Page 1 georgiatoday

Issue no: 845

• MAY 20 - 23, 2016



In this week’s issue... Lincoln Mitchell on Georgian Politics and Power Struggles POLITICS PAGE 3

Mountains out of Molehills: Angry Baleful Politics



Wilson: No dramatic changes for Georgia at Warsaw Summit

Exclusive interviews, expert opinions and more in the lead up to the electoral campaigns PAGE 3-7



Georgian Court Jails Former Defense Ministry Officials BY NICHOLAS WALLER


Georgian court on Monday sentenced seven former defense ministry officials to five years in prison for mismanaging nearly USD 2 million. The court found the accused guilty of misspending more than 1.8 on a fraudulent tender to lay fiber optics cables in 2013. According to court documents, the five were charged with manipulating the bidding process, which resulted in Silknet – the country’s largest telecommunications company, with ties to the convicted officials –gaining an unfair advantage during the auction. Continued on page 2

Egypt’s Tourism Authorities Visit Georgia to Endorse its Vacation Industry BUSINESS PAGE 9

CoE Dept. Secretary General Speaks out on Women and Minorities Situation in Georgia


The 2nd International Festival of Literature Starts in Tbilisi CULTURE PAGE 13




MAY 20 - 23, 2016

Inmates in Georgian Prison Stage Hunger Strike



everal dozen inmates currently serving life sentences in a Georgian prison near the capital Tbilisi began a hunger strike late Wednesday, according to news site Vestnik Kavkaza. The country’s Corrections Ministry said Wednesday that 42 inmates currently serving life sentences in the Gldani Prison began to protest after demanding that their prison sentences be reduced in accordance with Georgia’s 2012 Amnesty Law which reduced prison sentences by 25 percent. The law, however, did not include life sentences in the amnesty clause. Officials at the corrections ministry said the inmates are constantly monitored by the prison staff. “Thus far the prisoners have no complaints or

issues with the prison staff. They are only demanding an amendment to the Amnesty Law that was previously adopted by Parliament. They’ve only just begun their hunger strike and haven’t yet shown signs that they are suffering any physical affects. We will continue to supervise their condition,” said the Corrections Ministry. Giorgi Geladze, one of the inmates taking part in the hunger strike and who is acting as the protestors’ spokesman, disputed the Ministry’s claims regarding the number involved in the demonstration. According to Geladze, 55 inmates at the prison have refused food or water until their demands are met. The Georgian Parliament passed the 2012 law on the reduction of sentences as part of a drive to reduce the country’s inmate population, which had spiked significantly under former President Mikheil Saakashvili. By the end of Saakashvili’s decade in power, Georgia had one of the largest per capita prisoner populations in the world.

Georgian Court Jails Former Defense Ministry Officials Continued from page 1

The court said the officials then signed a grossly inflated USD 3.1 million contract with Silknet to lay cables and procure networking equipment. At the time of the tender, an independent auditor had estimated the project to be worth USD 1.2 million. Court prosecutor Nino Aglemashvili said the verdict was “proof that the country’s law enforcement officials had adequately reacted to illicit misspending of budget funds.” The former officials involved in the case include former Defense Ministry Procurement Department head, Gizo Glonti, his colleagues Giorgi Lobzhanidze and Archil Alavidze as well as General Staff Communications and IT chiefs Nugzar Kaishauri and David Tsipuria. Four of the convicted officials held positions in the defense ministry at the time of their October 28, 2014 arrest. The incident came less than a month before the sacking of then-Defense Minister Irakli Alasania, who’d come under fire for the controversy caused by the arrest of the officials.

Following his dismissal, Alasania publicly castigated former Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili of ordering a politically motivated crackdown on those who criticized the court’s decision to charge the five officials involved in the Silknet case. Alasania – now seen by many analysts as a top contender to lead the next government following the upcoming elections in October – claimed at the time that Garibashvili ordered the arrests and his subsequent dismissal after the defense ministry openly pursued Georgia’s goals of deepening its cooperation with the NATO military alliance and moving closer towards full Euro-Atlantic integration. Alasania and his Free Democrats party immediately quit the ruling Georgian Dream coalition in November 2014 and moved into opposition with former President Mikheil Saakashvili’s staunchly pro-Western United National Movement. Immediately after the five officials were sentenced, Alasania announced he would organize mass street protests calling for the end of politically motivated court cases.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 20 - 23, 2016

Lincoln Mitchell on Georgian Politics and Power Struggles BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA


eorgia is on the cusp of entering the official campaign for the October 2016 parliamentary elections and there are a number of unanswered questions whether the current government will stay in power or if the political process will be more diversified for the next 4 years. The questions also concern Georgia’s real prospects for joining NATO in order to secure her future development. To answer some of the commonly asked questions, GEORGIA TODAY talked with Lincoln Mitchell, an American specialist in political development and author of ‘Uncertain Democracy: US Foreign Policy and Georgia’s Rose Revolution.’ Due to his expertise in US-Georgia relations, political development in the former Soviet Union and the role of democracy promotion in American foreign policy, Lincoln Mitchell is a frequent commentator of Georgia’s interior and foreign affairs.

HOW DID THE GEORGIAN DREAM (GD) COALITION PERFORM WITHIN ITS 4-YEAR TERM? GD has a mixed record. On the one hand, the country is freer than it was before, including in speech and assembly. And Georgia is still in a condition of informal governance, formally ruled by a Prime Minister. But it has to change if GD stays in power. In terms of foreign affairs, they have the EU Association Agreement and the on-going progress toward NATO, even

if the country is not on the brink of Alliance membership. In fact, we should also recognize that this accomplishment is what both the previous and current government should get credit for.

WHAT WERE GD’S MAJOR SHORTCOMINGS AND WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE BETTER? The major weakness for the current government is their inability to really revive Georgia’s economy. Georgia, regardless of who is in power, has a tough problem with regards to Russia. This government came to power with a lot of forces in the West very suspicious of them. But, if not accomplishing fully, GD did stay out of conflict and did not back down from the core principles of territorial integrity and western orientation. Back in 2010 or 2011, people in Georgia were really scared of Russia’s possible aggression. Now, it doesn’t feel that way anymore.

CAN GD REGAIN POWER IN THE ELECTIONS THIS YEAR? From what I see, and what can be seen in public opinion data, several key issues can be emphasized. First, this election is not going to be like any previous one, when a single party gets 70% of votes or more. I would be extremely surprised if that happens. In 2012, there were two major blocks in the electoral rally with other forces concentrated around them; this year, we see something different. People are not wildly satisfied with what they have seen in almost 4 years with GD in power, but some people also have no desire to go back to where they were. That leads to a substantial block of

undecided voters. Meanwhile, we see other parties emerging. Thus, there is a situation where the block that gets these undecided votes wins the elections. However, we have no reason to automatically assume that one political force will attract all of the undecided voters, which means that there is a real possibility to have more than two parties in parliament and no party with a majority of seats.

SINCE 2012 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THE UNITED NATIONAL MOVEMENT (UNM) TO REBRAND. HAS IT DONE SO? WHAT ARE THEIR MAIN CHALLENGES? I think it is half a rebrand. The challenge the UNM faces is three-fold: One is the problematic side of the party which concerns its time in power, when a number of negative events and facts were seen. Second, crafting an image and position that is positive and forwardlooking. And third, distancing itself from the leader, ex-president Saakashvili, who can no longer play a productive role in the party. In reverse order, the UNM is rather fortunate that Saakashvili is pretty busy in Ukraine, but he is not so busy not to turn his attention toward Georgia. If I were a GD strategist, every time Saakashvili talks about coming back to Georgia, I would be happy, because that’s not the association the UNM wants right now. In the meantime, UNM has introduced its top 10 candidates who can play a very positive role for the party’s future role in Georgia’s political life. For instance, Roman Gotsiridze is one of the sharpest economists I know in Georgia, and Salome


Lincoln Mitchell, American specialist in political development and author of a book, ‘Uncertain Democracy: US Foreign Policy and Georgia’s Rose Revolution’

Samadashvili, who not only has a smart foreign policy mind, but is also a good speaker and political thinker. The UNM can really have an influence with such people in parliament.

