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Issue no: 983

• SEPTEMBER 22 - 25, 2017



In this week’s issue... Georgia Participates in China Int’l Fair for Investment & Trade NEWS PAGE 2

Mixing Business & Politics POLITICS PAGE 4

FOCUS ON THE OGP CHAIRMANSHIP Georgia Succeeds France as Chair of the Open Government Partnership


Former MEP to Organize Speech of De Facto South Ossetian President in Brussels BY THEA MORRISON

What Happens to Ukraine Matters in Georgia POLITICS PAGE 6

Bringing the Fear Factor to Georgia BUSINESS PAGE 9

OK! Georgia Magazine New Editor Appointed SOCIETY PAGE 12

Donald Rayfield on Researching Georgia, Literature & Politics CULTURE PAGE 16


Celebrating 40 Years since Chakrulo Went to Space

ormer Member of the European Parliament, Italian journalist and lecturer Giulietto Chiessa, plans to invite de facto South Ossetian ‘president’ Anatoly Bibilov to Brussels to deliver a speech and report on the so called Republic’s history and people. Chiessa announced the fact after arriving in Georgia’s Russian-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia with other members of an Italian delegation to hold an event in memory of last year’s Amatrice earthquake victims. He said he recognizes it will be difficult to implement his plans but that South Ossetia’s cultural representatives will visit Italy this autumn. “It will be a scandalous, fundamental event. Several MEPs are ready to back us…We will form a group of MEPs that will invite the president or foreign minister of South Ossetia,” he stated. Continued on page 3


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SEPTEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

Georgia Participates in China Int’l Fair for Investment & Trade Georgian Foreign Minister Attends Global Business Forum Organized by Bloomberg


ithin the framework of his visit to New York, the Georgian Vice Premier, Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, attended a global business forum organized by Bloomberg. The high-level meeting was opened by Bloomberg Founder and President, Michael Bloomberg, former US President Bill Clinton, President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron and Alibaba Founder Jack Ma. At the meeting, Janelidze had the opportunity to exchange views with world leaders and the heads of the large business companies, including Bill Clin-

ton, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Bloomberg Founder himself. Underlining the importance of business-government co-operation in overcoming global challenges, the latter thanked the Georgian Vice Premier for his participation in the event. On the sidelines of the event, Janelidze also met with the Chief Executive Officer of MasterCard Company, Ajay Banga, who expressed his interest in Georgia’s business environment and in identifying priority areas for co-operation. EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, PM Trudeau and representatives of international companies took part in thematic panels and spoke before attendees at the event.



rom September 18 to 21, Georgia participated in the largest International Fair for Investment and Trade in Xiamen, China, with Guest of Honor status. Led by Giorgi Gakharia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, and Mariana Morgoshia, Director of the Produce in Georgia Agency, the International Fair for Investment and Trade presented Georgian State organi-

zations involved in carrying out governmental programs alongside the stands of investors, exporters and winemaking companies from Georgia. Georgian Winery 'Khareba' also participated in the event, enabling the company to establish closer business relations and enhance cooperation with the largest international companies. “With the participation in the world’s largest fair for investment and trade, we tried to make the first, solid step towards integrating the Georgian economy and Georgian businesses with the Chinese economy and Chinese companies. The

free trade regime gives us the possibility to maximize the use of those benefits directly,” Gakharia said. Georgia had honorary guest status at this year’s fair, with a special exhibition space provided and 120 Georgian companies represented. “Such exhibitions assist our entrepreneurs to establish contacts and start advertising their produce quickly,” Gakharia said, noting that Georgia had the largest stand at the fair, with a vast array of Georgian companies representing everything from agriculture to new technologies.

Georgian Parliament Approves Irakli Mekvabishvili as New Auditor General BY THEA MORRISON


he Parliament of Georgia has supported the candidacy of Irakli Mekvabishvili to the post of Auditor General with 80 votes in a 150-seat legislative body. Mekvabishvili’s candidacy was named by the Parliament Speaker of Georgia, Irakli Kobakhidze, on September 8. Kobakhidze stated that Mekvabishvili is a highly qualified financier and for several years was a senior banker of the EBRD. “Irakli Mekvabishvili meets all the requirements necessary for the post of Auditor General,” he stated. “The Auditor General should have such qualities as high qualification,

impartiality, honesty, and we think that Irakli Mekvabishvili has them all,” he added. Mekvabishvili will hold the chief Auditor’s position for a term of five years, replacing Lasha Tordia, who was appointed in 2012 and whose term in office expired in July. After being elected, the new Auditor General stated that the State Audit Office (SAO) will not be a punitive agency, adding its main function will be prevention. “This will not be a punitive structure, but if we reveal any violations, then an instant, strict response will be given and adequate assessments made,” he said. Mekvabishvili said that particular attention will be paid to the direction of technological equipping of the agency,

Photo source: RFE/RL

adding preventive measures require serious material-technical base and high quality equipment. “For this purpose, we will use the best technical support we receive from our friendly donor countries,” he added, underlining that the relationship of the SAO with Parliament will

also be intensified. “We will spend time working with Parliament, because parliamentary control should be strengthened on recommendations made by the Audit Office,” he said. Mekvabishvili does not exclude that he will launch a reorganization in the

agency, though “all qualified employees will continue working as usual”. "The law gives me the authority to carry out reorganization. The Auditor General has the right to make any personnel changes, even regarding Deputies,” he stressed. The SAO is the supreme audit institution responsible for performing audits. The general activities of the SAO are: promoting efficient and effective public spending, protection of national wealth and the property of state of autonomous republics and local (municipal) entities, and improvement of management of public finances. The SAO also conducts financial monitoring of political parties within the competencies defined in The Organic Law of Georgia on Election Code of Georgia and Political Union of Citizens.




Georgia Officially Assumes OGP Chairmanship ship: to ensure the cooperation and engagement of citizens; to promote the fight against transparency and corruption; to promote innovations in public services; and to activate cooperation between the OGP member states. “Georgia is proud to be one of the few countries where all branches of government are actively involved in the open government partnership process. We strongly believe that a comprehensive approach at the national level has already contributed to the success of the country. Consequently, for the purpose of expanding the OGP's collective understanding, we call on OGP partner countries to raise open standards at judicial, parliamentary and domestic levels,” Georgian PM stated. He then thanked all OGP countries for electing Georgia as the Chair of the organization. “Georgia is ready to use all resources to ensure success during its chairmanship. I believe that the era of globalization cannot be achieved without global partnership and mutual support,” he concluded.



eorgia officially took chairmanship of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) on September 19. At the high-level event ‘Rebuilding Trust in the Government,’ held within the 72nd session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, received the OGP Chairmanship from the President of France Emmanuel Macron. Kvirikashvili stated that the OGP Chairmanship and possibility to contribute to the global movement for stronger democracy and transparency is an honor for Georgia. “I call on you to use this and think together how we can revive democracy. I hope we will be able to continue the work that the French government began,” he told the guests. Kvirikashvili noted that the Government of Georgia is determined to achieve four goals during its chairman-

Former MEP to Organize Speech of De Facto South Ossetian President in Brussels Continued from page 1

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Georgia announced they are sure that private individuals affiliated with Russia will not be able to use the platform of international organizations for their narrow political goals and will not be able to spread propaganda of occupational regimes in such formats. “The European Parliament and its

members firmly support Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty,” the Georgian MFA stated. The Ambassador of the United States to Georgia Ian Kelly also commented on the issue, adding only few countries recognize the independence of South Ossetia and none of them are in the EU or near Europe. “Neither the US nor any member of the EU recognizes the independence of

South Ossetia. In fact, you can count on one hand how many countries recognize the independence of South Ossetia and none of them are in the EU or near Europe. Obviously, such a visit would have to be entirely unofficial and would not have any kind of importance,” the Ambassador said. Co-chairperson of the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee Sajjad Karim said that no delivery of

speech by the de facto South Ossetian President is planned in the European Parliament. He underlined that the European Parliament supports Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty. “At this stage, I can only tell you that the power of the European Parliament belongs to its members and not to former members. We do not have any information about the intentions of the

mentioned Member of the European Parliament. It may sound a bit rude, but former MEPs are former MEPs probably because they deserve it. Such behavior should not be encouraged," Karim stated. Russia recognized Georgia’s two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as independent states in August, after the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia.




SEPTEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

Tusk: EU Supports Mixing Business & Politics Processes Connected to Georgia’s Integration with European Family OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


eorgian Dream might lose not only the constitutional but the plain majority in Parliament. Non-Governmental Organization Transparency International (TI)-Georgia has accused the majority MPs of violating entrepreneurial legislation and has published a list of those who hold official parliamentary seats on the one hand and at the same time cling to their executive positions in various private companies. Alongside the MP-Directors listed in the report, you can find the surnames of MPs who get revenue from shares they own in businesses and pay taxes according to the laws they write themselves. It will be no surprise to see them in the court room sometime soon…




onald Tusk, President of the European Council, stated at his meeting with Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, that the European Union (EU) supports all processes pertaining to Georgia's integration into the European family. The meeting between the officials was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 18 within the framework of the 72nd Ses-

sion of the United Nations General Assembly. The parties discussed Georgia-EU bilateral relations, the country's ongoing reforms, and the state of affairs in Georgia's occupied territories. Kvirikashvili provided Donald Tusk with detailed information about Georgia's political and economic reforms in the making, which are strongly supported by the EU. Tusk reaffirmed the European Union's unwavering support of Georgia's territorial integrity, sovereignty, and all processes designed to integrate Georgia into the European family.

