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Issue no: 1135



In this week’s issue... The Latest News on the 'Georgia - Homeland of Wine' Project NEWS PAGE 3

Kazakh Leader Goes, But His Legacy Remains



Parliament Approves Draft Law on Selection of Judges

ON THE SHEPHERD CASE Extradition looms and we speak to both sides of the case



Image source: skynews.com

Bakhtadze Announces New Promises for Education Reform Almost immediately, the Prime Minister instituted a major reform of the education sector. “We plan to implement a 5-level reform that involves the integration of preschool education, school education, vocational education, higher education and science, the introduction of innovative education systems, and more importantly, the deepening of close ties between education and economics,” Bakhtadze announced when appointing Batiashvili. In Tuesday’s interview, Bakhtadze further discussed the now-ongoing reforms. He announced a focus on modernization and technology, saying that new modern kindergartens and fully-technologically equipped schools will be built “in every village, town, and city of the country.” Continued on page 3

Steady Number of Students from Georgia at UK Universities SOCIETY PAGE 8

Welcome to Georgia – The Musical, One Year On CULTURE PAGE 9

Image source: Press Office of the Prime Minister



eorgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze was interviewed this week by national news network Imedi TV. He spoke about the country’s education system and future plans for its development and reform. Since coming to power, Bakhtadze has had a particular focus on education, consolidating the Ministry of Education and Science with the Ministry of Youth and Sport, appointing Mikheil Batiashvili as head of the newly formed Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport in July of last year.

Interpreter & Swedish Film Critic Brings Photo Chronicle of Tarkovsky’s Last Film to Tbilisi CULTURE PAGE 11




MARCH 22 - 25, 2019

Gomarduli Ski Resort Project to be Revived BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


evelopers began working on Gomarduli Ski Resort in mountainous Ajara in 2011. Soon after development began, featuring several guesthouses and a restaurant, the Revenue Service of Georgia seized the property for non-payment of taxes. In 2014, resort director Jemal Darchidze reported that the tax they had failed to pay, in the amount of 126,000 GEL ($47,014), was not included in the original deal between Darchidze’s joint-stock company “Gomarduli” and the Georgian government, who sold the 52 acres of land to the company for a symbolic price of 1 GEL. Darchidze insisted that the deal, made with then-President Mikheil Saakashvili, promised that the company would be exempt from taxes for a 15-year period. In 2012, however, after just one season of operation, the courts disagreed, saying that Gomarduli was responsible for the taxes and seizing the resort’s property for non-payment. In early 2017, there were rumors in the media that the Ministry of Finance and Economy of the Ajara Autonomous Republic had plans to develop the Gomar-

duli resort, as the government began restoring the access road to the resort, and that they were working with the national Economic Council to get the taxes waived and the property returned to the developers. While the Economic Council was sympathetic to their demands and recommended the Revenue Service lift the taxes and punishment imposed on Gomarduli, the property was not officially returned to the company until earlier this year. Approximately a two-hour drive from Batumi, and a seven-and-a-half-hour trek from Tbilisi, the resort is expected to be popular among people from western Georgian and visitors from Turkey. It will compete with Goderdzi, another small ski resort in the Ajara Autonomous Republic, located approximately three hours from Batumi, and Bakhmaro, a four-season playground that offers backcountry cat skiing in endless powder, but little infrastructure. Bakhmaro is located 2 hours and 45 minutes from Batumi, further north in the region of Guria. It is not yet clear what sort of ski infrastructure the Gomarduli developers plan to construct in the newly reopened resort. Darchidze told the news website Commersant that in January, by the Prime Minister’s resolution and with the support of Government of Ajara, 1.5 million

Image source: Adjara Tour

GEL ($559,000) in taxes, fees, and fines was written off from the company and the property seizure was reversed. The Government of Ajara now holds a 10% stake in the company Gomarduli. The company plans to implement a three-year development strategy to be able to host up to 1,000 visitors by 2022. Adding to the existing five guesthouses

and restaurants, which can currently cater to up to 60 visitors, will be several cottages, a stadium, and an extreme sports’ park. The renovation work and new infrastructure is expected to cost 300,000 GEL ($111,940). In late January, Ajara Chairman Tornike Rizhvadze officially announced that the decision had been made to remove the

sequestration on the property of Gomarduli. At a press conference, Rizhvadze expressed his vision for the resort, as a boon to the local community, helping to develop local infrastructure and a more stable local economy. To commemorate the announcement, a small celebratory festival was held, attended by company representatives and locals.

PM Bakhtadze: Georgia, Belarus Have Preconditions to Double Trade two countries,” the PM added. He also highlighted that such expositions and business forums should ensure the inflow of additional foreign direct investments (FDI) in Georgia. “I am confident that the economic cooperation which will be nurtured between Georgia and Belarus in the coming years, is bound to create many jobs both in Belarus and Georgia,” he said. In parallel with the fair, Tbilisi hosted a Georgian-Belorussian Business Forum which engaged almost 150 Belorussian companies. In the format of the Georgian-Belarus Business Council, 14 Georgian and 14 Belorussian companies signed agreements to a total value of $2,806,780. Agreements between the parties were signed on large agricultural machinery, elevators, export of Georgian tea and supply of medicines. Agreements were also signed in the field of scientific cooperation. "I am delighted that we are signing significant trade contracts with Belarus,



he Prime Minister of Georgia, Mamuka Bakhtadze, stated that there exist all the necessary preconditions to double trade turnover between Georgia and Belarus. Bakhtadze made the statement at the opening of Made in Belarus fair in Tbilisi on Wednesday. The PM opened the fair together with the Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus, Mikhail Rusy, and noted that the fair of Belorussian products gives an excellent opportunity not only for establishing business contacts between Georgian and Belorussian enterprises, but also for Georgian consumers. “I am thrilled that bilateral trade is increasing. We have agreed today that this is not a maximum benchmark and we have all the preconditions to at least double the trade volumes between the

Image source: PM’s Press Office

in line with which joint ventures will be incorporated in Georgia," the PM said. Before opening the fair, Bakhtadze and Rusy had a face-to-face meeting. The sides discussed a number of issues, including prospects for developing ferry traffic between the countries through Ukraine, opening a joint venture that will produce elevators and tractors, and to deepen cooperation in transport. A working group of Georgian and Belarusian specialists will create a plan to improve logistical issues in two months that will facilitate the growth of trade between the countries. Rusyi also said that Belarus is ready to participate in tenders announced for providing new buses to Tbilisi and Batumi. He added that a group will be created in the capital of Belarus, Minsk, which will work to open a store selling Georgian products in the city. In 2018, trade turnover between Georgia and Belarus amounted to $87.10 million.

