn’t hard to see that the temporary truce between Georgian Dream and the President would eventually be broken. For two years the country witnessed squabbles, resembling a tragi-comedy, between the President and then-Prime Minister Garibashvili, and the reason for this was largely the failed distribution of powers in the Constitution. The appointment of Kvirikashvili seemed to extinguish that conflict, but everything spoke of the fact that sooner or later the fire would reignite. The only ambiguousness was regarding who would confront the President this time: the Prime Minister, or the Government. Whether it will again be Margvelashvili winning the new fight is hard to predict, since Ivanishvili has created a ruling system in which the personas “created” by him are obliged to follow his orders but take on the responsibility for consequences themselves. Therefore, nobody knows if the billionaire really wants Mr. Kaladze to gain more power and become president, or not.



Ex-President Saakashvili Approves of UNM Fracture



ormer President of Georgia and founder of the opposition United National Move - ment party (UNM), Mikheil Saakashvili, has expressed approval of his former party’s fracture. The UNM officially split into two on January 12, following disagreements about party leadership. In an interview on the Rustavi 2 TV program Archevani, Saakashvili said that the departure of rebellious MPs has left the UNM stronger than it was before. “This is a positive process. The people who stayed in the party are idealists and we need such people to defeat the current regime,” Saakashvili stressed. The former president said that those who left the party had only put themselves in a worse position.

He explained their defection by claiming that they were unable to countenance the idea of staying in the opposition. “A number of our team members have lost faith in the idea, faith in victory, lost faith in what we serve, and they perhaps never believed in it. Such people should not be in the party,” he said. Saakashvili believes that the defectors had begun planning to leave the UNM some time ago. A new party, European Georgia, had been formed within the UNM coalition by many of the eventual defectors three months before the October 8th parliamentary elections. According to Saakashvili, the collapse of the UNM plays to the interests of Bidzina Ivanishvili, former Prime Minister and founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party (GD). Ivanishvili is still considered the informal ruler of the country. Saakashvili has been living in Ukraine since the 2013 presidential elections, following his defeat by the GD candidate, Giorgi Margvelashvili. He was granted Ukrainian citizenship, but consequently found guilty of violating Georgia’s ban on dual citizenship and stripped of his Georgian passport in December 2015. He served as the governor of Odessa until November 2016, when he resigned and set up his own opposition party, Wave. At present, the ex-president is wanted on several charges in Georgia. Although, he cannot in practice return to his home country, he remains the informal leader of the UNM. The UNM was Georgia’s ruling party from 2003 to 2012, but was defeated by GD in the 2012 parliamentary elections. The parliamentary defeat is widely attributed to the release of video footage, in the weeks preceding the elections, showing the rape and torture of prisoners in Tbilisi jails by members of the police.

COE: More Reforms Needed to Prevent Corruption


eorgia should continue reforms to prevent corruption among parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors, says new Council of Europe report. In a report published Tuesday, the Council of Europe's anti-corruption body, Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), acknowledged considerable progress in reducing corruption in Georgia and improving the country’s standing in international indices, and called on the Georgian authorities to continue implementing the reforms aimed at preventing corruption among parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors. Among the positive developments noted by GRECO is the introduction of a monitoring mechanism for submitting asset declarations by public officials including parliamentarians, judges and high-level prosecutors. It is crucial now that the new rules be extended to cover all prosecutors, that they are effectively applied in practice and kept under constant review. GRECO noted measures taken to prevent corruption among the members of parliament and increase accountability of their work, and recommends further enhancing transparency of the legislative process through the publication of all draft legislation, and developing an enforceable code of ethics/ conduct. It also called for mandatory disclosure of parliamentarians’ conflicts of interest, in order to monitor and determine when and how personal interests of MPs might influence the decisionmaking process. GRECO stressed the need to carry on with the important reform of the judiciary. It is of prime importance that the bill on the third stage of reform which is pending before the Parliament should now

be adopted and implemented. GRECO recommends reforming the recruitment, promotion and transfer of judges, introducing an objective and transparent system for the allocation of cases (e.g. via random assignment), defining more precisely disciplinary offences, and limiting immunity of judges to activities related to their participation in judicial decision-making (”functional immunity”). GRECO welcomed the recently launched reform of the prosecution service with the view of depoliticising it. Now the reform must be effectively implemented and possibly followed by additional measures to further reduce the influence of the government and parliamentary majority on the appointment procedure of the Chief Prosecutor and on the activity of the Prosecutorial Council. GRECO also recommends further regulating the recruitment and promotion of prosecutors as well as case management and internal instructions, and reviewing the disciplinary regime applicable to prosecutors. By the end of June 2018, the authorities of Georgia are to report back on measures taken to implement the 16 recommendations included in this report. GRECO will then assess the implementation of the recommendations in a compliance report in the second half of 2018. The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) is a Council of Europe body that aims to improve the capacity of its members to fight corruption by monitoring their compliance with anti-corruption standards. It helps states to identify deficiencies in national anti-corruption policies, prompting the necessary legislative, institutional and practical reforms. Currently it comprises the 47 Council of Europe member states, Belarus and the United States of America.