The publication containing compromising evidence against businessmen MPs was linked by the political elite to the processes that are developing within the Georgian Dream. It is no secret that the government majority party has become divided as it chooses who will best represent it in the upcoming local elections, illustrated most clearly in the cases of Rustavi and Gardabani. “The only hope of the Georgian Dream is the legislation, the Central Election Commission and the Constitution,” said political analyst Soso Tsintsadze, adding that Ivanishvili has long been disheartened with the governmental party and its internal conflicts. “It is time the Dream learned to walk on its own. Where Ivanishvili served as their baby walker till recently, that time has passed. Shortly, quite expectedly, he will get tired of dragging them around. Ivanishvili did everything for them; gave them the government, but they started floundering; competing at who could make more mistakes. He doesn’t want to be responsible for unofficial meetings about, for example, Jejelava’s idiotic statements or Kvirikashvili’s unjustified staff policy. Especially considering the catastrophic social background of the country,” Tsintadze added. The GD members themselves link the publication of TI-Georgia’s report to the ongoing confrontation within the governmental party, accusing the NGO of executing a political order. Everyone knows that the party is split into two, with one side supporting former Vice Premier and majoral candidate Kakhi Kaladze, and the other Prime Minister Kvirikashvili, plus the integrated Majoritarians who try to keep neutral. Who’s with whom is hard to understand in all the confusion. For instance, some forecasted that the report on the

businessmen-MPs would be followed by the publication of secret documents about Kaladze’s agreement with Gazprom. Expectations proved correct; only two days passed and Roman Gotsiridze from the United National Movement declared that he was holding documents that Kaladze had signed and which show the catastrophic rates. This makes it almost impossible not to believe that the secret documents were simply Xerox-copied from Prime Minister Kvirikashvili’s “residential office” with-

out him being aware of it. The scandal about Parliament member Irakli Sesiashvili’s son, who used to work in the State Security Service of Georgia, was also linked with the internal controversy of the Dream. How this war for discreditation develops is hard to foretell; the only thing we know is that the businessmen-MPs who do not deny the violations and blame everything on a legislative flaw might face the threat of being stripped of their mandates.

Prosecutor General Participates in Conference of Int’l Association of Prosecutors BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s Prosecutor General, Irakli Shotadze, participated in the 22nd annual conference and general meeting of the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) held in Beijing, China, on September 10-15. The theme of the conference was ‘Prosecution in the Public Interest - The Challenges and Opportunities in Changing Societies’ and the event was attended by

around 500 representatives of member organizations of the International Association of Prosecutors from all over the world. The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia reports that the President of the International Association of Prosecutors Gerhard Jarosch awarded the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG) and Chief Prosecutor Shotadze for special contribution to the development of justice in the region. The top issues of the conference were society’s well-being, challenges of prosecutorial authorities globally and opportunities of development, the importance of strengthening specialized networks,

and international cooperation in the digital era in the course of pursuing criminal justice policy. During the visit, Shotadze held an official meeting with the Prosecutor-General of the People’s Republic of China, Cao Jianming. At the meeting, the parties discussed the prospects of future cooperation. The International Association of Prosecutors was founded in 1995 and is the only international organization for prosecutors, which brings together 3000 individuals and 172 prosecutorial bodies from 171 countries worldwide. Georgia is a founding member of the Association.




SEPTEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

What Happens to Ukraine Matters in Georgia

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egardless of the distance between the two countries, what happens in Ukraine militarily and economically matters significantly for Georgia. It is nothing new to note that Ukraine and Georgia pursue similar geopolitical aims of joining western political and military alliances, and confronting the resurgent Russia’s. Both need western economic as well military support. However, since for the moment it is Ukraine not Georgia which is in the spotlight of world affairs because of the ongoing low-level fighting in east Ukraine, whatever the West does in in this country will have an impact on Georgia and the wider former Soviet Union. On August 24, the United States Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, visited Ukraine in what was the first such trip by a head of the Pentagon in a decade. Mattis’ presence at the commemorative military parade in Kyiv, in which troops from several states took part, bore special political-military significance. The US has recently been keen to make it clear that the country will continue its support for Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty. At the same time, the Ukrainian side looked forward to the possibility of new opportunities to strengthen its self-defense capabilities. The key topic of discussion during Mattis’ negotiations with Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko and Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak was the possibility to supply Ukraine’s military forces with defensive weapons. Both countries later announced that important agreements on expanding military cooperation had been reached, including in the fight against cyber threats and electronic warfare (EW) asset transfers. No further details were provided, but it is important to monitor every move on that front. I have written on several occasions why Ukraine matters geopolitically and why the crisis in the country’s east, Donbas, is essentially insoluble. The West has been successful in managing the Russian threat in Ukraine. It is true that Moscow could ramp up its efforts and heavy fighting might occur, but if we look at the broader picture, it is clear Russia has failed on several major fronts when it comes to Ukraine. Now the West is thinking about provid-

ing lethal arms to Kyiv. From a strategic point of view, it will be a very difficult decision to make, but open discussion is already a win for the West. Yet another victory for the western countries is their ability to block Putin’s efforts to bargain the Ukraine crisis (and not only) with Russia’s Syrian involvement. With its initial military engagement in 2015, the Kremlin hoped that by gaining momentum on the Syrian battlefield, the West would become more amenable in its support for Ukraine and there might have been a certain bargain. Beyond Syria, Moscow has also been building its position in other conflict zones such as Libya, Afghanistan, and North Korea. There has been a string of reports of Russians supporting militarily the Taliban in Afghanistan; Moscow has also been quite vocal about the ongoing nuclear standoff on the Korean peninsula. Even in Libya, Russia has been careful to slowly build its negotiating position through holding regular meetings with high officials. Looking from above at all these Russian actions, the Kremlin’s intention is clear: to gain as much political leverage as possible in a wide variety of conflicts around the world to influence/weaken the West’s negotiating position in the most crucial theater for Russia: Ukraine. However, the chances of this strategy working remain doubtful as the West has so far successfully blocked Russian initiatives around Syria. Moreover, Western resolve is also borne out by the recently ramped up pressure on Russia. For example, the US introduced new sanctions in August, while various reports indicate that the European Union will likely extend its own measures against the Kremlin and Russian state companies in late 2017-early 2018. In addition, Washington now openly talks about providing lethal arms to Kyiv and holds regular military exercises on the Russian periphery from Moldova to the South Caucasus. Taking in consideration the whole picture, it is thus more than likely that the Russian and Western imperatives around Ukraine will remain paramount in the near future. Geopolitical interests will once again limit any diplomatic breakthroughs in east Ukraine, while the Russian moves to bargain its involvement in Syria or other emerging conflicts such as Afghanistan, North Korea or Libya in exchange for Ukraine will be blocked by Western powers.




SEPTEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

Pickup on the Bristol-Georgian Twinning EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


ast week saw the visit to Tbilisi of Alderman Derek Pickup, Honorary Consul of Georgia for South West England, First Guardian of Tbilisi and Chair of the Bristol -Tbilisi Twinning Association. He brought with him Stephen Fear, Founder and Chairman of the Fear Group, and Paul Hinchcliffe, Lecturer at the University of the West of England, to explore investment opportunities in the fields of tourism, infrastructure, housing and agriculture. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Mr. Pickup to find out more about the Bristol-Tbilisi Twinning and what it means to be an Honorary Consul. “During the Cold War, Bristol City Council decided to start Twinning as a way to build bridges to avoid a third World War. Their first ‘Twin’ was Hannover, then, in the 80s, they realized a Twin in the Soviet bloc would be good. In 1988, Bristol twinned with Tbilisi- there was an exchange of delegations but at the civic level; an exchange of artists going on in the background but not much officially. Shortly after that, the [civil] war started disrupting the country. Everything went very quiet and it wasn’t possible to carry on a proper Twinning. Then, in 1995, the Bristol City Council (BCC) got a letter from one of the directors of Tbilisi City Council, saying, 'you’re our twin city, you know we recently gained independence; we had a civil war. Things have been difficult, but now they’ve settled down. What can you do to help us?' The Chief Executive at the BCC gave the letter to me and told me to think of some ways to help, but to do so with no financing whatsoever. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since”. In 1996, Pickup brought the first big delegation from Bristol to Georgia with

Honorary Consul Pickup (center) 'oils the wheels' on British-Georgia connections

the aim of stimulating business links. “Even 20 years ago, Twinning was a 360-degree concept, not just about culture, friendship and academic links, but also about connecting businesses and increasing the wealth of our cities. He admits the timing was wrong, though. British businesses were conservative and were reluctant to come over [to Georgia]. “Of course, if they had invested in land in Georgia back then, they’d all be millionaires today,” he says. “20 years ago, it was grim in Tbilisi. When I organized

the first delegation in 1996, we didn’t know if it was safe to come here. Nobody spoke English. There was one 5-star hotel (Sheraton). Now there’s everything from Airbnb to hostels…though I’m not so impressed with look of The Biltmore,” he tells us in an aside. “Some of the city planning decisions have been horrendous, but there’s growing recognition that better care needs to be taken in this regard”. In 2014, the Prime Minister of Georgia made Pickup ‘First Guardian of the City of Tbilisi’. It was a new award for foreign-

ers who, over a prolonged period of time, had given a lot to the city. The same year the President gave him Georgian citizenship. Recently, Ambassador of Georgia to the UK, Tamar Beruchashvili, invited Pickup to be Honorary Consul in order to give him “more authority in what I was doing towards building links”. It’s unpaid, and he gets no resources but, he says, “I’m here to make things happen; to make connections”. Next year will be the 30th anniversary

of the Bristol-Tbilisi Twinning. The Guild of Guardians, a medieval guild established over 500 years ago in Bristol, represents the 60 top companies. “Every second year they make a trip together and I persuaded them to do next year’s trip in Tbilisi,” he says. In one year’s time, 25 business persons will come to Georgia for four days. Three of those will be spent sight-seeing, and on the final day there will be a business seminar, hosted by TBC in their Headquarters. “The theme will be business opportunities in Georgia,” Pickup tells us. British business is still conservative, aiming for investments with as little risk as possible. “That’s why BP has been the only major British company to invest so much here as, for them, the returns were too good to miss. Other companies are more reticent, though. This particular trip I was invited for the Local Economic Development forum focused on developing cities. I grabbed the opportunity and brought Stephen and Paul along to look at linking with businesses and universities,” Pickup tells us. “Stephen being here is an excellent chance to show what Georgia has to offer- his Tweets alone can reach up to 2 million people”. “My job is to stimulate links between the two countries for the benefit of both. We’re building more people-to-people connections. When new Georgian ambassadors come in in the UK, they get a day’s program in Bristol meeting civic, business and academic leaders; they look around the city to get a background of what we’re trying to do and I encourage them and the Mayor to pass on a file about that connection and our aspirations”. “I’m there to promote, cajole and oil the wheels in as many ways as possible and to open doors,” Pickup says. “If someone like Stephen wants to come over to Georgia, I make sure he gets to see the people he wants. I’m a connector- I’ve known a lot of people who were tea boys and girls 20 years ago who are now working as ministers,” he adds.

The History Makers Journey BY RACHEL HARDGRAVE


ho makes it into the history books? Whether for good or evil, it is those people who are agents of change. Ever dreamed it could be you? Two weeks ago, 30 participants at the History Makers Journey Conference dreamed of being able to have a positive impact on history. The young people met in Bakuriani for the second annual gathering in Georgia. This year’s group included participants from Georgia, Azerbaijan, India, Uzbekistan, and Iraq, all of whom work or study in Georgia and have some kind of leadership role in their communities. Differences in language, background and age did not seem to hold anyone back but, on the contrary, created a place where ideas and diversity could be shared.