IF NO ONE GAINS A MAJORITY OF SEATS, HOW CAN THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS GO ON IN THE LEGISLATIVE OR THE EXECUTIVE BODIES? If you put Roman Gotsiridze and PM Kvirikashvili together, they would agree with each other a lot in their economic positions. Or if you put Salome Samadashvili and Minister David Bakradze together, they would only make Georgia’s EU and NATO course stronger. The UNM can play a very productive role in the next parliament, but that requires a totally different thinking on both sides. If there are real coalitions within parliament, the cabinet will be composed of diverse ministers from several parties. Although it is much harder to govern the country that way, this would be a big step forward for Georgia.


meddling in Georgia’s affairs, it keeps Georgia distanced from NATO accession. Can Georgia solve this problem? I think it can, and there are several ways: one, with the Substantial Package NATO gave to Georgia and also the on-going drills of Noble Partner. Georgia is doing well in defense reforms and contribution to international missions. At the same time, doing the same thing Georgia has always done is not enough, but it makes it harder for NATO to say no to Georgia. Finally, in the presence of Russia’s increased influence on Georgia’s internal and foreign affairs, integrating more into a global economy is of utmost importance for Georgia. In fact, having more countries connected to Georgia economically greatly increases Georgia’s security, and Russia’s power to hinder Georgia’s western course will gradually reduce. As for the domestic politics, Russia has soft power in Georgia, but I believe that the western soft power is stronger and the Russian one cannot be prevalent. ZVIAD ADZINBAIA is an Analyst at Georgia Today, covering security, foreign policy, as well as domestic politics of Georgia. He is academically affiliated with the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS). From the fall 2016, Zviad will be joining the Tufts Fletcher School as a Master’s student in Law and Diplomacy.



Mountains out of Molehills: Angry Baleful Politics OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


have never seen anything angrier or louder than current Georgian politics, thrown off kilter and falling to pieces as it is right now. Parties stand apart miles from each other, smaller groupings within those parties are radically distanced, with the individual politicians within those bunches are also drastically opposed. The shockingly messy movement of political figures back and forth, marked with nervous impulsiveness, is becoming commonplace within the utterly disparate and sharply contrasting political spectrum, which is usually accompanied by irrational antagonism among those figures. Ours is the kind of politics where hatred reigns as if no other vital substance runs in our political blood. Here, stressful passions are the main prerequisites in decision-making processes. Watching these processes, one gets the impression that the field of political activity is mined so precariously that it can explode at any time, taking with it the lives not only of immediate players

but also of those nonaligned innocents who have nothing to do with the game. Fury and irritation between our politicians have stood as the most traditional values in the political arena since the great change which took place as a result of the soviet collapse, bringing freedom and democracy to our shores. With these values, there came the political ethics of resentment and exasperation, dominating our political heads, who can’t probably be as sinister and intolerant as they seem to be when publicly in action. I sincerely hope and believe that they are much better than this! Often, it is not quite comprehensible why politicians should demonstrate their excessive fury at regular discussions over trivial issues without which this nation could easily survive. Why do they always entertain the vexing proclivity of making a mountain out of a molehill without reason? The clear waste of time and energy is overwhelming at times when wits and imagination need to be in place, ready to work. Every once in a while, momentarily incensed and then gradually aggravated at some unlikely matters of routine political debates, the male politicians of


MAY 20 - 23, 2016

Every once in a while, momentarily incensed and then gradually aggravated at some unlikely matters of routine political debates, the male politicians of Georgia get into a scuffle, mostly before the TV cameras, awkwardly but fiercely throwing their fists, hands and feet into each other’s not-especially-athletic bodies

Georgia get into a scuffle, mostly before the TV cameras, awkwardly but fiercely throwing their fists, hands and feet into each other’s not-especially-athletic bodies. One can also see the ladies of the same ground, profusely barking at each other choice epithets, full of vehemence and bitterness. As a consequence, in both cases, the growing tension augments the cantankerous politicians’ aversion for each other so much that the stench of the fight becomes too bothersome to stick around. If I conventionally called myself a slightly educated observer of those politically motivated and vainly instigated ludicrous scenes, my frustration would grow even further when I start imagining that our politicians are not learning much in their numerous prolonged trips to Euro-Atlantic structures, where they are expected to coach themselves not only in contemporary technique and content of doing useful politics but in commonly known elementary ethics too, indispensable for affecting clever politics. I have always wondered if those oral and physical clashes within our edgy and odious political elite are real or feigned. They can’t be real because sen-

sibly oriented, reasonably thinking and rationally functioning politicians do not need to be so spitefully emotional and viciously indignant at everybody and everything when they find themselves in the arena. Yet they can’t be fake because our permanent players in political games look so genuinely truthful in their acrimonious meanness and vicious forcefulness that I almost come to believe in their theatrical sarcasm and mockery, lavishly displayed in almost every public appearance. Where do they get so much aggression, impatience and hostility from? Why are they nursing this despicable sense of belligerence towards each other? Who has told them that their offensive style and violent animosity helps the country and improves life? Don’t they know that their irrelevant excitement and zeal makes them look a plain nuisance, and only points to their detrimental image in our truly sharp and subtle public eye? We all know that temper has a propensity in this culture to be quickly and easily displayed, but why the venom, spewed so abundantly? And it is also true that the discharged poison is not always innocuous. The ubiquitously disgorged toxic substance harms us all and

we may very well succumb to it if we are not equipped with enough immunity to resist the effect. Political argument is part of culture anywhere, but why the cruelty? Why this much offence, fume and strain? Who needs that rant and rave in the 21st century of balanced and civilized exchange of thoughts and emotions? The provocative hassling that has taken deep root in our deafening political life causes a lot of spiritual trauma on an everyday basis. The foolish unwanted anxiety and agitation keep triggering disappointment, disturbance and inconvenience that are hard to overcome later. Incidentally, the entire political performance in Georgia is executed in a stentorian tonality. Are we not getting tired of screaming all the time? Why can’t we talk in a lower voice to save our ears and nerves? This is all very embarrassing but not just that! This sounds like an ominous harbinger for further political pitfalls and failures, which Georgia does not need at all. Bile, derision, malice and brutality are found wrong and objectionable in any political culture, and destructive for any noble human activity. It is a shame that we should fall victim to such monstrous extremes.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 20 - 23, 2016

The Last anti-Russian Supper, or Keeping the Neighbors Happy OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


he military trainings of American, British and Georgian militaries Noble Partner 2016 taking place on the Vaziani Military Polygon are on-going and our Special Forces already plan on participating in military trainings in Turkey called ‘Caucasian Eagle’ and planned for May 31st to June 10th. Soldiers from Azerbaijan will also join the Georgians in Turkey. It is easy to imagine what the Kremlin’s reaction will be as it has not yet recovered from the Vaziani “nightmare” and already Turkey has been added to all of this. Most importantly this “nightmare” now features Azerbaijan. The fact that Georgian and Azerbaijani militia will take part in these trainings was announced by Reuters on May 16th, the day after a ministerial meeting took place in Gabala, Azerbaijan, between the defense ministers of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Interestingly, the biggest Russian anti-missile radar used to work in this city which hosted the “Last antiRussian Supper.” Similar military trainings will also be conducted on Georgian territory. Minister of Defense of Georgia, Tina Khidasheli, invited Turkish and