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The Latest News on the 'Georgia - Homeland of Wine' Project maladze, along with the management of partner companies, Sony Communications and Terrada Republic, held a press conference at the TMMT Hall exhibition center, which brought together the representatives of more than 60 local media sources. A Georgian folk song was performed by the State Ensemble of Georgian Folk Singing, Basiani, and broadcast on Japanese Radio ‘Ottava’,” the National Wine Agency told us. There are multiple important and fascinating events set to be carried out within the scope of the project, which will contribute to the popularization of Georgian wine and gastronomy, as well as goods of local production.



eorgia is currently successfully presenting its wines to a wide audience in one of the most developed, dynamic and prospective countries- Japan, within the scope of the project ‘Georgia – Homeland of Wine’. The latest exhibition in the project was launched on March 10 at the huge exhibition center Terrada Warehouse in Tokyo, Japan. The Grand Opening ceremony took place on March 15, seeing the government delegation of Georgia, multiple wine companies, representatives of the media sector and other involved parties participating in the celebration. The exhibition will last until May 7. The major aim of the project is to promote the unique Georgian wine and present the

country, with its interesting and eclectic history and culture, to the Japanese public and thousands of other travelers. ‘Georgia – Homeland of Wine’ also aims to obtain fruitful outcomes in the economic sector, as it allows Georgian wine enterprises to augment their sales locally, as well as abroad. The participants are given an opportunity to arrange meetings and negotiate future business with foreign companies. The project may also help the development of tourism in Georgia by raising the interest of foreigners in Georgia. GT contacted the representatives of the National Wine Agency, one of the organizers of ‘Georgia – Homeland of Wine,’ to find out how the Tokyo exhibition is going. “A lot of interest has been shown by Japanese media so far. The Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, Levan Davitashvili, and the Chair of the project David Tke-

April 3 – Renowned British journalist, wine writer and columnist of Decanter magazine Andrew Jefford will give a lecture-seminar on wine production and its uniqueness at the TMMT Hall, which will be attended by experts in the field. April 11 – The Georgian National Tourism Administration will hold a presentation titled ‘Wine Route’. April 13 – A degustation-seminar will be led by the prominent Japanese wine expert Kenichi Ohashi on the theme ‘Georgia – Homeland of Wine’. April 21 – The ‘Georgian Supra’ (Georgian feast) will be presented by writer Zurab Karumidze. The project ‘Georgia – Homeland of Wine’ is implemented by the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia and the National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia ‘SAKPATENTI’, with the support of the National Museum, National Wine Agency and Association ‘Georgian Wine’.



he European Union actively supports the rural development in various regions of Georgia through the European Neighborhood Program for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD). One of the new projects, worth EUR 2.4 million and called ‘EMBRACE Tsalka’ was presented by the EU and its partner organization CENN in the multi-ethnic Tsalka Municipality of Georgia on March 19. The major aim of the initiative is to

support smallholders, entrepreneurs, women, youth and other local actors by improving access to knowledge and innovation, introducing best practices, creating public-private partnerships (PPPs) and business linkages, and generating new employment by utilizing the development potential of the area. “Our goal with the EMBRACE Tsalka project is to reduce rural poverty and improve living conditions in the municipality, addressing economic, social, and environmental concerns by improving agricultural competitiveness, promoting sustainable management of natural resources, and building climate-resilient

rural economies and communities,” stated the Head of CENN, Nana Janashia. Tsalka Local Action Group (LAG) and Local Development Strategy for the Tsalka Municipality are set to be launched within the scope of the project, which will outline the priorities and the most vulnerable members of the communities, and allocate relevant financial support. Tsalka is a municipality with 30 communities comprised of 43 villages and Tsalka town, where agriculture represents the major economic activity. Since 2013, ENPARD has implemented various successful projects with a total cost of EUR 179.5 million.

Image source: enpard.ge

Bakhtadze Announces New Promises for Education Reform Continued from page 1 Another point of emphasis is European standards and integration with the European education system. The government has been working to integrate more European standards into the Georgian curriculum, and now promises that certificates issued by vocational education and training centers in Georgia will be accepted in Europe. “It means that the young people will be able to be employed in Europe after graduating from vocational educational institutions [in Georgia]. The large-scale reform means that our higher education institutions will be represented in the world’s top rankings, we will have the most innovative research centers, laboratories, and we will be able to establish

Georgia as a hub of education and science in the region, which is our mission,” explained Bakhtadze. The Prime Minister tied the ambitious reform plan to what he called Georgia’s centuries’-old fight for “freedom, preservation of identity, and building a strong Georgian state.” The government’s top priority must be education, he insisted, “this is the only right vision to ensure sustainable development.” Currently, the Georgian public education system is “among the worst in the world,” wrote Tbilisi-based economist Eric Livny in a recent blog post for Tbilnomics and GEORGIA TODAY. International education test PISA ranked Georgia 60th in science, 62nd in reading and 57th in mathematics, out of 72 countries included in the most recent

PISA report from 2015. “We face two main challenges - poverty and occupation,” said Bakhtadze, marking these as a barrier to Georgia’s historic aims and sustainably growth. He continued, “Education is the shortest way…from poverty to freedom. This is not just a reform, it is a national idea and the boldest national project since the day of our independence, which should ensure Georgia will be added to the list of countries with developed economies. The formula for the success of leading economies of the world is that the education sector is the main driving force. In the 21st century, if you do not spend 10-11% of your GDP on education, it will be difficult to compete.” The Prime Minister repeated his bold

new promise to increase education spending to 6% by 2022. He also emphasized the importance of private sector involvement, hoping that the increase in spending will motivate private companies to match investments in their future workforces. “As a result,” Bakhtadze prophesized, “education will become a dominant sector in the economy.” GEL 1.6 billion ($600 mln) has been allocated for education in the 2019 budget, a significant increase from 2012, Bakhtadze notes, when the education budget was just GEL 600 million ($223.5 mln). For 2020, the government is committing GEL 2 billion ($745 mln), GEL 2.5 billion ($931 mln) in 2021, and GEL 3.4 billion ($1.27 bln) in 2022 – a quarter of the annual budget.

Bakhtadze also referenced the “Education Equality Act,” a new law aimed to ensure that “the current and future governments of Georgia…keep investments this high flowing into the education sector and steadily increasing it every single year.” The Equality Act locks in governments for the next decade to allocate at least a quarter of their annual budgets for education. “In the near future we will submit a relevant initiative to Parliament on the Education Equality Act,” promised Bakhtadze. The Prime Minister insisted that the long-term, progressively compounding nature of education means that consistently growing investments are critical to the sector’s health and success as the basis of Georgia’s economic development.




MARCH 22 - 25, 2019

Kazakh Leader Goes, But His Legacy Remains BY EMIL AVDALIANI


azakhstan’s long-ruling president Nursultan Nazarbayaev has resigned and placed as an acting ruler his close associate KassymJomart Tokayev. The event was hailed by many as unexpected and potentially troublesome for the stability of the Central Asian state. However, there were signs prior to the resignation suggesting that Nazarbayev had been preparing for a power transition for some time. Moreover, the power transition, although a difficult process in itself, is unlikely to cause disturbances as Nazarbayev will still hold a number of important powers. Nazarbayev, the son of a shepherd, became a rising star in Soviet politics in the 1980s, a period when the Soviet Union’s politics revolved around the ruling class born in the pre-communist revolution era. In a way, Nazarbayaev was a new generation ruler, very similar to what Georgia had under Eduard Shevardnadze in the 1970s-early 1980s. Nazarbayev's resignation formally triggers a succession process, but preparations were already ongoing for months if not years. In 2017, Nazarbayev devolved some of the presidential powers (primarily

Image source: Akorda press service

related to economic issues) to the country’s parliament. This year, Nazarbayev consulted the country’s Constitutional Council to clarify what powers he would retain should he announce his resignation. In addition, there were multiple rumors and smaller scale shifts and changes which indicated that a presidential succession would take place in the near future. Although the succession process is not always smooth, in the neighboring Uzbekistan similar happenings were

seen in 2016 when Islam Karimov died, with many fearing the government might experience internal troubles. The process turned out to be smooth. In Kazakhstan too, Nazarbayev will do everything for the process to be effective and political factions and various elites to cooperate. He will continue to serve as Chairman of the National Security Council and head of the ruling Nur Otan party. This means that the former president, through his prestige and some

real power, will still be in charge behind the scenes when it comes to major foreign and internal policy issues. The man who would replace the 78-yearold leader is Tokayev, born into an elite Soviet family and the son of an eminent writer and war hero. Tokayev was a graduate of the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations and in the 1970s became a career diplomat in the Soviet foreign service. Later on, following Kazakhstan’s independence,

he worked from 1994 to 1999 and 2003 to 2007 as Nazarbayev’s foreign minister. The succession process is also interesting in terms of geopolitics of the Central Asian region as Kazakhstan is a major oil and natural gas producing and exporting state. Situated between Russia and China, the country under Nazarbayev has successfully managed to balance between Russia and China, as well as serve as a transit state for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The northern part of Kazakhstan has a sizable, although declining, Russian population which causes concerns for the Kazakh leadership. Sharing a long border with Russia, Kazakhstan has been wary of Russian moves in Georgia and particularly Ukraine. For the Kazakh leadership, the geopolitical reality is that, being far from European states or the US, any confrontation with Russia would be particularly damaging for Kazakhstan. China might serve as a balancing power and the future Kazakh leadership should play a cautious game between the two big states amid increasing world disorder. Still, despite this difficult geopolitical situation, the country’s leadership has managed successfully and is likely to continue in the same vein as the new president is a part of the existing ruling elite with probably much the same geopolitical understanding of world affairs.

