__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

Issue no: 1085

• SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue...

Bakhtadze to Fox TV: Georgia-US Co-operation at All-time High NEWS PAGE 3

Georgia’s Alliance of Patriots in Crisis as Faction Chair Quits Party

FOCUS

POLITICS PAGE 4

The Church Remains Politically Neutral

ON HINDSIGHT An exclusive interview with former US Ambassador to Georgia, John Teft

POLITICS PAGE 5

Introducing the Tbilisi Free Zone

PAGE 6

BUSINESS PAGE 7

The Final Frontier: Bitcoin Mining Remains Profitable, Regardless of ASIC Size

Minister of Education Discusses Accreditation Concerns with University Rectors

BY JOHN MERCURIO

H

istorically, hardware advancements in bitcoin mining have yielded better profit margins. The move to ASICs from CPUs and GPUs brought processing bitcoin transactions to a new level and made old hardware obsolete, meaning those with the fastest and smallest chips brought home the most value. But as hardware becomes more complex, that will no longer be true. In short – hardware superiority will be measured by more than nanometers. Investors must start looking at overall performance. The economics of crypto-mining are rather straightforward. Mining equipment and infrastructure costs are considered capital expenditures (CAPEX) while operational expenditures (OPEX) primarily consist of electricity costs. The success of a mining operation is then based on two fundamental parameters – your cost per terahash/second (TH/S), which is really the price of your equipment; and your Joules per terahash (J/TH), which indicates the power efficiency of your hardware. Missing from this equation is the cost/benefit analysis of technological innovation. That

needs to change. Consider the car engine. For years, people assumed that higher engine volumes meant “faster” engines, and faster cars. That is, of course, until the advent of turbo-charged, hybrid and electric vehicles. The small volume of a 1.6liter Formula-1 engine is irrelevant if the race car can achieve 300kmh. In this case, and as will soon be the case with mining hardware, secondary technical characteristics don’t tell the whole story. Performance characteristics will. In the ever-competitive market for mining ASICs, we’ve already seen a similar effect. Customers, understandably, have expected a serious performance increase when they moved from 16nm ASICs to 7nm ASICs. But one by one, mining vendors fell short. Mining machines based on 7nm technology not only demonstrate unimpressive results, they also have identical performance characteristics to the massively deployed and well-known 16 and 14nm ASICs. The cost, however, of producing and releasing

these newer chips is (according to multiple experts) astronomical. Bitfury is leading the way by focusing on improving all performance characteristics of our next generation of hardware. We are looking at all factors, including silicon packaging, chip efficiency, optimal power distribution, cooling designs and speed of development. We think that this will lead to a turnkey solution that delivers the best ROI for our customers – regardless of ASIC size. In 1993, Intel upended the entire microprocessor market when they released Pentium. Pentium microprocessors were not any smaller than their existing products, but unbelievably faster and more efficient. The “Pentium” effect is coming to the crypto mining industry soon. Bitfury is ready. Are you? John Mercurio is the acting chief communications officer at The Bitfury Group

SOCIETY PAGE 11

Welcome to Georgia, The Musical: First Show of the Season Sells Out! CULTURE PAGE 15 A FASCINATING SHOW TO SEE IN TBILISI!

THIS TUESDAY

INFO & TICKETS: www.musical.ge Tel: +995 577 55 00 33 AT MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATRE, TBILISI

GET 15% DISCOUNT! Use code GT15 during checkout at tkt.ge/musical


2

NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

Ministry of Education Meeting with OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

O

n Monday, Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, Levan Kharatishvili held a working meeting with the OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities (HCNM) Lamberto Zannier. Kharatishvili briefed Zannier on programs and projects implemented for the ethnic minorities in the fields of education, science, culture and sport. The meeting also focused on the ongoing reform of the education system spearheaded by Minister Mikheil Batiashvili. Zannier received comprehensive information on all aspects of education in Georgia and on the basic aspects of the new reforms. At the end of the meeting, both sides agreed on the necessity of deepening cooperation and taking specific steps forward. Zannier will be visiting Georgia until September 21. Within the framework of the visit, the Commissioner will meet with the President of Georgia, Chairman of Parliament, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and other government officials. Zannier will also hold meetings with the CEC Chairperson, Public Defender, and UN Office in Georgia, in addition to meetings with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President, civil society organizations, and members of Georgian national minority groups.

Photo: Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport

World's Highest Georgian Restaurant Opens in Dubai BY ANNA ZHVANIA

M

odi, the highest-up Georgian restaurant in the world, opened in Sof itel Downtown Dubai on the 31st floor. Modi is the venture of famous Georgian chef, Guram Baghdoshvili. The restaurant serves traditional Georgian cuisine,

including penovani khachapuri and khinkali, all served by professional dancers. Hosting live folk music events and serving Georgian wine, the restaurant overlooks Dubai with spectacular views. Every three months, Georgian art is to be put on display there. As the official description of the restaurant states, "We also source the freshest, organic ingredients from Georgia, thus encapsulating a complete Georgian dining experience, right here in the heart of Dubai".


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

3

US Department of State Praises Georgia’s Anti-Terrorism Efforts BY THEA MORRISON

I

n the Country Reports on Terrorism 2017 , the United States Department of States says that the Government of Georgia is “generally capable of detecting, deterring, and responding to terrorist incidents.” The document reads that Georgia is a longstanding member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, adding it continued its strong engagement with the United States across a range of counterterrorismrelated issues. It also says that Georgia participated in numerous bilateral exercises and remained a solid US security partner. “In May, US and Georgian leadership signed the Agreement of the United States of America and the Government of Georgia Concerning Security Measures for the Protection of Classified Information, establishing a legal foundation for bilateral intelligence sharing that will strengthen counterterrorism cooperation and enhance the Georgian military’s interoperability with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states,” the report reads. The US Department of State says the State Security Service of Georgia (SSSG) has the lead in handling terrorism-related incidents and is generally well equipped and well trained. “In 2017, Georgia’s law enforcement bodies signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Improving the Efficiency of Interagency Cooperation in the Law Enforcement Sphere, which provides for the creation of an Operational Headquarters on the Management of Extreme Situations, in the event of a terrorist act," the document reads. Moreover, the report underlines that

Bakhtadze to Fox TV: Georgia-US Co-operation at All-time High BY THEA MORRISON November 21 anti-terrorist operation in Tbilisi. Image source: guardian.ng

Georgia improved infrastructure in five land border sectors and also established a Risk and Threat Assessment Unit, which operates in line with the European Common Integrated Risk Analysis Model, and signed the Tactical Memorandum with the NATO Maritime Command, promoting cooperation and information sharing between NATO and Georgia’s Joint Maritime Operations Center. “This makes Georgia a non-operational partner of the NATO-led Operation Sea Guardian, one of NATO’s activities to counter terrorism…The Georgian government approved and implemented the Joint Action Plan on the Management of Crisis – Extreme Situations in the Field of Civil Aviation,” the document says. The US Department of State also mentions the November 21-22 special antiterrorist operation held by the SSSG in Tbilisi, which repelled the future terrorist activities of the ISIS member Akhmet Chatayev and his group. One member of the terrorist group was detained, two were killed, and Chatayev detonated an explosive, killing himself. Later on, five

more people were detained by the SSSG in connection with the case. The report added that Georgia is a member of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Also, Georgia’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Monitoring Service of Georgia, is a member of the Egmont Group. “Georgia’s anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism legal framework remains largely in compliance with international standards, in particular with updated FATF recommendations,” the document says. As for the Europe in general, the report says the EU faced a number of ongoing terrorist threats and concerns in 2017, including from foreign terrorist organizations operating out of Iraq and Syria, foreign terrorist fighters returning to Europe to conduct attacks, and homegrown terrorists who were inspired or remotely directed by ISIS.