THE HISTORY MAKERS JOURNEY The History Makers Journey is a weeklong course taking place across Europe aimed at inspiring young people to believe they can makes changes in their communities, work places, and nation’s history. Targeted at young leaders aged 18-35, the training hopes to raise up the

next generation to influence whatever sphere of society they are most active in, be it social, political, or spiritual; the training material covers what a successful leader’s character and style should be. Topics include visionary leadership, overcoming obstacles, stewardship of time and money, integrity, family priority, and goal setting. The interactive teaching style involves small group discussion, personal testimony and team building activities. The trainers flew in from America and around Europe just to encourage leaders in Georgia that they can be agents of change. Throughout the week, many students voiced their discontent about social injustices, gaps in development, or simply how the systems in place could be managed more efficiently.

EASY TO SAY, HARDER TO DO It is always easier to recognize problems than to make real change come about? What might be the best part of the History Makers Journey week is the individual attention trainers and leaders give to students to help them write specific action plans toward achieving their goals. The visionary leadership section of the training explains how to write “SMART” goals. The acronym stands for setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time targeted. Without this, trainers say, people can easily

become discouraged because goals seem distant and impossible to reach. There is also time set aside to share personal stories and analyze the lives of people in the past who made positive changes in history. The training material shows participants that, ironically, most history makers come from humble beginnings but are persistent enough to overcome their surrounding situations and utilize every resource possible, just to inch a

little closer to their dream. And, of course, the conversation would not be complete without mentioning a few names from Georgian history.

IDENTIFYING YOUR DREAM OR VISION Trainers ask questions to help participants get a clearer and more concise idea of what direction they are heading in. What are you most passionate about?

What is that future situation that you cannot seem to stop dreaming about? What are your natural gifts and talents? What change would make society a better place? Since great things are rarely accomplished alone, group work is highly emphasized. The conference is also meant to be a place for people to network with others who might be walking in the same direction. Time for breaking into groups for brainstorming and envisioning the future plays a large part in the schedule. Participants are not only asked to think on a large scale about goals for their communities, but personal goal-setting is also emphasized in areas including physical, spiritual, intellectual, and financial. The idea is to help leaders develop themselves as a whole, which in turn gives them the ability to live intentional and influential lives. The heart of the History Makers Journey is to inspire belief that the world can be changed and give young people the tools to take the first steps. Have a dream? Dissatisfied with what you see around you? Want to start something new? Consider nothing impossible, but be that person crazy enough to move forward each day towards making a change. Not just for the sake of having your name in a history book, but to make a positive impact on the world around you.




Bringing the Fear Factor to Georgia BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


ast week, Alderman Derek Pickup, Honorary Consul of Georgia for South West England, First Guardian of Tbilisi and Chair of the Bristol -Tbilisi Association came to Georgia with Stephen Fear, Founder and Chairman of the Fear Group, to help him explore investment opportunities in the field of tourism, infrastructure, housing and agriculture. Paul Hinchcliffe of the Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, also joined the group, looking to establish new university connections, with meetings planned at the Ilia and Tbilisi State universities. GEORGIA TODAY met the British gentlemen towards the end of their visit to find out what they had achieved and just how they planned to invest in Georgia’s bright future. Paul Hinchcliffe lived in Georgia from

Who knows if the next Bill Gates is lurking around here somewhere? Georgia needs to develop an environment where such people can come to the fore, like Britain has done

10 Galaktion Street

2004-2009, training air traffic controllers and trainers. Now at the University of the West of England as a Lecturer in Business and Law, he is still very active in fields beyond air traffic control and has, as he says, “No intention of retiring”. Happy to be back in Georgia, he tells us about the exchange programs he hopes to expand in Georgia. “We get 2-3 Georgian students a year coming to study Master’s degrees,” he says, “But we have connections with universities in the Far East, Malaysia, China and Vietnam where students can do one year in one university, then continue their education elsewhere, with Year 3 in the UK. We want to develop that here across a whole range of subjects”. We ask how his meetings went with the State university rectors and he says there was “definite interest to move forward” but that the “roll out” for any new program could be around two years. Back in the UK, a session of the upcoming Wardrop Strategic Dialogue is to be held at the University of the West of England. “We’re looking forward to the impetus this will generate. The Rector will be coming to Bristol and we’ll be inviting him to stay longer to talk about partnership opportunities with Georgia”. Hinchcliffe was also in Georgia supporting Stephen Fear regarding several potential directions for business that they have been jointly looking into. “In my years here, Tbilisi did get under my skin. If we can do something that will make a difference, we might be able to encourage other people to come in, too,” he says. Stephen Fear is an English entrepreneur, businessman, philanthropist and author with nearly 50 years of international business experience. He has an established property empire and interests in a number of industries, including green technology, hotels, residential care and manufacturing. Fear is Chairman and Founder of Fear Group, an international organization which has interests in strategic land promotion, international property development and investment. He tells GEORGIA TODAY that Georgia first came up on his company’s list

of potential investment hotspots some 18 months ago. “I created a research division of my business 30 years ago to analyze trends around the world for commercial investment opportunities”. He gives the example of a new railroad being built in India: “we analyze how it will affect the local population, transport, employment. We have a piece of software which analyses our ‘top ten;’ it can be cities, continents, regions, even individual areas. A major school built in Derbyshire would throw up the need for housing, so we might buy land there. Say we hear a new dam is being built in Russia or Central Asia; we’ll look at the nearest cement work suppliers and prebuy all the cement in that works so we control the supply. Governments want to use our facility, but we’re strictly internal,” he says with a smile. What in Georgia set off the alarm on his program? “After the 2008 War, the country obviously trended downwards, but for some inexplicable reason it quickly started to knock the red line again and again, leading us to start looking at its potential: its natural resources, strategic location, importance to both Russia and the US, etc. but I’ve only now managed to come myself”. His visit aimed to help him decide why Georgia might be coming to the top as an investment hotspot. “After five days, I’ve come to the conclusion that basically it’s the people: that was the bit missing off the graph. The people are generally very positive-minded, very welcoming. They just get on with things and they aren’t living as if they’re on the edge of Putin marching over the border;

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they just accept the possibility is there. Georgians want to be part of the West and there’s a clear determination [here] that there is no other way. It’s powerless militarily and it has the benefit of not having oil, otherwise it would already be part of Russia”. We ask about wine and water, Georgia’s equivalent of ‘oil’. “We’ve been around the vineyards,” Fear tells us. “I’m keen to promote Georgian wines in the UK and US with my interests there and to help Georgian wine producers, even if not in terms of direct investment.” “The wine here over past ten years has risen in quality above all proportions,” Hinchcliffe interjects. “I remember Badagoni building up. The Russian embargo did so much for Georgian wine: it forced Georgian winemakers to rethink, then they brought in the Italians who just totally transformed the processes”. Stephen agrees that the immigration of the right people can transform a country for the better. “Georgia needs not only more tourists, but also migrants from the intellectual field. It needs to develop something that is unique to Georgia as an export. We’re looking at the development of the country as a technology hub, as technology is a worldwide exporter. If Bill Gates had been born in Georgia, Microsoft would have been developed here and Georgia’s GDP would be through the roof,” he points out with a smile. “Who knows if the next Bill Gates is lurking around here somewhere? Georgia needs to develop an environment where such people can come to the fore, like Britain has done”. But first, wealth needs to be created, and

We want to raise the bar for everyone. To do something that enhances the city, pulls people in and looks after those that are a bit less fortunate that can be done through encouraging entrepreneurship. “If Georgia work towards entrepreneurs, it can never go wrong,” Fear says, and as the longest serving Entrepreneur in Residence at the British Library, he would surely know. A big gripe Fear had with the capital of Georgia, one we have addressed many times before, is air pollution. “Horrendous,” he says. “Love the city and people, hate the traffic and diesel fumes”. He met the current Mayor and hopes to get acquainted with the next as he has a number of creative ideas to enliven the greener and cultural side of the city, including redeveloping the river to make an Artists’ Quarter and reconnect the river with the city it dissects. “The river is an untapped resource,” he says. “Think the Paris Left Bank, a boulevard, boats, floating restaurants, boating classes for kids…”. The Fear Group has a substantial amount to invest in Georgia. And while the numbers are being crunched, Stephen Fear says he might consider swapping the American slopes for Georgian this upcoming Christmas holiday…as long as there’s internet. “We want to raise the bar for everyone,” Fear says. “To do something that enhances the city, pulls people in and looks after those that are a bit less fortunate. Agriculture is another direction we’re looking into. We’re also open to ideas and welcome anyone to approach us if they believe their idea could work. We can see the great opportunities Georgia is offering. The country has quite a way to go before it gets to the level it needs to be at,” he concludes.




SEPTEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

Global Business Forum Held in Tbilisi Gazprom to Raise Spending on Turkish Stream BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


he Gazprom Press Service has announced the Holding will be able to allocate additional funds for the implementation of the project ‘Turkish Stream’ to the amount of approximately 50 billion Rubles ($862.7 million), in accordance with approval from by the company's management of the draft investment program for 2017. At the beginning of the year, Gazprom said it planned to allocate 41.92 billion Rubles ($723.3 million) for the construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. "The draft investment program for 2017 in the new edition, which will be considered by the board of directors, provides for an increase in investments in the implementation of the Turkish Stream project by about 50 billion Rubles," the report said. Last week, it was reported that the

Gazprom board had approved the investment program for the current year, according to which the volume of investments was increased by 217.341 billion Rubles ($3.75000161 billion) in total, compared to the program approved in December last year, up to 1.129 trillion Rubles ($19.479766 billion). The parameters of the program for 2017 were adjusted because the company “sees the need to increase the volume of investments and long-term financial investments in priority strategic gas transportation and production projects”. The new project of the investment program is to be submitted to the Board of Directors of Gazprom. Two Turkish lines of gas main are to be built, the capacity of each to be 15.75 billion cubic meters/gas per year. The first is intended for deliveries of Russian "blue fuel" directly to Turkey, the second for gas supply to the countries of South and South-Eastern Europe. The first string should be put into operation in March 2018, the second in 2019.