Azerbaijani soldiers to the Vaziani Polygon, the infrastructure of which already satisfies the standards set by NATO. It is not yet known when the mutual trainings of the three countries will take place in Vaziani. However, 2017 is already marked on the agenda of the Ministry of Defense of Georgia. This is truly an unprecedented event, as this is the first case in the last 25 years when Georgia’s military partnership has turned towards Azerbaijan. Although Minister Khidasheli says that it is not aimed against Armenia, it is hard to predict whether Yerevan will perceive it that way. Official Yerevan was informed well in advance of the decision personally by Minister Khidasheli, who visited the capital of Armenia earlier this year. “I was in Yerevan in January 2016 and I told them plainly that Azerbaijan and Turkey are the strategic partners of Georgia. Armenia made a different choice and joined the Eurasian Union, we do not plan on doing so. Hence, this determines the level of our relationships with Armenia. We will maintain friendly connections, but without strategic cooperation,” Khidasheli said. While the governmental party was busy composing the election lists and dealing with the Georgian Dream Congress, truly significant tremors were rumbling away in the foreign policy of the country. Perhaps this was behind the fact that the

“faces” of Georgian Dream suspiciously changed their attitude towards the Minister of Defense and the Republicans, connected with the Western orientation of the latter. “We want the European Council, but we do not want NATO” were the charges against them. The chief “face” of the governmental party, Tamaz Mechiauri, blamed the Minister of Defense for irritating the Russians. “We are irritating Russia with these military trainings and if something goes wrong our Defense Minister will be personally responsible for it,” said Mechiauri. Apparently, at that time the MP was not informed about the planned trainings in Turkey, otherwise he would have mentioned Armenia together with Russia in the list of potentially irritated countries. Official Yerevan was truly alarmed by the trainings to be held in Turkey. However, the announcements made by the Minister of Defense of Armenia are clearly aimed at their internal politics rather than foreign. For sure Yerevan will not be able to put a stop to the process and spoiling relationships with Georgia will equal a disaster not only for Armenia but for its ally Russia as well. The economic life of Armenia flows directly through Tbilisi and any militarist actions will result in this road closing for them, just as 30 years ago it closed for Baku.


Kadyrov Militia Surrounds Chechen Whistle Blower’s Village BY NICHOLAS WALLER


nterior Ministry troops controlled by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov have reportedly surrounded the village of an outspoken resident who publicly called for a crackdown on the corrupt practice of local officials. In a video posted on the Internet on April 14, Chechen resident Ramazan Dzhalaldinov pleaded for assistance from Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying Putin needed to intervene personally in his native village of Kenkhi to stop local government bureaucrats and police officials from extorting bribes from the area’s impoverished residents. Kadyrov, who rules Chechnya with an iron fist and tolerates no dissent in the restive North Caucasus republic, responded to the video by ordering armed personal militia forces – known colloquially as “kadyrovtsi”- to surround the village and hunt down Dzhalaldinov. Local residents told media outlet Kavkazky Uzel that Kadyrov’s feared paramilitaries have surrounded the village since May 14, detaining and interrogating residents as they attempt to locate Dzhalaldinov. The 56-year-old Dzhalaldinov posted an online video on May 13 from neigh-

boring Dagestan, saying he’d fled Chechnya after Kadyrov’s militia burned his house to the ground and threatened to kill him and his family unless he apologized for the original video addressed to Putin. Under Kadyrov, Chechnya has become a republic of fear, known for forced disappearances and arbitrary justice as local pro-Moscow officials have spent the last decade stamping out what remains of the Chechen resistance to Russian rule. Chechnya fought two devastating independence wars against Russia in the 1990s that killed an estimated 100,000 people. Initially a secular independence movement led by former President Dzhokhar Dudayev, the tiny republic’s drive to break free from Moscow later descended into a brutal insurgency dominated by radical Islamists. Kadyov’s father, Akhmad, had served as the Grand Mufti of Chechnya under Dudayev. By the end of the 1990s, he and his father had switched sides and allied with Russia. Using men from the same armed groups that now carry out orders to crush dissent, Kadyrov successfully assisted the Russians defeat the rebel Chechens and restore Moscow’s authority over the region. Since coming to power in 2004, Kadyrov has been accused of mass human rights abuses by both Russian and international organizations.




MAY 20 - 23, 2016

Damon Wilson, Executive Vice-President of the US Atlantic Council



o discuss the NATO-Georgia Partnership and the upcoming summit in Warsaw, Voice of America Georgian Service sat down with Damon Wilson, Executive VicePresident of the US Atlantic Council for an exclusive interview in Washington DC.

WHAT’S THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF THE 10TH ANNUAL GEORGIA DEFENSE AND SECURITY CONFERENCE (GDSC) AND OF GEORGIA’S PARTNERSHIP WITH THE ALLIANCE? We aim to continue to anchor Georgia in the trans-Atlantic security community by building a community of influence around those knowledgeable of, educated and supportive of the USGeorgian relationship and Georgia’s relationship with NATO allies.


AND UK LAUNCHED JOINT MILITARY EXERCISES, NOBLE PARTNER, OUTSIDE TBILISI ON MAY 11. WHAT IS THE PROMINENCE OF SUCH JOINT EXERCISES FOR GEORGIA? The US and Georgia have had a long military relationship, a long relationship of training, partnering and securing cooperation. And in some respects each chapter of our security relationship is focused on a particular objective, from Pankisi Gorge to pairing in Afghanistan deployments. This has led to a sustained continued US military security commitment and engagement in Georgia, which I think is constructive for stability and security in the region.

SOME PUBLICLY STATE THAT SUCH DRILLS CREATE “A SERIOUS THREAT” TO GEORGIA We don’t do this on our own, we don’t do this because we want to; we do it simply because there is a strong demand from Tbilisi, demand seen across Georgian governments, to see the US and NATO allies exercising, training, and cooperating with the Georgian militarythis has been a consistent message coming from Georgian leaders.

There are voices that oppose and voices that say what we are doing is provocative, as much in Georgian parliament as in US political classes. I believe it’s a false argument. The fact that a country has to take care of its own security is not provocative. The more a country is able to stand on its own, have defense capabilities and be able to be a serious actor is a demonstration, I think, of a stabilizing factor in the region, and this relationship contributes to that.

HOW DO THE AMBIGUOUS COMMENTS COMING FROM DIFFERENT BRANCHES OF THE GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT AFFECT GEORGIA’S STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS? We wouldn’t be there without the support or invitation of the governmentthat is not how the US deals with its allies and partners. This is not a relationship, like that of the Soviet Union, based on coercion, intimidation, or tactics that Russians pursue today. It is clear that the overwhelming majority of Georgian people and the responsible Georgian political actors are supportive of the US-Georgian relationship. In fact, what we hear is that

Wilson: No dramatic changes for Georgia at Warsaw Summit we want more United States; we want stronger commitment. There are reservations on both sides that we could potentially be in a difficult period because there is a degree of ambiguity. There is ambiguity because the US and our NATO allies have not yet made a committed security guarantee to Georgia. I agree it’s a pretty strong argument. When you have clarity of security arrangements, everybody understands the rules of the game, and it’s a stabilizing factor. Right now, we are navigating this degree of uncertainty and I think these exercises in that regard serve as a stabilizing factor themselves.

THE US ENVOY TO NATO RECENTLY SAID HE SEES NO EXPANSION OF THE ALLIANCE IN THE NEAR FUTURE. HAS THE US GOVERNMENT CHANGED ITS STANDPOINT? The position of the US government has not changed. It’s clear that US policy remains committed to the concept of an open door policy as well as the Bucharest statement that Georgia will be a member one day. That’s not going to change dramatically before Warsaw, but I think we’ll see continuing growth in the Georgia-NATO relationship, which

is already incredibly robust. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a country as far along as Georgia in building up a real substantial relationship with the Alliance before membership. That is a testament to Georgia’s commitment, and I think it really will begin to sway and convince the Alliance of the validity of what was done in Bucharest. Today, politically, we are not there yet and we aren’t going to see a dramatic change in that status come out of the Warsaw summit.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN AFTER THE SUMMIT? What we’re going to see is the Alliance adopting a greater posture of deterrence, greater clarity, recognizing that the position Russia is taking right now as an adversary to the Alliance and therefore it will have to be deterred. However, it’s going to be a work in progress and work will need to be done to continue to draw Georgia into the Alliance- this, of course, will continue well after the Warsaw Summit. To read the Georgian version of this article, go to: damon-wilson-on-joint-drills-andnato/3329345.html