G

eorgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze told Bret Baier, the host of Special Report with Bret Baier on the Fox News Channel, that his country's relationship with the United States is at an 'all-time high' and that he is 'encouraged' by President Trump's 'dialogue' with Putin. Bakhtadze says Trump’s decision to have a dialogue with Russia is a good step, adding there is no other alternative. “But we should also take into consideration the regional context because turbulence is growing but direct interaction with Russia is at the highest level possible: it is really very positive and fruitful,” he said. “Under President Trump's administration, the US-Georgia Security Cooperation has never been as strong as now and we truly appreciate this,” Bakhtadze said. He also spoke about Georgia-Russia relations, adding the northern neighbor has occupied 20% of Georgian territory

and still continues its aggressive policy. “Russia occupies two historical regions of Georgia… Many locals had to leave these territories because of this,” Bakhtadze said, noting that the Government of Georgia is fully committed to peaceful resolution of the conflict. “Unfortunately, Russia is still trying to undermine our peaceful initiatives,” he stressed. As for Georgia’s aim to become a NATO member, the PM says it is the country’s main priority. “Although our economy is not large, we are spending over 2% of our GDP on our armed forces… Our soldiers are fighting international terrorism… We are the largest per capita contributors to the international missions, so…if Georgia joins NATO, this will make the region more predictable and sustainable, which is in the best interests of Russia,” Bakhtadze stated. Bakhtadze: “If Georgia joins NATO, this will make our region much more predictable and sustainable — which is in the best interest of Russia. #SpecialReport pic.twitter. com/7mOn02v5l6 — Fox News (@FoxNews) September 19, 2018


4

POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

Future of Russia (Part II): Foreign Pressure Instrumental for Changes BY EMIL AVDALIANI

R

ussia has undergone fundamental changes following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. These changes have taken different shapes and range from demography to foreign policy, from rising discontent within the population to a more troublesome economic situation. Thus, the decline of Russia as a power continues and is made up of several interconnecting trends. I have written that Russian demographic trajectories indicate that the Russian population, which has been decreasing, is set to decline even further in the coming decades. In 2012, the Kremlin estimates projected that Russia’s population would diminish to 107 million people by 2045-2050. This demographic decline in itself results from several factors such as low fertility rate and the HIV crisis. Moreover, the number ethnic Russians is in decline as opposed to the Muslim population. The Russian decline is also characterized by general technological underdevelopment – the process which began in the last decades of the Soviet Union and accelerated in the 1990s. Even inside the country, although it seems that all is quiet and comfortable, the situation is tense in the regions. Ethnic minorities might raise their voice once the center – Moscow – experiences deep economic troubles. In fact, from a wider historical perspective, Russia has always been backward in technological and economic aspects. Even after the first two Five-Year plans under Joseph Stalin in the 1930s, when the country experienced almost a doubling of the industrial output in comparison with previous years, Soviet Russia still lagged significantly behind the European states. Further back, in the Romanov times, Russians were backwards in economics and other crucial components of state development. There are many other components of the modern “decline of Russia” model. Inter-elite fighting in the Kremlin is important, so are the huge expenses

Image source: collinsflags.com

spent on special security agencies and the state army. However, though these trends are important, they are still somehow simplistic and lacking the understanding of how the Russian mindset works. If the political sovereignty in the West emanates from below, in Russia the government relies on coercive measures to control the vast country. Not only is this state of affairs not anathema to most Russians, but they expect their leaders to be tough-minded and heavy-handed. Hence the Kremlin’s lack of serious concern over the anti-government demonstrations which, in contrast to their over-dramatization by the Western media, reflect a small fraction of the Russian population. Respect and obedience to authority is also a distinct element of the sociopolitical ethos of Russian society, which is neither overly democratic nor fully European nor despotically Asian. However, it should be noted that although historically Russia has been always backwards in comparison to Europeans and experienced similar internal problems in earlier centuries too, it is still the foreign policy realm that has been instrumental in causing disturbances in Russia and the subsequent weakening of the country. War with Japan in 1904-1905 ushered in the 1905 Revolution, while twelve years later, WWI caused

the February and October revolutions. During the Soviet Union, the war in Afghanistan was one of the defining moments in the decline of the first Communist state and its eventual disintegration. This brings to mind current geopolitical circumstances in and around Russia. As said, internally the country experiences problems, but they do not suffice to make the Russian government change the course the state has taken. Like in previous historical examples, foreign pressure on Russia

could be instrumental to there being any changes. There are some arguments for this theory. The current crisis between Russia and the West, the product of many fundamental geopolitical differences in both the former Soviet space and elsewhere, will remain unabated at least for the coming years. The successful western expansion into what was always considered the “Russian backyard” halted Moscow’s projection of power and diminished its reach into the north of Eurasia – between fast-developing China, Japan, and other Asian countries and the technologically modern European landmass. But this too might not be enough. Direct Russian military involvement in foreign countries is what the Russians fear most. Westerners hoped that the Russian troops would be bogged down in Syria, it did not happen. Similarly, many thought Ukraine might have turned into the major battleground, but it does not seem so. Thus, nowadays, we see how Russia is lagging and how much has it lost throughout the last several decades in the former Soviet space. But internal problems alone do not suffice for radical changes in Russia. In fact, Russian history shows that foreign military pressure is fundamental and this is what Russia does not have for the moment.

Georgia’s Alliance of Patriots in Crisis as Faction Chair Quits Party

Non-fulfillment of a Restraining Order Now Considered Crime Image source: Tabula

BY THEA MORRISON

G BY SHIRIN MAHDAVI

D

eputy Minister of Internal Affairs Natia Mezvrishvili has announced that not fulfilling a restraining order in Georgia is now considered a crime and not simply an administrative offense. In the coming future, amendments will be added to the Law on Domestic Violence to

ensure that nonfulfillment is not taken lightly. In statements made by Mezvrishvili, the changes are already in the works. Drafts have been made for the amendments to the law. The guidelines of the restraining orders have been strengthened making it more difficult to make contact. In addition, offenders face more criminal responsibility for reoccurring domestic criminal activity. These new amendments are among the efforts being made to prevent domestic violence and give justice for those who have been affected by such crimes.

eorgia’s Alliance of patriots (APG), which is often referred to as “the satellite of Russia” in Georgia, saw their faction Chair and one of the most active members, Nato Chkheidze, quit this week. Chkheidze is the founder of Iberia TV, which might be closed down because its donor company Omega Group has financial crises, owing GEL 51 million to the state budget for not paying taxes. In addition, Iberia journalists speak about pressure from the government through the creation of financial problems for Omega Group Company. “TV Company Iberia is in trouble. Almost 1500 people are employed in the Omega Group ... Unfortunately, I could not hear the voice of the Alliance of Patriots supporting the TV station… because of this, I cannot see myself in this political union and I am leaving the party,” Chkheidze announced at the parliament session on September 19. Chkheidze added that Iberia TV feels support from the NGOs, Public Defender and parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition parties, who aim to protect media and business, but her party did not do anything to express solidarity. She says she is also leaving the faction and will serve as an independent MP in Parliament. Vice-Speaker of Parliament and member of the APG faction, Irma Inashvili, confirmed that Chkheidze had left the party but said she hopes the

ex-teammate will stay in the parliamentary faction because this will leave the party without a faction in the legislative body. If the APG faction collapses, it will bring financial damage to the party because faction members have higher salaries than ordinary MPs. The faction head has GEL 5,468 per month, while the deputyhead has GEL 4,738. The monthly salary of an average Georgian MP is GEL 4,623. Moreover, the faction has its own budget funding, its own office, vehicles allocated by Parliament and also its own business trip fund. When the faction members go on a vacation, they also get bonuses to their salaries. Faction members also have the right to give more speeches during the parliament session than regular MPs. Inashvili believes that the faction Chair has subjective views about the issue of supporting Iberia TV and if she leaves the faction too, “this will not be a tragedy.” “Let us face reality. If Chkheidze quits the faction, we will stay in Parliament as independent MPs but will continue to work as teammates. Even after falling apart, we will be the patriots of Georgia,” she stressed. Inashvili also added that she had enjoyed a very interesting relationship with Nato Chkheidze for two years of mutual work and this would continue. The Alliance of Patriots of Georgia managed to gain five seats in Parliament during the 2016 parliamentary elections in Georgia. They registered a 5-member faction too, which will fall apart if Chkheidze quits the post of the faction Chair.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

5

The Church Remains Politically Neutral BY SHAWN WAYNE

C

atholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II urged the clergy to refrain from political statements and criticism of politicians. Recently, several clerics have sharply criticized the candidate for the presidency of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili for her position on the legalization of marijuana. Zurabishvili in this election is supported by the ruling party Georgian Dream. "Unfortunately, due to the approach of the elections, some of the divine servants make statements of political content and at the same time incorrectly mention a certain political person in public space. I call on the pastors and abbots to refrain from such actions. I want to remind them that the Church has always been and will be politically neutral. "said Ilia II's appeal on the website Patriarchate of Georgia. Earlier, the Patriarchate of Georgia made a sharp statement about the idea of growing cannabis in the country, even for medical and cosmetic purposes. After the Georgian Orthodox Church and the Catholicos-Patriarch expressed dissatisfaction, the ruling party decided to postpone consideration of the issue in the parliament. Salome Zurabishvili criticized the Church's interference in state affairs, after which some priests urged the flock not to vote for her. Presidential elections will be held in Georgia on October 28.

Parking Fines Increase BY SHAWN WAYNE

T

bilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze has begun an initiative to increase the penalty for business activities in municipal parking areas. The Tbilisi Transport Company has already started to fine offenders, but based on the fact that the fine is small - 10 GEL (about $ 4), the law is still being violated. "In the city, unfortunately, there are streets where municipal parking places are occupied illegally for different business activities, such as cars with a trailer, which often open close to a tourist bureau or visa services. There are cases where parking spaces are filled with cars for rent, which leaves no possibility for

citizens to use municipal parking, "Kaladze said. The Mayor of Tbilisi stressed that there is no way stricter laws for this will hinder the economic activities of the population - there are many places in the city where you can legally work. The Mayor recalled how effective the amendments to the Law on Occupational Safety were. Since August 1, labor inspectors inspect facilities or enterprises for safety, and at the same time, strict fines are established. "Many were skeptical about this approach, saying that raising fines we allegedly could not solve this problem, but the result is obvious, and here I want to say that this is not the result that we want to ultimately achieve, however, building safety is significantly improved," Kaladze concluded.