The Jack Shepherd Case: Two Sides Tell Their Stories EXCLUSIVE BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE


rit Jack Shepherd, a fugitive convicted for manslaughter, could be sent back to Britain within eight days to serve his six-year prison sentence, the British media reports. “The web designer, 31, will appear at a court in the Georgian capital Tbilisi by March 28 for a hearing at which prosecutors will demand his extradition.” – wrote the Daily Mail newspaper. GEORGIA TODAY quizzed both sides of the case for further information on the upcoming hearing.

IRAKLI CHILINGARASHVILI, HEAD OF THE INTERNATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF THE PROSECUTORS OFFICE OF GEORGIA: We received the materials necessary for the extradition procedure at the beginning of March. After examining and studying the materials, the next step is a court trial where we will raise the issue of eligibility of extradition for Mr. Shepherd. Subsequently, the court will consider the legal matters pertaining to this issue, whether there is sufficient legal ground for extradition, whether the act committed is punishable by Georgian law, whether the Statute of Limitations is applicable, and so on. And at the final stage, a decision will be made by the Minister of Justice. At this point, we have notified the Defense about the request we received, however, the Constitution dictates a 10-day period to notify the Defense. The case will be considered at the Court of First Instance, decisions of which can be

appealed at the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court were to stick to the original decision, then it is up to the Minister of Justice to take a slightly different approach: the Minister can override the court’s decision if it says that the person is to be extradited, but must make this decision based on state interests. This is part a legal, part a political decision, where aspects like human rights, overall humanitarian standards, state security, etc. come into play. But if the court were to deny the extradition request, then the Minister cannot override it. Although we deem this very unlikely as this case satisfies every legal grounds for extradition: we don’t see a problem from a human rights perspective, the committed crime is punishable in Georgia, nor is statutory limitation an issue. So we expect the court will satisfy our request and very soon, hopefully by the end of this month, we’ll have a court case which we believe we can handle successfully.

MARIAM KUBLASHVILI, JACK SHEPHERDS LAWYER: We have received the necessary materials and at this moment we’re developing our strategy. We will be ready for both alternatives: whether Jack opts to go or chooses to stay. However, I can tell you at this point that while we, the Defense, are able to delay the process, it’s ultimately Jack’s decision. He should have time to think about the situation, to analyze it and then we’ll act accordingly. I am personally not sure he would be safe from dangers in the UK, that he won’t be subjected to psychological abuse. We are talking about a person who never intended for Charlotte Brown to die, and barely escaped with his own life after that tragic accident. And the attitude of society

towards this person is that he is a monster, a murderer, the “Speedboat Killer,” as they so gleefully christened him. And this is a society his own son has to grow up in, being led to believe that his father was a monster and an immoral murderer. This torrent of abuse is accompanied by threats and sabotage – for example, his family and we have been subject of hatemail and abuse from anonymous persons over the last week. We have heard Jack’s life will be turned into “a living hell,” while selective reporting by some media outlets indicate that there are some financial leverages and influences at play. Who’s to argue that Jack wouldn’t be subjected to constant psychological terror in prison? Why hasn’t our request to assess his psychological state been responded to? We haven’t received full documentation regarding his safety and the time the UK side has given us is less than the bare minimum. And before somebody mocks the notion that he might be safer here than in the UK, why don’t they take a long hard look at the criminal situation in Britain? I could name numerous cases of murder where the disposition towards the culprit was far more benevolent – in most cases, never did a British government official deem it necessary to deliver a televised speech demanding punishment and extradition just to appease the masses. In Jack’s case, it happened. This case has acquired a distinctly political layer to it, with Jack being a bargaining chip in relations between two countries. It’s the first time Britain has ever asked Georgia for a favor, something our country might find so tempting that it will lead them to overlook the details of the case. And why not? Politicians will be happy, media will happily continue gloating and selling their sensationalized fiction, peo-

ple will believe this fiction, and so it goes. And all this at the cost of a living person’s rights and feelings. I believe that this kind of emotional pressure was to blame for the initial verdict that the jury made, too.

Jack Shepherd has been turned into an animal by the state and the media, and is being treated not as a human, but an animal that is being sold at auction, it seems. All in the name of twisted morality.




Parliament Approves Draft Law on Selection of Judges BY THEA MORRISON


he Parliament of Georgia on Wednesday approved with the first reading the draft law on Common Courts, with 89 MPs for and 31 against. The Draft was initiated by the Speaker of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze and ruling Georgian Dream (GD) MPs: Archil Talakvadze, Mamuka Mdinaradze, Anri Okhanashvili, Giorgi Kakhiani, Davit Matikashvili and Guram Macharshvili. The amendments set procedures and criteria for the selection of the candidates for the posts of Supreme Court Judge, the qualification requirements of judges and the procedure for nominating candidates, selected by the High Council of Justice, to Parliament. A second project was also submitted to Parliament, prepared by MP Eka Beselia, who quit the ruling Georgian Dream party after a disagreement regarding the selection criteria of judges. Beselia demanded the suspension of lifetime tenure for judges but her initiative was not supported by a sufficient number of MPs. Co-authors of Beselia’s project are MPs Levan Gogichaishvili, Zviad Kvachantiradze, Gedevan Popkhadze, Beka Natsvlishvili, Irma Inashvili, Giorgi Lomia, Gela Mikadze, Emzar Kvitsiani, Ada Marshania, Nato Chkheidze, Gia Zhorzholiani and Mirian Tsiklauri. The issue became controversial after the High Council of Justice (HCOJ) nominated 10 candidate judges for the Supreme Court of Georgia for life tenure. The list was rejected by the non-judge members of the HCOJ, NGOs and some members of the majority, who claimed that the presented judges had been working during the previous government and had the reputation of being “biased

Image source: parliament.ge

and corrupt.” Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze then said the discussions on the issue had been postponed until spring, adding a working group would be set up from the representatives of various sectors, which would define some additional criteria regarding the selection process of the judges. The working group was set but it was later left by the NGOs, which stressed the format did not serve as a means for discussing genuine legislative changes to ensure a merit-based approach to the selection process and its transparent and impartial conduct. “The unequivocal position of the Speaker during the working meeting made it clear that he does not intend to come up with a draft that would preclude the unilateral nomination of Supreme Court judge candidates by the dominant clan of the judiciary,” the third sector claimed.