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 20 - 23, 2016


Fighting for Fighting’s Sake: Ogden on Street Violence OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN


t’s a sad fact that street violence in England is almost completely out of control. For a few years, my family lived in a historical riverside tourist town famous for its old buildings and the little steam train that trundled up the valley; the kind of place that Americans wander around saying “Oh my God, Hogwarts!” before asking if anyone knows where the Queen is. You’d never guess that such a place would witness almost nightly brawls between drunken louts and car vandals, interspersed with the occasional stabbing. You might expect that sort of thing in the worst parts of a big city – why, I believe it’s almost a pastime in Glasgow – but not in a small scenic town like that. Having travelled the length and breadth of our island, it didn’t seem to be too different anywhere else. Calling the police never solved anything, as I recall the dispatcher telling me in an apologetic voice that there simply weren’t enough police officers to send; they were too busy in neighboring towns, where the violence was even worse. Why, just this week police in Somerset told a man who was attempting to apprehend a would-be drunk driver that they were ‘too busy’ to help. Violence is an even more frightening prospect in Britain since defending yourself invariably leads to trouble

whatever the result. I was raised by two criminal lawyers who filled me with true horror stories of upstanding young men who were picked on in the street, assaulted, but then turned the tables on their attackers…and were then arrested for assault or manslaughter. I started boxing when I was 12 - I still put the gloves on and get in the ring a few times a week – so the prospect of being punched in the face isn’t a new thing for me, but the idea that my future could be ruined by getting into a fight and earning a criminal record terrified me. Private school? Expulsion. University? Forget it. A decent job? No chance. When I left England years ago, the government were trumpeting the fact that crime rates had decreased, but their claim didn’t stack up to what I saw around me. My parents and their lawyer friends explained that their figures are taken from reported crimes, meaning those that the police actually respond to and record. Unless it results in a fatality, street fights aren’t considered crimes anymore. I was surprised to find that things couldn’t be more different in Georgia, a country run by moronic politicians and constantly under threat from Russia; hardly the sort of place one might consider a good deal safer than England. To hear Georgians talk about Georgian fighting spirit and their confrontational way of speaking, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they’re a violent people. Groups of young men stand (or squat – even after all these years, it’s a sight

I’ve never got used to) on street corners, muttering to each other and swigging from two liter bottles of beer, staring at passers-by through half-closed lids; it’s enough to think they’re looking for trouble, but it isn’t often the case. If things do become hostile, it’s mostly a bit of shouting and swearing. Things rarely get physical until someone mentions someone else’s mother. The Georgian Oedipus Complex is something I still don’t understand. I’m not sure if that’s because they know just how good the Georgian police are (if I was in power in Downing Street I’d populate every British town and city

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with Georgian cops; street violence would be a thing of the past in a week), or if they only feel the need to attack for what they deem to be good reasons, or when they know they’re not likely to get hurt in return. My brother-in-law is a lovely chap, but he’s small and was undoubtedly an easy target for the four men who beat him to within an inch of his life for seemingly no reason a few years ago. I can’t help but wonder if they’d have been so ready to attack my friend Robert, a giant boxing Texan who looks as though he might burst out with ‘fee-fi-fo-fum’ at any moment. Likewise with the attacks

on the International Day against Homophobia activists a few years ago; I doubt the priests would have been quite so ready to lead their congregations into battle if every man there had been the size of a Marine. However, I would like to think that Georgians just recognize that fighting for the sake of fighting is pointless. Whatever the reason, violence in Georgia is not especially common; it certainly isn’t as mindless as it is in England. However, as ever I have firmly mounted my hobbyhorse and am riding dangerously close to my word count. Still, I’m damn glad I live where I do.




MAY 20 - 23, 2016

Launch of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline Makes Georgia Key Transit Country for EU A past ASEAN summit. Among the main topics for discussion today will be issues of global and regional agenda, the results of the Russia-ASEAN cooperation over 20 years, and the main directions of further cooperation

Putin Kicks off Russia-ASEAN Summit BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


he two-day summit ‘Russia - Association of Southe a s t A s i a n Na t i o n s ’ (ASEAN) opened on May 19th attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin who personally welcomed guests in a ceremony to highlight the 20th anniversary of Moscow’s cooperation with the Association. The first working session of the summit is scheduled for May 20 and will see the leaders of 10 countries meeting with representatives of the Business Forum followed by a plenary meeting. Among the main topics for discussion will be issues of global and regional

agenda, the results of the Russia-ASEAN cooperation over 20 years, and the main directions of further cooperation. The Business Forum will be held within the summit, attended by, in particular, the Minister of Economic Development, Alexei Ulyukayev, the President of the Chamber of Commerce of the Russian Federation, Sergey Katyrin, SecretaryGeneral of ASEAN, Le Luong Minh, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Secretary General, Rashid Alimov, as well as businessmen from Russia and countries of the Association. President Vladimir Putin, in the lead up to the Russia-ASEAN summit, has held a series of bilateral meetings with leaders of countries and members of the Association around a central theme of development of trade and economic cooperation.



he 5 billion euro TransAdriatic Pipeline (TAP) project designed to deliver Caspian Sea gas to Europe via Georgia was launched on Tuesday in Thessaloniki, Greece. The 870-km pipeline project is part of the so-called Southern Gas Corridor that will bring additional volumes to Europe, via Georgia, from the giant Shah Deniz II field in Azerbaijan. The corridor crosses seven countries and involves more than a dozen major energy companies in several separate projects worth USD 45 billion. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said at Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony that the TAP project would be a major boost to Greece’s beleaguered economy. He also added that the opening of the corridor makes the country a regional energy hub. “Ensuring Europe’s energy supply and diversifying its energy sources, as well as the routes it uses to transport oil and gas, is the foundation of both for our country’s energy strategy and for Europe as a whole,” Tsipras said. The multi-billion dollar project links Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea. The pipeline will connect with the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) at the Greek-Turkish border and cross into Greece and Albania before

Alpina Watches for Sports Enthusiasts Available at Arttime Stores PREPARED BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


egional Sales Manager of Alpina, Daan Van Der Bruggen, recently visited Tbilisi to announce that the entire collection of the brand will soon be presented in Georgia, available exclusively at Arttime stores and including both the men and women’s

line. “I believe the price and the quality will make Alpina a very popular brand for Georgian customers,” said Van Der Bruggen. Alpina is a world-renowned Swiss sports watch brand by Frederique Constant. It has been offering its customers a unique concept and mechanism in watches since 1883. The watches are known for their quality and endurance and are ideal for sports lovers. Their mechanisms, functional

details and design allows them to be worn everywhere, from mountains to sea. “Alpina has great potential in Georgia,” said George Sharashidze, Publisher and General Manager of Georgia Today Newspaper. “Its watches are ideal for people with a strong spirit, who have the ability to endure and who have a sense of purpose. I hope there are many people with this kind of spirit in Georgia which in turn will affect the brand’s success here.”

finally terminating in Southern Italy. The TAP will promote the economic development along the pipeline route and will be a major source of foreign direct investment. Initial gas sales to Georgia and Turkey are scheduled for late 2019, with the first deliveries to Europe coming in early 2020. Once at full operation level, Georgia will receive an additional 1 billion cubic meters of gas from the South Corridor project. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili attended the launch with more than 300 prominent guests. PM Kvirikashvili said the TAP project would strengthen energy security and foster

deeper economic cooperation with the participating countries. “We are proud to be a reliable part of the transit corridor. Thanks to Georgia’s advantageous geographical location, we lie at the heart of the intertwined interests of gas suppliers and consumers and are therefore an integral part of the Southern Corridor,” PM Kvirikashvili said. In recent years Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey have successfully built a strong regional strategic partnership that has resulted in the creation of 30,000 new jobs in the region. According to the National Democratic Institute’s most recent poll, about 65 percent of Georgians consider themselves to be unemployed.