6

POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

Former Ambassador Tuft: From Tbilisi to Kyiv to Moscow EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

I

n an exclusive interview with GEORGIA TODAY and Realpolitik Talk Show, the living legend of American diplomacy (there’s no other way to pay proper homage to the man who has served his country without blemish as an ambassador in Lithuania, Georgia, Ukraine and Russia.), John Teft reminisced on his Georgian tenure, which happened to involve the 2008 August War. Being one of the speakers at a massive two-day conference in Tbilisi organized by the McCain Institute and Economic Policy Research center, Teft charted his diplomatic journey in a speech aptly titled "From Vilnius to Tbilisi to Kyiv to Moscow.” When speaking about the 2008 war with us, the veteran diplomat stressed he didn’t have to strain his memory to recall who actually started the war, something a number of Georgian politicians, of a relatively younger age compared to the octogenarian US envoy, have been rather oblivious of.

WHEN I INTERVIEW PEOPLE WHO WERE IN GEORGIA IN THE 90S, THEY ALWAYS NOTE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEN AND NOW. WHAT DIFFERENCES DO YOU SEE BETWEEN HOW IT WAS WHEN YOU WERE HERE, AND TODAY? Driving in from the airport, the first thing you notice is all the cars; the traffic is much worse, and beautiful downtown Tbilisi is getting more clogged up with traffic all the time. But that's also symptomatic of the US, as Washington is far worse now than it ever was. If you stop and think back to Georgia of 1991, and even in the years afterwards with the civil war and everything else, it's pretty

It's amazing how much Georgia has achieved in a relatively short historical time

Russia has to pull its troops out of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Calling them independent states is ridiculous amazing how much Georgia has achieved in a relatively short historical time; yes I know 20% of the population is below the poverty line and I've heard a lot of problems and various complaints made to the government, but this is still a democracy, the country is still improving, it has developed really good relations with the US and the West. It’s very fortunate that today an overwhelming number of Americans support Georgia and Ukraine in the struggle going on with Russia over territorial integrity.

DO YOU THINK IT HAS TO DO WITH FORTUNE OR DID GEORGIA EARN IT? Georgia in most part earned it over a period of time, and I'm not singling out any particular president or government in this. I was pleased when several politicians from the different groups who spoke to us yesterday made the point that proRussia parties right now are made up by less than 10% of the population despite all the propaganda

that gets bombarded on the Georgian people. I was pleased that not just politicians are determined to stay the course and to keep the Western path that this country has followed for the last 25 years.

WHAT ARE YOUR RECOLLECTIONS OF THE 2008 AUGUST WAR? I'll be honest with you: I'm in the process of trying to put together material for a book not just about that, so I’ll just say in general that you know it was clear to us in the run-up to August 2008 that the Russian side was bringing troops by rail, and there were other provocations. There was no question in my mind that that the conflict that developed was in effect precipitated by that pressure. Especially as you look back on that period now through the prism of the Russian actions in Ukraine, it's pretty clear that it was all part and parcel of a larger effort to reassert Russian control and influence in what the Russians call the near abroad.

DID THE RUSSIANS CATCH YOU, THE WEST, UNAWARE? No. We knew things were heating up and I can't say that I was surprised by it. Now whether people in Washington or the European capitals were, is hard for me to say, as I wasn't there, but the fact is that there were a lot of other things going on: it was the last year of the Bush administration and they were very much focused on Iraq and Afghanistan and it was also the time of the Olympics. At our embassy [in Tbilisi], we were very clear, and we reported as fully as we could to Washington on all the things we had observed Russia doing in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

COULD ANYTHING HAVE BEEN DONE TO PREVENT IT? This is one of those what ifs that's really hard. There are some people who are critical of President Saakashvili for sending troops into Tskhinvali, the implication being that if he hadn't done so, then things would have been better. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently reiterated in an article in The Washington Post that Lavrov [Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Russia] on the phone [at the time] said that even though the official propaganda line is that we want to help those poor Ossetians, to save our peacekeepers, we're trying to take down the government. They were trying to get a regime change and it was pretty clear from the facts on the ground that he admitted it and so I think the plan was to certainly move ahead along that line.

IF, AS YOU SAY, THE PRIME INTENTION OF RUSSIA WAS A REGIME CHANGE, SHOULD IT NOT STOP THE DISCUSSION OF WHO STARTED THE WAR? To a certain extent you can make that point, but I've never had a question of who provoked the war in my own mind. A number of other things that have emerged since the war basically confirm that and, as I said before, if you look at the war in Georgia in the hindsight of what happened in Ukraine, it is pretty clear where the pattern is.

REGARDING THE NORMALIZATION OF RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA, ONE OF THE TENETS OF THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT WHEN IT CAME TO POWER; SEEN FROM YOUR TIME IN MOSCOW AS AN AMBASSADOR, DO YOU THINK IT SUCCEEDED? Russia has to pull its troops out of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Calling them independent states is ridiculous and I think in order to normalize it, the Russian government really has to go back to a status quo ante. We have to try to find a way where the people in Ossetia and Abkhazia can come together with the Georgian people, where territorial integrity is restored and the rights of minorities as well as the majority of the people are all respected and observed; easier said than done, but I think that's the only way this is going to be solved.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

7

The Story of One Georgian Village BY EMIL AVDALIANI

A

bout 330 kilometers (roughly 200 miles) west of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi lies the city of Zugdidi, the administrative center of the country's Samegrelo region. Another 10 kilometers or so west of Zugdidi, Georgian government control ends and the breakaway territory of Abkhazia begins. This region declared its independence in the early 1990s, and, following a war with Georgia, Russia recognized it as independent in 2008. The Enguri River delineates about one-third of the line of demarcation between Georgia and Abkhazia, leaving only a handful of connection points between the two. One bridge leads to the village of Khurcha – the only settlement beyond the river that remains under Official Tbilisi's control. Crossing the river into Khurcha, I was suddenly struck by how advantageous Abkhazia's geographic position is compared with that of South Ossetia, another breakaway Georgian territory. South Ossetia lacks natural barriers to defend it. Abkhazia, by contrast, is buffered by the Enguri River as well as the Kodori Gorge — a narrow passage in the territory's northeast that Abkhaz forces can close off to keep out Georgian troops. Near the village is the first Russo-Abkhaz military outpost, adorned with signs warning visitors to stop and stand at the end of this road. Speaking with Khurcha's residents, I gathered that these military outposts, and the guards who man them, are a source of even greater concern for locals than the prospect of losing territory. In May 2016, an Abkhaz outpost guard killed a Georgian national in Khurcha; many witnesses claim the guard crossed into the village from Abkhazia.

Russian military bases in Abkhazia (2011-2016). Source: Wikipedia

Abkhazians are allowed to cross into Georgian territory over the bridges. Many Abkhazians travel to Samegrelo for business or to seek medical treatment in Tbilisi, since it is a more convenient and affordable option than traveling to Russia. In fact, the Georgian government has built a number of hospitals for Abkhazians in need of medical ser-

vices. Visitors from Abkhazia's Gali district can more or less easily travel to Zugdidi. Sometimes on the way back into Abkhazia, guards ask them to pay 50 GEL (about $20) for entrance. The amount demanded varies depending on which guard is on duty, and some charge as much as 100 GEL: a big sum for the locals. Overall, the line of demarcation

is under tight control, which also depends on internal instability in Abkhazia. In Khurcha, it also becomes clear that the passage over the Enguri bridge, as well as other places, is restricted. Abkhazians use unofficial routes to enter Georgia in search of better financial and health care opportunities. Fearing a mass exodus, Abkhaz President Raul Khajimba announced in an official statement that Sukhumi would crack down on movement from Abkhazia. As it is, Sukhumi has made it onerous for travelers to get the necessary documents to leave the breakaway territory. In Gali, a massive distribution campaign of Russian passports to ethnic Georgians living in Abkhazia is ongoing. The campaign sometimes stops due to financial constraints. Russia's economic problems could also explain why Abkhazia has been receiving limited funding from Moscow lately, much to the detriment of its coffers. In other ways, however, Moscow's influence in Abkhazia is strong. There have been reports that the Abkhazians began appointing ethnic Abkhazians to many government positions that ethnic Georgians had traditionally filled. The Georgian language has been almost entirely replaced by Russian in the classroom, even in areas with large Georgian populations. Many Abkhaz schools teach only an hour of Georgian language and literature per week, causing parents in the area to consider relocating to Samegrelo. The location of Khurcha village says a lot about the Abkhaz problem. The geography explains why Abkhazia is insular and this creates disadvantages. A major problem is that geographically Abkhazia is separated from Russia by the Caucasus mountain range which essentially precludes any possibility of Abkhazia joining Russia in the longer term. Relations between the two might prosper, but that is unlikely to change the constraints posed by geographic conditions.