Azerbaijan Releases 52 Political Prisoners for Novruz Amnesty BY AMY JONES


n March 17, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev pardoned almost 400 prisoners as part of an amnesty to mark the Novruz holiday. Various human rights organizations consider 52 of those released to be political prisoners. It has become a tradition in Azerbaijan to pardon prisoners as part of the Novruz holiday celebrations. However, the number of political prisoners this year was much higher compared to previous years. Local human rights groups reported that only 12 political prisoners were pardoned during the last amnesty in May 2018. Among those released are Giyas Ibrahimov, a youth activist who was sentenced to a 10 year term in 2016, two deputy chairpersons of the opposition People’s Front Party of Azerbaijan, youth group members who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for graffiting a statue of the former Azerbaijani president Heydar Aliyev, journalists such as Fikret Faramazoglu, religious activists from the Naradaran Shia stronghold, and the former minister of health who has been in prison for 12 years. The unprecedented mass pardoning is being interpreted in various ways. Some commentators believe that it follows internal and international pressure. Azerbaijan is negotiating a new comprehensive bilateral agreement with the European Union and upcoming negotiations are scheduled for April 4. The EU has pressured Azerbaijan to improve human rights in the country, including by releasing political prisoners. The EU released a statement hailing the move a ‘welcome step’ whilst adding that it ‘expects further similar steps will follow in future, in line with Azerbaijan’s international commitments.’ Azerbaijan is in the grip of an economic crisis, growing public discontent and internal isolation which are forcing the government’s hand, states Arastun Orujlu, a political commentator. “The systematic crisis in Azerbaijan and social and economic tensions in the country have reached a peak,” he told Eurasianet.

Image source: Musavat

However, government supporters deny claims that the government is weakening: “The President did not release the political prisoners because his power has weakened,” wrote Eynulla Fatyullayev, editor of the news website Haqqin. “On the contrary, his power is as strong as ever.” Fatyullayev believes that the release of political prisoners is a victory over more conservative forces in the government and part of a “new course toward economic liberalization” implemented by Aliyev since the beginning of the year. Nonetheless, the pardons have been criticized as skin-deep and not enough. The son of Eldar Sabiroghlu, a founding member of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party Rufat Safarov, who was released on March 17, told OC Media that although those who were freed are happy to be released, it’s not enough “because there are still political prisoners in jail.” “In order to free the other political prisoners, society must continue an active struggle,” he continued. A local human rights group the ‘Center for the Protection of Political Prisoners’ believes 137 people to still be imprisoned, whilst other groups estimate this number to be 127. Some commentators believe that the decision to release political prisoners will simply make way for new ones.

Before voting for the draft on March 20, Kobakhidze addressed the MPs and called on them to vote for his bill. Speaking on behalf of the Majority, the Speaker touched upon the working process and the principles serving the basis for development of the bill. He underlined that the bill authored by the ruling party is the only draft not in confrontation with the Constitution. The Speaker added that various parties concerned were engaged in development of the bill and the ruling party had done its best to share every recommendation within the Constitutional frame. “We shall keep our achievement and will never allow for political revenge against the judicial system by a political force previously successfully controlling the judicial authority… An independent judiciary serves only one goal: protection of human

rights, and this statistic data is not just a mere figure but implies thousands of people whose rights are duly protected today by the independent Court,” he said. The Speaker’s bill was criticized by the opposition parties, who claim that the draft leaves power to the “clan” within the judiciary system. Roman Gotsiridze, from the United National Movement, stated that the draft is an attempt to restructure the justice system the way in a way that serves the interests of the informal ruler of the country, referring to the founder and the Chair of GD, Bidzina Ivanishvili. In addition, European Georgia member Otar Kakhidze said that the parliamentary majority is well aware that “the justice system is in the hands of the clan, but they want to support them.” Public Defender Nino Lomjaria says the draft law prepared by the Chairman of the Parliament on the selection of the Supreme Court judges cannot respond to the existing challenges. She explained that criteria and procedures should not only be formal but should be able to substantially change the practice of decision-making under the High Council of Justice and ensure fairness. The Ombudsman considers that the following changes should be made to the draft law submitted by the Parliament Speaker: criteria, secret ballot, for Parliament to ensure the obligation of an open ballot at the legislative level, in addition, the conflict of interests and the issues related to the number of voters and candidates. “In response to these challenges, it is very important to adopt relevant legislation to improve the process, to increase trust in the decisions of the Council of Justice… We have an extraordinary situation and, accordingly, we have to find a way out quickly," said Lomjaria, adding that they should inform the Venice Commission and the OSCE about the recent developments.




MARCH 22 - 25, 2019

Georgia’s Media Muckrakers OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


uphemistically speaking, muck-raking is investigative journalism, something which has become very trendy in Georgia of late. We haven’t invented anything new in journalism, especially in television journalism, in the last 30 years: our TV startups of the bygone 80s and 90s just made carbon copies of Western electronic media, be it talk show, sitcom, soap opera, reality, action, hard talk, or the style and content of news presentation, except sports, of course – this genre is still lingering in soviet era dullness and ennui, with glumfaced, languid and morose anchors appearing on screen several times a day. The modus operandi of muck-rakers (let’s conventionally call them the reformminded braves of mass media) contains attacks on recognized institutions and well-known personalities. Although they have wide audiences of watchers or listeners, their work still leaves a certain amount of doubt and suspicion to digest post factum. The prerequisite for the inception and further burgeoning of muckraking, an attribute of the post-soviet era, included accelerated public activism and an inevitable social, political, economic and environmental reform severely, but not very methodically, executed across the entire territory of the former USSR, including Georgia, with the intention of making drastic alterations to soviet political culture and social life. The most scrumptious quarry for a muck-raker happens to be a governmental officeholder caught in some crooked

Image source: thinglink.com

move, constituting political corruption of a considerable caliber and tightly intertwined with the alleged crook’s official obligations. But a talented and experienced muck-raker has the professional skill to make something out of nothing, thus blowing the subject of investigation out of proportion, especially if the job is done by an investigative journalist in favor of a certain political party. Democracy, whether direct or representative, is a real haven for muck-rakers because they feel free to pounce on any potential victim with ease and a clear conscience, using verbal manipulation and making conclusions effortlessly. But muck-rakers try not to lie too flagrantly; they have their own ways of obfuscating

the reality so cunningly and dexterously that a regular naïve watcher or listener has no way to discern the difference between the stretch and the genuine fact. Muck-raking is an organic part of the political machine. Actually, without a political machine running at full capacity, a muck-raker becomes ineffective as a journalist because the muck-raking ideas and attitudes are generated in the process of fulltime operation of said political machine. For the sake of saving his or her thick skin, a muck-raker, especially in an evolving political culture like ours, needs some upper-hand patronage to prop up the talent financially, give the necessary encouragement and to support ideologically.

On the other hand, rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's, I am ready to admit that there are investigative journalists out there who are utterly independent, doing their job very honestly and serving the purpose to the best advantage of the nation, but nobody on earth has counted the number of good guys and bad guys in the muck-raking echelons of ladies and gentlemen of the press. One of the reasons for the proliferation of muck-raking might very well be the deplorable practice of giving privilege to the unwelcome ‘spoils system’ in politics, providing jobs to buffs, friends and relatives over the laudable ‘merit

system’ which guarantees employment based on the ability to deliver a quality job rather than using political connections. What does muck-raking have to do with this? The involvement is direct: honest professionals are less prone to go corrupt compared to the cadres who have sneaked into their cushy jobs with the help of powerful big bugs protecting their protégés’ vulnerable souls and bodies. Muck-rakers know for months and even years in advance what animals their potential prey might be, and they work on their sneaky projects with diligence and deliberation. They sure do, because they are regular humans who want to be fed and clad as anybody else in our sinful world.




