Issue no: 837
• APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Georgian PM Speaks at PACE Spring Session NEWS PAGE 2
ON RUSSIA NATO RELATIONS NATO and Russian officials met in Brussels this week for a lengthy and highly contentious discussion that did little to soothe the mutual loathing between the two sides
Awaited New Infrastructure Project Begins at Tbilisi Airport
Truth in Numbers: Reforming and Understanding Polling in Georgia POLITICS PAGE 4
Ogden on Public Transport SOCIETY PAGE 11
Ivane Javakhishvili Remembered SOCIETY PAGE 13
Tbilisi Open Air to Host International Musicians CULTURE PAGE 16
Jazz Series 2016 Closes with the Birth of a New Jazz Trend
BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
he development and improvement of infrastructure at the Shota Rustaveli Tbilisi International Airport, the aim of which is to attract new airlines and increase the flow of tourists into the country, has been named one of the priorities of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. The focus on this highly important project was announced by the Minister Dimitry Kumsishvili himself, who noted that he personally would control the process of rehabilitation of the runway and taxiways each week, a process which is scheduled to be completed within eleven weeks. Continued on page 2
CULTURE PAGE 17
APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
Dignity at the Heart of Our Identity: Georgian PM Speaks at PACE Spring Session BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
am here to affirm Georgia’s commitment to the vision of a Europe whole and free, at a point in time when everyone’s faith in this vision is being put to the test. For Georgia, the ships have long been burned. We have made our choice. We have come a long way to be part of a whole and free Europe- said the Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashili at the spring session of the European Parliamentary Assembly held 18-22 April. The Assembly covered such relevant topics as the prevention of the radicalization of children by fighting root causes, frameworks of democratic citizenship, fighting anti-Semitism in Europe, strengthening the European response to the Syrian refugee crisis, Human rights of refugees and migrants in the Western Balkans, the EU-Turkey agreement, Intellectual property rights in the digital era, Women’s political participation, and the Cyber Security Act. On 20th April, PM Kvirikashili met the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, and on the 21st he met PACE President, Pedro Agramunt. After the meeting a press conference was held during which both Agramunt and Kvirikashvili claimed the meeting was very productive. Among the topics discussed were the achievements of Georgia in new reforms of the justice and legislative system in Georgia, as well
as the conflicts in the South Caucasus region, including those in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorni Karabakh. The same day PM Kvirikashvili also addressed the Council of Europe, telling them that Georgia maintains its historic roots, aims to strengthen individual citizens and that, despite both internal and external problems and difficulties, Georgia is moving forward. “The idea that citizens have inalienable rights that are not subject to the tyranny of a majority is at the heart of Europe’s democratic experience,” the PM said. “We are drafting a social contract of European quality. That is a contract not subject to
ratification, veto, conditionality, approval or negotiation by anyone else. Being European is not a geographic statement. It is chiefly a sense of security, dignity, freedom, and opportunity that reflects a particular social contract. My country will not be free unless its citizens can live in dignity.” This last in particular addressed questions raised about Russian propaganda in Georgia, media freedom and the TV Channel Rustavi 2 case. The PM underlined the importance of media independence and said there is work in progress to counter Russian Propaganda. He added that he supports Rustavi 2 being as critical as it is at present. The PM also highlighted that one of the main
tests for democracy in Georgia is the forthcoming election. “Since 2012, we have delivered free elections in a level playing field, local and Presidential. This year we will complete the circle with parliamentary elections,” the PM told those at the Assembly. “We need competitive but also uneventful elections, of the kind in which accounts are not frozen, no one controls what kind of news people watch, and each candidate has his or her day in the ballot box.” The Prime Minister concluded his speech by encouraging his listeners to be critical, but helpful. “We understand that PACE is a partisan forum, about politics as much as about policies…Help us build on the foundations we have laid together. Help us be all we can be in a country that is partly occupied but fully European. “Georgia has responded to expectations. We are proof that democracy promotion, institution building, civic empowerment, conditionality, and reforms work. “We hope that together we can set a faster pace towards democratic consolidation; together, against the odds, against the forces that want to take Europe apart, stand on the right side of history. “For everything that Europe stands for, let’s stand together. We are European, which is the essence of dignity at the heart of every Georgian. European is the dignity of a citizen that every Georgian deserves. And dignity is at the heart of our identity.” The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe finished on 22nd April.
Awaited New Infrastructure Project Begins at Tbilisi Airport
Continued from page 1
Minister Kumsishvili announced his decision to personally oversee the repair works at the airport during his first visit on April 5. A week later, he announced that work has actively begun and everything is going according to plan. “Workers are now covering leveling layers on taxiways and on the runway strip,” said the Minister. “Everything is going well and, in spite of the bad weather conditions which lasted two days, I expect everything to be ready according to schedule.”
Besides new and modernized runway and taxiways, European standard lighting devices also will be installed. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is responsible for the rehabilitation of the airport which, as the Minister says, gives a real guarantee that the work will be performed to the highest level and according to IATA standards. He added that the Tavi and Black Sea Group companies will be responsible for finishing the work on time and to those expected high standards.
GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
Abkhazia Wants to Revive Maritime Traffic with Crimea Photo: Giorgio Comai/flickr
BY NICHOLAS WALLER
eorgia’s breakaway Abkhazia region announced Monday that the rebel government in the internationally unrecognized district is looking to re-establish maritime traffic with Ukraine’s annexed Crimean Peninsula. Abkhazia’s de facto Prime Minister Artur Mikvabia, said the rebel government in the Abkhaz capital Sukhumi would like to immediately revive passenger and cargo ferry services that connected the two Black Sea regions during the Soviet Union. Crimea’s Russian-installed government reciprocated Mikvabia’s overtures, saying an agreement on establishing sea traffic would benefit the economies of both regions, as increased trade would help bolster their flailing economies. The Russian occupation of Crimea and Abkhazia’s Moscow-backed self-rule from Georgia has left the two Black Sea regions internationally isolated and crip-
pled by severe economic sanctions. The secessionist government in Abkhazia has struggled in recent months to stabilize the impoverished region’s collapsing economy due to the fall of the Russian ruble and the sudden end to its illicit, but widely known, trade relations with Turkey. Georgia fought a brutal war against Russia and its local Abkhaz proxies in 1992-1993. The war left thousands dead and led to the ethnic cleansing of up to 200,000 ethnic Georgians. Abkhazia was recognized, along with South Ossetia, as an independent state by Moscow following the 2008 RussianGeorgian War. This left Abkhazia wholly dependent on the economic health of its patron Russia as the ruble is the de facto currency of the breakaway republic and most residents are issued Russian Federation passports. Moscow also subsidizes all state-run institutions as well as pays the region’s pension fund. But with the precipitous drop in world oil prices, the subsequent collapse of Russia’s own economy and Turkey’s now fraught relations with Moscow after the
Turkish military downed a Russian fighter jet over Syria in November 2015, Abkhazia’s already fragile economic balance has been crippled. Ukraine’s annexed Crimea Peninsula has endured more than two years of deep international isolation after the Irelandsized region was invaded and annexed by Russia. The US, EU, UK, Canada, Japan, Australia, South Korea and a half dozen other countries slapped harsh economic sanctions on Moscow for its military occupation of Crimea and the ensuing mass human rights abuses perpetrated by local pro-Russian proxies on the region’s Muslim indigenous population, the Crimean Tatars. The peninsula has been cut off from the outside world after most of the international community barred all economic and trading activity with the region’s Moscow-installed government. Despite Russia’s initial enthusiasm for having annexed the region, Crimea’s ramshackle infrastructure as well as its crumbling Soviet-era housing and social services, has saddled Moscow’s occupation authorities with exorbitant costs as they attempt to physically and economically link the region to mainland Russia. Russia’s massive military buildup and potential deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to the regions has further complicated matters as badly needed funding for basic social services are redirected to the military sector. Establishing a modicum of trade between Abkhazia and Crimea would be a major coup for the regions’ proRussian authorities and the Kremlin, itself, as it attempts to consolidate control over strategic areas that it has long coveted.
UN Special Envoy Concerned about Children’s Rights in Georgia BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
he United Nations Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography Maud de Boer-Buquicchio assessed her week-long visit to Georgia and called on the Georgian government to work more towards shoring up at-risk children’s rights in the country. The Dutch-born de Boer-Buquicchio emphasized that despite the government’s effort to better protect children from abuse, violence and exploitation significant problems remain for involving children living and working on the streets and the integration of children who live in special child care institutions into their families and communities. “I am concerned by the lack of longterm planning for those children that are forced to leave their state-run shelters when they turn 18. These children face numerous challenges when leaving childcare centers. They require longterm support, including psychological counseling, access to affordable housing and social aide that helps them reintegrate into the community,” de BoerBuquicchio said. She sharply criticized the government’s methods for identifying homeless chil-
dren and referring them to support services, including temporary shelters. “Unfortunately, insufficient attention is given to prevention and long-term solutions for street children,” she said, adding that the state must raise the public’s awareness on children’s rights. De Boer-Buquicchio welcomed the government’s increased efforts to combat child trafficking and praised the adoption of the Juvenile Justice Code, which incorporates measures that ensures child-protection laws. She was also quick to urge the authorities to quickly pass a new draft law on adoption and foster care. During her April 11- 18 visit, de BoerBuquicchio traveled to Tbilisi, Rustavi and Batumi, meeting with both national and local government officials as well as members of the Public Defender’s Office, child protection NGOs and youth representatives. She also visited small group homes and shelters as well as an institution for children run by the Georgian Orthodox Church and the Tserovani settlement for internally displaced people. De Boer-Buquicchio expressed deep regret for not having been able to evaluate the situation in Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions. A comprehensive report of de BoerBuquicchio’s visit will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017.
APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
Truth in Numbers: Reforming and Understanding Polling in Georgia BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA
he Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS), with the support of the US Embassy in Tbilisi, hosted a conference on understanding polling in Georgia. The event aimed to engage representatives of international and local research organizations, political parties, media and civil society in a healthy discussion about the importance and necessity of sociological research. The organizers clearly articulated that the attitude toward internationally recognized, unbiased sociological research is still ambiguous in Georgia. GFSIS claims the existing polarization or radical confrontation within the political elite for years has automatically delegitimized polls and enhanced distrust among the Georgian public. Presentations at the event mainly concerned polling methodology, reliability and necessity in the light of the upcoming the 2016 parliamentary elections in Georgia. The conference speakers said that the planning of realistic and effective electoral campaigns by the core political players, as well as creating adequate expectations among the public, largely depends on changing the existing attitudes and distrust toward sociological research. A keynote speaker, Kathleen Frankovic,
an election and polling consultant for CBS News and other research organizations and one of the world’s leading experts in public opinion polling, shared her experience from the US elections. Frankovic stated that the significance of polling data is not only necessary for the formulation of electoral strategy and platform, but also enables the public to make individual and more informed decisions while voting. The key players in sociological research in Georgia, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI), and the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC), were present at the conference. Laura Thornton, Resident Director of NDI Georgia office, in her presentation explained her organization’s research methodology. She stated that in order to build confidence among the voters, evaluating the probable outcomes of the elections is of utmost importance for civilians. Andrea Keerbs, Resident Country Director for IRI, mainly focused on the validity of polling as greatly determining the overall credibility of a study. Among the other speakers, CRRC President, Koba Turmanidze, described his organization’s approaches in terms of carrying out a successful study that can positively contribute to the election process. He described CRRC’s methodology, which helps his team conduct comprehensive and reliable polling. Heads of other reputable organizations, such as Baltic Surveys/the Gallup Organ-
Laura Thornton, Resident Director of NDI Georgia, speaking at a conference dedicated to polling in Georgia. Photo: Rusudan Chlaidze
ization and Analysis and Consulting Team (ACT) touched upon their organizations’ polling strategies and the social landscape created in Georgia that regard polls as a less credible and unnecessary instrument in democracy, while media and civil society experts reviewed the threats of manipulation or thematic media coverage and opportunities of political growth of the electorate. As part of the conference, political parties and civil and media representatives took to the stage to discuss the importance of the 2016 elections and the role of reasserting legitimate outcomes of elections and formation of an efficient government. The main parties, Georgian
Dream (GD) and the United National Movement (UNM) were included in the panel discussions.
COMMENTARY BY GT’S ZVIAD ADZINBAIA The GFSIS conference came alongside the recently disclosed polling results by NDI and CRRC, which claim that GD and UNM are both supported by less than 50% of the electorate. More precisely, to the question regarding the results of the elections if held tomorrow, 15 percent of the respondents of the NDI poll said they would vote for Georgian Dream and 13 percent for United National Movement.
It seems that the majority of voters in Georgia are still wavering in their choice, disenchanted toward both their previous and current governments. Laura Thornton claims it is not surprising that citizens are completely undecided about their political leanings. “Parties and politicians have a lot of work to do over the months ahead of the elections to rebrand, rebuild trust, and talk to voters about issues that really matter to them,” she said. What can be understood about the existing political and electoral process in Georgia, is that the country is on a democratic path, even though a true state of democracy has yet to be reached.
APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
The Abkhazia Real Estate “Boom”
OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA
nother attack happened in the occupied Abkhazia when the car of a local MP was blown up in Sokhumi. The Toyota was remotely detonated when Almas Japua had already left the vehicle, yet the explosion lead to protests throughout Sokhumi with local ethnic Abkhazians rallying against the draft law on giving permission to foreigners to purchase real estate in occupied Abkhazia, the adoption of which was opposed by the car-bomber’s intended victim, MP Japua in the de facto Parliament. The protesters won again and the de facto government blocked the law. The problem of selling and buying real estate in occupied Abkhazia was raised as early as the war in 1992-93, when, following the ethnic cleansing, the local Abkhazians took over the property of ethnic Georgians. Each Abkhazian got 5-6 “trophy” properties. The victorious Abkhazians believed that by renting out the houses of Georgians during the holiday season they would get fabulous profits. Their illusions quickly disappeared and they realized that Abkhazia would not become an American Florida anytime soon. This is when the issue of selling the so-called “trophy” apartments to nonAbkhazians was raised for the first time. However, they had to face another dilemma in this case as well, as it was possible and likely that the same Georgians would purchase back their seized property, meaning that Abkhazians were selling back the victory they had gained in the war at the expense of their blood. Therefore, they introduced various regulations, practically apartheid laws, according to which purchasing real estate was forbidden to ethnic Georgians. These regulations were realized as ineffective, as it did not matter who purchased the property of those 250 thousand Georgians, be it ethnic Georgians, Russians or Armenians, as Abkhazians would once again become a demographical minority in Abkhazia. The only solution was to give the apartments to the ethnic Abkhazians who had immigrated to Turkey some two centuries ago. However,
at that time, the de facto leader Sergei Bagapsh got a refusal from the Kremlin for this and was even ‘sacrificed’ to his own initiative. The issue of selling to foreigners was raised once again in Sokhumi following 2008, when Russia recognized the ‘independence’ of Abkhazia and decided it was the right time for some money to be spent in Abkhazia, urging Russian businessmen to become more active. The result? The price for a three-room apartment by the sea in the center of Sokhumi rose to USD 150 thousand. This is when the representatives of the de facto government got scared and introduced a law prohibiting foreigners from purchasing real estate. But in 2011 they talk of the Law arose yet again when an MP from the United Russia party, Konstantin Zatulin, demanded legalization of a summer house in New Atoni. Even Zatulin, being an ideologist of the separatist Abkhazians, made anxious statements about not being able to own a summer house. Abkhazians were able to defend the existing law at the time. However, now, when there are numerous Russian military troops in Abkhazia, the Kremlin has demanded the marionette government allow purchase of real estate by foreigners. And so the next wave of controversy begins. Today, those supporting the law allowing the selling of real estate to foreigners appear even within the occupied territory, made up in part by ethnic Armenians, whose population almost equals that of the ethnic Abkhazians. The Armenian lobby in the occupied Abkhazia is already a power worth considering. Yet the population is against the law, fearing that property will be snapped up by Russians. And the situation there suggests that the Armenians are creating problems even for the Russians living in Abkhazia. This is probably why Moscow told their “Abkhaz friends:” “We recognized your independence, but not because you are really independent, nor in order to see the formation of a full-fledged state neighboring the separatist North Caucasus and formed by the people (Apsuas) related to them. We recognized your independence in order for you to become a part of Russia. This will be arranged in future. But before that, everything in Abkhazia should be controlled by Russia: the borders, railway, resorts, money flow, civic space...”
GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
NATO and Russia End Contentious Meeting Far Apart on Key Issues BY NICHOLAS WALLER
or the first time since war broke out in Ukraine in early 2014, the NATO alliance and officials from Russia met in Brussels this week for a lengthy and highly contentious discussion that did little to soothe the mutual loathing between the two sides. In unusually frank public comments, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg blasted the Russian position, saying Moscow rejects any responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the Minsk II Accords that were co-signed by Russia and Ukraine in February 2015. The agreement was intended as a framework to halt the fighting and find a political solution to a conflict that has killed in excess of 10,000 people and left more than a million as refugees. The closed-door meeting ran far longer than expected but utterly failed to bridge any significant gaps between the two sides. “We have profound differences. During the meeting, it was reconfirmed that we disagree on every basic issue when it comes to the facts and narratives regarding Ukraine, particularly when it comes to who was responsible for the crisis” said the Norwegian-born Stoltenberg at a post-meeting press conference. Russia’s continued violation of the territorial integrity of NATO aspirants Georgia and Moldova reportedly caused several heated discussions between the two sides, but the core bone of contention – as noted by Stoltenberg – continues to be Moscow’s involvement in the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine. Moscow has claimed since the start of the conflict that it intervened in what it calls a civil war to “defend ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine from Ukrainian nationalists”. NATO and Ukraine have repeatedly rejected these assertions, saying the Russian-speaking communities of southeastern Ukraine – the overwhelming majority of whom are of either Ukrainian, Russian or Crimean Tatar origin – were under no threat of persecution. Citing on the ground reports from journalists and human rights groups, the West claims that Moscow invaded the country and waged a proxy war against Kiev because of its desire to turn away from Russia’s sphere of influence and integrate with NATO and the rest of Europe. Stoltenberg was quick to emphasize that “NATO would, under no circumstances, return to a functional relationship with Russia until it returns to respecting international standards of law. But we will keep the channels of communication open.” By contrast, Russia’s official envoy to NATO, Alexander Grushko, could barely hide his contempt for his counterparts. When exiting the talks he told the media that “there was absolutely no point to the meeting or a positive agenda to build on” before closing his remarks by castigating the West for “arrogance and Russophobia”. The fraught discussions between the two parties came only days after Russian warplanes harassed US military personnel in the Black Sea. A Russian Su-24 fighter simulated an attack on a navy destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, while the ship was sailing in international waters on April 11. Five days later, the US’ European Central Command, which oversees military operations throughout Europe, said that a Russian fighter-interceptor flew within 15 meters of a reconnaissance aircraft and performed “a series of provocative manoeuvres” aimed at intimidating the American pilots. NATO’s attempt, however, to re-open the regular lines of communication fundamentally severed in the wake of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 appear to have been a one-off that yielded no tangible results aside from a public relations coup for the Kremlin. Moscow will view the meeting as a sign from the West that their attempts to diplomatically isolate and economically punish Russia for its aggressive actions have failed. “Moscow views its provocative, unpredictable actions and its willingness to risk much more seri-
ous incidents than the West as a “force equalizer” — basically a non-linear response to NATO’s military and strategic superiority,” said international affairs expert, Vladimir Frolov, in an interview with Russian media. Russia’s increasingly belligerent actions have deepened the distrust between Moscow and the West and profoundly alarmed NATO’s members in Eastern Europe. Countries in the former Communist Bloc and nascent allies Georgia and Ukraine – both ex-Soviet republics – remain the most exposed to Moscow’s revanchist goal to consolidate power in areas that Russian President Vladimir Putin calls his ‘near abroad’. Ever since Russia invaded neighboring Georgia in 2008, NATO’s eastern members have pleaded with their fellow allies to orient the alliance’s defensive posture towards Russia. They have, however, met stiff resistance from NATO’s traditional power base — the US, UK, France and Germany — who fear any move towards an eastern realignment could spark an immediate backlash from the Kremlin. In an attempt to draw his NATO partners’ attention to the rapidly deteriorating relationship with Moscow, Poland’s Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, called a nuclear-armed Russia a greater risk to the West’s security than ISIS. Originally set-up in 2002 to improve cooperation and communication between NATO and Russia, the NATO-Russian Council broke off ties after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and subsequent intervention in eastern Ukraine. The council was never formally disbanded, but its diplomats had not met, nor even agreed to an agenda for a meeting, for nearly two years.
We disagree on every basic issue when it comes to the facts and narratives regarding Ukraine
APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
PM Kvirikashvili - in the Right Place at the Right Time OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
t was a real master-class in doing a media briefing. Last weekend, only one hundred days into the premiership, the new head of the National Administration, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, tried his absolute best to create totally new chemistry between the Georgian government and the realm of mass communication in the country, and he managed to look and sound agreeable and truthful on top of everything. There was something unusually humane and civilized to the entire event, never seen before by our political-wisdomhungry public. The guy was relaxed and liberated, open and sincere, easy to communicate with and a hard nut to crack at the same time. He even seemed happy, this head of government of a country torn apart with myriad chilling tribulations. The media – both hawks and doves – on their part, wanted to be as fair, wise and impartial as they possibly could. In a word, there was an uncanny flash of westernization in the air to say the least. No exaggeration! It seemed like we had changed overnight. Literally! I certainly do not mean that PM Kvirikashvili came around and all was changed to the better in Georgia by one momentary wave of a magic wand which he brought with him to operate with. He is certainly trying his best but nobody can change Georgia – or any other country, for that
The current prime minister’s recent solo encounter with media impressed as being done at ease, in a manner affordably business-like and undoubtedly different from any other pressconference ever completed in this country by any other Georgian leader
matter – so rapidly. I am only saying that manners matter today, especially on the level of ambassadorial, ministerial and summit endeavors. The current prime minister’s recent solo encounter with media impressed as being done at ease, in a manner affordably business-like and undoubtedly different from any other press-conference ever completed in this country by any other Georgian leader. He looked so natural and he sounded so intelligent that the Georgian journalists, used to nervous and harsh respondents, found themselves at an enjoyable loss, and they had no desire at all to change the tone of the meeting. Giorgi made everybody feel at home. Suffice to say that he responded to each and every one by their first names and did so with very welcome
warmth. He must have seen many pressconferences of the sort in America. There are difficult journalistic questions in the world that seem to be unanswered skillfully, even by the cleverest politicians. The same is true here in Georgia, but the feeling was that nobody wanted to destroy the spontaneously created balance of mutual understanding between the media and the government, longed for, for years. The PM’s English is impeccable, mastered in the United States, and his erudition is so vast it could make money on television quiz shows. Civility merely exudes from within his overt personality, and his benevolence will overpower miles of human bellicosity. No oriental cunning in words and tonality! A lot of western type naiveté and naturalness
in the face! Watching the press-conference, I also felt that the job he’s got to be doing right now is not in the least one of his wildest dreams, and he can cede it with no sweat if circumstances compel him to do so, although, a workaholic by nature, he would make better out of every second he spends at work. His multi-scion family surely certifies that he and the lady of his house have done their due to the motherland’s meager demography. I strongly suspect that, as solid and balanced as his personality seems to be, Giorgi Kvirikashvili must be a valuable asset to his beloved Georgia. This is at least my latest and firmest impression of him, although I was not totally sure of his newly-noticed strengths when he was sitting in the chair of number two
recently. Now the question is if he will ever be able to make good use of all those strong points – including his perfectly fit age, his meaningful modern education and his rich work experience – to the best advantage of this nation and to the fullest extent possible. I hope so! Let me put it frankly that I am not completely sure the economic, political, social, cultural and ideological landscape beheld in today’s Georgia will ever allow this good and talented man to carry on with his current duties as we all might be wishing for Georgia to witness. But I am not giving up on my optimistic stand concerning Georgia’s future. I simply sense and know that there are generations coming up that want to be thinking and behaving in a very different manner – different from those who had in many previous years vehemently clutched the helm of the nation, having no ample skill or style to steer the country to where the rest of the civilized world is. This Prime Minister, as it had seemed to me at that notion-pregnant media event, clearly represents that particular species of Georgian leaders who know what they want and are fully aware of what they are doing. Just have a brief look at his meeting the other day with the crowd of protesting Tbilisi State University students – it is truly important to have the right sense of being in the right place at the right time, and to look and sound right while there. Isn’t it time for all of us here in Georgia to know exactly who we want to see presiding over the affairs of our still failing but potentially succeeding state?
APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
The Need for a Georgian Territorial Regime BY GIORGI LABADZE
ince the first declaration of independence of the Republic of Georgia, various opinions were formed regarding the Georgian territorial arrangement. Finally, however, the scale tipped in the favor of a unitary state. I will not mention the principles established by the Constitution in 1921, because I believe that the form of territorial arrangement regulated by the Constitution in 1995 is more relevant to the here-and-now. We should focus not only on the main, constitutionally organized, territorial arrangement, but on the distribution of powers on the sub-national level among the administrative units inside the country; their borders and the number of residents living within those borders. When we examine the Constitution of a State, we find the sign defining its form of territorial arrangement already written into the main regulations. For example, the second article of the Spanish Constitution states that the Constitution is based on the indivisible unity of the Spanish nation, while the Constitution of Portugal directly uses the word ‘unitarism’. None of the specific forms of territorial arrangement are mentioned directly in the Georgian Constitution, but the first paragraph of the first article reads that Georgia is an independent, unified and indivisible State. This suggests its direct support of ‘Unitarian State.’ Today, Georgia is considered a unitary State, despite the significantly decentralized autonomous republics of Adjara and Abkhazia. Paragraph 3 of Article 2 states that the territorial arrangement is determined after the jurisdiction is fully restored on the whole territory of the country. In my opinion, this is the legislator avoiding taking care of judicially/legally regulating a territorial arrangement that would be appropriate and tailored to the country. Such an arrangement hinders the stable development of the countryfor two decades the State has been una-
Serving and paying salaries to 107 people uses up 50.6% of all the municipal funds and only the remainder, the lesser 49.4%, is used for the around 8,000 people living there
ble to formulate exactly what its form of territorial and legal arrangement is. This approach has a negative effect on the economic development of the regions and nobody seems to care to change itthe Constitution indirectly implies that it is not necessary to think about this until the territorial integrity of the country is fully restored. In my opinion, one way to restore territorial integrity, which is flexible and necessary, is precisely a timely move to legally organize the above-mentioned matter. I believe that on the one hand we should agree to/accept the decentralization characterizing federalism, but, on the other hand, I recognize that such an approach might result in inclination towards secession. Therefore, thinking about federalism is quite risky. Thus, we should support a unitary, relatively decentralized, or completely decentralized State. The fact that democratic implementation of these two is possible has been proved by enough precedents in the modern era. For example, the representative body of Great Britain gave permission to Scotland and Northern Ireland to publish primary and secondary legislation, while the Faroe Islands of Denmark have their own rep-
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resentatives in the international arena, which, as a rule, is unacceptable for autonomous entities. Therefore, establishing democratic regimes under unitarism is quite possible and does not mean a Francoistic strict refusal on transferal of rights. Moreover, the distribution of regions and municipalities within the country is an even more complicated issue. Before moving to an argumentative discussion, we should describe the current situation... there are three levels of territorial governance in Georgia– regions, municipalities and administrative bodies. There are nine regions and 71 self-governing units in the country, of which 12 are selfgoverning cities while the remainder are self-governing communities. These selfgoverning communities are further divided into administrative units. It is difficult to say the exact number, but each community consists of about 10-15 administrative units, where a unilaterally appointed representative is sent from the municipality. It is not hard to guess how many units local government is divided into in Georgia, and it is also clear that splitting the government to such an extent creates significant bureaucratic difficulties. This
is still nothing in comparison to the most important thing that is harming people, which is unreasonably high remuneration issued to officials. After examining the public information provided by each municipality, I found the following: According to the statistics, just to finance the above stated units, the regional budget is to allocate GEL 150 million in 2016. For a country with an economy such as Georgia’s, this amount is more than inappropriate. Moreover, an even more striking paradox exits, which I came across in a couple of municipalities. For example, the budget of Oni Municipality, is only 3,225.100 GEL. Just 107 people are employed in its representational and executive bodies and the expenses for the representational and executive bodies of the municipality takes 50.6% of the total budget, or 1,633.100 GEL. This means that serving and paying salaries to 107 people uses up 50.6% of all the funds and only the remainder, the lesser 49.4%, is used for the around 8,000 people living there. This is nothing other than an embarrassment for the Georgian territorial model and needs to be rethought urgently. About the same situation can be found in the Lentekhi Municipality, which, together with the above mentioned Oni, should not be on the list of independent municipalities based on the number of citizens living there. Now let’s discuss the existing trend according to the population. The most recent census for the municipalities was taken in 2002. Taking into consideration that the regions are characterized with a decrease in population, we can assume that today, in comparison to the data of 2002, the population there is the same, if not declined. The old statistics suggests that there are about 46,116 people in each municipality. If we compare this to the Western European data, it is quite close to the norm, though there are countries with a different approach. For example, in Great Britain (where there is a three level system of governance), according to the reforms of 2011, the number of local territorial units has decreased from 434 to 406 and, therefore, the aver-
age number of inhabitants in each of the units is about 152,685. Countries within the European Union have been decreasing the number of territorial units of late. For example, in Greece (with a system of two level territorial governance), the number of municipalities decreased from 1034 to 325 in 2011. The example of Latvia is also interesting (a one-level territorial regime), where, following reforms, the number of territorial units decreased from 527 to 191 and the population increased in each administrative body from 4345 to 18,828. Further, in Germany, where there is a three level territorial regime, the amount of municipalities in one of the federal lands, Saxony, has decreased from 840 to 219 units. Such tendencies would not take place in countries with a democratic regime unless there was a real necessity to do so. A large number of territorial bodies creates a strictly bureaucratic regime and makes it more complicated for the Governor to carry out their duties. Further, I find it unacceptable that the Governor of a municipality in Georgia is currently able to unilaterally appoint a trustee in a territorial body, as it makes that Governor unaccountable to the population and therefore reducing the effectiveness of the work done. It is vitally important to significantly decrease the number of administrative bodies that exist in Georgia, to establish new borders and to rethink the authority/power of each remaining administrative body. Today, we are dealing with a wave of reforms on the expansion of municipalities. Large municipalities have more opportunities for economic development. Why? Because the larger the municipality, the more democratic the internal processes, particularly, the more voters that take part in the elections of the local government- meaning that the governing bodies have more legitimacy. Giorgi Labadze is a second year student at Tbilisi State University in the Faculty of Law. He hopes to bring to light those issues most urgently in need of judicial change.
APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
Georgia’s Nino Nanitashvili Sweeps the Young Emerging Leader Award in Washington DC BY NANA SAJAIA, VOICE OF AMERICA
rom Tbilisi, Georgia, 23-year old Nino Nanitashvili was among the US State Department’s award recipients as a young emerging leader. On April 20, 2016, the US State Department awarded 10 global Young Leaders, each of whom has tried to bring about social changes through innovative means. The Young Leaders accepted these honors from James Stengel, US Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Mr. Stangel who said that, “Leadership is unique. If it were commonplace, these young leaders would not be getting such awards.” “But by honoring you today,” he told the awardees, “we underscore the reality, that you- Young Leaders from around the globe- are extraordinary.” Stangel also quoted President Abraham Lincoln, who once said that moral courage was much more of a virtue than physical courage and it was exactly the moral courage that was needed for leadership. “Together with courage, there is some-
We proved that these kids (Georgian and Abkhaz) are not different from each other and we showed that interaction is enjoyable when nobody talks about politics or conflict
thing else that unites all winners- all of them have made an effort to contribute to peacebuilding and development in their countries,” said Evan Ryan, US Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. A State Department publication, marking this event, had the following words dedicated to the young Georgian winner: “Nino has dedicated her career to peacebuilding and development through evolving technologies. She founded the first technology-oriented professional community in Georgia, the Google Developer Group, and has organized over four hundred events, meet-ups, conferences and workshops. Nino directs a project that brings Georgian and Abkhazian youth together through online games. Now, at the age of twenty-three, Nino is the Head of Communications at the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University. She leads the Women Tech-Makers Community in Tbilisi, an initiative supported by Google, and serves as a mentor for tech startups and social entrepreneurs in Georgia. She is the chapter co-organizer of Hackernest Georgia and she has spoken on her technology-driven civic initiatives at Google headquarters, the
parliament of Georgia, and TEDxYouth Tbilisi.” The 2016 honorees included a young lady from Malta who is dedicated to grassroots educational projects; a gunshot victim from Honduras who founded a skateboarding club for at-risk youth; and a Palestinian student who started a debate club to promote peaceful exchanges of opinion. The effervescent winner was keen to share her impressions with the Voice of America’s Georgian Bureau: “First of all, we proved that these kids (Georgian and Abkhaz) are not different from each other, they are united by similar or common interests. In fact, we challenged the stereotypes that they were different; we showed that interaction is enjoyable when nobody talks about politics or conflict. Kids are sim-
ply given a chance to connect and to get to know each other. Subsequently, this became part of a dialogue between people. It is a great feeling to realise that your efforts are recognized by the US Government. For me, it’s an even bigger incentive to do more. I’m honoured to be able to represent Georgia at such an international gathering.” The U.S. Department of State’s Emerging Young Leaders Award and Exchange Program recognizes youth around the world for their efforts to create positive social change in challenging environments. The ten recipients of the inaugural Emerging Young Leaders Award represent the power of young people to launch grassroots initiatives to improve their communities. These individuals are the future, and they’re creating change now.
APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
From Sardines to His Mother’s Soul: Ogden on Public Transport OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN
ere I the Prime Minister of Georgia instead of that new chap who nobody’s heard of who looks like he escaped from Madam Tussaud’s, the first thing I would sort out in this country would be public transport. It is, quite frankly, a damned nuisance. The crowded conditions of marshrutkas and buses are something which even hipster Americans grow tired of after a few months, the experience not made any more tolerable by the speed with which the things are driven. It is, really, a bit like being a canned sardine after the can has been kicked down the stairs. Due to a series of very poor life decisions, for a period of six months I ended up living close to the airport, which necessitated the use of marshrutkas. It is the kind of experience that I imagine Dante had in mind when he penned his Inferno. With people either pressed up against the windows or with their arses hanging out of them, and there barely being space enough to breathe, it brings to mind the historical descriptions of slave ships (now that I think about it, Georgian marshrutka drivers would make good crews for slave ships, with all their experience of packing people into tight spaces; not the most useful skill to have in this day and age, but you never know what will happen if America has the Republicans back). With all this in mind, getting out is naturally an interesting experience. Even getting the driver to stop has always seemed to be difficult for me. I’ve no idea why; I practiced the word for ‘stop’ in Georgian until I was blue in the face, and a host of Georgian friends told me it was fine. Now, being an Englishman, I am naturally not inclined towards bawling at the driver in a foreign language from the back of a crowded minibus. It attracts attention, rather, and is simply not British (although really my reluctance is ridiculous, when you think that you’ll have to push past a host of Georgians who refuse to move anyway). With this in mind, I recall one
time when I pushed my way to the front of the bus, stood by the door with money in hand, and then looked at the driver and said ‘stop’. He turns to me. ‘Stop?’ he asked. I’m not a patient man, and this was the giddy limit. ‘No,’ I would have said if my Georgian had been good enough, ‘I want you to bloody accelerate and break the sound barrier. That’s why I’m standing by the door with these coins in my hand, to help this vehicle reach Mach 3.’ Instead I just repeated my demand and he condescended to finally acquiesce to my request, though we had
now overshot my destination by almost half a kilometre. Taxis are marginally better, providing you have a driver who knows where he’s going (drivers unfamiliar with the city are uncommon, but not unheard of) and who doesn’t want to talk. Not that I’m against friendliness (much), it’s just that the conversation is never particularly stimulating. After you’ve answered the questions ‘Where are you from/do you like Georgia/have you tried khinkali?’