BUSINESS

Introducing the Tbilisi Free Zone ADVERTORIAL

T

he Tbilisi Free Zone (TFZ), the only free industrial zone in Eastern Georgia, is located in the capital city Tbilisi. TFZ occupies 17.0 ha of land, arbitrarily divided into more than 30 individual plots equipped with all the necessary utilities needed for seamless operation of warehousing or production facilities. It provides direct access to the largest labor pool in Georgia, as well as immediate proximity to the main cargo transportation highway, Tbilisi International Airport (30 km) and the city center (17 km). TFZ offers a tax, legal and administrative environment, where tenant companies oriented on production of export goods or engaged in international trading and services, can receive maximum financial benefits. We welcome companies from diverse fields of business, including technology, trading and services, manufacturing, logistics, warehousing and others. Companies registered in the Tbilisi Free Industrial Zone benefit from the following advantages: • Tax incentives, which implies full or partial exemption from taxes. • Simplified procedures for company regis-

tration and its further operation. Strategic location, which ensures easy access to different markets and reduction of operational costs. • Eligibility to national certificate of origin which gives local companies all the benefits of free trade agreements between Georgia and EU, China, CSI, Turkey. Being registered in the Tbilisi Free Industrial Zone, companies engaged in international com•

mercial and industrial operations are exempt from the following taxes: • Corporate tax - 15% of the taxable profit base. • Dividend tax - 5%. • Value Added Tax (VAT) - 18%. • Import tax - up to 12% of import value. • Property tax - 1% of the average book value of property. Tbilisi Free Zone is a tenancy destination for

international and local companies uniquely combining the benefits of the capital city location and a tax-free environment.

SUBSCRIBE! 1 YEAR SUBSCRIPTION - 60 GEL (6 ISSUES) Money Back Guarantee!  any@where.ge

 +995 32 229 59 19 10 Galaktion Street

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: info@peoplescafe.ge


8

BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

Halfway Through the Harvest BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

T

he grape harvest in Georgia’s eastern Kakheti region officially began the first week of September. Kakheti is often called Georgia’s cradle of wine for its abundance of wine grapes and winemakers. The 2018 Harvest Coordination Headquarters opened on August 20, operated by the National Wine Agency (NWA) the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, and the Office of the Governor of Kakheti. Interested grape growers of all sizes can register with the Headquarters to store and process their harvest, increasing accountability and origin traceability. Such steps move the process closer to European standards, which will eventually allow Georgian farmers to export their products to the European Union as part of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between Georgia and the EU, signed in 2014 as part of the Association Agreement. The Harvest Coordination Headquarters is reporting that more than 100 thousand tons of grapes have been processed at the facility so far this season. Revenue from the harvest has reached 155 million GEL. The grapes will be sold

to a total of 130 wineries to produce this year’s vintage. So far, 50 companies have been involved in the harvest, the largest numbers from Gurjaani, Telavi, and Kvareli, and a total of 325 companies are registered with the Headquarters. Despite major hailstorms throughout the region, NWA Chairman Andro Aslanishvili reported that the harvesting is taking place uninterrupted. Approximately 500 hectares of vineyards were affected by hail storms this week, damaging around 3,000 tons of grapes. Staff members from the Coordination Headquarters visited the damaged crops in Sagarejo, Gurjaani, and Sighnaghi municipalities on Wednesday. The damaged grapes are still viable for winemaking and the Harvest Coordination Headquarters staff has arranged for them to be sold to three different wine factories. Another major hailstorm hit Kakheti in mid-August, just as the Headquarters was opening, inflicting particular damage to grapes in the Telavi and Akhmeta municipalities. Many farmers feared for this year’s crop, but an emergency team was immediately mobilized to survey the damage and coordinate a response. Minister of Environment and Agriculture, Levan Davitashvili, visited the Coordination Headquarters and spoke with local farmers. He urged them to always insure their harvests emphasiz-

Image source: bpn.ge

ing that the state cannot provide compensation otherwise. Headquarters staff facilitated communication between farmers and wine companies, again arranging special purchase deals for hail-damaged grapes. Some farmers were unsatisfied with the official response, however, calling the offer “unacceptable”

and noting that much of their crop had been so badly damaged by the hail that it was impossible to use even for wine. There was a small rally in protest of the aid provided, asking for more support. Kakheti employs an anti-hail rocket system that is used to break up the clouds that carry hailstorms, but there is usu-

ally some level of hail damage regardless. Due to the current state of the wine industry, its growth and successes, the government of Georgia determined that the 2018 harvest will be reflective of full market price conditions – the first in the last 10 years without government subsidies for grape growers.

Georgia’s Meat Market

BY SHAWN WAYNE

T

he quality of meat available in Georgia is lacking compared to many western countries, with meat cuts predominantly being sold in bazaars and markets with no specific regulation. There are stores that sell processed meat products, but these too

are not always up to standard. In short, there is a major gap to fill. Earlier this year, the Food Security Service of Georgia (FSS) collected a number of food products from Tbilisi stores, and of the 20 items collected, 9 were found to contain horse and/or donkey meat. That is a staggering result and naturally unacceptable, however, not much is being done about it. Seven companies were found to have been selling horse and/or donkey meat

in products which were labelled as ‘containing beef/pork’ and so they were fined 1000 GEL (around $400). This is not the first time the FSS uncovered products containing horse and donkey meat that were falsely labeled, as, back in 2017, 12 companies were fined for similar reasons. It is quite possible that, should they conduct another search again, that they will find similar results. Georgian legislation does not specifically forbid the sale of horse or donkey meat; however, if either is included in a food item, it must be indicated. Suppliers sometimes fail to do so however, because these kinds of meat are not popular in Georgia, with few consumers willing to buy products labelled as horse/ donkey meat. The FSS has been conducting studies and tests like this since March 2017. Samples of ready-made dishes and other items are taken from food vendors and stores and an analysis is conducted in accredited laboratories. The agency has discovered several violations since it started operating.

Many say that fining these companies is insignificant and ineffective, and that the penalties given to companies for such violations are not severe enough and do not serve to prevent them from doing so again in the future. The local distribution and handling of meat is just not on standard and should be given more attention, especially with tourism on the rise. Georgian cuisine does not necessarily contain meat, with most dishes containing vegetables, cheese and egg, except for khinkali the famed meat dumplings. The meat market is growing, slowly, and does need improvements. Georgia is a major exporter of both cattle and sheep, yet it still imports over 20% of its meat. The consumption of meat in Georgia takes place less than four days after the actual slaughtering of animals, with no time made to mature the meat, often leaving the meat in a very tough state. In the West, the tenderness of meat plays a big role in the quality, but n Georgia it is not regulated in the same way. In

bazaars and markets, the animals are slaughtered and sold almost the same day and then consumed. Georgia does not provide for matured meats in general, except for companies such as Blauenstein Georgia. Blauenstein Georgia has been operating in Racha since 2008, and started producing meat products in 2015, hoping to fill the gap left by other providers by offering matured and ripened meat closer to a western standard. They plan to invest more, and it is understandable why, due to the shortcomings of the country with regards to high-standard meat and the increasing demand from youth and tourists. Meat production has quite a way to go in Georgia and small improvements won’t be enough; there is a massive gap that needs to be filled. The older generation does not mind the meat quality provided at bazaars and markets but, with the increasing westernization of Georgian standards, meats are becoming high on the list of demands for change.

Night Buses to Run in Tbilisi on Fridays & Saturdays BY THEA MORRISON

T

bilisi City Hall announced that night buses are to run in the capital from 00:00 to 06:00 on Fridays and Saturdays from September

21. Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze said the night buses will operate within the Tbilisi City Hall Night Economy project from metro station Akhmeteli Theater to Varketili metro station. The interval between the buses will be an hour. The night buses will make stops at the following locations: Akhmeteli Theatre metro station,

King Tamar Avenue (Goodwill hypermarket), Crossing of the right bank of the Mtkvari River and Giorgi Saakadze I Exit, Crossing of Vakhushti Bagrationi and Agladze streets, Dinamo Arena stadium, Davit Aghmashenebeli Avenue #106, The First Republican Square, Freedom Square metro, Nikoloz Baratashvili Street “Konka”, Europe Square, 7, Vakhtang Gorgasali Street - Sulphur Baths, Dodashvili Square, Isani metro station, Varketili Metro Station. The buses will show the sign “Night Bus" and will cost GEL 0.50, as it is dur-

ing the daytime. Mayor Kaladze presented the Night Economy concept in April. He says that any economic activity that starts at 8pm and lasts until morning is considered a ‘Night Economy,' and involves various directions, including transport and communications, restaurant and hotel business, culture industry, trade and tourism. He added that the decision to encourage night capital was made after studying the experience of such big cities as Amsterdam, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Tokyo, Vilnius, Zurich and many others, which generate great income from nightlife activities. The project is expected to benefit ordinary citizens, tourists, small and medium businesses, large investment units and

culture representatives. It also envisages development and promotion not only of the central part of the city, but also the

districts, recognizing that all parts of the capital need to be equally attractive to tourists.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

9

EU-Sponsored Labor Standards Conference in Tbilisi BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

O

n September 19-20, the European Union held a seminar at the Biltmore Hotel in Tbilisi on the topic of labor standards and working conditions in the country. The purpose of the event was to share opinions on legislation and the best labor practices of international organizations. The seminar discussed labor standards in relation to the economic association and free trade area opened by the Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia, which was signed in June 2014. It also facilitated knowledge exchanges on concrete examples of enforcement practices in the EU and other countries, including by European companies that work internationally. The seminar brought together representatives of key Georgian stakeholders in the subject area, including members of the Parliament of Georgia, relevant social partners such as the Georgian Trade Union Confederation and the Georgian Employers’ Association, civil society organizations, subject experts, labor practitioners, and social partners from EU Member States, other countries closely associated with the EU, and the International Labor Office (the permanent secretariat of the International Labor Organization). Part of the convention focused on business, facilitating the exchange of EU labor best practices and legislation between European companies and Georgian businesses.