Batumi to Host AD Black Sea



rom September 15-16, the Global Business Forum was held at The Biltmore hotel Tbilisi, organized by Georgia’s Union of Business Ladies (UBL). Featuring guest speakers from around the world, with government officials, potential investors, CEOs, business executives and entrepreneurs, the forum was said to be aimed at connecting the representatives of the world’s top businesses and successful start-ups. The Global Business Forum, “one of its kind in Georgia,” hosted delegates of 17 countries including the UK, Greece, India, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, UAE, Turkey, China and the US. Representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tbilisi City Hall and Tbilisi City Assembly were also present. H.E. Dr. Jasim Mohamed Al Qasemi, UAE Ambassador to Armenia, visited Georgia specifically to attend the Business Forum. The two-day event focused on and covered topics ranging from women’s roles in strengthening national economies, to challenges for businesses in the 21st century and the solutions needed to overcome them. The presentations and panel discussion also included a debate regarding entrepreneurship, recent trends, and the existing business ethics of different countries, while the Georgian business environment, including various local

and regional projects, was showcased during the forum, organized in partnership with the Bank of Georgia and the British-Georgian Chamber of Commerce. “I’m extremely pleased that the Global Business Forum not only took place, but also achieved what it set out to do,” Ekaterine Maisuradze, President of the UBL and organizer of the forum, said. “Since the forum was held for the first time ever, we were not expecting such participation and engagement, yet the main objective of the Business Forum was achieved. Participants were able to establish international connections, and share their experiences with each other,” she added. Maisuradze said she is proud that a lot of international partnerships were formed thanks to the event, and said that she hopes they will become even more successful and fruitful in future. “The Union of Business Ladies team managed to showcase Georgia’s full business potential during the forum and at the same time unite the many foreign guests in attendance. The International Business Forum has been successfully founded, and is to become a yearly event from now on,” the President of UBL stated, where it is expected to “have even larger international outreach”. “As The Union of Business Ladies, we continue to actively work, support and empower women from the business sectors in Georgia. There were a lot of new initiatives discussed, and a lot of new ideas formed within the forum, and our aim is to strengthen and assist these newly established partnerships, before

the new forum starts in 2018,” Maisuradze said. “It is essential that the Bank of Georgia provide finances to innovative businesses,” said Zurab Masurashvili, Head of Micro and SME Banking Department at Bank of Georgia. “One of our four priorities is to support the business development of female entrepreneurs, so we are pleased to be co-organizers of an event where women entrepreneurs can connect and share experiences”. “We are delighted that Britain was very well represented at the Forum,” said Mako Abashidze, Founder Director of the British-Georgian Chamber of Commerce. “We are looking forward to next year's event, where it is hoped that all representing countries will come back to Georgia with more guest speakers and delegates. The forum is an excellent platform to promote British-Georgian relations and this year we had four speakers from Britain: Maggie Semple, owner of the Experience Corps LTD, Sophie Ibbotson, Founding Partner at Glacex LLP, entrepreneur and International Business consultant; Charlie Edwin-Dove, Founder of Suraci Research Group; Karen Tracey from Dunelm Business Consultants Ltd. And the H.E. UK Ambassador to Georgia Justin McKenzie Smith”. A memorandum of understanding was signed between the UBL and the Qatari Business Women Association at The Biltmore hotel Tbilisi, as a part of the business forum. Ms. Maisuradze also granted honorary membership status for the UBL to women ambassadors in Georgia.

Iran's 19th Phase of South Pars Exceeds $3 bln BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE



rom September 21-23, Batumi is hosting the AD Black Sea 3rd International Advertising Festival, supported by the Check in Georgia program. The festival is organized by Georgia’s Communication Agency Association and Advertising Coalition of Ukraine. For three days, Batumi is to host advertising industry representatives from various countries. Event participants will have the chance to attend seminars and learn about the lastest trends in the advertising business. AD Black Sea 2017 aims at developing the advertising sector in Georgia, while improving the quality of advertising products. This year, companies from around

20 countries are participating in the festival, being given a chance to introduce their products to festival attendees. Communication market players will compete to present their creative projects in the following 10 nominations: Film, Film & Craft, Print & Publishing, Out of Home, Radio, Design & Branding, Digital & Mobile, Advertising Campaigns, Media, and Branding Content & Visual Storytelling. An international jury consisting of leading specialists within the advertising industry will be awarding the winners with gold, silver and bronze medals, and the best company will receive a festival Grand Prix on September 23 at the AD Black Sea award ceremony. AD Black Sea was first held in 2015, quickly gaining attention not only within the country, but throughout the wider region.


ran's revenue from the sale of gas and gas condensate produced in the 19th phase of the giant offshore South Pars field, located in the southern Iranian province of Bushehr, between April 21, 2016 and September 6, 2017, exceeded $3 billion. During this period, 13.05 million barrels of condensate gas were produced, all raw materials were exported, and 11 billion cubic meters of gas was sent to the national network of Iran. Four gas production platforms are installed on the shelf of the site. ‘South Pars’ is a joint gas field of Iran and Qatar. The part of the gas field that is located on the territory of Qatar is called the ‘North Dome’. The South Pars gas-bearing region contains 30 trillion cubic meters of gas and 18 billion barrels of condensate. Iran has been working on the stage-by-stage devel-

opment of the field since the 1990s, dividing it into 28 plots (phases). The South Pars deposit is by far one of the largest oil and gas fields in the world, located in the central part of the Persian Gulf on an area of 9.7 thousand square kilometers, of which 3.7 thousand are located on Iranian territory in the Persian Gulf, and the rest within the borders of Qatar. Iran previously announced that it needed $20 billion in investments to

launch the remaining phases of the South Pars gas field. “After the abolition of international sanctions, the Islamic Republic hopes to attract these funds using new types of oil contract, domestic resources, as well as the capital market,” said Energy Minister of Iran, Bidjan Namdar Zangane. When production is at full capacity, the field will be able to produce up to 700 million cubic meters of gas per day.




SEPTEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

OK! Georgia Magazine New Editor Appointed BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


ino Jibladze has joined the OK! Georgia magazine team as Editor in Chief, George Sharashidze, OK! G e o r g i a p u b l i s h e r, announced at hotel The Terrace, in Tbilisi on Monday. Jibladze, the Vice President and Head of the Marketing and PR Department at Gulf Georgia, is to combine her current job with the post of editor of the OK! Magazine from October 1, replacing Olga Babluani. Aside from holding an executive position at Gulf, Jibladze has a background in journalism and writing, with her contemporary fiction novels: Leaving (2003), Love in America (2005), and Kaleidoscope (2007) well-known and loved by Georgian readers. “I’m delighted that from October 1, OK! Magazine will have such a high caliber, experienced professional as Nino Jibladze,” Sharashidze stated. “I would like to thank Nino for accepting our proposal and I’m sure she’ll make the image OK! Magazine has gained through its three years of presence on the Georgian market ever stronger, and with her new

ideas, creativity and new marketing projects, will bring OK! Magazine to a new stage,” he said. “Together with Nino, we’ll be able to strengthen our strategy which is OK! First and the Best, and attempt to make the magazine not only the most popular and best-selling one, but also transform it into a real Lovemark,” George Sharashidze noted. Olga Baluani, previous editor of OK! Magazine, thanked the OK! team for their cooperation, congratulated Jibladze, and expressed her hope of continuing her collaboration with OK! Georgia. “I would like to thank Olga, who was an exceptional editor of OK! and with whom we made many interesting projects,” Sharashidze said, adding that he, too, hopes Babluani will continue cooperation with OK! Georgia. Nino Jibladze will hold individual meetings with the OK! magazine team to familiarize herself with the details of the magazine, and its online and marketing projects. “When I was offered the position as editor, I thought about it carefully as I had no previous experience in such a responsible position within printed media, but then, today, managerial practice across various spheres doesn’t differ much, and so I agreed to take on the role

with great pleasure and even greater motivation. OK! Magazine is very popular in Georgia and if we work on strengthening its image, I will do all I can to make it stronger, better, and even more beautiful,” Jibladze said. “As in all other countries around the world, OK! has a massive readership in Georgia; it’s a magazine that you can read both at home and in the office, or out and about, with an audience which is mixed and varied, every month waiting for the next issue to come out. I’ll be looking more into the details shortly,” she said. We ask her how she plans to combine the new job with her current responsi-

bilities at Gulf. “I don’t think I’ll have any problems combining the two jobs. I’ve done it before and I’m not afraid of multi-tasking,” she answers with confidence. “Like most people these days, for me time is an issue, but I have also gained experience in good time management”. We ask her about her future plans. “I won’t talk too much about my plans just yet, but I hope to be able to bring new life to the magazine, even if it’s a small touch, still it’s important to me. Time seems to fly so fast and trends are changing so rapidly, but we at OK! will be following them, making sure all the best materials are in OK! Magazine. I’m not a person who focuses on today’s tenden-

cies alone: I respect classics, too, and I think there are themes that always exist, that are eternal, which need to be seen in a fresh way, adapted to the time we’re living in,” she said. For more than two decades, OK! Magazine has been at the heart of the celebrity market, widely regarded as a publishing phenomenon, read by around 1.4 million people each week in the UK alone. Launched back in 1993, OK! is now worldwide, with 17 international editions in Bulgaria, China, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Japan, Russia, UK, Latvia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Pakistan, Romania, and more. Georgia was added to that substantial list in 2014.