once, you’ve answered them a thousand times. I also recall my friend Gvantsa once took a taxi from my home and she later told me the driver had delivered her a lecture on how she should be a good Georgian girl, and then gifted her a picture of a church. Since Gvantsa is an LGBT rights activist who is more tattoo than girl, I’d say he was barking up the wrong tree. For my recent wedding, a taxi driver also had 50 Lari off my brother for a journey that should have cost a tenth of the price. Smelling for-
eigners, they feel free to take advantage (which contradicts the much-vaunted Georgian hospitality, I’d say), which is understandable if not excusable. However, I had a bizarre experience in Batumi last month when my wife and two friends took a taxi from the train station to the hotel. The price the driver demanded was ten Lari. My wife and one of my friends, being Georgians, told him this was unacceptable. Not so, says driver; on the soul of his mother, it is a fair price. Very well, says wife, we’ll find someone else who’ll take us for cheaper. (Sensation). Driver surrenders. Fine, says he, eight Lari. Alright, we say, eight Lari; the other drivers aren’t likely to take us for any cheaper anyway. We clamber aboard. Driver then hears my English friend speaking our own language. Oho, thinks he, what’s this? Not Georgian, surely? Nor Russian; he’d recognise it from the TV. Could they possibly be Westerners? He turns to my Georgian friend. Ten Lari was a fair price, says he. It is pointed out that the price has already been set for eight. I know, I know, driver says, but on the soul of his mother, it was fair. Conversation between my wife and I then turns to reminiscing over our last time in Batumi. Driver thinks that the subject of cost has not been discussed enough. “Ten Lari,” he says. On the soul of his mother. At this point, my temper begins to fray, and I remark to my wife that I’ll give him thirty if he’ll bloody well shut up. (Laughter). Driver stirs. “Was he swearing at me?” driver asks. (I was, but telling him that would not have helped). We reassured him. Peace is restored. Eight Lari is paid to disgruntled driver. On the return trip, oddly enough, we paid only four Lari to an honest man. I would write more on this, but I’m already over my word count. But if I was Prime Minister, I swear that marshrutkas would be reformed and taxi prices and conduct regulated. I promise. On the soul of my mother.
Marriot to Build New Brand Hotel in Tbilisi
APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
EU to Open Sustainable Energy Info Center in Georgia
BY ANA AKHALAIA
he EU-funded regional cooperation program INOGATE will open a Sustainable Energy Information Center (SEIC) as part of a cooperation with Georgia’s Energy Ministry and Tbilisi City Hall.
BY ANA AKHALAIA
arriott International on Monday broke ground on the inaugural site of its new Eastern Europebased MOXY Hotel brand, located on Saarbrucken Square in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili attended the ceremony and addressed the importance of the construction and expressed hope that the hotel will revive the old district of the city. “I am so happy that a new hotel is being constructed in this beautiful place. Upon the initiative of the GMT Group, and under the flagship Marriot brand, the construction of Tbilisi’s new MOXY hotel now underway. This is an important investment for the city. More than USD 25 million will be invested into the construction of the new hotel and we hope this new option will offer its services to middle and low-budget customers to help Tbilisi be even more affordable for guests,” said Kvirikashvili. The multifunctional complex will include the international standard 130room MOXY Tbilisi Hotel and mixeduse facilities that are due to open by the end of 2017. The new hotel will be located in an area where the Tbilisi city governments is implementing the ‘New Tiflis’ rejuvenation project, which aims at completely renovate and gentrify one of Tbilisi’s oldest historical districts.
10 Galaktion Street
In addition to the architectural preservation of numerous 18th-early 20th century buildings in the area, a green area and pedestrians space will be created alongside a newly reconstructed network of gardens that existed in 19th20th centuries. Georgia’s largest investment firm, GMT Group, and the US-based Overseas Private Investment Corporation are financing the project. Marriot’s made a splash in the hospitality industry with the 2014 launch of its first MOXY-brand hotel in Milan. Marriot hopes to reinvent the traditional economy hotel experience by offering budget travellers an affordable boutiquestyle option.
More than USD 25 million will be invested and we hope through it to help make Tbilisi even more affordable for guests
The center will provide information on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources to different target groups including general public, children, youth, small and medium-sized enterprises, policy makers and other shareholders. A similar Sustainable Energy Information Center will open in Moldova, with plans to further expand to Eastern Partnership countries Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Ukraine.
INOGATE, one of the longest running technical assistance programs funded by the European Union, collaborates with 11 countries in Eastern Europe; helping them to reduce dependence on fuel imports, care for energy supply security and minimize the consequences of climate change. The 20-year program will wrap up its activities at the end of the year.
Brooklyn Cultural Center Opens First Georgian Library in US BY ANA AKHALAIA
small Brooklyn-based cultural center has opened the US’ first all-Georgian language library with the help of publishing house Miniatura and the Presidential Administration of Georgia. The Dancing Crane Cultural Center, located in New York’s iconic b o ro u g h o f Brooklyn, currently houses
Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
exhibits highlighting Georgia’s rich artistic and literary heritage and conducts educational programs focusing on national traditions, including dance and language studies. “When I see what is happening with Georgian emigrants in America, especially with children, I notice that most of them can only speak English. None of them are literate in Georgian. Open-
ing a Georgian library will help Georgian emigres who live here,” said the center’s director, Victor Sirelson. The opening of the Dancing Crane’s library comes less than year after a Georgian book corner was unveiled at a library in nearby Queens. Many of Georgia’s best-known publishers and private citizens were contributors to the new library’s collection.
GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
Ivane Javakhishvili Remembered BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
his week sees the 140th anniversary of the birth of great Georgian scholar, Ivane Javakhishvili, founder of the Tbilisi State University, to be commemorated in the National Academy of Science of Georgia. It is one hundred and forty years since the birth of Ivane Javakhishvili (1876-1940). This hardworking citizen, scientist and scholar throughout his life travelled a very hard yet successful road that was full of risk. He is a unique phenomenon in the history of Georgian public life for his example of patriotism, deep scientific research, and respect for his contemporaries. The scholar studied and contributed greatly to the development of the following: the history of the Georgian nation, the history of the Georgian economy, the history of Georgian law, Georgian palaeography, historical geography, metrology, numismatics, the history of music, construction work and, generally, the issues of history of material culture. In the early 20th century, Javakhishvili took it upon himself to continue the work of Ilia Chavchavadze, to add to the progress of the cultural life of the Georgian
nation. The first step was to plan the foundation of the first top educational hearth in Georgia – a university - and so begin a new period in Georgian history. In 1914, the government passed a law allowing the establishment of non-Russian language private universities. Javakhishvili and his supporters were encouraged by this fact. The great scholar had clear aims: “the university simultaneously should be an institution of scientific research and experiments and one in which the study of science and the methods and practices of scientific work can be learned.” A university government was chosen and Ivane Javakhishvili was asked to be Rector. However, he refused, in his place suggesting Petre Melikishvili, “a scholar well-known in both Russia and elsewhere” and telling them that “his election [to the position of Rector] will be a great prestige for our university.” His suggestion was well-received by the university professors and on 26 January, 1918, the day of commemoration of David the Builder, the Tbilisi State University was opened and Javakhishvili was chosen to head the Department of History of Georgia. Yet demand was such that, on 24 December, 1919, Ivane Javakhishvili did accept the role of University Rector, a position he kept until 1926 when he was
forcible removed from both position and university as a result of the anti-Soviet August Uprising of 1924 following which tolerance of non-Marxist intellectuals had gained fervour. He escaped the worse fate suffered by his successors, however. The rectors that followed Javakhishvili- Tedo Ghlonti, Malakia Toroshelidze, Ivane Vashakhmadze, Levan Aghriashvili, Karlo Oragvelidze, Aleqsandre Erqomaishvili- all of whom served the university faithfully, were sacrificed to the existing political regime and were shot in 1937-1938. Throughout his life Javakhishvili wrote more than 170 works which dealt with various aspects of Georgia’s political, social, economic and cultural history. His main work, ‘A History of the Georgian Nation,’ published in 1908, has remained one of the most comprehensive and eloquent treatments of pre-modern Georgian history. Regrettably, it has
yet to be translated into other languages. On 18 November, 1940, the Georgian scientific community gathered to listen to Ivane Javakhishvili’s lecture. His topic, “philological science goals and the Georgian literary monument,” was seen as an important one. He began speaking at the appointed time, but sadly never reached the end of his lecture- his heart stopping mid-speech. Georgian historian, philologist, and sociologist Mikheil Tsereteli, who was in Paris at the time, sent a message of condolence: “Rest in peace, great Ivane, with those also adorned with the crown of contribution and martyrdom, as you are. You must lie beside the great Ilia, who took such a crown before you.” Javakhishvili was, however, buried in the garden of the university of his founding, his duty to his homeland well-fulfilled, his name to go down with the many greats of Georgian history.