On Garibashvili’s Return OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


ormer Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili is returning, or, to be more precise, has been brought back into big politics. Brought back by the one who made him leave four years ago. The very first comments suggested that Ivanishvili’s decision was a surprise to both the governmental party and Garibashvili himself. Who would have imagined such a twist, when four years ago the ex-PM not only resigned from his post, but also left politics and even Ivanishvili’s team. Four years ago, Garibashvili became aware that he had to leave when was getting ready to address the country in his New Year’s speech: leave his post and Ivanishvili’s team. We learned this from the content of his speech, in which the most important part was not what the PM told the people, but rather what he did not. We remember his face and confounded expression, when instead of thanking Ivanishvili, who had introduced him to big politics and made him the first politician of the country, or Georgian Dream, which made a 33-yearold unknown’s triumph possible, he thanked his wife, Nanuka Tamazashvili. This can be read as Garibashvili’s reaction or his answer to Ivanishvili at the time. Upon returning to politics, Garibashvili did not mention his wife. This time, he thanked Ivanishvili, who, at the most crucial moment, trusted him to lead the Georgian Dream. It is a big responsibility and it seems that the former distresses

have been forgotten and the GaribashviliIvanishvili relationship is to begin afresh. Now, everything depends on Garibashvili: his new post is as important as the former, as he needs to reanimate the governmental party and ensure their triumph in the 2020 parliamentary elections. Whether GD can be reanimated is a different topic, as today the situation is mixed up to the point where we are witnessing radical changes almost daily. Past practices suggest that as we get closer to the elections, this will further exacerbate. As such, a lot will depend on Garibashvili, whose very first mission is surely to neutralize Kaladze’s camp in the party. It is obvious that lately, since Garibashvili’s return, the Mayor of Tbilisi has been quiet and he has not been seen to be as actively participating in inner party developments; events of major importance have been left beyond his comment, for instance, Justice Minister Tsulukiani’s presence or withdrawal from the Georgian Dream, as well as the issue of impeachment of the Head of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze. Such “trivial” events wouldn’t have been left unnoticed by the sharp eye of Kaladze in a normal setting. Political expert Ghia Nodia believes that Garibashvili’s return is connected with “neutralizing” either Kaladze or Kobakhidze; however, as the latter has some support from Ivanishvili, most probably it would mean a decline for Kaladze. Nodia also thinks that this is the very reason for Kaladze’s silence, as he “must be afraid of” something, trying to keep out of Ivanishvili’s sight. But

Image source: tabula.ge

there are other ideas circulating too. Former GD supporter, political analyst Archil Gamzardia thinks that most likely Kobakhidze will be the one facing problems, because Georgian Dream needs Kaladze’s persona more. Garibashvili should be seen as a rival to Kobakhidze rather than Kaladze, then. As for the political passivity of the latter, Gamzardia thinks that it is due to him being busy with the responsibilities of majorship, which doesn’t leave enough time for political activities. The fact that Garibashvili’s return is aimed at creating a new political center

point can be further argued, as he has even hired a company that will work on bringing new faces into the party by the time the 2020 election campaign begins. But who the newbies would be substituting will only be clear in future. One thing for sure, though: the governmental party is divided into the camps of Kaladze, Kobakhidze, Beselia, Chugoshvili and Ivanishvili himself. Exactly through the selection of the fittest within these groups will the new Georgian Dream be comprised, which is why Garibashvili was reintroduced by the billionaire. Some believe that this

will bring a “second breath” to the party before the elections. However, at the moment, it is the National Movement that seems to be having the privileges, because whether positive or not, such a move puts doubt on the stability of the government. And this “doubted bureaucracy” will not be favorable for the GD party in the elections. Hence, both with or without Garibashvili, Ivanishvili is still facing the dilemma of how to handle the Georgian Dream. He wants to have trustworthy people around him, but for now, he is surrounded by average traitors.




arolína Nováková is from the Czech Republic and is doing a one-year European Voluntary Service (EVS) project for the International Center for Peace Integration (ICPI) in Tbilisi. She has university degrees in Marketing from the Tomas Bata University, Czech Republic, and in Management from the Saint-Petersburg University. Since she came to Georgia in November last year, she has been organizing events to inform people on how to be more sustainable in everyday life and on sustainable ways of doing business. GEORGIA TODAY had the chance to meet her.

WHAT SPECIFIC CHALLENGES LINKED TO ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY HAVE YOU SEEN IN GEORGIA? Well quite a lot, unfortunately. There is no system or legislation that guides people to be more environmentally friendly. First, I noticed that there is a lack of bins in the streets and in public parks, as well as national parks. There is no sign which says, ‘Do not drop litter.’ There are also too few recycling bins. The second big challenge I see is transportation. There are many old cars in Georgia which produce more carbon hydrate than new ones, plus the number of cars is incredibly high. I heard that this year, Tbilisi City Hall will launch an electric car sharing system. It’s a nice try, but in my opinion, to reach visible impact, it must go hand-in-hand with reducing the number of old cars in the city, perhaps limited by a law. As a third challenge, and I assume it

Photo Source: http://ytsnepal.org

is the biggest one, there is a lack of awareness in Georgian communities. People are not educated on these subjects and that’s why they tend to not care about them.

THEN YOUR MAIN GOAL IS EDUCATION? By holding these sustainable meetings, I want to educate Georgians about environmental and social issues through different topics, and through case studies. I try to make it interactive so that people engage with the topic and think critically. It is not just people coming to listen but rather to discuss and share ideas and experiences. I want people, and especially youth, to have at least a basic knowledge of what sustainability means.

WHAT DIFFERENCES DO YOU SEE BETWEEN THE CHALLENGES ENCOUNTERED HERE IN GEORGIA AND IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC? In the Czech Republic, there is a more developed waste system. Every small housing estate, village and city has recycling bins. We recycle aluminum, glass,

paper, plastics, Tetra packages, Bio trash, batteries, and more. Bins are almost always just 10 minutes away. Here, I have to take a 30-minute journey on public transport to get to my nearest recycling bin. In the Czech Republic, customers have to pay for paper bags in the supermarket and people usually bring their own fabric bags. Plastic bags are slowly disappearing. Zero packaging shops are quite popular, and customers come with their own packaging: glass jars, paper boxes, fabric, paper bags, etc., and they put what they buy in their ecofriendly vessels. Moreover, some online grocery e-shops now deliver their products only in paper bags. Finally, the public transport system is different. In many Czech cities, I can get almost anywhere without using a car, and I know what I'm talking about because I don't drive. Car and bike sharing systems are also becoming popular.


nesses here. One is a Georgian cosmetic startup called ‘Sapovnela’ which makes natural cosmetics from herbs and local goat milk. The second one is called ‘Zero Effect,’ a vegan/vegetarian café and store whose goal is to avoid producing waste. They sell reusable items and non-plastic recipients. The third one is a company called ‘Green Gift,’ which provides offices with wooden boxes designed to collect paper. Afterwards, the paper is recycled and converted into very nice paper gifts. Fabrika hostel also has recycling bins and often hosts events linked to sustainability.

work correctly, because the government is not controlling it. Also, plastic bags will soon be prohibited, to be replaced with paper bags. The problem is that only the thinner ones are prohibited. So, they will probably be replaced by thicker plastic bags. In some stores people are charged 0.20 Tetri for plastic bags, but this is a ridiculous fee. As for eco-labels, they enable people to recognize how eco or ethical friendly a product or service is. Labels are a measurement of environmental impact, and companies can find them useful, especially in a competitive market.



This is a market that is still to be conquered in Georgia. For example, instead of exporting all the trash out of Georgia, companies could try to start recycling some here. It could contribute to reducing unemployment in Georgia. Besides, being sustainable is becoming trendy, so being an eco-friendly company would definitely entice people and arouse their interest in your company. The governmental sector and foreign investors can help this process.