JANUARY 20 - 23, 2017

Harper’s Bazaar Includes Georgia on List of 17 Places to Honeymoon

First Children’s Hospice in Georgia Opens

Old Tbilisi. Source: Tiflis.ge



merican women's fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar has included Georgia on its list of 17 places to honeymoon in 2017. The article reads that if a newlymarried couple wants to explore a once-in-a-lifetime destination, experience otherworldly food and architecture, they should first check out its list of the 17 most beautiful destinations. Among the world's most romantic, untapped, exciting and visually stunning destinations like Morocco, Uruguay, Hawaii, France, India and several others, Georgia takes 13th place. The article says that for those looking to honeymoon on the road less traveled, Georgia (the Eastern European country, not the US state) has gained recognition over the past couple of years for its emerging food, wine and fashion scenes. “Exploring the country's underrated beaches, sprawling countryside or ski slopes (depending on

the time of year) after a tour through the capital city will have honeymooners feeling as though they've experienced the best of both worlds,” the magazine says. The article advises its readers to start off with a tour of Kakheti, Georgia's wine country, then head to Tbilisi for a taste of what makes this evolving cultural hub so exciting to fashion-lovers and foodies alike. “Whether you decide to cap off your trip with skiing in the colder months or in summertime for the country's best beaches, you'll leave this hidden gem feeling as though you've tapped into a locale some of the world's most traveled have yet to discover,” the author says. The article says that Georgia suffers below freezing temperatures in winter, and so the best skiing and countryside hikes usually take place as the seasons change and the warmer months roll in. “The ideal months to visit are mid-May to July, and September to mid-October, when temperatures are at their warmest. July and August are high season on the Black Sea, so if it's an untapped beach trip you're after, schedule your trip in summertime,” Harper’s Bazaar recommends.



he first children’s hospice in Georgia, named ‘Firefly World,’ opened in Tbilisi this week. The family-oriented facility will provide palliative care for children with incurable and chronic diseases. The construction of the first children’s hospice in Georgia, started in 2015, was initiated by the

Open Society Georgia Foundation. The first funding for construction came from the Evex Medical Corporation and the President’s Fund. Over the course of a year, the successful publicprivate initiative took in donations from hundreds of ordinary citizens and private companies, raising almost 1 million GEL for the realization of the project. The center will begin admitting children as early as next week, offering 24-hour service for ten children and their parents at any given time. The hospice also has a day-care center and home-care services are also available.

Women’s March on Washington and Tbilisi



he traditional Women’s Days in Georgia are March 3 and 8, but this year, ahead of time, there will be a third day on which people will be encouraged to take to the street to fight for women’s rights. On Saturday January 21, the first day of the new US Administration, everybody who believes in equality, diversity, inclusion and justice for all is invited to join the Women’s March in Tbilisi. This event is a part of a proactive international movement. Following the election of Donald Trump, Hawaiian Teresa Shook created a Facebook event for a Women’s March in Washington. In succession, other events on Facebook were then created around the globe. Because the attention to this

event was intense, a committee took over the organization. In Washington, there will even be additional trains this Saturday in order to bring all the people intending to take part in the Women's March on Washington to the capital. 370 other locations around the globe will also see a Women’s March held this Saturday. In Tbilisi, an informal non-partisan grassroots gathering of people is expected- people who believe in equality, diversity, inclusion and justice for all. The organizers write on Facebook: “We gather together to support women's rights everywhere and to stand against the politics of fear, division, and misogyny.” The Women’s March Tbilisi will start at 2pm in front of the Philharmonia/Tbilisi Concert Hall. At 2.30pm the group will walk to the Old Parliament building on the sidewalks. At 3pm the rally will start in front of Old Parliament with speeches in both English and Georgian.



A Love Letter to Tbilisi BY MANUELA KOSCH


n 2014, the Ukrainian Blogger Daria Kholodilina decided to move to Georgia. She fell in love with this country and now expresses her fascination through her project ‘Letters to Tbilisi’. The idea of the project is that everybody who is somehow connected to Tbilisi can write a letter dedicated to the city. In 2016, Daria travelled to Anaklia on the Black Sea and, missing her adopted home Tbilisi, came up with this project to recognise the capital city. “If I miss the city so much, other people probably feel the same. That’s why I launched Letters to Tbilisi,” Daria told GEORGIA TODAY. At the beginning, she simply asked friends to write letters to Tbilisi. Then she established a Facebook page (https://www.facebook. com/pg/letterstotbilisi/about/) and an Instagram Account (https://www. instagram.com/letterstotbilisi/). In her next step, she teamed up with bars, hostels and coffee-shops, getting them to set up boxes on their premises and inform their visitors about the project. The target group is tourists, expats and people from Georgia who want to speak up. The biggest part of recruiting writers was achieved through word-of-mouth marketing. Since July 2016, Daria has received around 70 letters from all over the world and an exhibition was held of the letters in the Tbilisi History Museum. Some of the letters are so beautiful, they would also look good in an art gallery. The content of the letters varies: some people write about their experience in the city, others tell the story of their lives; yet others send pictures or paintings. “One of my favourite letters is a postcard from Berlin,” Daria told us. “It is like a love letter: ‘Sometimes I miss you - it happens to me in unknown cities, on unknown streets, as I see the plane trees. I should laugh: how come you have so many merits but I think about you only when I see those plane trees? Oops, it seems like I miss you now. See you soon! So excited!’” The longest letter was written by a Russian Lady who wrote that she met her future husband in Tbilisi and that they now have a child.