All the World is a Sound Stage: the Legacy and Lasting Influence of Shakespeare on Film BY ADRIAN WOOTTON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, FILM LONDON
he earliest versions of Shakespeare translated into celluloid start in 1899 (King John, featuring Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree) and increase in frequency in the years up to World War One (many of which are in the excellent BFI Silent Shakespeare DVD compilation).Yet it really took until the Second World War, a healthy dose of patriotic fervour and the genius of one of Britain’s greatest actors – namely, Laurence Olivier - to create, in Henry V (1944), a Shakespeare movie in glorious Technicolor that would harness the medium to the subject matter in a way never achieved before. Olivier would then go on to complete a loose trilogy with his masterworks Hamlet (1946) and Richard III (1955). For much of this time,Orson ‘Citizen Kane’ Welles was vying cinematically with Olivier for the title of Shakespearean film maestro, with his own series of highly creative but poverty row rendered adaptations, culminating in the nonetheless exquisite Chimes at Midnight (1965). Although in Tinseltown USA Shakespeare was employed in acts of cinematic gene splicing, as the essential DNA of a whole host of films in popular genres; nevertheless, the most radical re-imagining of Shakespeare was happening in Japan. The decision by Japanese epic filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa, to blend his samurai story sensibilities with Noh theatre aesthetics and apply them to Shakespeare, transformed Macbeth into the enthralling historical action movie Throne of Blood(1957). Following on from Kurosawa, filmmakers such as Russian film director, Grigiori Kozintsev, with The Sam Wanamaker Festival 2015 at Shakespeare’s Globe. Photo: Cesare De Giglio
his Soviet resourced version of Hamlet (1964), or Italian maestro Franco Zefferelli’s delicate Romeo and Juliet (1968) and Roman Polanski’s gripping, brutal and also British made The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971); brought fresh aesthetic perspectives to celluloid Shakespeare. The advent and high volume of TV Shakespeare adversely affected UK film versions in the 1970’s (barring rare exceptions, like Derek Jarman’s 1979 The Tempest). Indeed it took the personage of actor/director Kenneth Branagh to reinvigorate Shakespeare on the big screen in Britain, commencing with the energetic Henry V (1989) and on through five other Shakespeare related titles. Also impressive is the strident spiky Richard Loncraine Richard III, memorably embodied by Sir Ian McKellen (1995). Perhaps the most influential, mainstream non-UK made Shakespeare film was Baz Luhrmann’s star powered, gritty, good looking, contemporary US gangster version of Romeo & Juliet (1996), made at the end of the nineties and authentically retaining the play’s original language. Very recently, new film versions of Shakespeare are coming from the Indian sub-continent. Notably, producer/director Vishai Bhardwaj has made a trio of Shakespeare-based Bollywood musical Crime Movies, starting with Maqbool (2003). Once again, Shakespeare stories are inserted into radically different cultural contexts where, despite just about everything being different, they remain clearly recognisable. In the UK, stirring and savage new film interpretations, such as Ralph Fiennes’ adaptation of Coriolanus (2011) and the bold and bloodthirsty Macbeth (2015), have drawn critical and commercial attention. Thus Shakespeare remains, like dark matter: the work is always there, providing a glorious heritage
and also a rich, vibrant source which inspires and challenges filmmakers and performers to make new films; that can in turn enthuse and inspire new generations of viewers. NB This is an edited version of an article available in full
on the British Council Film website: http://film.britishcouncil.org/ In researching the article, the author is indebted to ‘Walking Shadows: Shakespeare’, edited by Luke Mckernan and OlwenTerris (BFI, 1994) and ‘Shakespeare and the Film’ by Roger Manvell (Barnes, 1971).
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APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
Attention: Svaneti BY TONY HANMER
t seems that, on average, every year and a half or so I end up on Georgian television, briefly or for an extended stretch. A few seconds or up to twenty minutes. Sometimes entirely unintentionally. The first feature Rustavi 2 channel ran on me was because I had let them use my blogged photos of an avalanche which had closed the just-opened Ushguli road, along with an interview with me by phone from my then unreachable location. The fact of a westerner spending an entire winter in Georgia and Europe’s highest village inspired them to come for my story. I wanted that six-minute segment, part of the PostScriptum Saturday night show, to be more about the village than about me. That has been my modus operandi here ever since, too, because although I stick out like a sore thumb in Svaneti, the province itself could use the nationwide focus which filming here brings. Not to mention the worldwide potential audience of YouTube viewers. This last time was no exception. Rustavi 2 came up again to revisit my life in these remote heights after several years’ break, and I hope that the resulting several minutes, not yet aired or its slot even announced, perhaps still being edited, will do more for Svaneti than the considerable attention which it brings to me and my wife. Once you’ve become nationally famous for footage of your weekly bath, what do you do for an encore? They came, interviewed my wife and a neighbor who is a close friend, shot
me with my growing pile of diaries which I would rescue from a burning house second after the Beloved, saw me repairing some fence and milking and showing off my fridge of delightfully smelly moldy cheeses. Next day, off to tiny Kartvani and its one-class school- this offshoot of Becho school has two grade three pupils and one in grade one. There’s no reaching them by wheeled transport in the winter, and it’s too far to walk to the main Becho school at any time, so this is the necessary solution. The father of the boys, in grades one and three, begged me to include them when I started in Becho last autumn; said he would drive me at least from the top of Kartvani road to the main school if I could come, say, once a week for one lesson? How could I say no? If anyone is committed to seeing their children learn the homework, it’s him and his wife; otherwise we would be wasting our time. Things are going well. But at the last minute the film crew begged off going to Becho, saying that they actually already had too much material to edit down to the four minutes or so available; typically, their lives are a race hither and yon, so, while this was unwelcome news, it wasn’t too surprising. Poor Becho school, though, expecting them, had tidied up its magnificent huge grassy yard, and the whole staff had brought the ingredients of a feast! They were disappointed not to be joined by the media trio, but I had been quite unable to persuade them to change their minds. We ate the feast anyway, because what could we do? And there had been some good time to think about what one might say before the cameras, too. They asked me over
the phone what I thought some of the problems in Svaneti were at the moment, and I passed this question on to my colleagues at Becho school. While it’s of a similar size to the building in Etseri, both schools suffer also from the fate of a drastically reduced population, down to about a fifth of its maximum historical size. Toilets, water, heating, electricity and computers (these more so in Becho)
are other stated areas needing improvement. So, barring the actual questions on TV, here is what might be lacking from the new footage, details of which will become clear soon. Don’t ignore Svaneti, or let it decline once again, because that way lies lawlessness, chaos, fear, depopulation! We’ve only just got over the last bout of all that! God forbid a rerun.
Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1300 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti
GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
Andro Wekua’s Artworks Displayed in Germany BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
ne of Germany’s oldest museums, the Koelnischer Kunstverein, is hosting a two-month exhibition of unique works by Georgian contemporary artist Andro Wekua. The artist presented his already famous life-size figurine made in 2014 along with other works created in different periods. The ‘Anruf’ (‘Call’) exhibition opened at the Museum on April 15 and will remain open until June 19. Wekua’s works occupy the main exhibition hall at the Museum and as organizers said, “transport viewers into a dream-like world”. The central object – a human body - hangs from the ceiling in a prominent location and appears as a half androgynous human and half robot. The being is balanced on its chin atop a swing-like apparatus and is thus depicted in a physically impossible position, which further intensifies its already very striking strangeness and unworldliness. The exhibition also includes an untitled painting of a seascape (2016), which is placed at a significant distance opposite the figure, but includes completely different traditions, being more in common with 19th-century British and French landscape paintings as well as their expressively conceived early 20th-century pendants. His works typically display a disturbing and uncanny quality and point to subconscious processes. This can be most clearly seen in Wekua’s cinematic works, and the ‘Call’ exhibition includes videoworks produced from 2003-2012. “These works are
partly based on found material and partly on sequences produced by the artist himself, and they oscillate between the genres of historical documentary, horror and science fiction. The films present images between memory, dream and vision and convey an atmosphere that is no less adept at getting under viewers’ skin,” organizers say. The exhibition at the Kolnischer Kunstverein is not only the artist’s first major presentation in Europe but the first significantly comprehensive presentation in Germany in the last five years. Previously, Wekua presented his works in Castello di Rivoli in Italy, at the Camden Arts Centre in the United Kingdom, at Boijmans van Beuningen in the Netherlands as well as in different art spaces in Germany. Nominated for the Preis der Nationalgalerie Award in 2011 Andro Wekua was born in 1977 and grew up amidst the ethnic conflict in Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia in the 1990s. Now the artist lives in Germany and Switzerland.