Image source: Tbilisi City Hall

The EU organized the seminar in an effort to promote fair and equitable, European-style labor standards in Georgia. The convention emphasized that improving labor standards, working conditions, and labor market institutions are an asset for increasing productivity, enhancing skills, and enhancing the added value in the global value chain. Sustainable development goals are also better on a platform of strong, wellenforced labor standards. The Director for Labor Mobility at the

Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the European Commission, Jordi Curell, and the Minister of IDPs of the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, Davit Sergeenko, discussed how to continue dialogue and cooperation around these issues between Georgian and European entities in both the public and private sectors. Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi Ilia Eloshvili also attended the seminar. He spoke to attendees about the role of Tbilisi City

Hall and local municipalities in relation to labor safety. City Hall recently initiated legislation that put into place new labor protection regulations, and Eloshvili noted that the new regulations have significantly reduced the number of violations in the construction industry. The regulations increase fines for violating construction labor standards from 3000 GEL to 30,000 GEL. Additionally, companies previously received a warning for violations of safety standards, and now they are immediately fined. “As sta-

tistics show, the stricter approach has reduced the amount of violations in terms of construction safety. As a result of tightening regulations, the number of accidents at construction sites has been significantly reduced. Protection of labor safety requires a complex approach from both the authorities and local municipalities. We welcome the fact that the Tbilisi City Hall is involved in this important process, because the right to a safe working environment one of the highest categories of human rights,” said Eloshvili.


10

BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

San Diego State University Georgia Hosts 2018 Convocation Ceremony in Tbilisi BY ANA DUMBADZE

T

he San Diego State University of Georgia warmly we l c o m e d f r e s h m e n through the 2018 Convocation Ceremony. As it is widely known, a positive and energetic start is quite important for achieving success, especially when it comes to the new academic year. Motivating students for the new challenges is not an easy task, but it was well-achieved at the San Diego State University Georgia’s Convocation Ceremony, a special event that signifies the beginning of a university career and brings new students and their families together with faculty and staff. On September 19, San Diego State University (SDSU) Georgia hosted its official Convocation Ceremony to mark the start of the new academic year and accept new students into its programs. The joyful and simultaneously quite important event was attended by the 9th permanent President of SDSU, Dr. Adela de la Torre, Vice Prime-Minister and Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, Maya Tskitishvili, Minister of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport, Mikheil Batiashvili, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, Elizabeth Rood, Millennium Challenge Corporation Chief Operating Officer, Jonathan Nash, and Millennium Challenge Account Georgia Chief Executive Officer, Magda Magradze. President de la Torre and a delegation of SDSU Deans from the Colleges of Science and Engineering were special guests of the event. At the beginning of the event, the national anthems of Georgia and the United States were performed. The Convocation Ceremony was hosted by Halil Güven, Dean of SDSU Georgia. The honorable guests and attendees of the ceremony addressed freshmen, congratulating them on the beginning of the

new academic year, wishing them a successful university career and bright future and stressed the importance of SDSU’s collaboration with Georgia. “We have a record number of students engaged in our programs this year. Besides admitting such a large quantity of students, we enrolled 14 students with perfect scores in General Aptitude, Math, Chemistry, and English into our programs. I am thrilled that students’ interest towards STEM and SDSU is constantly increasing, both qualitatively and quantitatively. This is very promising for the future of Georgia. We wish success to all our new and old students in this academic year!” Güven noted. Dr. de la Torre led the official ceremony of accepting new students to the University’s programs. Successful students of SDSU addressed the audience and welcomed the freshmen. One of the Georgian students, Tekle

Patsuria, advised the new students to use all the opportunities, study well and achieve the best results. One of the most exciting parts of the event was the Oath Taking Ceremony, when all the students jointly recognized SDSU’s successful past and experience as the key to their promising future and expressed gratitude for the contribution of their families and friends who have assisted them to become new members of the SDSU community. At the end of the event, the anthem of the university, SDSU Alma Mater, was performed. SDSU has been in Georgia for four years, and compared to the previous years, the number of the students has significantly increased. In 2018, SDSU accepted 230 students into its internationally accredited American degree programs in Georgia. The 4th cohort, like the previous one, is diverse: students

from Tbilisi and all regions of Georgia are represented. 38% of the new cohort is female. SDSU Georgia continues attracting the top scorers from the National Exams (NAEC). According to Dr. de la Torre, one of the main reasons Georgian students become more and more interested in studying at SDSU is that they realize that the opportunities the university offers are important for a promising career and for the country’s future. When asked about her impressions and expectations about Georgian students, Dr. de la Torre noted that she is looking forward to collaborating and assisting them on their way to success. “I would tell Georgian students that it is important to understand that no matter what your background is or which region you are from, you have many opportunities to access the SDSU programs, to become a creator of the future.

You need to focus on your aims and goals, because it can transform our lives not only in Georgia but throughout the world, through the types of skills you will get. I am looking forward to working with you.” She also stressed the importance of the fact that almost 40%of the new students are young women. “Having both women and men who are educated in STEM will create a team science that we need to address global problems,” she elaborated. SDSU, through funding from the US Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation, offers internationally accredited Bachelor of Science programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in Georgia. As the MCC Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Nash noted, MCC is proud of the progress achieved through the incredible partnership with SDSU in Georgia, the government and partner universities and they are excited to see what comes next. “I am thrilled to assist in welcoming a new cohort of students of SDSU Georgia. SDSU is the only American university in Georgia offering the STEM Program. MCC is proud to be a part of this partnership. Today it is the 4th cohort, the largest one, with 230 students. We are honored to continue to grow in future. STEM education is a way to the future and it will offer a lot of chances for students to take advantage of the new and emerging economic opportunities here in Georgia. I congratulate Georgia, I congratulate San Diego State University, and I am excited to be here today,” Nash told reporters. The history of SDSU began in the late 19th century. It is one of the biggest and most popular universities in California, USA. SDSU Georgia graduates will receive an American degree. These programs will support the development of construction, science, and technology fields along with Georgia’s human capital capacity for economic growth.

Running a Call Center in Georgia BY SHAWN WYANE

T

hese days ever more foreign investors are looking into opening businesses in Georgia. Call centers are especially popular an area and have been for a few years now. GEORGIA TODAY sat down with the owner of dispatch call center DsPro to find out what it takes to open and maintain a call center in Tbilisi. Jacob, originally from Israel, runs a call center with his business partner Shlomi here in Tbilisi.

TELL US HOW YOUR CALL CENTER CAME TO BE I moved to America over 10 years ago where I had a small shuttle business in New York. The business failed after six months and I decided to move back to Israel in hopes of furthering my studies in IT. I started working for a dispatch company there which grew quite fast and I became a manager and was sent back to America to open a store. Later, back in Tel Aviv, I worked in a call center that wanted to expand, and a colleague of mine got sent to Georgia and I joined him. After running a center for another company here, Shlomi and I saw the opportunity and potential in Georgia, and so decided to start our own dispatch company.

DO YOU THINK THE CALL CENTER BUSINESS IS POPULAR HERE?

Yes. There are big American companies here that opened call centers years ago, and they will continue to open here- it’s just easier.

DO YOU THINK THIS BUSINESS BENEFITS THE PEOPLE OF GEORGIA? Yes. I hire mostly students, but we have almost 40 people employed here, and we are just a small company. We’re growing rapidly and will require more employees in future. The thing is, we can afford to pay our employees a more than average salary, which is the plus side for employees in most foreign businesses, and for a lot of the employees we provide medical insurance as well, meaning they only need to pay 25 GEL per month and we pay the rest.

HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE OPENING A BUSINESS LIKE THIS IN GEORGIA TO SOMEWHERE ELSE? They say it’s easy to open a business here, which at the end of the day it is regarding all the paperwork and so on, but after that it gets difficult. Dealing with everything else is problematic, for example, dealing with the banks is hard because they are reluctant to give merchant accounts and ask a lot of questions because they are afraid of people wanting to launder money, which is fair on the one side I guess, but in my case, I had the contracts in place and all the paperwork ready which proved I was simply looking for an account for the business. The other thing is the utilities: internet is bothersome for business own-

ers. When you’re an individual, internet is quite cheap in Georgia, however, for a business they charge more than triple that amount for no reason at all.

ers, such as customer service: oftentimes when you call a specific service and ask for someone who speaks English, there is no-one, or they just hang up!

improved, however, and overall it is nice to be here. I think for most business owners at the end of the day they stay because they make money here.