Records Set But Money Not Spent OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


ometimes, somewhere, good things happen in Georgia. One such ‘thing’ took place on September 9 right in the middle of the city of Batumi in front of a huge crowd rooting for the star of the show: 57-year old Georgian ‘seawalking’ marathon swimmer, Beglar Ebakidze, who set a new record in the so called Zezela (standing) old-Georgian martial-training swimming style with both hands raised above the water. He covered by swimming, with his legs only, seven Olympic distances, which is equal to more than ten thousand meters, using no flippers or special swimsuit or other swimming aides whatsoever. The swimmer, who was followed in the water by a full boat of experts and witnesses, improved his own ten-year-old record by covering the distance of 10.5 kilometers in exactly 5 hours and 25 minutes. The event was organized within the framework of the Golden Fleece Sporting Program by the Adjara Autonomy,

Georgian Geographic Society and Khashuri Municipality, headed by Gvanji Mania, President of the Giorgi Union patron of all Guinness-like records in Georgia. It was judged by a special commission of referees who based their decision on the currently functioning charter of world records. The champion was born in the village of Gomi of the Khashuri district of Georgia and learned how to swim “as a little boy in the whirls and rapids of the Kura River”. Beglar and his family are still living in their native places, making their livings through local agricultural and trade efforts. The records like his recent

one are helping Georgia to let the world get better acquainted with its cultural heritage and new achievements like this type of swimming, which are purely Georgian traditions. The annals have it that in the mid 19th century a Georgian gentleman from Odishi, named Kelle Ekhvaia, became a perfect master of the Zezela swimming style and used his great talent to lure the invading foreign army into the deep waters of the Inguri river to be drowned, as he created the impression that the water was shallow by swimming in it with his hands above the water. I was told that there is another kind of water sport that someday might merit

wide public interest, and that is underwater wrestling – the so called ‘Menchurva’. Currently, attempts are being made to attract the attention of Olympic experts, sponsors and organizers to let the world try this new outlandish sporting event. There are a good number of other records and champions in Georgia like this one and they are not often heeded by variously preoccupied members of our society. But this is not the worst feature of this society that might annoy us. One of the most frustrating characteristics of our life is that our business community is dragging its feet in learning

charity. Well, sometimes, somewhere, something charitable is taking place, but this has not yet become a habit as biblical tithing is not a commonplace thing in our religious and social life. Incidentally, I don’t even know if we want to learn it. Yet, records and champions need to be taken care of so that they do not disappear without trace. And who should come up with the money for such a noble job as this kind of charity? Not difficult to guess, is it? But those deep and thick pockets are sown so tightly that a charitable finger can hardly get into it. Meanwhile, in the West, the west of our idyllic dreams, is a place where charity happens in big numbers on a daily basis. And the constantly ongoing process of doing some good to ‘thy neighbor’ is supported there by legislature: you do charity and you write it off from your revenues as a tax-exempt part of your profits. Why doesn’t this happen here? Because our desire to have a western appearance is not propped up and sustained by content thereto. Oh yes, we are ancient Christians with a short memory for ‘Do unto others . . .’

SCANDAL, Jean Paul Gaultier’s New Fragrance Now at Ici Paris Stores BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


CANDAL, Jean Paul Gaultier’s newly launched fragrance for 2017, is now available at Ici Paris stores in Georgia. It is said to be “designed to break all clichés, offering something new and modern, and at the same time powerful and elegant,” with the key notes of the composition being blood orange, honey, patchouli and gardenia, making a creamy, earthy, and balsamic gourmet effect, with warm, deep woody undertones. The bottle of the new fragrance is made of transparent glass and the stopper comes in the form of golden female legs, reports. As Khatia Shamugia, Head of the Marketing and PR Department of Ici Paris says, the fragrance tells the story of “Madame La Ministre,” a woman partying and clubbing in the streets of Paris by night and going to her office directly from there in the morning. Everybody loves her and although “Madame La Ministre is extremely busy by day, she always finds time to have fun by night,” Shamugia said. “The fragrance has a magnificent scent created by a number of ingredients, like blood orange, gardenia and patchouli,” Khatia noted. SCANDAL is the first fragrance launched by Jean Paul Gaultier with Puig company.




SEPTEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

TBC Presents: A Russian Journal Revisited & Robert Capa Exhibition BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


Russian Journal Revisited, a project initiated by the Magnum Photo Agency, which marks the 70th anniversary of its existence this year, is now open at TBC Bank, alongside a presentation of the works of famous photographer and one of the founders of the agency Robert Capa. Back in 1947, Capa, together with wellknown American writer John Steinbeck, travelled to the USSR, visiting Russia, Ukraine and Georgia, and documenting the lives of people living under the Soviet system, a journey which later transformed into John Steinbeck’s book: A Russian Journal, published in 1948, with photo illustrations by Robert Capa. Fast forward to 2017, and Magnum Photo

Agency decided to mark its anniversary by creating a new, contemporary version of Capa and Steinbeck’s trip to USSR from 70 years ago with a project: A Russian Journal Revisited, made by Thomas Dworzak, German photographer, the president of the agency, and Julius Strauss, British journalist, former Bureau Chief of the Daily Telegraph Moscow office, who also worked as a foreign correspondent from Kosovo to Afghanistan. This August, over a period of four weeks, Thomas Dworzak and Julius Strauss travelled to Russia, Ukraine and Georgia, following in the footsteps of Steinbeck and Capa. They also visited Sukhumi, Abkhazia as the part of their trip; the journey resulting in an impressive photo exhibition and the album published with Thomas Dworzak’s photos and Julius Strauss’s writings, as they retrace the same trip from 70 years ago. This is combined with another exhibition of Capa’s

photos now available for viewing at TBC gallery and TBC Art Gallery at Marjanishvili Street, Tbilisi; the exhibitions organized within the framework of the Tbilisi International Photo Festival. As part of the event, a public lecture by Cynthia Jang was held, covering Robert Capa’s journey to the Soviet Union in 1947. ‘Two things were most challenging; one was the shadow of Capa, because he was so big, and it would be a bit pretentious to beat him, and the other thing was that, because I lived in Georgia and Russia, I was not new here so I had to find a new perspective,” Thomas Dworzak told us at the opening, when asked what he thought was among the most difficult parts of the project. “I think I found something more than I was expecting, although I still have to work on it,” he said, talking about his own expectations from the project. “I only finished shooting one week ago

and it needed some time to edit and maybe change the sequence,” he said. “I really like the photo with the guy dressed in a Caucasian traditional dress, walking in Moscow,” Dworzak told us, pointing to one of his works which he considers most vivid. Indeed, most of the photos on display can be considered vivid: images from Russia, Ukraine and Georgia, showing the traces of history and modernity interlinked, so vibrantly, dramatically even, creating an outstanding mosaic; a record of our time. “Initially, when we started working on the project with Magnum Photo Agency, it had been decided to exhibit the works of Robert Capa as well, and, as today in a way marks the finalization of the project, it’s also delivers an important message and a parallel from the famous works of Capa to Dworzak’s recent ones,” Nina Akhvlediani, Art

Curator at TBC Bank told us. Capa’s works have been kept at TBC Bank for many years now, with a number of exhibitions already organized; the two exhibitions introducing Dworzak’s and Capa’s work bring a “totally different perspective,” Akhvlediani said. Eka Enukidze, Magnum Photos representative in Georgia, notes that the project gives “a unique possibility to see what has changed for the 70-year period in the region, while revisiting and representing the landmarks of the history of photography.” As it traces back to the Soviet reality documented by Steinbeck and Capa, the Russian Journal Revisited project continues to modernity through the sharp prism of Thomas Dworzak’s works. WHERE: TBC Gallery, TBC Headquarters, Marjanishvili Str., Tbilisi WHEN: Until October 2

Vote Fever: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER


riting this in a small, sweaty, mosquitofrequented hostel room in Batumi, with three bunk-beds stuffed into it but only two of us occupying, thank goodness. Hot rods test their speed and stereo volume outside. I’m getting what I paid my 10 GEL for: the cheapest stay in the city and worth every one of its thousand Tetri. At least there’s free unlimited wi-fi at reason-

able bandwidths, a luxury not yet to have reached the villages of Svaneti (Mestia excepted)! My guests taking advantage of Hanmer Guest House’s new “anywhere you can afford” taxi service is the reason I am here at all. Meanwhile, back up in the mountains… while taking a few other guests to see a bit of Mestia a few days ago, I heard from my wife by phone that we’d been asked permission to let the new village water pipe be dug in and laid across our land. In exchange, we would have access to it from only about 20 m away from the house, rather an improvement over our current per-

sonal pipe length of over 150m! We both agreed that this would be a fine idea, and promptly the Bobcat came and dug. The pipe was installed, they even (more or less) restored the fence parts they had cut open, and we are now waiting for this exciting project, promised by the village mayor but not believed without our seeing it, to be finished before winter settles in. (Tetnuldi ski resort, at up to 3.2 km above sea level, having seen its first snow in early September.) More: we have been seeing large piles of slate gravel being dumped along our village road, including two near the

house. The whole disastrously bone jarring former river bed of a thing, from top to bottom, is to be resurfaced, they tell us! And there is a new kindergarten being built just above the original one (long years a home for refugee Svans from Abkhazia), at such a speed that one must conclude that serious money is showing. And… next month are the elections, all over Georgia, from village to Tbilisi mayors and of Parliament into the bargain. So that explains it all. Pity that I as a foreigner can’t vote, and my wife has yet to transfer her registration from Tbilisi to here! The school outdoor sports arena begun a year ago has wire walls but no finished floor, so obviously this is not part of any attempt to curry favor, merely a dream which ran out of steam, leaving us more cynical than ever in the process. This frenzied investment in local infrastructure at certain critical times is at least less bald than the earlier simple offers to buy votes outright for GEL which we heard about in years past. On the national level, the TV is showing some rather ugly anti-Saakashvili footage. However, its target is somewhat distracted, having successfully stormed his way back into Ukraine from Poland despite not having a passport left to his name and being quite a threat to the powers that be of that country. How often does a president of one country get to become that of another, both by revolution? (How could he cross an international border without being allowed, I ask myself? Obviously, he WAS allowed. Let’s not kill or even injure such a high-ranking figure and really cause an international incident.

We bide our time...hoping that the possibly momentous changes in government will be peaceful but also a harbinger of necessary change Georgia, after all, wants him back ALIVE!) We bide our time somewhat anxiously, hoping that the next month and its possibly momentous changes in government will be peaceful but also a harbinger of necessary change. Time will reveal all. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1500 members, at




Golden Luka from Georgia Conquers World Stages at early Age BY MAKA LOMADZE


uka Okrostvaridze, 26, stage name Luka Okros, is one of the brightest representatives of his generation of young artists. On September 10, he won the 3rd prize at the 11th Scottish International Piano Competition in Glasgow. He was the only one to represent Georgia in this contest among 23 pianists from 15 countries. Okros is also the first prize winner of several major international competitions, including the Hannover Chopin Piano Competition (2017), Hong Kong International Piano Competition (2016), and the Iturbi Prize in Spain (2015), where, among the judges were famous pianists like Peter Donohoe, Peter Frankl, Andrzej Jasinski, Mikhail Voskresensky, Pascal Roge and others. Over the last two years, Okros has won an award from the Hattori Foundation (UK), the Tillett Trust (UK) and the Verbier Festival Piano Award by Tabor Foundation in Switzerland. He says he is very proud to represent Georgia globally. In August, he was invited to the Oxford Piano Festival and to BBC Radio 3 for an interview and live performance. GEORGIA TODAY met him to find out more.