YOUR LAST EVENT WAS ON WEDNESDAY. TELL US ABOUT IT. The focus was on legislation. Georgia lacks standards in many areas of legislation. For instance, in architecture, when a designer wants to build a ‘green’ building, there is no definition and no specific and concrete standard which describes what is a ‘green building’ is. Related to waste management, I know that in 2017, Georgia introduced a new regulation which prohibits dumping waste in the streets, which can incur fines. However, this regulation does not

I see that Georgia is on the right path, and I already see some progress in the cities, but it is a long-distance run. Some NGOs and private companies are eco concerned and, step by step, are implementing a Corporate Social Responsibility strategy in their business. I think that it is just a matter of time and, above all, of education. I really want more people to come to these sustainable meetings in Mediathek library: everyone is welcomed, we need to spread the word! Future meetings are listed below. They are often in English, but some Georgian speakers do their talks in Georgian: 03.04.19: Smart electronic devices and apps, in Mediathek Kikvidze Park 17.04.19: Sustainable tourism and green hotel, in Mediathek Kikvidze Park 01.15.19: Sustainable materials, in Mediathek Kikvidze Park 15.05.19: Circular economy and sustainability, in Mediathek Kikvidze Park 29.05.19 Circular economy, in Czech Republic in Vake Park 12.06.19: Sustainability in the food industry, in Mediathek Kikvidze Park




MARCH 22 - 25, 2019

Budding Vazhas?: Etseri, Svaneti Beautiful chamois in the forest Nothing more lovely than Etseri My Svaneti is my homeland. - Saba Murghvliani



couple of weeks ago, my wife came home from school quite excited. “Dearo, you wouldn’t believe what those 8thgrade kids have written!” she said. Apparently, there was the usual Women’s/ Mothers’ Day after-school event, in which each class is expected to participate with poetry and other media extolling the virtues of the female figures in their lives. Of which virtues there are many. Some of the pupils, however, had penned their own verses instead of going the easy route of memorizing and reading from the many centuries of classics of Georgian literature. Of these there are also astonishingly many, some of the writers known on a first-name basis, so famous, so extolled are they. Like Vazha (-Pshavela), for example. Now, I blanch at the thought of translating poetry from one language into any other, even with the help of a native speaker. It must be the pinnacle of the translator’s art. Look at the several attempted English versions of Rustaveli’s masterpiece over more than a century. How much of the rhyme and rhythm do you attempt to keep, especially from a national treasure of a poem which has both, the rhymes going up to SIX last syllables of its lines? Or do you go for greatest understanding, which suggests abandoning poetry altogether for prose? Thorny, to say the least. The Knight in the Panther Skin has also been translated into many world languages, despite its complexity, and we are blessed to have more than one such effort in Eng-

Spring Now is March Congratulations to the mothers who take care of us and put their hope in us. - Oto Gerliani

lish to compare. If you want to be known as a serious student of the Georgian language and culture, this is at the top of your list. As a non-professional in this arcane art, aided greatly by my dear wife, my method with these new works will be to attempt maximum clarity at the expense of greatest beauty or rhythmic structure. Special thanks to Natia Tsindeliani, their Georgian language teacher, for stirring up the muse! More, please!

Untitled When did Georgia bow her head to her enemy?! When did Georgia make a road for her enemy?! When did Georgia exchange her dignity?! Worry, trouble and pain to add up. Now it’s a different era, wickedness in fashion, Forgetting of friendship and befriending hatred,

Not standing with each other in trouble, putting each other down, Deficit of loving kindness, giving full rein to sensuality. - Saba Gurchiani Etseri Going to Etseri, again my ancestors’ voices are calling I won’t abandon my motherland, but if I go, I’ll return. On the slopes, mountain goats climb,

I also want to take this moment to say that there are really only two things one needs to do to be and grow as a writer, according to Stephen King in his book On Writing: read a lot and write a lot. That’s it. I have the privilege of being able to write something regularly for a newspaper; but this is merely an extension and formalization of a lifelong habit of filling notebooks, begun when I was in my first year of elementary school in Rhodesia, some time after I began reading and long before we had a TV in the house. I wish these youngsters to be bitten and smitten by the writer’s bug, and for some of them too to make its possibly infinite variety a part of their life’s work and pleasure. No one knows where or when the next genius Georgian writer will spring up, but when she or he becomes known, even in potential, the best we can do is to encourage and then get right out of the way! 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 nearly 2000 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

Steady Number of Students from Georgia at UK Universities BY ELLA WOREHEAD


uring the 2017/18 academic year, there were 215 students from Georgia studying in the UK, pretty much the same as three years ago, when UK universities counted 225 Georgian students, says Studyingin-UK.org. The UK is a very popular study destination, attracting ambitious students

Image source: blog.westminster.ac.uk

from all over the world. Regarding the official enrollment statistics, it can easily be concluded that students from Georgia are also highly interested in seeking higher education in the UK. According to an official statistical report provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency in UK about university enrollment, it is noted that the number of Georgian students has remained steady over the years. Of the total number of Georgian students studying in UK as of the last academic year, 100 were attending

undergraduate courses while 115 were seeking a postgraduate degree. Most of the postgraduate students were attending taught study programs (100 students as compared to 10 enrolled in research degree programs). Within the United Kingdom, England proved the most popular study choice for higher education, with 180 students from Georgia studying at universities in England last year, while universities in Scotland accommodated 25 Georgian students and Welsh universities five. There was no Georgian student attend-

ing university in Northern Ireland, the statistics read.

WHICH UNIVERSITIES DO GEORGIAN STUDENTS PREFER MOST? There are a large number of accredited universities in the UK providing prospective international students with a wide range of options for their academic careers. However, based on official statistics, only a few have a share in the total number of students from Georgia.

According to official records, the following universities in the UK had the highest number of Georgian students: • The University of Westminster – 20 • City University of London -10 • The University of Glasgow - 10 • King’s College London – 10 • London School of Economics and Political Sciences – 10 • The University of Oxford – 10 • Queen Mary University of London – 10 • University College London – 10



Firefighter-Rescuers’ Training & Retraining in European Standards to Come to Georgia BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI


irefighter-rescuers’ training and retraining in accordance with European standards is soon to be made available in Georgia. The Emergency Management Service (EMS) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has said it plans a complete reorganization of the Training Center. The training-retraining process will be carried out at the Police Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and will see the EMS offering training programs, modules and curricular that are based on the recommendations of the Directorate General of the European Union for Civil Security and Humanitarian Assistance. A one-week visit of the EU Evaluation Mission, comprising 13 experts, has just been completed in Georgia. Within the framework of this visit, the European Commission Evaluation Mission visited the EMS Training Center

Image source: Emergency Management Service

and fire-rescue divisions across the country. The Commissioner Evaluation Mission gave a positive assessment of the possibilities of a chemical, biological, radiation, and nuclear recipient group of the

Emergency Management Services. Cooperation with the Evaluation Mission of the European Union for Civil Security and Humanitarian Assistance will definitely continue in the future, the EMS states.


Welcome to Georgia – The Musical, One Year On cinema tickets, though we in the industry don’t agree with this. We inform them that this is a commercial project that was initiated and fully financed by the managing team. To be honest, we would love to reduce the ticket price in future, but right now it’s just not possible due to the small capacity of the theater.




elcome to Georgia – The Musical was premiered in February 2018 at the Music & D ra m a St a te Theater in Tbilisi. During the first season, the show was played 18 times for more than 2000 international guests from 60 different countries. Now well into its third season, its popularity is growing and there have been requests to take the show on an international tour. GEORGIA TODAY caught up with Natia Amiridze, Managing Partner, to find out the latest news.