But not all the letters are positive. Some people complain about the traffic or suggest renovating the sidewalks. One writer is worried about the young generation. He hopes that Tbilisi will take care of its youth so they can grow up in a free and open-minded society. The letters are collected and translated into Georgian and English. The contact with the writers does not end after receiving a letter. For Daria, it’s more a beginning: “Some friendships started because of a Letter to Tbilisi.” Although the boxes are no longer seen in the city, the project is ongoing. On Facebook, you can find the address to

send your letter to. Daria’s wish: “One day, I want to make a book with all these beautiful letters”. Another place where the letters will be displayed soon is the official website of the Tourism Administration: Georgia. travel. ‘Letter to Tbilisi’ will undoubtedly soon have a sibling in Germany as Daria was contacted by a friend from Berlin who wants to start “Letters to Berlin”. They plan to start the project in the same way as Daria did in Tbilisi. First, by promoting the project online and within their groups of friends, and then begin the search for partners to spread the word.





JANUARY 20 - 23, 2017

German Media Says 10 Georgians Detained for Burglary BY THEA MORRISON


en Georgians are reported among the 15 detained as a result of a large scale special operation carried out by police in Germany. German news agency sz-online.de claims that the detained people are of age 26-38 and were arrested for burglary and theft. 600 law enforcement officers were

involved in the special operations that seized the haul of stolen items as a result of a search in 35 apartments. Those arrested are now in pretrial detention. Citizens of Latvia and Vietnam were also taken into custody. The German federal police spokesperson said that this was one of the largest scale operations they had carried out. “Georgians mainly used to steal drinks, cigarettes, coffee, children’s food and perfumes. Four cars, a large amount of money and a small amount of drugs were also seized during the operation.”


Boosting Tourism? Perhaps over My Dead Body: Ogden on Georgian Taxi Drivers OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN


hat Georgia is a truly beautiful country with some of the most scenic landscapes in the world is something that is beyond contestation; the endless cheerleading of the government (and Georgians in general) about what a lovely country this is might become tiresome, but one can see their point. It is also easy to see why the government puts so much hope in Georgia’s potential as a tourist hotspot. However, I, as a Georgian citizen who would tell his opinions to the lamppost if there was nobody else to talk to, have a few recommendations. The government has invested signifi-

cant amounts of money (and attracted a significant amount of investments from foreign countries) in its tourism sector, the most recent and notable example being the new ski resort in Svaneti. The country is now full of luxury hotels and resorts from Kakheti to Adjara and everywhere in between…and yet something rather obvious has been overlooked. A few weekends ago, I undertook a rather disastrous trip to Kakheti with my wife and a friend of mine who is unfamiliar with Georgia. For those who don’t drive (like your correspondent), travelling to Kakheti involves first making the journey to Isani, a part of Tbilisi that Dante probably had in mind when he penned his Inferno. From there, one must negotiate with “drivers” (ie. men lucky enough to pass an easy driving test who then use cheap, damaged cars as


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taxis for want of anything better to do) to go to Kakheti. I have done this several times before, but with my friend accompanying us, I was able to view the whole process with fresh eyes. I hastened to reassure him that the swarm of unwashed, shouting men slapping on the roof of our taxi yelling destinations and prices at us were not intending to attack; likewise, their bawling at my wife and his Georgian lady friend was not a stand-and-deliver, but a primitive form of negotiation. However, as the horde of heavy-breathing and open-mouthed Georgian men crowded around us, I could tell that my words were wasted. I have covered the problems of Georgian driving elsewhere, but for my friend it was something of an eye-opening experience, and I can say with confidence that this is not something that tourists will remember as being a high point of their visit to Georgia. However, our first driver to Sighnagi, while not exactly a paragon of driving excellence, paled in comparison to a friend of his who drove us later that day. This man, being a younger Georgian man, was more of a problem. It quickly became

apparent that here was one with a bee in his bonnet; like many would-be alpha males here, he was clearly not overly happy with the idea of two young Georgian women being with two young foreign men. This did not manifest itself in an overt way as it has before (yet rarely when I am there, or when the Georgian man is confident I won’t understand), but our hero made his point by driving as though he was in competition with Lewis Hamilton. Of course, any requests to slow down on an icy road were met with the casual shrug and a sneer that drives me to blind rage faster than anything I know, but it was only after he chose to overtake four cars in the face of oncoming traffic that even he realized that he was not trying out for NASCAR. The car coming the other way missed our own vehicle by inches and destroyed the wing mirror; our shining example of Georgian manliness promptly then went into shock, with his eyes wide and his arms locked on the steering wheel. My friend wrestled the controls from him and brought the car to a stop, and it was at that point that I decided our driver would look much better if his head was removed from his shoulders, but my

lady wife and our friends calmed me down. I consoled myself in the most British way possible: by muttering curses at him in a language he didn’t understand. Despite wanting to go to Lopota Lake, a destination which our driver had assured us he knew, he instead took us to Kvareli, another body of water roughly thirty miles away. After a brief but fierce argument, we ascertained he had no idea where Lopota was, despite being a Kakheti native. However, too done to care, we stayed the night at the Kvareli Eden hotel, and spent a pleasant evening with Georgian wine, a swimming pool, and conversations about near-death experiences. I’ll not claim that our Kakheti sojourn is a typical experience for all tourists, though I wouldn’t be surprised. If the government really wants to attract tourists here (and bring them back time and time again, which is how my parents became embedded in southern France), building resorts simply isn’t enough; a stress-free (and death-free) way of getting there is absolutely essential. After dealing with Georgian taxi drivers (again) and nearly getting killed because of the pathetic pride of a young Georgian man…well, Bognor for a holiday doesn’t seem so bad.