HOW DIFFICULT WAS THE PATH TO SUCCESS? I was born in 1991. I’m sure lots of people in Georgia remember the terrifying 90s, and I know how it is to live in poverty, having eggs or potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I went through this myself, so music was my only lifebuoy and it kept me going. It’s not easy to be a musician, especially nowadays when arts and music are going

through hard times. Imagine that you have no Friday evenings or weekends, no holidays or even birthdays: every moment belongs to music and its schedule! You travel a lot, but not for rest, have to keep in mind a huge number of musical notes and practice a lot to stay in a good shape! It’s important to be very active and to be able to fight for the things you believe in. You have to be a professional and responsible for everything you do. I’m rarely satisfied with the results, and this probably pushes me onward and at the same time submerges me deeper in music. To be successful, you need to work hard and be honest with yourself. You need a combination of different personal and professional skills to deal with things not always connected to music. However, without luck, you won’t go far.

support of kind and generous people, to give me a vital chance to be a musician.



I’d say, getting my Artist status in the UK, as it’s a kind of recognition which gives me the chance to do what I really love and live for in Europe. Unfortunately, we live in quite tumultuous times, when political influence is really high on people’s everyday lives. So, I’m lucky to have the opportunity to be an Artist in one of the leading European countries.

HOW DID IT HAPPEN THAT YOU BECAME WORLD-FAMOUS AT SUCH AN EARLY AGE? Hard work and luck: when these two things align, together they can give very fruitful results. I was lucky to have very caring parents who discovered my passion for music when I was only four years old and made a lot of effort, along with the help and

SOME SAY THE MORE MISERABLE AN ARTIST IS, THE HAPPIER HE/SHE MAKES THE PUBLIC. IS IT THE CASE WITH YOU? OR IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE HAPPY AND TO BE A GREAT ARTIST AT THE SAME TIME? I’ve always believed that in music; we show our deepest thoughts and true personality, which isn’t always shown in ordinary life. There is no need to be miserable to bring happiness to the public. Music is a mixture of different emotions, so, in my case, I’d say that being a pianist is a tool in a composer’s hands. We can only empathize with music and deliver it to the public.

My eternal child loves cartoons, chocolates and candies, so I often try to deliver him these emotions to extend his presence in my life. It would be really hard to live without childish purity and simplicity, especially for musicians. I try to cherish simple things in my everyday life.


WE STAY CREATIVE IN SPITE OF THE EVERYDAY STRESSES? We should find it deep in our mind. Happiness and peaceful silence is inside each of us. All this bustle around takes over; the materialistic world is a priority in people’s mind! Personally, I feel how desperately we are in need of spiritual charging. Music brings me harmony and peace.

IF NOT A MUSICIAN, WHAT WOULD YOU BE? I’d probably be a photographer, cinema director or historian, as I love history. If politics was cleaner and had better morals, I’d go for governing, as I have ideas and a will to help people. Nowadays, patriotism and a love of your homeland are terms used in totally the wrong way, and the words “honor,” “respect” and “humanism” have lost their valuable meaning.

HOW MANY HOURS DO YOU PLAY A DAY? I’d say 3-5 hours every day. I never practice more than six hours, as I believe that your mind should be able to analyze what and how you do during practices; I’m against an automatic finger sprint.

DO YOU GET THE LUXURY OF A HOLIDAY, OR A PRIVATE LIFE? Since 2012, I’ve only had six days off- this summer, after a particularly exhausting period. However, I can’t stop practicing.

They say, if you don’t practice one day, you hear it, if you don’t practice two days – your family knows it, but three days – the entire world knows you had a break! I believe I’m an open person. I love to communicate with people, share ideas and emotions. My Instagram profile has almost 40,000 followers, and I often make live streaming, answering all direct questions personally. It’s great to find creative and interesting people all over the world. Of course, some things should remain private. But if people ask questions in a respectful way, I’m always happy to give an answer.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE? In October and November, I have a big Asian tour. I will perform and give masterclasses in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and India. In January, I’ll travel to Harbin (China), to represent Georgia at the Habin International Piano Competition. For winter - spring 2018, a European tour is planned. All details of the recitals will be soon available on my website. Luka Okros’ CD of works by Schumann was released on DiscAuverS Records and presented in Salle Cortot (Paris, France) in Autumn 2016. This CD received critical acclaim and got 4/4 stars review in French magazine Classica (June 2017). The CD is available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and elsewhere.




SEPTEMBER 22 - 25, 2017

Donald Rayfield on Researching Georgia, Literature & Politics WHAT DID YOU DISCOVER?



rofessor Donald Rayfield is a leading British academic, writer and translator specializing in Georgia, Russia and Transcaucasia. He has written one of the seminal English-language histories of Georgia, translated numerous works of literature and poetry, and headed the team that compiled the preeminent Georgian-English dictionary. He is currently emeritus professor of Russian at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of the Marjory Wardrop Fund. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Prof. Rayfield about his life and work, touching on numerous topics from literature and the dictionary to history and current affairs.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER AN INTEREST IN WRITING? I was interested in Slavonic languages and then went to university in Cambridge. I’d learned quite a lot of Czech (I had a Czech pen pal), they said you’re an idiot to do Czech if you don’t know any Russian, so I moved to Russian. That saved me from a life on unemployment because there’s not a lot of room for Czech specialists. I taught Russian in an Australian university for three years and then came back to Britain and began writing about Anton Chekhov’s work, and Russian poets. A lot of Russian poets were involved in Georgia and in the early 1970s I realised that there might be a lot of their letters in Tbilisi literary museum. In Soviet days, many things were in some ways easier; there was a cultural agreement in which academics went to each other’s countries for three months and it was paid for, so I went to Tbilisi for three months.

THAT’S WHEN YOUR INTEREST IN GEORGIA ITSELF BEGAN? I didn’t know how it was going to develop, because I went to the literary museum and it was one of those Soviet comedies where you go in for the first time and they say, “oh sorry, we’ve lost the key”, you go a second time and it’s, “the director’s not here”. Finally, one of the girls took pity on me and said, “look, it’s pointless you coming here; we’ve had a phone call from the central committee and you’re not allowed to see anything”. So, I switched to the university’s language department and thought I might as well try and learn Georgian. It was a time when there were a number of jubilees of Georgian poets and they desperately wanted them translated into a West European language. I was just what they were looking for so they gave me a very good teacher and I had one to one teaching.

YOU WERE A RARITY! Yes. After me there came others and by the end of the ’70s there were several. My predecessor was Professor David Lang, who wrote some very good books on Georgian history and very good translations, but who now turns out to have been compromised by the KGB. Lang was a friend of Inauri, the head of the KGB. He was a somewhat isolated figure, although he was a brilliant scholar, but he denounced the Georgian dissidents and said that all the stuff they were sending out was lies, fiction, and forgery so there was not much contact between me and him. Anyway, I kept on coming back and learning more and translating more. Then I started writing about the literature.

DID YOU ENCOUNTER ANY DIFFICULTIES IN YOUR RESEARCH? The thing about Georgians is that they like people to say nice things about them. If you’re writing critically about literature and you start saying that something is not as good as something else, then people tend to get offended. If you have an author who is writing in the 1930s, you’ll find his great-great grandchild objects to your feeling that his work is not important, or that he was leant on too hard by the communist party. What was surprising about Georgia under the Soviets was that in the 1930s and 50s, the history writers and the critical scholars were in some ways better, almost Western-standard, as long as they weren’t dealing with modern times. There were a lot of very good editions of classical works. One of the main problems is that in Soviet times a lot of very good work was published with terrible cuts from the censor. Even today, some Georgian publishers reproduce the awful mutilated versions. You have to go to the library and see if you can get the version published before the censors got nasty in the mid-1920s. The Soviet heritage still hasn’t been quite overcome.

WHAT ABOUT IN TERMS OF ACCESS TO ARCHIVES? In Soviet times, archives always came under the KGB. I was interested particularly in the archives of the Writers’ Union because they had the most extraordinary discussions in which they virtually denounced each other, and several people would be led off to be imprisoned and then shot. I went every day for months in 1989 to the Central State Archives of Literature, and every now and again I’d pass a set of papers and they’d say ‘oh no, that’s marked “S” for secret’. Suddenly at the very beginning of March ’89, I was told “but we don’t have any secret archives” and I could look at whatever I wanted. They gave me all the files from the 1930s when the writers were meeting.

It was so terrible that the secretary who was taking down the shorthand record of it broke down and couldn’t continue. And the lights went off, people shot themselves in the middle of the proceedings and so on. All this had to be copied by hand. I had an enormous stroke of luck: a group of trainee librarians were being shown round the building; I was allowed to sit them all down (there were about fifteen of them), hand them each a file to copy, so I have them by absolute miracle. Those files didn’t survive entirely intact because Gamsakhurdia came along in his short period in power and removed anything that he felt was compromising about his father (Konstantine Gamsakhurdia) who was a very good novelist but was a man with very strange connections. He was probably the only genuine fascist in Georgia and yet he was close friends with Beria.

SO, INFORMATION OPENED UP ALL AT ONCE? Yes, the literary ones certainly had free access, and recently the communist party archives. They’re obviously working on computerizing them but what they need is some enormous foreign grant to digitalize them because there are 2.5 million files, not all of them interesting, in fact some are uninteresting; at the moment, you just have to guess. If ever they get it completely digitalized, then it will be an enormously important [resource]. The manuscript center is supposedly digitalizing but it’s moving at a snail’s pace. The problem with Georgians at the moment is that people are doing research, but they tend to be doing research on the medieval periods. For modern times – Soviet history – they tend to concentrate on the church as the church has had an enormous revival in Georgia. Part of the problem is that the networks were so close that a lot of people today have family who were involved in the Communist Party, or in the secret police: it’s something they don’t really want to talk about. I think writing a history of Georgia at present is something only a foreigner can do.

WHICH YOU DID I did. Once the Russian version came out, then more Georgians read it. They’re fine until we get to the 19th century and then they don’t really like good things being said about the Russian viceroys. If they’re anti Saakashvili then I’m too pro, if they’re pro Saakashvili I’m too anti! It’s always dangerous to talk about living politicians, but then Georgians are not like the Russians: they do forgive foreigners for being offensive, they just assume that we’re all idiots and never really understand and so there’s no point taking offence.