MAY 20 - 23, 2016

Egypt’s Tourism Authorities Visit Georgia to Endorse its Vacation Industry



he Ambassador of Egypt in Georgia and Armenia, accompanied by tourism officials, came to Georgia’s capital city Tbilisi this week with the aim of endorsing Egypt as a holiday

destination. For a long time, due to its oriental culture, ancient archeological sites, Red Sea resorts, proximity and affordable prices, Egypt was one of the most popular holiday destinations for Georgians. However, its tourism industry was badly hit following the downing of a Russian jet last year with 224 people on board, the on-going Islamist insurgency and a string of bomb attacks in the region. Ahmed Shokri, Head of the Planning Department of Egypt`s Tourism Office has claimed that one of the reasons for this week’s conference is to showcase that Egypt is no longer a dangerous place for tourists. Regarding safety, Mohamed Ayoub, Chairman of the Egyptian Hotel Association told GEORGIA TODAY that since 2010 Egypt can claim that not one tourist has been injured. “We have increased security measures and any trouble we do have occurs far from typical tourist destinations. Everyone can feel safe in Egypt,” Ayoub insisted. Egypt’s Ambassador in the South Caucasus, Tarek Maati, and dozens of tourism officials, held a daylong conference in Tbilisi on Wednesday to discuss what Egypt can offer Georgian holidaymakers to encourage them to visit the country, just a 3-hour flight from Georgia.

Together with the official delegation, representatives of 10 leading Egyptian tour operators were among those who participated. “We are here not only to boost our relationship with Georgia in the tourism sector, but to foster friendship between our two countries,” Maati said. “It is the first time we have held such an event in Georgia. We have travelled to Azerbaijan and after Georgia we are heading to Kazakhstan. Soon, we will start a tourist campaign here in Georgia, which includes negotiations with local travel agencies to offer them special packages, and an increase in direct flights,” Mohamed Ayoub said. From this summer season low fare Egyptian airline AirCairo, which carries out one weekly direct flight from Tbilisi to Egypt’s two Red Sea resort cities Sharm-el-Sheikh and Hurghada, will increase flights to five per week, twice for Sharm el-Sheikh and three times for Hurghada. The average price for the flight will be approximately USD 350. Head of Egyptian Tourist Authority Prague Office, Mohamed Desouky, emphasized that the peak for Georgian tourists looking for leisure in Egypt was in 2014, when it reached 17,000 Georgian visitors, compared to the following year (2014) when it dropped to 7,000. Egypt’s tourist business has fallen significantly since 2011, when the country was immersed in anti-government protests. Up until then, Egyptian resorts were hosting up to 15 million tourists per year, as opposed to 2014, when only 9.9 million tourists visited Egypt. However, for Georgians it still the most suitable and affordable country, shown by the fact that this month alone, 5,000 Georgian holidaymakers have visited the country.

Contact: Phone: 599 461908





MAY 20 - 23, 2016

CoE Dept. Secretary General Speaks out on Women and Minorities Situation in Georgia

Daniel Mitov, Foreign Minister of Bulgaria and the current head of the Ministers Committee, and Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe presenting the CoE Action Plan for Georgia



ast week, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CoE), Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, together with Foreign Minister of Bulgaria and the current head of the Ministers Committee, Daniel Mitov, paid an official visit to Georgia. The visit was intended to present the Council of Europe’s action plan for Georgia for the period 2016-2019, adopted during Bulgaria’s Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the CoE. While in Tbilisi, esteemed guests met with the President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, as well as Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze and Parliamentary Speaker Davit Usupashvili. GEORGIA TODAY was privileged to have an exclusive interview with the Dept. Secretary-General, whereupon she kindly provided us with her insights on various challenges that Georgia is facing on its way to consolidate its place among the European democracies.

THE NEW COE ACTION PLAN FOR GEORGIA IS MORE COMPLEX AND AMBITIOUS THAN ITS PREDECESSOR. WHAT ARE THESE NEW HORIZONS YOU HAVE SET YOUR SIGHTS ON? One sector where we want to be more ambitious and proactive is the acceleration of reform pace in the field of judiciary, because there are still important steps to make and we want to use these next years to reach almost the end of the reform process – and it really needs to be transparent, impartial and efficient. Another important sector we want to see grow in the future is confidence-building measures. The CoE has this extraordinary opportunity to be able to go into Abkazia and South Ossetian regions – it’s an opportunity not so easily granted to everybody. And we want to do more because we realize how important it is to organize these CBM measures. We need to bring people together - sometimes in Abkhazia, sometimes in Georgia or South Ossetia, or even outside the country, as long as every side gets together to interact and have a conversation, we are happy. We’re already doing this, but in a limited manner- we need and plan to increase the scope. It’s very important that these people have the opportunity to talk to each other and not feel estranged and forgotten. Yet another important field that we want to improve upon is the protection of human rights in Georgian society. Take women as an example. The issue of violence against women is a terrible problem through-

We are indulgent, but we can’t be indulgent forever. – CoE Dept. Secretary General Battaini-Dragoni

out the Europe and sadly, Georgia is no exception.

WHAT ARE THE PLANS TO IMPROVE THE SITUATION? Firstly, we need to convince the authorities to work on the Istanbul Convention preventing and combating violence against women, and domestic violence. Georgia ratified it, but needs to do much more to stop women being victims of violence. Proper prosecution in such cases would prove invaluable as a preventive measure. The reason violence against women and children is so common is quite straightforward – because there is impunity and women are afraid to speak out. We would very much like to see this changed.

WHAT ABOUT THE MINORITY GROUPS? Georgia acceded to the CoE in 1999. At the time they had to take on a number of commitments one of those commitments was to ratify the Charter of Minority and Regional Languages. And while Georgia announced it would soon be ready to ratify, they still haven’t done so. We already made some attempts during the first action plan, but we haven’t gone very far.

ARE ANY SANCTIONS EXPECTED IF GEORGIA DOESN’T FULFIL ITS OBLIGATIONS? To be honest, the situation here is incredibly difficult because on one side we have minorities, yes, and Georgia really should prepare itself to ratify the Charter and put it into practice, yet at the same time there are other substantial language-related problems, too, which may affect that decision - for instance, in Abkhazia you have the problem of learning the Georgian language at schools. And I can understand that for the moment these issues might seem more urgent than others, so we are indulgent, but we can’t be indulgent forever, at one point something has really to be done, a strong message should be sent to all the different minorities that live in the country, so it’s very important that this commitment remains, and I do hope that after the elections the authorities will consider this as an important milestone.

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE UPCOMING ELECTIONS? HOW CAN THEY IMPROVE ON THE LAST? The major issue is what’s happening now between the majority and opposition- debates on what kind of electoral law Georgia has to use, majoritarian or proportionary. As long as people can vote independently, without any interference, and the authorities don’t ask for the opinion of Venice Commission, we don’t enter that debate. But for us, what is very important is that after the elections, two or three groups of people, who are not sufficiently represented now, who do not really participate in elections, do so. The first category is women – do Georgians find it normal and acceptable that only 8 % of women are represented in their parliament? They could do so much better! It means that when they make up their list for elections, they have to include more women. Second point – young people voting for the first time. It is a very important experience – you have to be included, and you have to realize what a responsibility it is, which I don’t think is the case right now. They need to be motivated. Third group – minorities. They also need to participate more. The issue of the methodology is up to Georgian people to decide, but we, the Council of Europe, through our action plan want to promote and bolster the groups I mentioned.



MAY 20 - 23, 2016

Stand United, Says European Commissioner BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


uropean Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos on May 9th gave a positive message which can well be applied to Georgia and should certainly be heard by its citizens. Europe Day, held annually on 9 May, celebrates peace and unity in Europe. The date marks the anniversary of the historical ‘Schuman Declaration’. At a speech in Paris in 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, laid out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe which would make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable. His vision was to create a European institution that would pool and manage coal and steel production. A treaty creating such a body was signed less than a year later. Schuman’s proposal is considered to be the start of what is now the European Union. “66 years later, the EU remains the most ambitious democratic project in a very uncertain world,” said Commissioner Avramopoulos, speaking in the context of the Thessaloniki ‘Realising the Potential of the Region- SMEs Join Forces’ conference and B2B meetings organized by ProCredit Bank, and just before witnessing the signing of the first European Fund for Strategic Investments InnovFin Guarantee between EIF and ProCredit Group. “The global EU project gave a definite end to longstanding wars, creating a stable and safe social and economic environment,” the Commissioner said. “That’s why Europe has become the main destina-

tion for many people all around the world.”