JANUARY 20 - 23, 2017


DIY: Etseri, Svaneti hope for the best. But so far the best remains a dream. In December, after the pipe-freeze came early, I admitted failure and suggested, seriously, upping and moving to one of our two possible other locations for the whole winter: one near (Tbilisi), one far (Canada). I just couldn't face the pipelaying expedition yet again. She gave me the courage to face things, bless her, and we did what we always do: we coped. I also promised her that I would deal with the likely source problem this summer, no matter what it took. (Assuming that the local government doesn't overhaul the whole system, which I need to know in advance, so as not to waste my time.) This seems to require re-laying an entirely new pipe in the ground, deeper than the possible frost-line, and also insulated with sections of slip-on foam sleeve which didn't seem to be available when I laid that first pipe. I must somehow also address why the freeze always starts at the house. I know that it's the corner which gets the least sunlight, and thus

natural heat, year round; but the bathroom heater's on 24/7 at that location, all winter long! You see, that original pipe-laying operation was carried out when I first arrived here, some three weeks before my wife joined me. Some kindly neighbors helped me, with much of the digging using a pair of oxen and a plough; the rest I did myself, in the bovine-inaccessible areas, by hand, with pick and shovel. THIS time, this spring, I'll pay someone else much better than me to do this properly. We have to get it right, no matter what. This major source of winter struggles has to be eliminated once and for all. It CANNOT go on! Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance� Facebook group, now with over 1350 members, at www.facebook. com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti

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t has occurred to me that, living in a rural setting, one has certain possibilities which do not feature in cities. Did you know... that I can go to where my house's water pipe joins the main village pipe, 150 m away above the house, and disconnect it for maintenance? That if I need to, I can add salt (to try to thaw it out if necessary), or anything else I feel like adding, good or bad? Not only to my pipe, but to anyone's, if I know whose is whose? Or that if someone disconnects my pipe in winter, the whole line to my house will freeze- a calamity? What dastardly sabotage! If I wanted to know if shenanigans were being perpetrated (as has been rumored: "People are jealous..."), I could hook up a small, unobtrusive, battery powered, outdoor-rated, day-night, motionsensing spy-cam, to see if anyone was playing with the water system. It would show me who was doing

what up there, maybe even alert me in real-time. Why is this a big deal? Because consistent running water in this place, frozen half the year, is not easy to achieve. Ironic, given that we usually have vastly more snow than we could ever cope with, sort of the meteorological equivalent of a Georgian supra, or feast. Every winter since we moved here our water in its underground pipe has, indeed, frozen (not ever to my knowledge, I rush to add, by the aforementioned sabotage), starting right at the house and working its way backward; necessitating the laying of a new, temporary, overland winter pipe, which at least has the advantage of being accessible for maintenance during those long cold months. These pipes, by the way, are black plastic, which means that 1) they don't burst when they freeze, most mercifully, and 2) they can be thawed out in direct sunlight, warming up quickly. Every night I disconnect this pipe from the house entirely, let it run downhill at full pressure, and every morning reconnect it. I tell myself and my longsuffering wife that THIS year it will be different. Tweak things, try things,

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JANUARY 20 - 23, 2017

Tsira Kalandadze on Art & Her Father INTERVIEW BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


EORGIA TODAY continues a series of interviews with Georgian painters, together with BI Auction for Art. In this issue, artist Tsira Kalandadze, daughter of Edmond Gabriel Kalandadze, talks about her family and her famous father- whose works shaped, and to a large extent defined, the contemporary Georgian Art scene, creating an expressive, colorful portrait of the epoch he lived in. Tsira Kalandadze continues the artistic tradition of her family, a brilliant and acknowledged artist herself.

HOW DID YOUR LATE FATHER INFLUENCE YOU? Our biographies are entwined and related, of course. I’m named after my grandmother Tsira who died when my father was two years old, and it was a story I lived by my entire life. She was 19. Tragically, her sister died, too. My grandmother was buried in a beautiful place in Khidistavi, a village in the region of Guria, in the place she and my grandfather wanted to build a house. It’s a gorgeous place with huge trees, now a village cemetery, and although it may sound strange to some, that’s exactly where life and death unite. I’m telling you all this because it’s a very important part of my father’s biography and my biography, too. From a very early age I knew all these stories and I was encouraged to somehow live with it, analyse and think about it. I spent my childhood in Khidistavi; my father loved being there and we often stayed from May till the beginning of autumn. It was a place full of color, beautiful to see and so enjoyable to experience. My father loved geometry- he knew poetry very well, and at home we had a tradition of reading books aloud. I remember reading all of the children’s literature with him. I loved astronomy and football, and accompanied my father to all the matches at Dinamo stadium. My father always encouraged me to do things independently, without his help, his belief being that there should be nothing I couldn’t do.