AM I RIGHT IN SAYING THAT THERE WAS NO GEORGIANENGLISH DICTIONARY BEFORE YOURS? Not one that’s any use. If you strive to learn Georgian, you’ll realise quickly that there’s an enormous problem with the verb; every verb has so many prefixes. Their big eight-volume explanatory dictionary, which Stalin supported, took that idea, a lot of entries for every verb. Georgian is full of that sort of thing, so it meant that to compile a dictionary we had to have a lot of money, and we had to have the right people. We were very lucky with both in that British universities have an arts and humanities research council and the year I applied, dictionaries were obviously in fashion. We were lucky to have one Georgian computer expert, Levan Chkhaidze, who had worked for

the Soviet military. Levan was responsible for devising a program for scanning Georgian which we didn’t have when we started in the 90s. What we badly needed to know was all the words that are not in the great eight-volume dictionary but are everywhere else. That dictionary began very carefully because Stalin was watching: no quotation from any writer who had been shot or was about to be shot, no idioms that Stalin might find offensive (religious ones and so on), and an awful lot of words which were considered vulgar and not to be included.

WHICH WOULD PRESUMABLY INCLUDE AN AWFUL LOT! Well, everything that a taxi driver swears about and lots of other things, too. I also had a brilliant student called Laurence Broers who has excellent Georgian and above all he can talk to absolutely anybody and not get into trouble. We sent him to various people: priests; ex warlords; forest boys; drug addicts; prostitutes: he contributed an enormous amount. There’s another type of Georgian that nobody ever wrote about: Jewish Georgian, still spoken in Kutaisi. In Soviet times, people did research into it, but the Soviets had banned anybody from publishing any of it. I found someone who had emigrated to Israel. He had his old grandmother with him and we got 2,000 Jewish-Georgian words! Georgian classical editions of past works usually had very good vocabularies at the end. By working through those editions, we had all the stuff from the Middle Ages. Then there were numerous ethnographical expeditions to the mountains. The most difficult thing was the language that women use with women when there are no men present but we found a Georgian woman who had been married to a Texan for ten years and had lost her inhibitions.

WHAT DREW YOU TOWARDS TRANSLATING GEORGIAN LITERATURE? I knew Otar Chiladze and I still know his daughter; I’m a great admirer of his. I did hope at one point in 1999 that he’d get the Nobel Prize; I think he came pretty close. By then he had five novels, but a sixth one came out shortly afterwards. They were written extraordinarily cleverly because if you read them carefully they are very anti-Soviet, but the Russian censors were either too dim or too tolerant to notice it. I thought his most relevant one was his fifth, about the civil war (Avelum) in which a writer’s entire life crumbles and he gets killed at the end of it. It’s not an easy one to read. Someone else was translating A Man was Going Down the Road so I thought I’d wait for this to come out and then publish Avelum but they never got around to finishing it and I got so frustrated with them that I asked Otar if he’d mind if I did it myself. The problem is, Chiladze is not selling in the West: it’s very difficult to get literature in translation even reviewed, at least in Britain. I have a small publishing house and I’ve managed to help one novel to reasonable success (that is, to sell 1300 copies) but with Chiladze it would be getting over the 200 mark. What the Georgians really need is some sort of marketing system. Maybe the Georgian novel is not exportable; I’m not sure. In some ways, in Soviet times, it was easier; your writer would be locked up or even shot and that was a great career move! Now, in Turkey, Erdogan is selling Turkish literature like nothing through persecution. Perhaps the Georgians should start shooting their writers! [laughs]


I’ve been a chairman of this trust for a long time. The Marjory Wardrop fund was money left by Oliver Wardrop in his sister’s memory, a big capital sum, and it was enough to finance a postgraduate student every year, but since the financial crisis we only have enough money to give people a grant to do some digging or produce a CD. I think we’re saving up enough eventually to help one postgraduate but the trouble with these foundations that rely on a capital fund is this worldwide collapse of interest rates. I think postgraduate students can easily get funds to come and study in Georgia from the EU, but now that Britain is leaving the EU, it’s going to be catastrophic for any university activity. In fact, I was just thinking that a Georgian passport is going to be more useful than a British passport in ten years’ time if they’re still on track for EU membership. I’ve got my letter to the president saying, ‘I did the dictionary, can I have a passport?’

THERE HAS BEEN A RECENT SELF-CONSCIOUS EFFORT IN GEORGIA TO LOOK TO THE WEST… Yes, I think the NATO question is out altogether; I can’t believe NATO will want to have two conflict zones with Russia. On the other hand, they’ve got Montenegro coming in so I think there is a possibility of EU membership. It will undoubtedly annoy Putin, which is a very good reason for doing it, but that may stop some of the Europeans.

THINKING OF THE TWO CONFLICT ZONES WITH RUSSIA, DO YOU SEE ANY HOPE FOR A REUNIFICATION? There was hope at one point a long time ago when Saakashvili had that very good foreign minister Salome Zurabishvili. She seems, from what I’ve heard, to have had some sort of agreement with Putin that South Ossetia could go back when things were quieter, because Russia doesn’t really want South Ossetia, but then Saakashvili spoiled that with his recklessness. I think with Abkhazia there’s no hope at all; it’s just too valuable to Russia and if I were a Georgian, I would just say, ‘give up’. The only hope in the long term is to make Georgia such a pleasant place that the Abkhaz themselves wish they were somehow federated with it, but I don’t think that the Russians are ever going to allow that.

THERE WAS A SCRAMBLE IN THE EARLY 90S WITH EVERYONE HASTILY REDRAWING BORDERS ALONG ETHNIC LINES… You had the people in Adjara wanting to be separate, you had the Armenians in Javakheti who to this day feel resentful, but they’re no worse off in Georgia than they would be if they joined Armenia, and the Azerbaijanis in Rustavi seem to be ok. It’s a pity because the one thing about Georgia before all this flared up is that it was so tolerant.

THAT WAS SOMETHING YOU WROTE IN THE PREFACE TO EDGE OF EMPIRES… Yes, they got on well. I mean, they were a bit snarky about Armenians; they had been since 600 AD, but everyone else they got on with. I think there’s no hope of Abkhazia coming back, in our lifetime anyway, although South Ossetia may be negotiable, I don’t know what they’d have to give away. Restoring the railway line along the Black Sea Coast perhaps, but I think Georgian politicians will find that a line too far.



S’hail 2017 International Hunting & Falcons Exhibition Opens



he first edition of the Katara International Hunting and Falcons Exhibition, S’hail, 2017 was inaugurated at the Cultural Village Foundation, Katara, among the presence of falconry enthusiasts and visitors on Wednesday. The ‘world class’ and first of its kind show is seeing the participation of over 90 local and several international companies specializing in falconry and hunting-related tools and equipment. Over 3,000 people and 1,000 online viewers had visited S’hail 2017 by six in the evening with more were lining up to get in. The inaugural day saw VIP distinguished guests H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, H.E. Hamad bin Nasser Al Thani, H.E. Sheikh Ahmed bin Nasser Al Thani, and H.E. Sheikh Faisal bin Qasim Al Thani. In addition, Ooredoo Group CEO, H.E. Sheikh Saud Bin Nasser Al Thani, and H.E. Sheikh Falah bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani also went along. The attraction offers a diverse array of participants, from suppliers of hunting vehicles, tools, equipment and falcon care-related entities have formed for the unique exhibition. There are as many as 54 participants from Qatar; 15 from Kuwait besides from the overseas -- 5 from Spain; 4 from Pakistan; 3 from Germany; and one each from the US, England, France, South Africa, Azerbaijan and Lebanon. The exhibition features more than 400 falcons from three local farms and nine other breeding farms from Spain, Germany, France and Russia. Furthermore, the exhibition also features several falcon veterinary clinics, including the Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital which is

scheduled to conduct necessary tests for the falcons purchased from the exhibition. The exhibition also welcomed many international hunting-related brands of camping gear, hunting arms and tools, and safaris which will be offered at significant discount. The exhibition showcases cultural stands from several countries including Morocco, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey. These countries will introduce visitors to their cultural heritage in hunting and falconry. In addition, several vintage hunting vehicles are being displayed to give the audience a close picture of the hunting arena in the past. S’hail 2017 is one of the biggest international falcon exhibitions and has several events and activities, including a falcon auction. There is also a special stand for handicrafts related to hunting and falcon-related supplies. Commenting on the exhibition, the General Manager of the Cultural Village Foundation- Katara, H.E. Dr. Khalid bin Ibrahim Al-Sulaiti, said; "By hosting the Katara International Hunting & Falcons Exhibition, Katara aims to highlight the Qatari cultural identity in the falconry field in Qatar and abroad. Syndicating ancient traditions with modernity leads to building communication bridges between people from all walks of life. Such innovative initiatives would enrich the cultural process which will hopefully keep expanding, evolving, growing and thriving." The S’hail Falcon auction is one of the main events at Katara International Hunting and Falcons Exhibition. In this event, falcons are offered for auction sale. The bidder, Al-Azmi from the State of Kuwait, purchased a falcon with 210,000 QAR ($56,816.14).

VIP VISIT The Katara International Hunting &

Falcons Exhibition had a special guest on the opening day in Australian Ambassador to Qatar, His Excellency Dr. Axel Wabenhorst, who by his own admission was remarkably impressed by the unique and varied display. Speaking on the occasion, the Ambassador said, “I haven’t seen an exhibition like this before. This is truly amazing. There are, first of all, a lot of falcons, but different species of falcons…you can tell it’s a very popular activity.”

CULTURAL TENT On the sideline activities of Katara International Hunting & Falcons Exhibition, a traditional tent from Kyrgyzstan also attracted the fancy and curious eyes of all. The ‘yurt,’ the traditional tent of the Kyrgyz people, portable, round and covered with skins or felt has been used as a dwelling in central Asia for over 3,000 years. The colorful and very cozy tent also has the Kyrgyz people dressed in their traditional attire offering sweets to visitors in their true style and tradition. The Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic, H.E. Mr. Nuran S. Niyazaliev explained the idea of the ‘yurt’ and its presence at the exhibition. “The Kyrgyz and Qatari people have many similarities. Like Qataris, the Krygyz people have been nomads and used falcons for hunting. That’s why we decided to bring and showcase our traditional nomadic house to Qatar to show the people that in central Asia, too, we share the same culture.” “A big number of Qataris travel to Kyrgyzstan. By displaying this traditional ‘house’ of nomadic Kyrgyzstan people, we hope more Qatari people will visit our country and share the culture,” he added. The falcon, and its use in hunting, not only attracts people from around the world, but also helps break boundaries, too!