FREEDOM, EQUALITY, DIVERSITY, SOLIDARITY The Commissioner emphasized the core values of the EU, but recognized the challenges faced daily in trying to hold on to these values. “We have to always keep in mind that we achieve more together than we do alone,” he said. “Today this common EU house is fragile because of the numerous challenges we are confronted with. The EU has to prove that it is close to its citizens and their real needs. It is important to stay on the course of reforms.” One need, felt most by Greece but also by many other EU member states, is a boost to economy and employment. To that end, the Commissioner gave his audience the latest numbers: “InnovFin aims to mobilize at least EUR 315 bln in new investments in areas of strategic importance to the EU economy over the next three years. So far we have mobilized more than 18 bln EUR across 25 EU member states. 57 ambitious large scale projects have been approved for financing and 165 agreements have been approved, benefiting some 136,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and midcaps across the EU.”

SECURITY A PRECONDITION FOR GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT The Commissioner, recognizing his prime responsibility for migration, security, and home affairs, ‘top issues on the EU and global agenda,’ went on to mourn the ‘tragic loss of human life in Paris and Brussels.’ But, “we have no

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European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos

fear of terrorism,” he said, on behalf of all citizens of the EU. “Terror attacks only strengthen our determination to fight. Now is the moment to move ahead in order to create a real secure union in the EU.” Further emphasizing the need to stand united, he said: “We have to understand that it is crucial to share information to strengthen our cooperation, and to trust each other.” Moving to the hot topic of migration and refugees, the Commissioner told the audience of the need to face reality head on as the common European endeavours are brought under question. “Last week the EU Commission presented a proposal to reform and establish a common approach.” It is important, the Commissioner says, that the burden of dealing with the inflow of migrants in not borne by frontline member states, like Greece and Italy, alone. This is why, in 2014-2020, the EU Commission is giving EUR 83 mln to Greece to improve the living conditions of refugees with funding available immediately and is ‘working hand in hand with Greek authorities to manage the situation on the ground.

SOLIDARITY & RESPONSIBILITY “The EU is based on two principles: solidarity and responsibility. These are not moral issues but legal issues and explicitly stipulated,” the Commissioner said. “Xenophobia, populist national wars, moving fences, and mind-sets make it difficult to convince others of the need for more Europe. This is the moment for all of us- the member states, the Commission, to prove what we really mean when we talk about these principles.”





MAY 20 - 23, 2016

Leuville in my Heart BY REDJEB JORDANIA


First Night of the Georgian Museums BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


he now-traditional night when all the museums open their doors to visitors free of charge until the small hours has already become a popular phenomenon around the world. Georgia will be taking part in it for the first time this year on May 21 and conducting a series of large-scale events in advance of the night in the framework of Museum Week. Throughout Georgia 40 museums will be presenting performances and other activities alongside their permanent exhibitions: tours, lectures, concerts of classical and folk music, scientific and educational games, public readings, performances, debates, conferences, poetry readings and more. Preparation for the first ‘Night of the Museums’ in Georgia began with the traditional meeting of Mikheil Giorgadze, the Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, with representatives of the country’s museums on May17 where he awarded representatives of the museums guidebooks and introduced them to a new online platform which is set to become a unique repository of all museum exhibits. “You will find there all the information about the exhibits we have, where they are stored, as well as their condition and restoration procedures. Moreover, museums often change their exhibits and on this website you will also be able to see their current shows,” the Minister said. The Minister claimed that the online platform, to be launched at the end of June, would be useful for specialists, ordinary citizens and tourists who want to find out more about the country’s

cultural values. The Georgian National Museum (GNM) kicked off Museum Week with the opening of the 120th anniversary exhibition of famous portraitist Ketevan Magalashvili at the Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery. The artist played a significant role in developing Georgian portrait art and created chronicles of Georgian art and the scientific elite. GNM’s Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts opened the ‘Avant-garde 1900-1937’ exhibition on International Museum Day on May 18, giving visitors the chance to see the unique paintings and drawings of Georgian, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish and Italian avant-garde artists like Vasily Kandinsky, Niko Pirosmanashvili (Pirosmani), David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili, Kazimir Malevich, Robert Falk, Osvaldo Lichin and many others. Some of them are being exhibited in public for the first time. A number of museums all around Georgia also supported International Museum Day, offering free entrance to visitors. The David Baazov Georgian Jew Relations History Museum, Giorgi Leonidze State Museum of Georgian Literature, Georgian State Museum of Theater, Music, Cinema and Choreography (Art Palace), State Silk Museum and many others held discussions, tours, new exhibitions, city games and sales. A similar program but more extended will be presented at the first Georgian ‘Night of the Museums’ this Saturday. The museums in Tbilisi and regions will be opened from 9 pm to 1 am free of charge, entertaining visitors with a variety of activities and educational programs. Museum Week has been held in Georgia since 2009. International Museum Day has been celebrated worldwide since 1977 and last year more than 35,000 museums in 145 countries took part.

s we celebrate the 98th anniversary of our declaration of independence proclaimed by my father, Noé Jordania, on 26 May 1918, the plans are nearing completion for the modernization of the Domain of Leuville, near Paris, and its perpetuation as a museum of our First Republic and a living Franco-Georgian cultural center. On that occasion, I would like to share with my fellow Georgians and friends my feelings and thoughts about the importance and meaning of this national treasure. The domain of Leuville is extremely close to my heart, since it was the site of my childhood, my teens, my youth; and beyond this personal aspect, Leuville remains a mystical entity of the utmost historical and vital importance for all Georgians, wherever they might be. The renewal of interest for our first republic that we are witnessing in Georgia corresponds to a sociological phenomenon unique in our history: for the first time in centuries there is now a whole generation of young Georgians who have never known the soviet, or for that matter any other foreign domination. As they assume their rightful place we can see appearing in Georgia a whole social layer finally freed from the visible and invisible constraints of soviet communism that strongly distorted the worldview of so many generations of Georgians and prevented them, unaware, from seeing clearly and appreciating the true worth of the great patriots who created modern and democratic Georgia from the chaos of the first world war. As Professor Stephen Jones reminds us: “the Democratic Georgian Republic introduced the vote for women, the separation of church and state, the establishment of a multiparty parliament, private property, free and universal education, unemployment pay and a minimum wage, the redistribution of land in the countryside, and a free press…Georgia’s new leaders tried to balance entre-

Redjeb and grandson, circa 2009 Leuville

preneurial rights (including privatization in the countryside) with state responsibilities to its poorest citizens …State support for industry, combined with the principles of economic liberalism, was widely practiced...” Democracy does not reside only in texts and government institutions; it resides primarily in the minds, the comprehension of all citizens – which is not yet the situation in Georgia. The proof can be seen in the confusion between Stalinist communism and western socialism, despite the fact that they are so clearly and profoundly antithetic, as well as the complete lack of understanding among the Georgians – and in general all former Soviet denizen – of the simple reality that all Western countries, includ-

Redjeb, Nathela and Noe Jordania, circa 1926 Leuville

10 Galaktion Street

ing the United States, function on the basis of socialist-inspired institutions that were established in the 20th century: by the labor party of Ramsay McDonald in Great Britain, the Front Populaire in France, all the Scandinavian countries, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the US; institutions such as Social Security, Paid Holidays, Medical Insurance, Welfare, Unemployment Insurance, and many others. Political maturity is not reached just like that, one needs time for the evolution of thoughts and mores. Hence the extreme importance of the domain of Leuville: as the physical site of the perpetuation of our first republic, it represents an essential part not only of the national patrimony but also of our national political health, demonstrating through its physical existence the essential validity of the democratic and Western-oriented destiny of our country. All Georgians, whatever their political inclination, should be proud that Georgia was the first social-democratic country in the world. The domain of Leuville will remain for always a witness of this essential phase of our national evolution. Gaomarjos Sakartvelo! The Georgian Government first acquired the Leuville Chateau at the beginning of the 20th century, when members of the Menshevik government left Georgia due to the Sovietization of the country, emigrating to France in March 1921. The Georgian Office of the State Minister of Georgia for Diaspora Issues in February announced that the Leuville Chateau is to be turned into a Georgian academy for Georgian artists and historians. The Government of Georgia has allocated more than EUR 100,000 to this aim.