Georgian. But I can’t say where this love comes from, why you love it or how it starts… I remember our house in Khidistavi, with sun-faded wood- maybe that’s what gives me an impulse. In terms of my father, I guess he was largely influenced by his family, which was rather artistic: they wrote, read poems, and made theatrical performances at home. It seems like a different world now…I sometimes say that I’ve witnessed a Georgia and a people that don’t exist anymore.



I was in Khidistavi, as I remember, and one day I very clearly sensed and almost visualized what I wanted to do. I knew it there and then that I would become a painter. I was starting the 8th grade and came back to Tbilisi with a firm decision which I immediately announced to my father. At first, he wasn’t really impressed, and even said he would meet me at the entrance of the Academy of Arts of Tbilisi and stop me from entering, but I guess he just needed to know that I was serious in my wish to become a painter. The interesting thing is that I caught myself working the same way my father did. He used to write down his impressions; fix colors, moods, and atmosphere with a precise description of colors and color palettes. For him, there were no simple definitions for colors- instead of saying simply “yellow” he would call it the color of the fish abdomen or the color of eggyolk, because that’s how he saw it.


No. The only problem was I didn’t like to show my unfinished works, because then we always started to argue- he didn’t want me to “damage” them and I always tried to prove that it was my right to “damage”. Otherwise, he was always very supportive and never intervened in my working process. Maybe the reason behind it was that he himself was forced to leave the Tbilisi Academy of Arts where he lectured. He loved what he did, he wanted to be a lecturer, but it became impossible for so many reasons. In those days, even the word impressionism meant something horrible. He was passionate about his work, but I regret that he had too many unaccomplished plans still to realize before he died in 2014.

everything is important… even the way you apply those colors on the canvas. It also depends on the nature of painting, of course. All of it is your arsenal, your language… My father used to work a lot studying other artists’ paintings, making

copies in the process; he worked in oil, mostly.

WHERE DOES YOUR IMPULSE TO CREATE COME FROM? I honestly don’t know… I always painted….

actually, quite recently, when my twin grandchildren asked me about the colors, I suddenly remembered my own childhood- I remembered loving the color of wine as for me it resembles and is associated with something truly and exquisitely

WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUNGER ARTISTS? I would suggest they ask questions, analysing why they choose a certain form to work in, and to very carefully choose the material with which they are trying to express themselves.




JANUARY 20 - 23, 2017

'May Day Celebration, painted by Ucha Japaridze (1938)

Presentation of Painter Ucha Japaridze's Album BY MAKA LOMADZE


n January 18, at the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection, the presentation of an album titled “The Life and Death of Ucha Japaridze” was held.

All the creative works of the artist can be enjoyed in the bi-lingual album, which was authored by critic and Doctor of Sciences and Philosophy, Davit Andriadze. The book is intended for researchers and all those interested in Georgian Fine Arts. The presentation was led by painter and Advisor to the Minister of Culture, Giorgi Gegechkori, alongside Andriadze

and Ketevan Korzakhia. “In August, 2016, it would have been the 110th birthday of Ucha Japaridze. His namesake album is dedicated exactly to this anniversary and was initiated by the foundation ‘Art- Caucasus’,” Andriadze said. “Ucha Japaridze was a distinguished artist who endured many challenges,” Gegechkori said. “I’m very happy that

this book has been published, even more so as Japaridze was my lecturer. He painted portraits, monumental compositions, and drew numerous graphic works. I’m pleased the Ministry of Culture is so actively involved in popularizing his works and more than 40 albums have been published within the past four years.” “The task was not an easy one,” Andri-

adze said of writing the text. “Ucha Japaridze is not a painter to take lightlyhe was a great painter and a person of rare scope. Monographs alone are uninteresting for me but writing the biography of Japaridze has been a joy. Ucha Japaridze’s social realism requires the right understanding from a philosophical, social and critical modern art point of view.”

Voisa – The Experimental Project of Giorgi Mikadze & the Basiani Ensemble BY MAKA LOMADZE


oisa is the name of the unique musical project that Giorgi Mikadze, a young Georgian composer and pianist, recently fulfilled together with his all-star band and ensemble Basiani in ShapeShifter Lab, one of the prestigious concert halls of New York. A multi-genre project, Voisa is a cultural collaboration, an organic mix of multi centurial Georgian folk music and contemporary musical trends. Within the framework of the project, Mikadze created six compositions, including “Shiola”, which he dedicated to the remains of the most ancient man and woman, found in Dmanisi, Georgia. The musical director of the project, Mikadze managed to make a harmonious synthesis between the centuries old Georgian folklore and contemporary musical achievements by means of marvelous professionalism and skill. As a result, a new, unprecedented musical

project was created with the collaboration of Okayplayer artist, Professor of Berklee College of Music and hip-hopper, DJ Raydar Ellis. ShapeShifter Lab – a multiple-times’ witness of experimental, extraordinary and innovative projects was chosen as the space to fulfill the project. Voisa was accomplished with the support of

the Georgian Chanting Foundation, which works to actively popularize Georgian songs, chanting and folk culture, in Georgia as well as abroad. “Voisa factually represents the transformation of traditional Georgian culture into the epoch of globalization,” Giorgi Mikadze notes. “I tried my best to show how incredible and fresh a

phenomenon Georgian folk music is. This multi-genre project represents a cultural collaboration, combining Georgian folk music, jazz, funk, fusion, hiphop, R&B, electric-acoustic music and micro-tonal directions. I tried to make an unprecedented musical product that successfully caters to a wide range of musical tastes.”