SEPTEMBER 22 - 25, 2017


TBILISI INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THEATER September 21 CHEKHOV’S FIRST PLAY Directed by Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd Composer- Jimmy Eadie and Kevin Gleeson Designer- Andrew Clancy Choreographer- Liv O’Donoghue Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-55 GEL Venue: Kote Marjanishvili State Drama Theater, Big Stage September 22 CHEKHOV’S FIRST PLAY Directed by Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd Composer- Jimmy Eadie and Kevin Gleeson Designer- Andrew Clancy Choreographer- Liv O’Donoghue Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-55 GEL Venue: Kote Marjanishvili State Drama Theater, Big Stage September 25, 26 THE TORTOISE Luigi Pirandello Directed by Levan Tsuladze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-35 GEL Venue: Kote Marjanishvili State Drama Theater, Big Stage September 26, 27 STOLPERSTEINE STAATSTHEATER Hans-Werner Kroesinger, Regine Dura Composer Daniel Dorsch Designer Rob Moonen Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 30 GEL Venue: Movement Theater MOVEMENT THEATRE Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 September 23 PARADISO Directed by Irakli Khoshtaria Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL

September 28 INTRO Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Musical Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 September 23 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 20, 30 GEL September 24, 28 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 20, 30 GEL TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 September 22, 23, 24 SWAN LAKE Opening of the 166th Ballet Season P. Tchaikovsky Two-act ballet Choreographic version and staging by Alexei Fadeechev Starring: Teimuraz Gugushvili, Makvala Aspanidze, Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL September 22-28 KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE Directed by Matthew Vaughn Cast: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: English Start time: 18:45

Language: Russian Start time: 21:45 Ticket: 13-14 GEL THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE Directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher Cast: Olivia Munn, Justin Theroux, Jackie Chan Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure Language: Russian Start time: 14:00, 16:30 Ticket: 9-11 GEL MOTHER! Directed by Darren Aronofsky Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris Genre: Drama, Horror Language: Russian Start time: 21:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL MUSEUM


RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL September 22-28 MOTHER! (Info Above) Start time: 19:45, 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL JOUR J Directed by Reem Kherici Cast: Reem Kherici, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Julia Piaton Genre: Comedy, Adventure, Fa Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 10-11 GEL LOGAN LUCKY Directed by Steven Soderbergh Cast: Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum, Katherine Waterston Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL 7 SISTERS Directed by Tommy Wirkola Cast: Noomi Rapace, Marwan Kenzari, Willem Dafoe


Project co-ordination in Tbilisi: Lasha Khvedelidze (Goethe institute Georgia) MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. RUSTAVI PARK Address: Rustavi September 24 GLOBAL GOALS FESTIVAL FUTURE IN FOCUS The Festival will open with a Street Art Event which will bring together a group of well-known Georgian street artists. It will conclude with the appointment of Georgia’s National Goodwill Ambassadors for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a concert. Time: 15:00 – 21:00 GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00 EXHIBITION CONSTELLATION Artworks by Chinese contemporary artists- Ai Weiwei, Hu Xiaoyuan, Li Shurui, Liu Wei, Lu Pingyuan, Lu Shanchuan, Ma Qiusha, Wang Guangle, Wang Sishun, Wang Yuyang, Xie Molin, Xu Qu, Xu Zhen, Yan Xing, Zhang Ding, Zhang Zhenyu, Zhao Yao and Zhao Zhao. MUSIC

INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL - AUTUMN TBILISI Venue: Djansug Kakhidze Tbilisi center for Music and Culture September 23 135th ANNIVERSARY OF IGOR STRAVINSKY Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra and Georgian State Choir Conductor- Vakhtang Kakhidze Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL September 23 EVENING OF GEORGIAN FOLK MUSIC ENSEMBLE SHAVNABADA Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL STARADA CLUB Address: 5 Marjanishvili Str. September 24 LEVAN TSKHADADZE & MOCKMALÖR (Tbilisi International Festival of Theater) Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 35 GEL LISI WONDERLAND Address: Near Lisi Lake September 22 KADEBOSTANY, AKUA NARU Line-up: AKUA NARU, KADEBOSTANY, EKO & VINDA FOLIO, MOKUMOKU, KILLAGES, GIO SHENGELIA, SEVDA Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 30-50 GEL




World Famous Georgian Tenor Dies at 80 BY THEA MORRISON


urab Sotkilava, a well-known Georgian opera singer, died at the age of 80 on Monday. His body was transferred from Russia, where he was living of late. Two years ago, Sotkilava was diagnosed a malignant tumor of the pancreas. He was operated on in Germany and underwent a course of treatment in Russia. However, this year his health condition worsened and as reported he passed away on September 18 in Moscow. Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili expressed sorrow over Sotkilava’s death. “I would like to honor the memory of the person whose productive, creative and pedagogic activities contributed to

the popularization of the opera art in Georgia, at the same time representing the Georgian music school to a global audience,” Margvelashvili stated. Born in Sokhumi in 1937, Sotkilava graduated the Tbilisi Conservatoire, where he had studied under David Andguladze, and became a soloist of the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater until 1974, parallel to a two-year study program at La Scala taught by Dinaro Barra. He became a teacher in his own right, working until 1988 at the Moscow Conservatory. He was Chairman of the International Tchaikovsky Competition and a member of the Bologna Academy of Music at which he became known for his singing of Giuseppe Verdi's works. In 2000, Sotkilava became Kinoshok Chairman of the Anapa Film Festival which hosted throughout the CIS and the Baltic States.

Celebrating 40 Years since Chakrulo Went to Space

Ramaz Bluashvili (right) with Rob Manning, Chief Engineer of the Mars Program of NASA



xactly 40 years ago, back in Soviet Georgia, a truly historic thing happened: ‘Chakrulo,’ one of the rare pearls of Georgian polyphony, was sent into space on Voyager 2, on a gold disc together with 26 other masterpieces from all over of the world. In 2016, ‘Voyager 1’ was the first rocket to leave the solar system in the footsteps of Voyager 2. On September 5, Mankind celebrated the 40th anniversary since Voyager shot into space with those 27 songs. On September 25-28, legendary Rob Manning, Chief Engineer of the Mars Program of NASA, and John Casani, Voyager former Project Manager, will come to Georgia. Chakrulo, a Kartl-Kakhetian classical polyphonic choir song, was recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of NonMaterial Heritage and Folklore of Mankind. Ramaz Bluashvili, director, producer and researcher, Founder and President of the Foundation for Promoting Science and Education ‘Nova,’ has studied in the

US and worked with the ‘Erisioni’ Singing and Dancing State Ensemble. He first heard the incredible story of Chakrulo in his childhood. However, due to the lack of access to information (no google!), children knew very little about it. That is why he established the foundation to get young children interested in science. “If we inspire them in the right way, maybe another Einstein will be born,” he tells GEORGIA TODAY. “When I went to study in the US, I stumbled upon the name Alexander Kartveli, a prominent Georgian-American aircraft designer. I spent the next 2.5 years researching his life. I went to every archive in the States: NASA, the Pentagon, museums, etc. People thought Kartveli was Russian and, since he didn’t have any children, no one remembered him. While researching his life at NASA, I had a chance to ask about Chakrulo. They gave me the contact of Ann Druyan, widow of the legendary Carl Sagan. I emailed her as a Georgian. I still have a copy of the email. She replied that she was happy to hear from me and told me the incredible story of how the decision was made to send a message from Mankind. They needed several pieces of



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Melita Tsaava



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

music from all over the world. Chakrulo was one of the chosen ones,” Bluashvili says. Three days after the decision was made, NASA got a call from Moscow pointing to the fact that Georgia was not an independent country, but a part of the Soviet Union. They even nominated a famous Russian song, ‘Moscow Nights,’ instead of Chakrulo. Reportedly, ‘Moscow Nights’ was a nice song, but was not the masterpiece the NASA team were looking for. Official Moscow even translated Chakrulo’s words into English. It belongs to the Medieval Ages, when Georgian was at war. They tried to push the idea that it did not make sense to send such an aggressive song as part of a peace-project. “But Carl Sagan was not that easy to manipulate,” Bluashvili explains. “Despite Moscow’s push, the decision was made and Chakrulo ended up going into space”. The story was so impressive that he decided to make a film about it. “It wasn’t easy. But I was lucky enough to get to meet literally everyone from the management team of Voyager 2 who was still alive,” Bluashvili continues. “I will never forget arriving in Los Angeles and the next day getting an invite to Rob Manning’s house with my cameraman. They put me in touch with Voyager’s Scientific Director, Ed Stone, John Casani, former project manager, and Susan Dodd, current Voyager project manager. Now, we’re all great friends. After I met them, I had the even more ambitious idea to celebrate Voyager’s 40th anniversary in Georgia. Casani and Manning agreed to come. So, I’m glad to say that on September 25-28, there will be a lot of meetings with schools and children and interactive lectures. Manning also agreed to give an open lecture for children at the Opera House. The main event will be on September 28, when the Georgian State Singing and Dancing ensemble ‘Erisioni’, the same ensemble which is on the gold disc sent into space, will perform at a concert dedicated to the anniversary. At the end of the show, Rostom Saginashvili, who is 70 years old and whose voice

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

is in space, is going to meet 80-year-old John Casani. It will be one of the most important events to promote Georgia, because this event, the 40th anniversary, is a worldwide event right now. I can name media outlets such as CNN, BBC, The Guardian, The New York Times, all talking about it. I already read around 50 articles about it. The fact that Georgia is a part of such a global event first of all makes me proud and should make everyone proud. We have 27 musical examples on Voyager 2 and one of them is Georgian. It’s not an American project, but one of all Mankind. We have to tell everyone that we Georgians contributed to the only message sent from Mankind to outer space”. Gia Baghashvili, well-known Georgian pianist and folklorist, told GEORGIA TODAY about the importance of Chakrulo from the musicological perspective: “Chakrulo is not only a masterpiece of Georgian polyphonic singing and a sym-

bol of national unity for Georgians, it’s part of the tangible heritage of humanity. The reason Chakrulo was selected and put on the disc can be described through the words of Rostropovich, a genius musician and open-minded person who said that the Georgian song allows you to ‘get a taste of eternity’. Listening to Chakrulo, you feel the dignity of the song. It has a perfectly consistent harmony and incredible musical dramaturgy which changes the concept of singing forms of folk music. The incredible power of Chakrulo has something in the deep roots of the past and yet it is very modern. While children continue to sing Chakrulo, this will also be part of the future. It has the simultaneous existence of past, present and future, which I believe gives it that taste of eternity. I’m very thankful to Ramaz, not only for giving me the chance to say some words about Chakrulo, but also for the idea to celebrate it in Tbilisi”.

Ed Stone Voyager’s Scientific Director

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #983  

September 22 - 25, 2017

Issue #983  

September 22 - 25, 2017