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail:


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 20 - 23, 2016


‘Felicita’ tells of a migrant Georgian woman, whose husband has died in a car crash. As she cannot leave her post in Italy as a babysitter, instead she calls him to mourn his death in loud and at times both amusing and upsetting terms via mobile

Cine Club Touches on Hardships New and Old BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


packed hall at the Amirani cinema on Tuesday saw audience members of all ages and nationalities come together to get a taste of Georgian culture and cinema heritage. The presence of the director of one film and the daughter of the deceased director of the second, ready to answer questions, added to the feel of something special and unique. The monthly Cine Club, organized by Nonna Sagaan Gubler and Tobi Walsh, hosted the screening of two thoughtprovoking mini-films. The first, a blackand-white silent film (overlaid with a strange composition of spacy 1980s instrumental) was called ‘Buba.’ It was directed by the first female director in the Soviet Union, Nutsa Gogoberidze who, following this and a second – feature – film, was named an ‘enemy of the people’ and sent to the wastes of a Siberian prison for 10 years. Her films were banned and buried in the Moscow archives. ‘Buba’ was found by chance two years ago by her daughter, Lana Gogoberidze who, upon retrieving it, began a world tour showing the film to

audiences in London, New York and elsewhere. ‘Buba’ shows combined- and sometimes cleverly overlaid- film clips first to present the religion and nature of Georgia, and then with a focus on the true lifestyle of the Rachan villagers of the 1930s, a far cry from the Soviet ideal. As I watched the villagers working in their fields and homes, relying on nature and bare hands and feet to survive, it raised the question within me- was life happier or unhappier back then, when times were harder, when a harvest could fail at the hand of God (ie, a landslide or unexpected snowfall), when children started work at the age of two, collecting nettles for the community soup, when the men had to leave the village for an entire season to cut and sell wood because the harvest had failed? Times were certainly toughbut communities worked together, respected one another; worked for the common good. Children were worked hard by their elders, knowing only the land, perhaps receiving little or no schooling. But I can’t help but compare their healthy strong sun-kissed bodies and smiles to those drawn pale faces with eyes glued to screens we so commonly see these days. Whatever a modern audience may think of the lifestyles portrayed by Gogoberidze in her masterful docu-

mentary, it is clear that in those 30 minutes we have a preserved cultural treasure. The second film, ‘Felicita,’ touches on the modern theme of female migrant workers. Of the population of around 4 million Georgians, 1 million, Salome Alexi, the film director and granddaughter of Nutsa Gogoberidze states, live and work abroad. 62% of those working out of the country are women. Most are women who cannot return home due to their illegal immigrant statuses. Filmed in Ananuri, a riverside village outside Tbilisi, ‘Felicita’ tells of one such woman, whose husband has died in a car crash, leaving behind three young children. As she cannot leave her post in Italy as a babysitter, instead she calls him to mourn his death in loud and at times both amusing and upsetting terms via mobile and loudspeaker while the straight-faced villagers look on. As I understand Georgian, I could see a lot of detail was lost in the simple English subtitles. Otherwise, I found the film poignant- a sad reality presented in an almost banal way. This was my first visit to a Cine Club screening. I’ll definitely be going again to enjoy this powerful window into the past and present reality of the wonderful country in which I live.

The 2nd International Festival of Literature Starts in Tbilisi BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


he success of the first Tbilisi International Festival of Literature (TIFT) gave impetus to continue this annual meeting of Georgians with modern foreign literature. This time, the festival brought together 19 poets, prose writers and translators from 16 countries, as well as 16 local writers. The festival started on May 16 and will last until May 21. Literature discussions, poetry jams, books presentations, workshops for students, poetry evenings, photo exhibitions, film screenings and many other events allow readers to take a fresh look at books

and literature in general. “This is not a simple communication between the reader and the book, the author is also here and helps to bring the story to life, even give it quite a different content,” said the Festival organizers. Based on readers’ wishes, TIFL invited popular and interesting writers for Georgians, such as a well-known Israeli writer, screenwriter and playwright, Etgar Keret, whose second book was recently published in the Georgian language, as well as the Australian author Peter Warren Finlay (DBC Pierre) who won the Man Booker Prize in 2003. Just for the Festival a new edition of the author’s book was released, as the previous had sold out. In addition, the organizers said that the first Festival was successful, leading

Shota Iatashvili, Kristian Carlsson and Davit Gerasime Gabunia speaking at the Tbilisi International Festival of Literature 2016

to many foreign writers accepting with great interest the invitation to Tbilisi this year. “First of all, our Festival aims to familiarize readers with new modern authors. For example, Ukrainian writer Serhiy Zhadan was a true eye-opener for the Georgians last year. And today we are happy to host his great friend, poet and translator Yuri Andrukhovych,” said Shota Iatashvili, consultant of the Festival. TIFL pays attention to its discussion panel and holds a traditional Caucasian Evening with representatives of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. This year, this featured Lela Samniashvili, Hasmik Simonian and Seymur Baycan. The Festival plans to host a discussion about Soviet Inheritance in Post-Soviet Literature with Yurii Andrukhovych (Ukraine), Dmitry Bykov (Russia), Seymur Baycan (Azerbaijan) and Levan Berdzenishvili (Georgia). “The USSR no longer exists but it will be interesting to understand how that time’s tradition still affects the work of writers,” said Davit Gabunia, one of the Festival’s organizers. In addition, the TIFL intends to raise the important social issue of women’s rights and to talk about the role of female writers. At the same time, young readers will get to know the works of Shakespeare, whose 400th anniversary is being celebrated around the world. “We are pleased to know that the Festival is becoming more important for people. That gives us confidence that it will be successful in future. We’ve already started to work on the program for 2017,” said the organizers.

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MAY 20 - 23, 2016


GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 May 21 RAMONA Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari May 26 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari GRIBOEDOVI THEATER Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 May 21, 22 FROZEN IMAGES Directed by Jari Juutinen Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 May 20, 21 PERFORMANCE MATRIARCHY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 21:00 Ticket price: 15 Lari May 22 ABRACADABRA Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Artist: Kakha Bakuradze Cast: Irakli Saralidze, Salome Kavtaradze, Ucha Mjavia, Ioseb Bakuradze One-act illusion Start time: 14:00 Ticket price: From 10 Lari May 22 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 21:00 Free Entry

GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 May 24 SONNETS William Shakespeare Directed by Davit Shalikashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 15 Lari TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 May 20 CARMEN Directed by Konstantin Purtseladze Language: Georgian Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 8 Lari May 22 MACBETH William Shakespeare Directed by Davit Doiashvili Language: Georgian Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 8 Lari May 22 DIVORCE Giorgi Eristavi Directed by Davit Doiashvili Language: Georgian Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 8 Lari


AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari May 20-26 CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR Directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson Language: Russian Start time: 17:00 Ticket price: 12-13 Lari X-MEN: APOCALYPSE Directed by Bryan Singer Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence Language: English Start time: 19:10 Language: Russian Start time: 14:00, 16:00, 19:10, 19:15, 22:15 Ticket price: 9-16 Lari A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING Directed by Tom Tykwer Genre: Comedy, Drama Cast: Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury Language: Russian Start time: 22:05 Ticket price: 15-16 Lari RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari

TBILISI NODAR DUMBADZE STATE CENTRAL CHILDREN’S THEATER Address: 99/1 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 95 39 27