DO YOU THINK THERE ARE STILL IMPROVEMENTS THAT CAN BE MADE IN GEORGIA IN ORDER TO ACCOMMODATE FOREIGN BUSINESS OWNERS?

WHAT’S YOUR OVERALL EXPERIENCE OF GEORGIA?

ANY ADVICE BUSINESS-WISE FOR PEOPLE WANTING TO OPEN A BUSINESS HERE?

Georgia wants foreign business owners here, and they do encourage them to invest and work here. But I think they should improve the banking regulations here for business owners. The overall infrastructure still needs some improvement to support foreign business own-

First of all, Georgia is a beautiful place, and I think a lot of business owners decided to start a business here because of that. There are some things that bother me, like inefficient inspection of vehicles, fines that are quite small compared to other countries, and the regulation of the quality of food that you buy in stores is really not where it’s supposed to be. These are things that can easily be

As I said, at the end of the day it is easy to open a business here, but you will require a lot of patience in order to actually run the business. Just like in any other country, there will be problems, and dealing with them will take time. Essentially, don’t expect it to be easy, you still need to work in order to make a success out of it, just as you do in any project.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

Photo: Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport

Minister of Education Discusses Accreditation Concerns with University Rectors BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

M

inister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, Mikheil Batiashvili, met Monday with the rectors of higher education institutions, both public and private. They discussed the challenges surrounding the accreditation process for educational programs and how to improve it. The ministry released a statement saying that their work “continues to increase the quality of higher education,” and the meeting was a part of this continual effort. The accreditation process for univer-

sity education programs continues, and universities that have already completed the accreditation process will receive the results within the established deadlines, promised Batiashvili. The authorization process was adjusted under the new minister’s administration due to “faults in the course of the previous process and current authorizations,” reads a ministry statement. Batiashvili took office in mid-July as part of a major cabinet reshuffle under Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze. He initiated several reforms, including dismissing many senior officials. The accreditation reform process has been conducted in close cooperation with the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education and

several international organizations. Their goal is to “quickly and effectively integrate into the European Higher Education Area,” Batiashvili said. The ministry has said it will consider extending the amount of time given to universities to meet accreditation standards, and is involving the Council of Rectors, and local and international higher education experts in the evaluation process. A statement from the ministry said that Batiashvili “believes that the procedures for ensuring the quality of higher education should not be punitive. On the contrary, the ministry should be supportive to universities in order to help them improve their quality. Accordingly, the ministry will evaluate their progress and help them in the future.”

Georgia & Albania Sign Info Protection Agreement

Photo: State Security Service of Georgia

BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

T

he State Security Service of Georgia shared on its Facebook page Wednesday that the Head of the Service, Vakhtang Gomelauri, signed an agreement with the Director of Albania’s Classified Information Security Directorate, Dorian Tola. The agree-

ment covers the exchange and mutual protection of classified information. The two met in Tbilisi during an official visit by Tola, accompanied by a delegation from the Classified Information Security Directorate. They signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of Georgia and Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania, respectively. The purpose of the Agreement is to establish legal norms regulating mutual protection of the classified information

exchanged and created in the process of cooperation between the two countries. It also serves as a solid legal basis for the exchange of classified information between Georgia and Albania in the fields of security, law enforcement, foreign relations, and other spheres. Gomelauri and Tola also had a discussion which emphasized the importance of further enhancing cross-country cooperation on issues of security, and outlined plans for future cooperation.

11


12

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

Cannabis, The Talk of the World OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

G

eorgia is a classic country of radical attitudes. This is just part of our national psyche, but that’s OK, we’re fine with it. The current apple of public discord here is marijuana: should we grow it or not in the remains of our beautiful land? The problem is that the government wants it and the nation doesn’t. In essence, cannabis is a very lucrative business and will be for decades, in line with current hemp appreciation. In America, more and more states are legalizing marijuana even though it is still illegal federally. Marijuana is no longer a gateway drug and can be taken as a scheduled medication. The American political establishment is slowly considering removing the classification which means that pharmaceutical companies will eat this up and allow marijuana to be sold over the shelf in different forms - pill, liquid, or otherwise. The main reason marihuana is still federally illegal in the State is the psychoactive component of the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in it. But there are certain supplement companies currently operating in the market that extract the THC, leaving in the product only CBD (cannabidiol), an oil which is free from the psychoactive component and has all of the health benefits. THC, mixed with

Image source: kwch.com

CBD, produces all those medical benefits but most people do not want to deal with the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, choosing only the pure CBD as a medicinal remedy. Concerning smoking marihuana, people in general do not enjoy it, but they do like to use a vaporizer. They say it’s clean, and it doesn’t smell. In America, this is the most popular form of smoking marijuana today. It comes as pocket-sized electronic cigarettes. The users press a button, inhale, and start feeling it within minutes. What the vaporizer smokers most like about it is that it

is undetectable unless one takes a blood test. Employers in the United States are no longer even testing for marijuana because many people registered medical marijuana cards and use it for their own health benefits. Examples of pre-existing conditions include stress, glaucoma, cancer. All of these medical conditions grant you access to being a registered marijuana user in the dispensary database in any particular state where it is legalized. In terms of the good and bad, it is completely relative. Supporters of marihuana

legalization jovially comment that the only bad thing about it is that it has a bad reputation. There have been many misconceptions about marijuana being a gateway drug. Drugs like cocaine and others have nothing in common with marijuana. Marijuana and other psychoactive plants that are in the same plant family, have been used for millennia for both medicinal and recreation purposes, though this is certainly not enough reason for its outright legalization. Coca-Cola made a statement the other day that it is closely watching the growth

of CBD, the non-psychoactive component in marijuana, as an ingredient in what it called “functional wellness” beverages. Coke is expected to develop the product first for sale in Canada, preparing it for the United States once it is fully legal. The giant is positioning itself for the long-term, having estimated that cannabis-infused drinks could become a $50 billion annual market in the United States. Aurora Cannabis, the Canadian Medical Marijuana Producer, has also expressed interest in cannabis drinks. In a word, a lot is going on in this area right now and it is thought that it has incredible potential. Constellation Brands, the maker of Corona beer and Tequila, announced last month that it is investing an additional $4 billion in the Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth. One of the Heineken affiliates called Lagunitas already has a drink infused with THC and it can be purchased at marijuana dispensaries in California. In Georgia, the picture is totally different: even if it is presumed that medicallyoriented hemp might be profitable for the country, our people’s reaction to it is extremely negative. The government is inclined to make big money on medicinal cannabis but the public opposes the idea, and they both have strong arguments. So, the consideration of the issue might be postponed for the very remote future. It’s almost impossible in Georgia to say 100% what is good and what is bad. That’s how life is here!

Sprouting like Weed: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER

H

aving attended the first day of school in Georgia, yesterday as I write this, I now have cause to reflect. It was the usual welcome to our 71-strong village school, with an inflow of 7 youngsters into grade 1, not a bad haul, but unusual in that this year there will be no one in grade 12; we simply don’t have anyone in that class. My wife now has a higher grade of teacher certification, having earned a hard-won 10 in her summer exam; the school director now has a doctorate, too. And everyone’s a year older, a little or a lot taller.

The night before that, my best friend in the village came over for a long-overdue chat. He’s a father of three little ones, the oldest in grade 2, and is not optimistic about recent changes in local society. “Tony, when you walk around Mestia now, a cloud of marijuana smoke is in the air,” he says. “I came down tough on one of my friends, saying that if he doesn’t quit smoking the stuff, I’ll ban my children from being anywhere near him. He took it hard, but then he did what I asked and gave up! What do I want with that kind of thing around my family? It’s being grown all over the place around us now! For nothing good!” We talked some more about this troubling trend, agreeing that it will indeed change things for the worse if left unchecked, greed being a likely motiva-

tor. While I can understand that there may be some medical need to use marijuana or one of its derivatives for pain control, and have never suffered such a need, more than this I am led to believe is only harmful to health in the long run. We already have enough of a problem with jobless young men and drinking in the village; should we add this new thing to that list of issues too? There are anti-smoking campaigns and anti-drug use campaigns in the school, which I think is great, but I also still see so many male school leavers getting straight into tobacco and from there into other, stronger things. As if they can afford such lifelong addictions and their overall health effects! Not intending to sound Puritan (after

all, I do make and responsibly consume my own liqueurs); just aware of the effects of overdoing certain substances on my community and particularly its young families. The drinking is bad enough, when it leads to widows and orphans, usually because of being combined with driving. What will this new tendency lead to? I hate to be the one saying “Mark my words,” followed by “I told you so…” But I, too, am pessimistic. And I’m a member of this community, not just a passer-through. We don’t sell cigarettes or alcohol in our shop at all, partly because these “addictive” items tend to send their consumers on the prowl whenever the need for a fix joins with the end of current supplies: day or night, anytime. We were

warned about this and experienced it for a while as well. And partly because I have no wish to make it easy for local people to get their hands on them and profit myself thereby. They’re not neutral things, in my eyes. I see a downward slide with the latest changes in narcotics law here, so shall I say nothing? 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 1900 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