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He thanked Giorgi Donadze, Zura Tskrialashvili, the Basiani ensemble and “each and every member of my all-star band, Nana Gvatua, the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection, the leadership of the concert hall ShapeShifter Lab, Yamaha Artist Services, photo-artist and designer Eva Kapanadze and Project Manager Tamar Mikadze.” He has plans to present Voisa live to a Georgian audience, in May, at the Tbilisi Concert Hall. “Giorgi and I have been friends for years,” says Zurab Tskrialashvili, Director of the Basiani ensemble. “We were studying together at the Tbilisi State Conservatoire. It was his idea to unite Georgian folk and contemporary directions. He shared it with us, me and leader of the ensemble, Giorgi Donadze several years ago. We got interested at once. It’s a very interesting experiment. In fact, this is a unique combination of various genres and a whole new musical concept. I hope it will meet the great anticipation of the audience and become the musical visiting card for our country in future.”


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JANUARY 20 - 23, 2017


TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 January 20, 21, 22 THE NUTCRACKER Pyotr Tchaikovsky New redaction of choreography by Alexei Fadeechev State Ballet of Georgia Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 - 70 GEL GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 January 20 HOST AND GUEST Vazha Pshavela Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 12 GEL STATE SHADOW THEATER “BUDRUGANA-GAGRA” ABKHAZIA Address: 17 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 72 68 68 www.rustavelitheatre.ge January 20 THE FOUR SEASONS OF THE YEAR Directed by Gela Kandelaki Composer: Teimuraz Bakuradze Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 6-10 GEL GRIBOEDOVI THEATER Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 January 21 VAUDEVILLE, VAUDEVILLE Directed by Vakhtang Nikolava Musical Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket: From 5 GEL January 22 CHIPOLLINO Jianni Rodari Directed by Gogi Todadze Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: From 5 GEL

GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 January 20 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL January 21 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL January 22, 26 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 January 20, 21 PERFORMANCE CONCRETE ZONE Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL January 20 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Kakha Bakuradze Participants: Sandro Nikoladze, Irakli Menagarishvili, Levan Mikaberidze, Special Guest: Lado Marjanidze Start time: 21:00 Free Admission January 20, 21 PERFORMANCE ECLIPSE Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL CIRCUS Address: 1 The Heroes Sq. Telephone: 2 98 58 61 www.krakatuk.eu January 21 NEW YEAR ATTRACTION PARADE Start time: 13:00, 17:00 Ticket: 15-25 GEL


AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari January 20-26 LA LA LAND Directed by Damien Chazelle Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical Language: English Start time: 19:15 Language: Russian Start time: 16:00, 21:45 Ticket: 10-14 GEL XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE Directed by D.J. Caruso Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 16:15, 19:00, 22:00 Ticket: 10-14 GEL PASSENGERS Directed by Morten Tyldum Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen Genre: Adventure, Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 13:30 Ticket: 9-10 GEL LIVE BY NIGHT Directed by Ben Affleck Cast: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson Genre: Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 18:30, 21:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL January 20-26 DONT KNOCK TWICE Directed by Caradog W. James Cast: Katee Sackhoff, Lucy Boynton, Javier Botet Genre: Horror Language: Russian Start time: 19:30, 21:45 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (Info Above) Start time: 14:15, 17:00, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket: 9-14 GEL LA LA LAND (Info Above) Start time: 13:30 Ticket: 9-10 GEL LIVE BY NIGHT (Info Above) Start time: 16:30, 22:00 Ticket: 10-14 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 EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY THE TESTAMENT OF DAVID THE BUILDER AND THE NEW EXHIBITS OF MEDIEVAL TREASURY June 11 – March 11 (2017) EXHIBITION MEDIEVAL TREASURY The exhibition showcases preChristian and Georgian medieval art September 27 – September 22 (2017) EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA January 16 - February 16 EXHIBITION UPLISTSIKHE 60 See artifacts from archaeological excavations at Uplistsikhe. The exhibition is dedicated to the 93rd anniversary of the birth of the Georgian archaeologist David Khakhutaishvili. MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. EXHIBITION “LADO GUDIASHVILI AND GEORGIAN MONUMENTAL PAINTING” The exhibition showcases only one aspect of Gudiashvili's great art - monumental painting, which

was presented discretely at various stages of his life. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION GALLERY