ONE YEAR ON- TELL US THE HIGHLIGHTS. We’ve hosted more than 4000 international guests from 60 different countries

and from them received mainly positive feedback and reviews about the show. There has also been a lot of interest from the Georgian audience, as well as from Georgians who live abroad. We had a number of extra shows booked by various brands as “welcome events” for guests attending international conferences in Georgia. This is a new and brilliant opportunity for us to deliver more shows for the MICE industry. And we’ve had several promoters from different European cities contact us and we’re working on a plan to take the show on tour.

We added one character, Aniko, played by Ana Kurtubadze, an actress with a great voice who brought an additional musical flavor to the show. We also added two songs, which the audience just love. We are quite often asked to remove the dialogue where we mention that some Georgian territories are currently occupied. These requests come from various tourist agencies working on incoming Russian tourists, who offer to bring more guests to the show if this phrase is removed. However, we believe that this moment is one of the highlights of the show and we are very proud of it, so it will never be removed.



We are constantly working on making the show even better and in future we’ll be moving to a new theater with a bigger capacity and possibilities. We’re working hard to take the show on tour abroad as we believe it is a perfect presentational performance about Georgia with all its highlights.

One of the biggest challenges is to have to keep explaining to the Georgian audience why the tickets are “so expensive”. It’s no surprise to hear the question because Georgians are used to buying theater tickets for less than the price of

To find out more or buy tickets, use these links: Facebook: www.facebook.com/musical.ge/ Instagram: @musical.ge www.musical.ge





MARCH 22 - 25, 2019


RUSTAVELI THEATER 17 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 72 68 68 www.rustavelitheatre.ge March 27 DOVIN- DOVEN-DOVLI Contemporary ballet based on Galaktion Tabidze’s poetry Original idea of the ballet and choreography of The Moon Over Mtatsminda– Giorgi Aleksidze Choreographer– Mariam Aleksidze Director– Gela Kandelaki Music Consultant– Teimuraz Bakuradze Small stage Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. March 22 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL March 23 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL March 24 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL March 23 Animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 March 22 TEMPEST Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL

March 23 LABIRINTH Directed by Kakha Bakuradze One-act mystery with live music The performance describes different phases of human life; people moving in an endless labyrinth- social, urban, emotional and communicative. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL March 24 IGGI Story by Jemal Karchkhadze Director: Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL March 28 DIVINE COMEDY * Premiere Based on the works of Dante Aligieri Three 20-minute choreographic statements Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-15 GEL MUSIC & DRAMA STATE THEATER 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. March 26 WELCOME TO GEORGIA The Musical 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. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER 37 Rustaveli Ave. TEL 595 50 02 03 March 29, 30 HOST AND GUEST Based on Vazha Pshavela’s poem Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES

NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS WISDOM TRANSFORMED INTO GOLD Until March 29 Georgian National Museum joins the cycle of events dedicated to 500 years after the death of Leonardo Da Vinci and invites visitors to the educational-multimedia project LEONARDO - OPERA OMNIA where digital reproductions of Leonardo's artworks are exposed. Until March 31 Exhibition 100 YEARS OF GEORGIAN PARLIAMENTARISM: THE GEORGIAN CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 Until April 12 Tutu Kiladze’s Exhibition CRYPTOGRAM Until March 30 EXHIBITION OF OMAR AND NANA KATCHKACHISHVILI'S WORKS STATE SILK MUSEUM Address: 6 Tsabadze Str. Until March 31 PHOTO EXHIBITION THE LAST NOMADS MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave enough to jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in the Mirror Room, let yourself free in the Infinity room, fight the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take pictures of yourself in every possible pose. Enjoy our collection of holograms, look closer at every optical illusion and observe thoroughly each installation. Tickets: 17.5 GEL, Children (ages 6-18): 11 GEL, children (under 5 years): free, students: 13 GEL, family (2 adults + 2 children): 39 GEL.


THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 Until February 26, 2020 GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY FABRIKA 8 Ninoshvili Str. March 22 PECHAKUCHA NIGHT TBILISI VOL. 7 PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. In Japanese, PechaKucha (࣌ࢳࣕࢡ ࢳࣕ) means “blah-blah-blah” or “chit-chat”. The topic of PechaKucha Night Tbilisi vol. 7 is "Digital Media Trends". The event and the talks will be in English. Start time: 19:19 Ticket: 20 GEL MUSIC

DJ. KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE 125/127 Agmashenebeli Ave. March 23 CONSERT IN THE FRAMES OF VAKHTANG KAKHIDZE JUBILEE HIS CHORAL AND VOCAL – INSTRUMENTAL WORKS performed by the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra, Georgian State Choir, Ensemble ‘Rustavi’, Boy’s Ensemble ‘Mdzlevari’ and Soloist– Nutsa Zakaidze, Ketevan Kartvelishvili, Barbare Rusidze, George Aleksandria, Badri Chikhiashvili, David Gvelesiani, George Mgeladze and Merab Samkurashvili. Includes excerpts from vocal cycle ‘Reflection’, cantatas ‘Flower of Hope’ and ‘Millenium -2000’ and the Christmas Trilogy for men’s and boy’s choirs and symphony orchestra. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Griboedov Str. March 22 Gaetano Donizetti L’ELISIR D’AMORE Opera in two acts

Staging Conductor - Tamaz Japaridze Conductor – Revaz Javakhishvili Staging Director - Lela Gvarishvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-10 GEL March 23 MUSIC SCHOOL FOR GIFTED CHILDREN Tbilisi State Conservatoire Recital Hall Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10 GEL SOUNDS OF GEORGIA March 22, 23 SING AND DRINK Mini concerts in the cozy atmosphere of Old Tbilisi, which is a mix of traditional Georgian music, featuring different genres: folklore, a capella, guitar, as well as new Georgian pop and city songs. Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 24 GEL Venue: March 22- 10 Erekle II Sq., Tekla Palace Hotel; March 23- New Tiflis, 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’ REPUBLIC No1, Republic Sq. March 23 Republic and “Club Iveria” present an eclectic collective from Berlin JAZZANOVA LIVE AND GERMAN DANCE MUSIC DUO SUPER FLU! Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 60-200 GEL OUT OF TOWN FESTIVAL 16 N. Dumbadze Str., Akhaldaba March 23 The festival is in harmony with nature and full of positive emotions, which takes place every season. LINE UP: ZEDA STAGE: RENE, GIGI, DIGITAL GROOVE AFFAIR, TROTSKY, L8, BEKUSHU KVEDA STAGE: LYKKE, JIJI, SHNGL, NINA Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 25-30 GEL U-BAHN 164 Agmashenebeli Ave. March 23 PARGEOTY: Metamorphosis Night Line up: Main Room: Sarasvat, Obsidion, Mind Process, Downwell House Room: Different Groove, Eknr, SoundRaw, Hyacinthus Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 15-20 GEL KHIDI V. Bagrationi Bridge, Right Emb. March 28 CONCERT FOR ORGANS Circe– Experimental Platform for Dance and Theatre presents two performances: Performance 1: CONCERT FOR ORGANS Idea: Iwona Olszowska, Marcin Janus Dance: Iwona Olszowska, Text: Iwona Olszowska, Music: Marcin Janus Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL Performance 2: FASHION FOR GENDER Idea and dance: Iwona Olszowska Music: Marcin Janus Fthat Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 10 GEL HI CLUB 5 Mishveladze Str. March 25 RADIO JAVAN NOROOZ PARTY with Radio Javan Resident DJs: Bahador S and DJ Moeen Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 65 GEL EDELWEISS 20 Brother Kakabadze Str. March 22 EDELWEISS Potpourri of Georgian, Italian English melodies with jazz elements. Musicians from Georgia, Germany, and Russia. Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 23 GEL




Interpreter & Swedish Film Critic Brings Photo Chronicle of Tarkovsky’s Last Film to Tbilisi