Phone: 599 461908
Tbilisi Open Air to Host International Musicians BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
he world’s leading music stars continue to hold concerts in Georgia. Following on from the exciting lineup presented by the State’s ‘Check in Georgia’ program, AlterVision Company presented their guests – Damien Rice, Morchebeba, Unkle, Air, Steve Vai and other international and local artists- who will perform as part of the annual Tbilisi Open Air festival on July 29-31. One of the biggest music festivals in the region, Tbilisi Open Air will host 40 musicians from 12 countries in a three-day event near Lisi Lake, where organizers aim to create a new music city with three stages and full infrastructure for listeners to be able to “touch” the music and feel free throughout the festivals. For eight years Tbilisi Open Air has been annually offering music for every taste. Acoustics, Electronic, Alternative, Rock and Indie Rock have been heard numerous times from the stages of
the festival, and this year for the first time HipHop musicians will be joining the mixed line-upperforming in different genres including Drum and Bass, Funk, Abstract Electronic and numerous Jam sessions. “We represent the largest festival of its kind in the region, so we always try to meet the needs of listeners with varied musical tastes. Moreover, not only local listeners visit our festival, but also visitors from other countries, many of whom come specifically for Tbilisi Open Air,” said organizer Archil Guledani. Despite the rise in popularity of the festival, the organizers announced that prices this year will actually start out lower than usual. One day attendance will cost 35 GEL and a three-day pass – 80 GEL. From May 16, the prices will increase: one day – 50 GEL and a pass – 120 GEL. Tickets are available from April 14 on the festival website www. tbilisiopenair.ge and at the box office next to the Sports Palace. For more information about artists, location and tickets, you can visit the Tbilisi Open Air website (above) and Facebook page www.facebook.com/tbilisiopenair
GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
Jazz Series 2016 Closes with the Birth of a New Jazz Trend
FOR SALE BY MAKA LOMADZE
n April 20, due to illness, Roy H a r g r ove wa s replaced on the stage by an Afro-Cuban quartet headed by Omar Sosa, which had been scheduled for May and whose job it became to close the Jazz Series 2016- a surprise climax and a show of new discoveries. Omar Sosa, composer-pianistbandleader, was born in 1965 in Camagüey, Cuba’s largest inland city. At age eight, he began studying percussion and marimba at the music conservatory in Camagüey; in Havana, as a teenager, he took up piano at the prestigious Escuela Nacional de Música and completed his formal education at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana. Among his influences, Omar cites traditional Afro-Cuban music, European classical composers (including Chopin, Bartok, and Satie), Monk, Coltrane, Parker, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Chucho Valdés, and the pioneering Cuban jazz group Irakere. Moving in 1993 to Ecuador, Omar immersed himself in the folkloric traditions of Esmeraldas, the northwest coast region whose African heritage includes the distinctive marimba tradition. He relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1995, and soon invigorated the Latin jazz scene with his adventurous writing and percussive style. His Tbilisi concert was no less diverse.
The complexity of this genre is that it represents a mix of coloring melodies peculiar to Cuba
Very soon after emerging on stage, cha-cha-cha rhythms were heard all around, drawing the audience to its feet, clapping hands and grinning in pleasure. It is warming to think that this small Cuban nation, having suffered so much, has such vigor to cheer. Their music made me imagine the sunrise, sunset and the tide, as if I were floating in the Caribbean Sea. It had everything - energy, cheer, lyricism, sunny mood, placidity – I would qualify it in three words – a Musical Pacific Oceanarium, with four goldfish inside. The costumes matched their diverse stylistics. Annually performing over 100 concerts on six continents, Omar has appeared in venues as wide-ranging as the Blue Note (New York, Milan, and Tokyo), Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, th e Detroit Institute of Arts, the Walker Art Center, the Getty Center, London’s Barbican and Queen Elizabeth Hall, Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall, and Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt; festivals including Monterey Jazz, JVC Jazz, Montreal Jazz, Marciac Jazz, North Sea Jazz, Helsinki, Grenoble Jazz, Montreux Jazz, Naples Jazz, Ravenna Jazz, Roma Jazz, Spoletto, WOMAD, and Cape Town International Jazz; and universities on several continents, including a visiting artist fellowship at Princeton University in March 2008, and a visiting artist residency at Dartmouth College in April 2008. Sosa received a lifetime achievement award from the Smithsonian Associates in Washington DC in 2003 for his contribution to the development of Latin jazz in the United States. He has received two nominations from the BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards, in 2004 and 2006, both in the ‘Americas’ category. In 2003 he received the Afro-Caribbean Jazz Album of the Year Award from the Jazz Journalists Association in NYC for his recording of ‘Sentir;’ and a nomination from the Jazz Journalists Association for Latin Jazz Album of the Year in 2005 for his recording of ‘Mulatos.’ After a stream of applause, GEORGIA TODAY heard from musicologist Nodar Broladze: “This is a new direction we are witnessing the birth of- just as beebop was born during the Second World
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There was a philosopher in the Middle Ages who said that it is more important to have the ability to take pleasure from trifles than to be able to think. Sosa’s music is saturated with this attitude War. This was a symbiosis of Latin, African and American music. The complexity of this genre is that it represents a mix of coloring melodies peculiar to Cuba. Yet, these musicians grew up abroad. We have seen how effective their performing art and composing thinking is. This is music that young people will like very much. We, the older generation, understand it as it is based on bee-bop, but enriched with experiments. Not everyone may like it, but in my opinion, this is the biggest event in our cultural life. This was an attempt by oppressed Cubans to push their sorrow into the bigger space- to touch those less interested in it. Nevertheless, I believe that they live much more happily than rich people in other countries with other concerns and lacking spiritual wealth. Cubans are still joyful. There was one philosopher in the Middle Ages, who said that it is more important to have the ability to take pleasure from trifles than to be able to think. Sosa’s music is saturated with this attitude.”
(It is possible to divide it into several parts)
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APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATRE
GABRIADZE THEATRE Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 April 22, 27 STALINGRAD Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari April 23 MARSHAL DE FANTIES DIAMOND Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari April 24, 26 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari GRIBOEDOVI THEATRE Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 April 22, 23 I SEE MOUNTAIN TBILISI IN MY DREAM Directed by Levon Uzunyan Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari April 24 CHIPOLLINO Jianni Rodari Directed by Gogi Todadze Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari MARJANISHVILI THEATRE Address: 5 Marjanishvli St. Telephone: 2 95 59 66 April 22 START WITHOUT NAME Ana Kozakova Directed by Levan Tsuladze Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-14 Lari
MOVEMENT THEATRE Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 April 22, 23 PERFORMANCE LABYRINTH Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 15 Lari April 24 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Pariticiants: Kakha Bakuradze, Sandro Nikoladze, Ana Kordzaia – Samadashvili, Irakli Menagarishvili, Levan Mikaberidze, Saxy Jozz Start time: 21:00 Ticket price: 15 Lari ILIAUNI THEATRE Address: 32 a Chavchavadze Ave. Telephone: 2 29 47 15 April 22 LES FOURBERIES DE SCAPIN Molier Directed by Goga Kachibaia English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 7 Lari April 23 ANTIGONE Directed by Gaga Goshadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10 Lari TBILISI NODAR DUMBADZE STATE CENTRAL CHILDREN’S THEATRE Address: 99/1 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 95 39 27 April 23 THE ROYAL COW Directed by Guram Bregadze Language: Russian Start time: 16:00 Ticket price: 7, 10 Lari TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATRE Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge April 23, 24 DIVORCE
Giorgi Eristavi Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 8 Lari CIRCUS Address: 1 The Heroes Sq. Telephone: 2 98 58 61 www.krakatuk.eu
Irons, Sienna Miller Language: Russian Start time: 19:30 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari
April 23, 24 TRAINED LEOPARD SHOW Start time: 13:00, 17:00 Ticket price: 10-25 Lari CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari April 22-28 ELVIS & NIXON Directed by Liza Johnson Genre: Comedy, History Cast: Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Alex Pettyfer English Subtitles Start time: 18:00 Language: Russian Start time: 20:05 Ticket price: 11-14 Lari SON OF SAUL Directed by László Nemes Genre: Drama, Thriller, War Cast: Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari
April 22-28 THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR (Info Above) Start time: 19:40 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE Directed by Zack Snyder Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams Language: Russian Start time: 22:05 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari CRIMINAL Directed by Ariel Vromen Genre: Action, Crime, Drama Cast: Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot Language: Russian Start time: 17:15, 19:30, 22:30 Ticket price: 11-14 Lari THE CHOICE Directed by Ross Katz Genre: Drama, Romance Cast: Benjamin Walker, Teresa Palmer, Alexandra Daddario Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari
November 17, 2015 – May 1, 2016 ALEXANDER KARTVELI GEORGIAN GENIUS OF AMERICAN AVIATION The exhibition demonstrates the life and merits of the Georgian emigrant, an innovator of American and world aviation. April 19- May 1 EXHIBITION: HUMAN LOVE IN DYNAMIC ORNAMENTS by Maia Tsetskhladze SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 www.museum.ge April 20 – May 1 The exhibition TREE OF LIFE ILLUSTRATIONS OF CANONICAL TEXTS MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. April 20 – May 1 GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM AND THE EMBASSY OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC IN TBILISI PRESENT PHOTO EXHIBITION WITHDRAWAL OF SOVIET TROOPS FROM CZECHOSLOVAKIA BY CZECH PHOTOGRAPHER KAREL CUDLÍN GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge
THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama Cast: Sam Claflin, Chris Hemsworth, Emily Blunt Language: Russian Start time: 22:10 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari HIGH-RISE Directed by Ben Wheatley Genre: Drama Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge THE TRAVELING MUSEUM OF THE CAUCASUS THE PERMANENT EXHIBITION NUMISMATIC TREASURY
PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze April 21 – April 10 F63.9 EXHIBITION BY CONTEMPORARY ARTIST ZURAB ARABIDZE THE EUROPE HOUSE Address: 1 Freedom Sq. Telephone: 2 47 03 11 April 21-28 EXHIBITION BY GURAM TSIBAKHASHVILI SISTER MUSIC
CLUB 33 A Address: Vake Park April 22 NIKA MACHAIDZE (NIKAKOI) & NATALIE BERIDZE / LIVE Start time: 21:00 Ticket price: 10 Lari MOVEMENT THEATRE Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 April 26 CONTEMPORARY FOLK BAND FROM GERMANY GANKINO Start time: 19:30 Free entry April 27 TANGO MILONGA TANGO LESSONS Start time: 20:00 Lesson price: 5 Lari April 28 LIVE JAZZ EVENING WITH RESO KIKNADZE Start time: 21:00 Free entry
GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 22 - 25, 2016
Two Georgian Artists on Show at Original Artim Project in Baku BY MAKA LOMADZE
n April 12, the Artim Project Space in Baku announced the opening of the YARAT residency conclusive shows by Luke Burton (UK), Vajiko Chachkhiani (GEO), Gvantsa Jishkariani (GEO), Elturan Mammadov (AZ) and Zamir Suleymanov (AZ). This recently launched residency program aims to further support the local arts scene and encourage creative exchanges between local and international artists by inviting international artists to stay and work in Baku. Each of the residents had been offered temporary working spaces at the YARAT Studios and support to develop works that will be presented at Artim as five solo shows. Luke Burton’s ‘Crude Developments in Fountain Studies’ explores the way decoration is used within the urban environment to determine and shape a city’s identity, often from a received historical model of what constitutes a city. Vajiko Chachkhiani, with his ‘The Last Thing I Can Hold on to Are Your Kind Words,’ show presents a body of work that deals with the concepts of absence and presence. Gvantsa Jishkariani muses on the dominating mass-culture of Kitsch in her ‘Counterfeit Goods’ while Elturan Mammadov investigates Russian and Turkish influences over Azerbaijani vernacular culture in his ‘Shephard’s Dream’ and Zamir Suleymanov’s ‘Heavy Words’ deals with prevailing concerns and preoccupations of Azerbaijani society. The Artim Project Space is directed at young Azerbaijani artists with an intention to support and encourage emergent talent to grow on the basis of the selection at the end of each year. YARAT is an artist-founded, non-profit art organization based in Baku, Azerbaijan, established by Aida Mahmudova in 2011. YARAT (which means ‘create’ in Azerbaijani) is dedicated to contemporary art with a long-term commitment to creating a hub for artistic practice, research, thinking and education in the Caucasus, Central Asia and surrounding region. YARAT comprises the YARAT Art Center, Friends of YARAT Platform, ARTIM project space, YARAT Studios, Gallery and an extended educational program. Education has been at the heart of YARAT’s activities since its creation. With a dedicated public program, including workshops, lectures, screenings and a specific program for artist residencies, YARAT aims to give access to broad audi-
ences of all ages. The public program invests proactively in building communities and nurturing a wider understanding of, and participation in, contemporary art. GEORGIA TODAY spoke with Gvantsa Jishkariani, one of the two Georgian participants: “I’m a 25 year-old independent artist, a member of Georgian Women Artists. I have a background in interior design. My way to visual arts was stipulated by studies in the informal master’s program at the Modern Art Center, which convinced me that art is one of the strongest tools to express one’s ideas. The time spent in Residency was really important as I had freedom, working materials and time that, in my opinion, I used well in the realization of many things. Here, the atmosphere is as different as the people and landscape are.” She says her greatest inspiration for this project came from artificial flowers, plants and animals, plantations in Baku, and shops. “It made me contemplate cultural identity. In Baku they have artificial flowers and it seems the illusion is there that they have something they do not actually have.” “Gvantsa Jishkariani’s ‘Counterfeit goods’ is a title taken from the Simpsons animated sitcom that deals with everyday American life and its attitude towards a fake value system with subtle irony,” Elene Kapanadze, assistant-curator of Yarat, told us. “The artist sees this fixation with mass culture and a sarcastic take on it as very close to her own practice and so presents a body of work with similar ironic undertones. Maybe there is no moral. Maybe it’s just a bunch of stuff that happened to be made of polyethylene film laid on the floor with an enamel camel figurine that is incidentally a jewelry box. The polyethylene film creates a landscape that serves as a metaphor for the futuristic vision of a city. It is an allusively see-through, sterile, artificial and suffocating material, which seems to predict the future of a city with its parks set in stone. Nonetheless, as the title suggests, it might be just polyethylene with a camel.” Another of Gvantsa’s works is reportedly a hill-out video installation in a niche, positioned so that, in order to view the video, one has to be very close to the screen. The video shows standard footage of nature that is supposedly used for relaxation. However, these videos are fastforwarded and the viewer, placed too close to the screen, can hardly recognize what the running footage depicts. The installation offers a social commentary that suggests that it might be impossible to analyze situations and call things their names when put too close, when being part of them. The show will run until May 1.
Anna Karenina Hits Tbilisi’s Main Stage BY MAKA LOMADZE
olstoy’s timeless novel makes triumphant debut under the guise of one of Russia’s top choreographers. The International Fund for Arts & Cultural Dialogue presented a marvelous premiere for ballet lovers on April 15-16 as the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg put on a performance of Lev Tolstoy’s acclaimed classic, Anna Kerenina. This is the second time that ballet choreographer Boris Eifman has staged an interpretation of a literary classic for Tbilisi theater goers. During a previous visit to Georgia the company performed a rendition of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. “Ballet is a very specific realm where psychological drama is reenacted and fulfilled; it is a chance to get an insight into the sub-conscious. Every new production is a search for the unknown,” Eifman has been quoted as saying. The actors – examples of Russia’s famed school of ballet, unforgettable music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, elaborate costumes by Vyacheslav Okunyev and imposing sets by Zinovy Margolin all make for a fantastic show. But for Eifman, it is the passion of the heroine of the story and her need to go against social norms and destroy the life she built for herself that propels the story. In the story, Anna is absorbed by passion and ready to sacrifice everything after falling in love with the dashing and much younger Prince Vronsky. Eifman believes that Anna’s willingness to go against the grain is proof that the ballet is about the present instead
Photo: Gia Abdaladze
of the past. The clear parallel to contemporary women’s private lives instantly grabs the audience’s attention. The psychological twists and turns of Tolstoy’s novel are given all of Eifman’s abilities as he . While reading Tolstoy, I have always been able to see how fully and intimately he understands the inner world and psychology of his characters and how keenly and precisely he’s able to describe life in late 19th century Russia. As a Tolstoy devotee, Eifman believes that contemporary literature consistently fails to mine the depths of passion and psychological trauma that Tolstoy so beautifully portrayed. “I have always been able to see how fully and intimately Toslstoy understands the inner world and psychology of his characters and how keenly and precisely he’s able to describe life in late 19th century Russia.
Anna Karenina and his other productions have received widespread acclaim from the theater community. “The ballet world no longer needs to search for its next great choreographer. He has arrived and his name is Boris Eifman,” the New York Times wrote in recent review of Eifman’s career. He has received similar praise from France’s Le Figaro and the LA Times, with the latter saying, “Of the ballet choreographers making narrative works for major stages, Russian Romantic Boris Eifman is virtually the only one totally in touch with the 21stst century… Eifman far outpaces the zeitgeist,” Eifman is never one to shy away from the darker elements of stagecraft and nearly outdoes himself with his depiction of Anna Karenina, where he hopes to show the heavy toll that passion takes on an individual who becomes consumed by its irresistible powers.
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