OLYMPIC PALACE Address: University Str. Telephone: 593 50 46 06 January 20 CONCERT OF LOUDSPEAKERS Grandiose reward ceremony of popular young adults' literature project "Liberteens" Start time: 15:00 Ticket: 5 GEL TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 January 20 EUROVISION SONG CONTEST NATIONAL FINAL Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5 - 7 GEL ELEKTROWERK Address: 2 Monk Gabriel Salosi 1st. Turn Telephone: 596 96 36 36 January 20 GEM JANUARY WITH CATZ ‘N DOGZ Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 35 GEL PAPRIKA Address: 1 Jerusalem Str. Telephone: 577 10 59 45 January 22 ROBI KUKHIANIDZE Live at Paprika Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 10 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 January 24 LIVE JAZZ EVENING WITH RESO KIKNADZE Start time: 21:00 Free entry January 25 TANGO MILONGA TANGO LESSONS Start time: 20:00 Tango lessons: 5 GEL each MTKVARZE January 20 DOMENICO ROSA, RICCARDO, COBERT, TOMMA, BERIKA, SKYRA Start time: 23:00 Start time: 15 GEL January 21 VODKAST RECORDS WITH ARCARSENAL Start time: 23:00 Start time: 15 GEL




Liepa Hosts 10th Anniversary Celebration of Friends of the Georgian Ballet BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


travinsky’s Firebird opened the spectacular variety performance in recognition of the work and dedication of the small group of expats and locals who have, for the past ten years, donated time and money to the promotion of ballet in Georgia. The set was breath-takingly colorful and organiclike the best Gaudi mosaic, complimented by a sturdy wall sculpted with the profiles of fallen soldiers and a golden gate separating foreground from rear. The costumes, we found out, had been brought from the Bolshoi the night before, as the originals, on tour in Spain, had got stuck on their way home in snowy Istanbul. The Firebird, played by Yulia Stepanova of the Bolshoi, appeared, soon followed by the amorous prince (Philip Fedulov). The movements were reminiscent of the dance performed so beautifully by the State’s artistic director some years ago- Prima Ballerina Nina Ananiashvili, whose Firebird so well teased the Prince that was Russian ballet star of the late 80s and early 90s, Andris Liepa, laureate of numerous competitions, longterm partner of Nina, choreographer and producer. Andris, who in a short private interview with GEORGIA TODAY later extolled Nina’s energy and directing, had come especially to Georgia to stage the dedication to the Friends, as well as to celebrate his 55th birthday, which he did with a video and photo show of his best moments, earning appreciative applause from the packed hall of the Tbilisi Opera.

The dedication continued with extracts of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (Nino Samadashvili, Frank van Tongeren); Le Spectre de la Rose- featuring the prima ballerina in a reprised role, one of her favorites, with Jacopo Tissi of La Scala; the graceful Giselle (Nutsa Chekurashvili and Yonen Takano); Raymonda (featuring the Bolshoi beauty Alyona Kovalyova, with Jacopo Tissi); and a breath-taking pas de deux from Thais, performed by Ekaterine Surmava and David Ananeli. But by far the biggest surprise of the show was Mack Brooklyn from the Washington Ballet, USA, who knocked the audience into stunned silence (followed by thunderous applause) with a solo dance choreographed by Dai Jian titled On the Way, set against a digital background of clouds floating in the sky. He returned at the end with long-term Tbilisi favorite Lali Kandelaki in an energetic extended pas de deux from Adam’s Le Corsaire. After the show, a selection of guests was invited to join the Friends of the Georgian Ballet (FGB), the dancers and, of course, Nina and Andris, in the Red Hall of the Opera House for a champagne and wine reception (Bagrationi and Chateau Mukhrani, respectively) to celebrate the 10th anniversary of collaboration. Francesca Kelly, wife to the US Ambassador and Friends Board member, kicked off the party by reminding those present why they were there: “The FGB was established for the 2006-2007 ballet season by Mariella Tefft, the wife of the then-US Ambassador to Georgia,” she said. “The Friends’ mission was and still is to support the Chabukiani Ballet school and to support the State Ballet of Georgia. Many students at the school receive schol-

An extract from The Nutcracker

arships from us. Members of the FGB have gone and come over the years but we have all been united by the strong determination to support and maintain the standards of the State Ballet. We have more members than ever before, but are open to more and we are privileged to have been able to watch the positive changes in the country and in ballet in Georgia over the past ten years.” “Our Friends around the world send their love and support to our kids, even after they leave Georgia- giving our young dancers the chance to grow into stars and enter and win international competitions. Thank you to the Friends!” Nina told the guests. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Andris Liepa about his impressions of the Georgian troupe and the theater itself. “The theater is amazing- attracting visitors for its looks alone. It has something special, and has seen many great dancers perform. In fact, mine and Nina’s first performance took place here- we were both 18. My first Swan Lake premiered here and we had various gala events. It is wonderful to see the new spirit of the theater in the next generation, brought up under Nina’s tutorship. My

father (Maris Liepa) was teaching Nina and I pas de deux for three years- and now she is passing our school on to a new generation. Nina became an international superstar, got exposure in the West never seen in this region before. And her stamina is incredible- tonight she danced Le Spectre with my 21-year-old student Jacopo as she did when she and I were 22.” The party guests then took part in an auction of artworks and items donated by the Friends, including two pairs of Nina’s ballet slippers, signed. The money raised went to support the above aims of the FGB organization. About the Friends of the Georgian Ballet: The Friends have a special relationship with the Georgian Ballet – they receive information on the Ballet Company’s news, upcoming performances and other events on a regular basis, invitations to special celebrations (e.g. the season opening reception and scholarship awarding ceremony, Opera House tour, book presentations) where they can meet and interact with Nina and the Ballet Company’s soloists in person and get to know more about the life of the Georgian Ballet. For more information or to join, contact: friends.georgianballet@gmail.com