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

Tbilisi Spring/ Summer Fashion Week Updates BY SHIRIN MAHDAVI

T

he upcoming spring/summer 2019 Tbilisi Fashion Week commences in a month. Updates on the anticipated event are devastatingly scarce, but with a little close attention, some details can be uncovered. The Tbilisi Fashion Week website as well as the Week’s instagram pages have given virtually no information on next month’s shows, at least not in any forthright manner. By scoping out the Tbilisi Fashion Week instagram page and paying close attention to the tagged pages in the posts, however, news about collections and designers being featured have been revealed in the past week. According to recent posts, the following designers/brands will be making an appearance during the October fashion week. Collections from Moscow based clothing brand Miro will be featured in the shows. Ukranian designer Luba Makarenko and Makarenko’s line Sayya will unveil collections in Tbilisi. And perhaps most proudly, the Georgian designer Keti Chkhikvadze plans to debut new collections in the upcoming shows. The style of Miro’s collection for Tbilisi Fashion Week is somewhat unclear at this moment, but the themes of Makarenko and Chkhikvadze’s work have been hinted at. Makarenko’s collection from

Sayya is titled ‘Colorful Zombie.’ No images have been blatantly revealed yet for these pieces, but bright colors and perhaps neons are expected. Chkhikvadze’s designs are within the fairy tale realm according to photographs posted. Dark colors, floral prints, unexpected silhouettes, and puffed sleeves will grace pieces in Chkhikvadze’s collection. The fashions walking the Tbilisi runway this October have not all been revealed, but from the updates so far, this season’s looks are sure to intrigue.

Dazed Digital Recaps Tbilisi’s Summer of Techno Protests

Photo: Dazed Digital, Barclay Bram

BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

F

ashion and culture magazine Dazed published an article Friday summarizing Tbilisi’s summer of protests and nightclub culture. “The story of Tbilisi’s Bassiani nightclub reveals the complex relationship between the country’s police, drug laws, music scene, and LGTBQ+ youth,” opens the piece by Barclay Bram. It goes through the story of the night popular electronic dance club Bassiani was raided, on Saturday, May 12, from the perspective of that night’s DJ, HVL (Gigi Jikia). Bram, however, dives further into the history of Tbilisi’s nightlife, attempting to untangle the web of events that led to the May 12 raids and subsequent protests. He asks, “How was it that Tbilisi – a city of less than one million people in a country buffeted by war, where the average monthly salary only just peaks above $400, where vegan restaurants get targeted by sausage-throwing ultra-con-

servative hooligans [that was only once], where LGBTQ+ lives are severely marginalized – was a place where electronic music had become so integral to the lives of some young people that they were willing to risk neo-Nazis and baton-wielding police to demand their right to it?” One of Bassiani’s founders, Tato Getia, is quoted questioning why the Georgian government does not support the electronic music scene, maintaining that the clubs should be a source of pride. “Before… no one knew Tbilisi, no one had any idea what was happening in Georgia. Now, the world is aware of us and people come from all over to these clubs. And they still hit us here! Why?” Bram goes through Georgia’s “draconian” drug laws, the pro-drug legalization movement White Noise, and the city’s attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community. The very existence of radically inclusive dance clubs in the current political environment makes “clubbing in Tbilisi...inherently political,” Bram concludes. For the full article, titled How Techno Became the Sound of Protest in Georgia, click here.

13


14

CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THEATER September 23 THE EIGHTH LIFE (FOR BRILKA) Thalia Theater, Germany Directed by Iete Stekeli Writer, adaptation: Nino Kharatishvili Starring: Lisa Hagmaisteri, Frantsishka Hartmani, Mirko Kraibihi, Mari Liokeri, Karin Noihauzeri, Barbara Niusi, Sebastian Rudolfi, Maia Shone, Andre Shimanski. Georgian, English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-60 GEL Venue: Rustaveli Theater September 26 FREUD'S CIGAR Sthlms Musik Teater SMT, Sweden Directed By Andrias Bunstra Composer: Ian-Erik Seefisa Starring: Ionas Nierbe Actors: Andersh Holts, Sara Kilman Vilbe Georgian, English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Venue: Marjanishvili Theater September 26 MARTIAL ART IN DANCE Zhaoliangart, China Directed By Tsiao Liani Writer, adaptation: Tsiao Liani Designer: Vu Di Composer: Thruoutin Choreographer: Tsiao Liani Starring: Li Yu, Cao Pei Zhong, Gong Xingxing, Zhang Kun, Zhang Zhenguo, Liao Yuan Wu, Thruoutin, Song Zhao Georgian, English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-60 GEL Venue: Griboedov Theater RUSTAVELI THEATER Address: 17 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 72 68 68 www.rustavelitheatre.ge September 26 EVENING OF GIORGI ALEKSIDZE CHOREOGRAPHY Act I BALLET MINIATURES Music by J. S. Bach, A. Corelli, C. Chaplin, A. Piazzolla, I. Dunayevsky, E. Denisov, O. Messiaen, I. Kechakmadze, D. Shostakovich, G. Kancheli Act II GIYA KANCHELI’S ‘DIPLIPITO’ CONTEMPORARY BALLET ON THE THEME OF PHAEDRA With participation of Giorgi Aleksidze Tbilisi Contemporary Ballet and Guest Artists. Company Artistic Director– Mariam Aleksidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 7-25 GEL

MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 234 80 90 September 25 WELCOME TO GEORGIA A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Musical Language: English, some Georgian (with English subtitles) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Shota Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 September 21, 22 Roma Rtskhiladze and Pantomime Theater THE WISHING TREE where pantomime is combined with experimental music Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 20 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 14 Shavteli Str. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 September 21, 22, 27 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL September 23, 25, 26 An animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL September 21-27 MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN Directed by Ol Parker Cast: Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard Genre: Comedy, Musical Language: Russian Start time: 21:45, 19:15 Ticket: 11-15 GEL DON'T WORRY, HE WON'T GET FAR ON FOOT Directed by Gus Van Sant Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill,

Rooney Mara Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 16:30 Ticket: 14 GEL ALPHA Directed by Albert Hughes Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Natassia Malthe, Leonor Varela Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 15:00 Ticket: 12 GEL THE PREDATOR Directed by Shane Black Cast: Yvonne Strahovski, Olivia Munn, Jacob Tremblay Genre: Action, Adventure, Horror Language: English Start time: 19:45 Language: Russian Start time: 17:15 Ticket: 14-15 GEL A SIMPLE FAVOR Directed by Paul Feig Cast: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery Language: Russian Start time: 19:30, 19:45 Ticket: 12 GEL THE NUN Directed by Corin Hardy Cast: Bonnie Aarons, Taissa Farmiga, Jonny Coyne Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 13-14 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL September 21-27 JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN Directed by David Kerr Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Olga Kurylenko, Emma Thompson, Jake Lacy Genre: Comedy, Action, Adventure Language: English Start time: 15:15 Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 16-19 GEL THE PREDATOR (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 22:30 Language: Russian Start time: 12:30, 15:00, 22:00 Ticket: 10-19 GEL A SIMPLE FAVOR (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 21:30 Language: Russian Start time: 17:30 Ticket: 16-19 GEL

THE NUN (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 20:00 Language: Russian Start time: 13:00, 17:30, 22:30 Ticket: 14-19 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY Exhibition showcasing a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS OF THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM– INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN May 26 – September 30 THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA - 100 YEARS September 27- October 7 The EuroArt and ArtEcho Foundations (directed by Dali Ubilava de Graaf), together with its Georgian and foreign partners, is organizing THE EXHIBITION OF AURELIEN VILLETTE'S ‘RESOLUTION OF SILENCE – ABKHAZIA’ MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 September 18- October 4 Exhibition ‘MUTUAL FRUSTRATION’ BY ETER METREVELI September 19- October 4 Exhibition UNITY IN DIVERSITY. BRISTOL & TBILISI: 1988 -2018 The exhibition showcases the development of the cultural, educational and civic relationship between the two cities from the beginning to the present day. September 22- October 6 Exhibition ‘EVERY RELATION HAS ITS OWN IDEOLOGY’ BY ILIKO ZAUTASHVILI SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI MUSEUM Rabati Fortress, 1 P. Kharistchirashvili Str.1, Akhaltsikhe The Georgian National Museum presents the renovated exhibition spaces at the Samtskhe-Javakheti Museum, which see the addition of recently discovered exhibits, and technical updates according to modern museum standards. SVANETI MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND ETHNOGRAPHY Address: 7 A. Ioseliani Str., Mestia, Georgia.