May 20-26 X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 13:30, 16:30, 19:30, 22:35 Ticket price: 9-16 Lari

May 20 KOLOBOK Directed by Anatoli Lobov Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: 7, 10 Lari

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 14:05, 22:35 Ticket price: 9-16 Lari

OUR KIND OF TRAITOR Directed by Susanna White Genre: Thriller Cast: Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis, Stellan Skarsgård Language: Russian Start time: 14:30, 19:30, 22:20 Ticket price: 9-16 Lari

Georgian National Museum week dedicated to International Museum Day. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81


GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 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 the 6th century BC. to 1834. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION Here, visitors can enjoy the State’s personal files of “subversive” Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Soviet-era cultural and political repression in Georgia. The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors where visitors can watch documentaries of various historical events. SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 May 18 – July 18 AVANT-GARDE 1900-1937 The exhibition is opened within the

May 21 NIGHT OF THE MUSEUMS TRAVELLING IN THE TBILISIAN HISTORIES AND EAST Pariticipants: Giorgi Lobjanidze, Manana Dumbadze, Nomad Bartaia, Zezva Medulashvili, Maia Tsetskhladze, Mamuka Tsetskhladze, Lia Shvelidze, Oleg Timchenko, Vakho Bugadze and others. Start time: 21:00 Free Entry GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze May 17 – June 22 KETEVAN MAGALASHVILI – 120 Exhibition is dedicated to the 120th anniversary of Ketevan Magalashvili - remarkable representative of Georgian art. MUSIC

MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 May 21 HULEMENT #ForGirshel Music Video Debut and Live Concert Start time: 21:30 Ticket price: 10 Lari May 24, 26 JAM SESSION WITH RESO KIKNADZE QUINTET Start time: 21:00 Free Entry May 25 TANGO MILONGA Start time: 20:00 Tango Lesson: 5 Lari BUDDHA BAR Address: Rike Park Telephone: 557 99 92 22 May 20 FRANCK ROGER (GOGI DZODZUASHVILI) Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: 50 Lari CLUB 33A Address: Vake Park Telephone: 577 44 33 13, 577 47 98 89 May 21 REGGAEON New Project Presentation Concert Start time: 21:00 Ticket price: 10 Lari LOLITA Address: 7 Chovelidze Str. Telephone: 2 02 02 99 May 20 YOUNG GEORGIAN LOLITAZ Concert Start time: 21:00


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 20 - 23, 2016


Fire Walk with Me: Olaf Nicolai Work on Show in Tbilisi BY MJ RIQUELME DEL VALLE


Merab Oniani, art therapist at The Center of Psychological Aid. Photo: Giorgi Pridonashvili/GT

Art-Therapy: Cured by Creativity BY MAKA LOMADZE


rt-therapy is no new thing and yet it is little heard of in Georgia. Through art, people who are talented or not can gain insight into their own unconscious world. The Center of Psychological Aid under the Georgian Patriarchate has existed for 15 years now. Art-therapy is the mainstream, but they also apply to different schools of psychology, trying to help a person in every possible way. GEORGIA TODAY talked to Merab Oniani, one of the beginners of this trend in Georgia. “My colleague and I studied the German school of art-therapy. Art is very interesting as it gives us a chance to see a lot about a person’s traits and as such it is very informative. This technique enables one to raise adaptive skills and change behavior stereotypes. We basically follow Erikson and Virginia Satir. “It is often hard to verbalize problems, and the first move towards art as an answer to this came when 19th century doctors observed Tuberculosis patients who preferred to paint rather than talk. When patients were overloaded with emotion, they tried to express it on canvas. By the 1920s the art-therapy direction was already being implemented in all large clinics throughout the US and Europe, and it had very good results.”

HOW DO YOU GUESS THE NATURAL STATE OF A PERSON’S INNER BEING? Based on the knowledge of symbols and the nature of colors and lines a person uses, we can tell a lot about their inner state. However, this is not everything. Art helps people to start talking, which is the real key to therapy. Art is only a means. Art-therapy itself is wider and implies the use of all creative skills – music, bibliotherapy, drama-therapy, dancing. Our aim is to free a person from

unconscious traumatic feelings. It is based on mobilizing creative potential, self-control and inner mechanisms of curing. Art-therapy provokes positive emotions and helps a patient to overcome apathy and return to an active mode of life, which leads to further development of one’s own intellectual, emotional and personal traits. Art-therapy is knowledge about oneself, a safe means to free oneself from tension. It is a kind of service for people to get in touch with themselves and others, finding an honorable life and combating narrow-minded visions that bring about illness. Participation in the creative process gives individuals extra strength to solve internal and external conflicts, as creative experience boosts new personal skills.

DO YOU RECEIVE FOREIGNERS AT THE CENTER? Yes. There are cases when patients come from neighboring countries. We receive representatives of all confessions. The language of our communication is Russian. However, in case of English-speaking patients, we would happily try to find an interpreter.

THE CENTER WAS CREATED BY THE CATHOLICOS-PATRIARCH. DOES THIS MEAN THAT YOU ALSO USE THEOLOGY? Yes. My second profession is theology. One of our main directions is a psychotherapy based on spirituality. This is most commonly applied when we deal with drug-addicts.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN PROBLEMS IN GEORGIAN SOCIETY? We are dealing with a wide spectrum of problems, such as neurosis, phobias, family therapy, alcoholism, etc. The problems are increasing and the number of people coming to us is higher. This is probably stipulated by a stressful environment, social background and negative news. A typical Georgian problem is too much attachment between mothers and children to such extent that people become independent very late in life. Abroad, adolescents normally leave the family and start living separately younger, which is paramount to becoming an independent person. This is again attributed to hyper-parental care, which is the same as lack of care, as in both cases we



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Mako Burduli


have a person with infantilism and a lack of sense of responsibility. This may lead to unhealthy escapes from reality – to drug-addiction, alcoholism, etc. For each and every person, psychological knowledge is very important. Education is vital and will help us solve such problems.

t’s up to the viewer how to read Olaf Nicolai’s circular neon installation at the Café Iveria in Rose Revolution Square. Nicolai’s creations can be seen in New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid and for the next three months, passersby will be able to enjoy his work in Tbilisi, too. His installation is presented here by the SOU (Stream Of Unconsciousness) Festival (featuring contemporary music and visual arts) and by the Popiashvili Gvaberidze Window Project, which aims at changing how contemporary art is perceived by opening the venues where it is shown. “Our project wants to take art out of the galleries and bring it to the streets” Irena Popiashvili told GEORGIA TODAY. Nicolai’s works reflect his interests in a wide ranging series of topics: politics, contemporary culture, architecture, natural science, and more. In his installation at the Café Iveria, his interest in politics is subtlety reflected by the striped wall behind the neon sign. The iris painting technique used - the borderline between stripes of color undefined, and colors melting into each other where they meet, as in a rainbow – was often used in political flyers in the 1960s and 70s. The neon sign text harkens back to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Fire Walk with Me, a TV series turned film. Together with the striped background, it aims to resemble a flag, like the many

that have been waved in this part of the city. The location was chosen by Nikolai because the now Rose Revolution Square was built by Soviet officials to receive marching crowds during parades. But there is also a time dimension to Nicolai’s work in Tbilisi: the inauguration date, 17th of May. The wall painting alludes to the rainbow flag that is typically waved in demonstrations in support of the LGBT community, to this day a sadly controversial issue. Nicolai’s brother, Alva Noto, is another artist invited by the SOU Festival. The works of prominent contemporary musicians and artists will be presented from the 18th to 28th May. After Nicolai, the Popiashvili Gvaberidze Window Project aims to bring the works of other renowned international artists to Tbilisi.


Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Tamar Svanidze, Zviad Adzinbaia, Beqa Kirtava, Meri Taliashvili, Eka Karsaulidze, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Tim Ogden, Ana Akhalaia, Robert Isaf, Joseph Larsen, Will Cathcart, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #845  

May 20 - 23, 2016

Issue #845  

May 20 - 23, 2016