The ballet troupe, with Andris Liepa and Nina Ananiashvili



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JANUARY 20 - 23, 2017

Brian Friel’s ‘Molly Sweeney’ on the Georgian Stage BY MAKA LOMADZE


Adjaran Gov’t Privatizes Sports School to Improve Overall Regional Facilities BY MARIKO NATSARISHVILI


f you decide to see a performance at the Kote Marjanishvili State Drama Theater, go on a Friday, because that’s the day performances have English subtitles. GEORGIA TODAY attended a performance directed by Temur Chkheidze according to the 2010 play ‘Molly Sweeney’ by Brian Friel, one of the greatest living English dramatists. The play was renamed ‘Blind Visible,’ and is being staged in the so-called “roof” of the theater. Like its original version, Blind Visible is a two-act play by Brian Friel which tells the story of Molly, a woman blind since infancy who undergoes an operation to try to restore her sight. The play tells Molly's story through monologues by three characters: Molly, her husband Frank, and her surgeon, Mr. Rice. A very impressive group of professionals has been working on the theatrical oeuvre: aside from the prominent director Chkheidze, set designer Giorgi AlexiMeskhishvili, choreographer Gia Marghania, and indelible film and theater composer Giya Kancheli, came together for the project. The cast is also interesting. Molly is played by Nani Chikvinadze, an exceptionally feminine and exquisite actress. Mr. Rice is embodied by Gia Burjanadze, one of the most handsome Georgian actors on stage, and Aleko Makharoblishvili, an actor with a typically jovial and positive image, who this time shows the audience that he can be equally suc-

D cessful in the role of a sad man, plays Frank. First, some might think that Frank seeks the return of his wife’s sight because of his love for her. However, we learn that things are not that simple. The performance is a recollection - the search for that basic point that turns a pseudo-noble act into a crime. Curing a sick person becomes a goal of self-actualization. Caring for another is always underlined by the benefit we gain ourselves by the act of caring for someone and the actors show us that egoism can be endlessly multifaceted and even camouflaged by the mask of kindness. Brian Patrick Friel was an Irish dramatist and short story writer who was often referred to as Irish Chekhov, considered one of the greatest living Englishlanguage dramatists. His plays were commonly featured on Broadway throughout this time and he was a mem-

ber of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the British Royal Society of Literature and the Irish Academy of Letters. In 1987, he was appointed to Seanad Eireann- upper house of the Oireachtas, Irish Legislature, which also comprises the President of Ireland and Dail Eireann (the lower house). Friel served there until 1989. In later years, ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ reinvigorated Friel's oeuvre, bringing him the Tony Awards (including Best Play), the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. It was also adapted into a film starring Meryl Streep and directed by Pat O'Connor WHERE: Marjanishvili Theater “Roof” stage. Every Friday, the Marjanishvili Theater offers performances with English subtitles WHERE: 8 pm TICKET: 12 GEL

uring the Rio Olympics 2016, seven Georgian athletes became Olympic winners. Three were from the Adjara Autonomous Republic, which counts 10% of the Georgian population. This achievement revealed the importance of sports and the need for appropriate space and facilities for athletes to be trained in. “Sport has always been a key direction for Georgians to show off our talent. Adjara is the most developed, active and successful in national and international championships and Olympics. As the conditions that athletes have had to work and train in are not great, the Adjaran government is trying to improve this and is supporting the building of new facilities,” says Mukhran Vakhtangadze, Member of Parliament, first world champion in wrestling of independent Georgia. The Adjaran government has made a deal with construction company Orbi and privatized two buildings of the current sports school ‘Basko,’ where numerous sportspersons train. Batumi inhabitants are protesting the privatization, saying the government should not consider the interests of investors alone and sacrifice the sports center for building hotels. An online petition on manifest. ge has so far been signed by nearly 2000 people.

The head of the Basko, Irma Nizharadze, says that the sports sections will be moved to different public schools and there will be no interruption in the trainings. “Instead, we are building a multifunctional sports center in Batumi on Leonidze Street. The center will include space and facilities for different sports like wrestling, Taikwando, dancing, and more. In addition, the sports center will have a public swimming pool for synchronized swimmers and water-polo,” she claimed. The Minister of Finance and Economy has a primary draft of the building, which will be finalized in the near future following consultations with specialists. After the completion of the design work of the project acquisition and construction, a tender will be announced, after which construction will begin. The project also envisages the construction of the very first bridge for pedestrians in Batumi, predicted as a tourist attraction, in which 1,500.000 GEL will be invested. Government officials say the new sports center will be completed in August this year and will host the European Championship in Handball.

Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #913  

January 20 - 23, 2017

Issue #913  

January 20 - 23, 2017