August 25 – October 14 Georgian National Museum and Project ArtBeat present Maia Naveriani's exhibition ‘Gone Here Today Tomorrow’ at the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00 September 11 – November 25 EXHIBITION BERNINI'S SCHOOL AND THE ROMAN BAROQUE After the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Titian and other great Italian artists, the Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy in Georgia present the exhibition MUSIC

IN THE DENSE FOREST Address: Tskneti, The last stop Telephone: 514 07 50 00 September 22 WILL GATES DJ SENDNUDES Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 15 GEL September 22 GENERALI MINERALI, DJ IS TYPING Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20 GEL SOUNDS OF GEORGIA September 21 Regular mini-concerts of traditional Georgian live music in Old Town will make you get to know and fall in love with Georgian character and culture. Start time: 17:00 Tickets: 23 GEL Venue: New Tiflis, 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’ September 26 Start time: 17:00 Tickets: 23 GEL Venue: 2 Ivan Turgenev Atr., Tbilisi deep yard September 27 Start time: 17:00 Tickets: 23 GEL Venue: Europe Sq., 2 D. Megreli Str., Hotel ‘Nata’, Terrace OTIUM Address: Near Turtle Lake September 27 SALIO DJ REMBO Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL MTATSMINDA

Address: Mtatsminda Hill September 21 EZO FESTIVAL SEASON AFTER PARTY Lineup: eZo Stage: Deka, 1-hour Session Feat. Bakur Metreveli, Kid Jesus, Kozmana, Irakli Shonia, Tetso, Naut, Kazzy Jazz/Jeronimo, Moku-Moku, Terika Caffe Stage: Residents Night, Audio space, Ako von unten, Dj Tomwildculture, Gabunia, Rati, Vasil Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 20-30 GEL LOPOTA LAKE RESORT & SPA Address: Kakheti, Lopota Lake Resort & Spa September 21 The second festival: JAZZ AND WINE KAKHETI Start time: 17:00 Ticket: From 500 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2018

2018 Tbilisi Photo Festival Hosts Exhibition of Renowned Lithuanian Photographers

BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

O

ne of Georgia’s most awaited cultural events, the Tbilisi Photo Festival, is back, this year taking place in the Old Town. This year marks the 9th edition since the establishment of the festival, and as a part of it, a Lithuanian photography evening was held in Fabrika on September 15. This year both Lithuania and Georgia are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of their republics and in relation to this symbolic occasion, Lithuania presented a collection of 100 unique photo books of Lithuanian photographers to the newly-established Tbilisi Photography and Multimedia Museum library. The event, entitled “The Phenomena of Lithuanian Photography (1918-2018),” featured a photo screening and installation of 100 Lithuanian photography books. On one hand, the field of photography in Lithuania was shaped by western European influence and on the other by the Soviet cultural context. As such, the Lithuanian photographic experience was a fascinating evolutionary process, as artistic aesthetics gave way to the idealistic dogma of the Stalin period, to the birth of the humanistic “Lithuanian School of Photography,” and the new forms that have emerged since the fall of communism. The screening of 100 years of Lithuanian photography is the first time Tbilisi Photo Festival has showcased such a rich collection of masters in a single event. The photo exhibition displayed the works of 30 distinguished and renowned artists. Apart from photo screening, the attendees were able to personally look through the Lithuanian photobooks exposed at the venue. The evening was attended by numerous photography and art lovers of all

ages, both foreigners and locals. Giedrius Puodžiunas, the Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to Georgia welcomed the guests and stressed the importance of the event. “Today is a special event since this year marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of both Georgian and Lithuanian statehood. The audience saw a short presentation of those 100 years and may have noticed a few familiar faces and places, since some of the photos were shot in Tbilisi. The screening presented great artists and great names. We are proud of our school of photography. The exhibition brought many people, lovers of art and photography here and served as demonstration of a beautiful friendship between these two countries,” the Ambassador told GEORGIA TODAY. Gintaras Cesonis, the Chairman of the Union of Lithuanian Art Photographers and curator of the exhibition, also delivered a speech and expressed his happiness at seeing the beautiful installation of Lithuanian books donated to the Georgian side. “Collaboration is very important between these two countries, between artists, between galleries, and museums,” Cesonis noted, adding that his kind of event is a way to get to know each other better. “During our visit to Tbilisi, we met some curators and agreed to organize a Georgian photography day in Lithuania next year, and I think it will be only the beginning of exchanges and mutual projects. Donating books was a spontaneous proposal from our side while meeting the Director of Tbilisi Photo Festival during the photography festival in France. Sincerely, the idea came from the heart and I’m really happy the gesture was so warmly accepted. This is probably the biggest Lithuanian photography book collection in the world outside of Lithuania. In the screening, each photographer tried to uncover the identity of the country they are living in and the relationship between the person

PUBLISHER & GM

George Sharashidze COMMERCIAL DEPARTMENT

Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Anuka Poladishvili

GEORGIA TODAY

EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT:

Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

The 167th Season of the Tbilisi Opera & Ballet State Theater Opens BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI

O

n October 2, the 167th opera season will be opened with Abeselom and Eteri, a performance dedicated to the memory of Zurab Sotkilava, a Georgian Operatic tenor and soloist of the Zakaria Paliashvili Tbilsi Opera and Ballet State Theater, People’s Artist of the USSR, tutor, honored academician of the Bologna Music Academy and a man boasting numerous roles and the awards at the theater. Abeselom and Eteri is a famous threeact opera written by Zakaria Paliashvili and librettist Petre Mirianashvili based on a medieval Georgian folk poem Eteriani. The first premiere was performed in February 1919 at the Georgian National Opera and Ballet State Theater, quickly becoming popular amongst the Georgian audience. The main theme of the opera represents “love that is a great, an invin-

and daily life through their photo collections. I think Georgian and Lithuanian people understand each other better than any other countries. Even the fact that in 1918 neither of us was creating a new country but recreating the state we lost a century prior, makes us closer. Our countries share many similarities from their history, so it’s easier to understand and love each other. We are open for invitations and proposals. I’d personally like to come back here just as a photographer one day, because the country is beautiful and calls to me as a photographer,” Cesonis told GEORGIA TODAY. The Lithuanian photo exhibition was followed by the traditional Night of Photography in the heart of the Georgian capital, in Betlemi District, one of the oldest and the most authentic parts of Tbilisi. On Saturday, September 15, eight large media screens were set up in the streets of Betlemi District overlooking the city. The works on show were provided by over 20 different festivals, agencies, organizations and publications, including the Angkor Photo Festival, La Nuu de Fotografia, Ria Keburia Gallery, British Journal of Photography, Noor agency, Lensculture, Delhi Photo Festival, Vasa Project, Latvian Museum, as well as Georgian photographers. Tbilisi Photo Festival was co-founded by French photographer, currently Photo Editor in Chief at the French daily newspaper Liberation, Lionel Charrier, and the Georgian photo curator and journalist Nestan Nijaradze. It was first launched in 2010 in partnership with Les Rencontres d’Arles. Eight editions later, it has become not only the most important photo festival in the region but one of the major annual cultural events in the Caucasus. The Festival aims to be a central meeting point for photography from Asia, Iran, Turkey, Europe, and the Arab world - and to showcase the best of world photography as well as to promote emerging regional photography.

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

15

cible force that overcomes not only social inequality, but also death itself.” It is a fusion of Georgian folk songs and 19th century romantic classical themes. The cast has already been announced, and is to include Gocha Datusani, Teimurad Gugushvili, and Khatuna Tchokhonelidze. Alongside them will be the soloists, choir and orchestra of the Opera and Ballet State Theater, ballet troupe and Georgian National Ballet Sukhishvilebi. Within the new season, one of the first premieres will be Keto and Kote by Victor Dolidze in November, which will also be memorable for the Georgian audience.

Welcome to Georgia, The Musical: First Show of the Season Sells Out!

ADVERTORIAL

C

heck out the latest news on the top tourist sensation, Welcome to Georgia – The Musical, whose second season opened on September 18. The show was premiered in February 2018 at the Music & Drama State Theater in Tbilisi. During the first season, the show was played 18 times for more than 2000 international guests from 60 different countries. Welcome to Georgia – The Musical is a 95-minute theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. The play features around 17 traditional Georgian songs and

Website Manager/Editor: Tamzin Whitewood Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

dances performed live on stage by 19 actors who will take you on a journey from Maro’s wine cellar to the feast table, where you’ll be welcomed with worldrenowned Georgian hospitality for an evening of humor, romance and a taste of true Georgia and all its traditions. Most dialogue is in English and includes numerous interesting facts about the country that every Georgian is proud of. Venue: Music & Drama State Theater, 182 Aghmashenebeli Avenue, Tbilisi Upcoming shows: September: 25 October: 2, 9, 16, 23, 31 November: 6, 13, 21, 27 December: 4, 11, 18 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ musical.ge/ Instagram: @musical.ge www.musical.ge

ADDRESS

1 Melikishvili Str. Tbilisi, 0179, Georgia Tel.: +995 32 229 59 19 E: info@georgiatoday.ge F: GeorgiaToday ADVERTISING & SUBSCRIPTION

+995 597 97 21 12 E-mail: marketing@georgiatoday.ge

Reproducing material, photos and advertisements without prior editorial permission is strictly forbidden. The author is responsible for all material. Rights of authors are preserved. The newspaper is registered in Mtatsminda district court. Reg. # 06/4-309


Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1085  

September 21 - 24, 2018

Issue #1085  

September 21 - 24, 2018

Advertisement