Image source: Art Palace



n March 14, a multicultural and exciting event took place in Tbilisi: the opening of an exhibition presenting a photo chronicle of Andrey Tarkovsky’s last film ‘Sacrifice’ at the Art Palace. The project was organized through the mutual effort of the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC), Embassy of Sweden in Tbilisi, State Museum of Music, Theater, Cinema and Choreography (Art Palace) and the Georgian Film Academy. The exhibition was presented by guest of honor from London, Swedish film critic, writer and author of the photos, Layla Alexander Garrett. Within the frames of the project, a movie about Tarkovsky by Polish director Michal Leszczylowsk was premiered at the Georgian Film Academy. Andrei Tarkovsky is widely regarded as one of cinema’s true masters and although he only made seven features, each was more affecting and mature than the one before it. The Russian director, who was oppressed by the Soviet regime, visited Georgia and had very close friendly relations with Sergei Parajanov, a famous film director of Armenian descent based in Tbilisi. ‘Sacrifice’ was filmed in Sweden, on the island of Gotland, in 1985, while Tarkovsky was in exile. It turned out to be his last. As a result, although the director did not know that he was dying,

the film appears as a final testament that urges everyone to take personal responsibility for everything that happens in the world. Gotland is the largest island in Sweden, very close to Russia, and Tarkovsky would stand on the shore and look at Russia, knowing he could not go back (it was still the Soviet Union at the time). Many renowned Swedish actors starred in the hugely successful film, and renowned Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman once said: “Andrei Tarkovsky is for me the greatest, a man who invented a new language; true to the nature of film as mirror of life, life as a dream.” Layla Alexander Garrett was on set during the shooting of the film, took many pictures and kept a diary during this period. She also served as Tarkovsky’s on-set interpreter. Her diary became the basis for her book about Tarkovsky. Before opening the Art Palace exhibition, Garrett presented her book about Tarkovsky called ‘The Collector of Dreams,’ which can be bought on Amazon. She then thanked Mako Abashidze, Founding Director of the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC), for helping her make a ‘Tarkovsky Festival’ in London in 2007 and then assisting in creating the ‘Parajanov Festival’ in 2010. As Garrett recalled, Tarkovsky used to say that, for him, art was a like prayer and an expression of a hope and “all the rest has nothing to do with art;” that when the last prayer and poet disappears, it will be “the end of humanity.” “Tarkovsky loved Georgia very much

and said that he felt spiritually at ease there,” Garrett told us. “He visited Tbilisi in 1982 and stayed for two weeks. He came to see Sergei Parajanov, whom he appreciated and loved very much, and many other people in Georgia. In his diary, he recalled Parajanov as not only a genius of his profession but generally ‘of everything,’ possessing a unique personality. It was a rare thing, since Tarkovsky rarely recognized or praised his colleagues and other directors of his time.” “Georgia was the place to which he was closely related. His father, wellknown Soviet poet Arseny Tarkovsky, came to Georgia in 1945,” Garrett elaborated. “We discovered his muse was Ketevan Ananiashvili, who was a teacher. Arseny Tarkovsky dedicated many poems to Georgia and to this particular woman. This is a very important exhibition and I’m delighted to see so many people attending it. Tarkovsky is a director who talked about personal responsibility and spiritual development and this exhibition presents some episodes of the making of his last film,” she said, noting that her dream is to show the full retrospective of the seven films of Tarkovsky on the big screen in Tbilisi. “The film’s budget was only two million and we had to overcome many unpredicted obstacles when filming,” Garrett noted. “Sweden’s contribution to the film was immense. We had to

reshoot the fire scene and build a new house when the camera jammed and all the wires connecting to the house burnt, so it was a fiasco. We were shooting in summer, and though nobody worked during this period on the island, the local Swedes helped the film to get back on track. Even the head of the local wood factory came back from his holiday and opened his factory and gave us the wood needed to rebuild the house. We had Bergman’s old team working on the film. These people committed themselves and gave everything for Tarkovsky. Sven Nykvist and Erland Josephson contributed their own money so the film could be completed, without telling Tarkovsky. When he found out, he was so moved by the Swedish generosity and love that he got tears in his eyes. When Tarkovsky was dying from lung cancer, the Swedish team worked literally 24/7 to finish the film for the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize. When the film was screened at the Cannes festival in May, soon after the Chernobyl disaster that happened April that year, all the critics said that Tarkovsky had prophesized the nuclear war.” Mako Abashidze told GEORGIA TODAY more about the exhibition. “This project was initiated by the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce. Apart from trade, the aim of the organization is to foster a closer relationship

between the two countries. We already organized the same exhibition in the UK and since Tarkovsky had many connections with Georgia, we decided to bring the exposition to Tbilisi as well. I want to express my sincere gratitude to Giorgi Kalandia [Art Palace Director] and the Art Palace museum for having significantly contributed to this project end enabling the exhibition to happen. I also want to thank the Embassy of Sweden who supported and was co-organizer. We, together with Ms Layla, also organized a mutual project in London named the Parajanov Festival within the frames of which Parajanov’s films were shown alongside his collages. Now, we are pleased to present this joint project in Tbilisi,” she said. The Ambassador of Sweden to Georgia, Ulrik Tideström, thanked the director of the museum for hosting the exhibition as well as the initiators and curator of the project for bringing the display to Georgia. “This is a multicultural project that has the potential to bring people together. This exhibition was shown one year ago with huge success at the Ingmar Bergman Festival, so it is an honor and privilege for all of us to now have the exhibition in Tbilisi,” the Ambassador noted. The exhibition closes on March 23 at 6 PM Art Palace, 6 Kargareteli St., Tbilisi

"Shipwreck" Exhibition at Stamba Hotel The original exhibition held in Baku in 2018 presented the pieces of Omar Victor Diop, Adad Hannah, Marcel Odenbach, Arjan Martins and Sitara Ibrahimova. The "Tbilisian 'Shipwreck'" adds Georgian context to the concept of the exposition. The very theme of this art exhibition is a painful, yet popular subject for Georgia, which lost almost a quarter of its population to emigration. It is a shelter for refugees and migrants from neighboring countries as well as a home to many internally displaced Georgians. As such, it is no surprise that all of the Georgian artists who took part in the project have not only poetic but a natural, almost personal, understanding of the theme. Like Anna Dziapshipa, a filmmaker with an Abkhazi surname, who states in her experimental video On Being Dziapshipa “My body is a lost territory.” The line is as realistic for some



nWednesday,'Shipwreck,' a new art exhibition, opened at Stamba Hotel in Tbilisi. Organized by Goethe Institut Georgien and art organization Propaganda, 'Shipwreck' is a Georgian extended version of 'Géricault’s Shipwreck Revisited' (curated by Alfons Hud and Asli Samadova). The exhibition shows an artistic approach to the concept and the reality of refugees, migration, emigration and forceful resettlement. Along with pieces made specifically for the event by Georgian artists, artists from Azerbaijan, Canada, Germany and Senegal will also exhibit their work in Tbilisi for a month.



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as it is metaphorical for others. One might not be able to relate to the difficulty of forceful displacement, emigration and refugees but this strongly visual exhibition helps us gain an understanding of it. The inspiration for the name and subject line of the exhibition comes from Théodore Géricault’s masterpiece “Raft of Medusa”. 'Shipwreck' is an attempt to show different stories from different perspectives: many of them are told by artists that have been on this journey themselves. Some stories depict people who found a safety haven, others – somewhere else. Some of the artists reflect on ‘the biggest human crisis of our times" (Ai WeiWei) – as is written on the signboard at the entrance of the exhibition. The exhibition is free of charge and is open until April 20, 2019.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1135  

March 22 - 25, 2019

Issue #1135  

March 22 - 25, 2019