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Issue no: 1119

• JANUARY 25 - 28, 2019 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Memorandum of Understanding Signed between Anaklia City & the Law Society of England & Wales

NEWS PAGE 3

WEF 2019 & the Strategic Outlook of Eurasia POLITICS PAGE 6

FOCUS

ON THE NATO VISIT Positive messages come following the Georgian President's visit to Brussels

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British Speedboat Killer on the Run in Georgia Is Arrested

Rekan Group Looks to the Future with Batumi View BUSINESS PAGE 7

Enjoy the Healing Waters of the Tskaltubo Balneological Resort

BY AMY JONES

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British man convicted of killing a woman in a speedboat crash in London in 2015 has been arrested in Tbilisi. After months evading justice, he handed himself into police in Georgia on 23 January. 31-year-old Jack Shepherd had been living in Tbilisi since March 2018. The tragic death of 24-year-old Charlotte Brown occurred on 8 December 2015, when she met Shepherd for a date. The pair, who met on dating website OkCupid, had a lavish meal at The Shard before Shepherd took her on a speedboat on the river Thames. The boat hit a submerged log, flinging the pair into the water. Shepherd clung to the hull and survived the crash whilst Brown died from cold water inhalation. She was pulled from the water unresponsive and unconscious and later died in hospital. Continued on page 2

SOCIETY PAGE 8

‘Sakartvelos Respublika’ 100 Years in Print CULTURE PAGE 9

National Museum of Georgia Hosts Exhibition 'Red Terror & Georgian Artists' Photo source: Rustavi 2

CULTURE PAGE 11


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

JANUARY 25 - 28, 2019

Zurabishvili Says Georgia is Ready for Integration into NATO BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgia’s President Salome Zurabishvili says the country is ready to join NATO. Zurabishvili made the statement after meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, during her first official visit abroad. Zurabishvili said that Georgia has already made a decision regarding its Euro-Atlantic aspirations and the path in that regard had been written in the new Constitution of the country. “The consensus about this issue is very important. I will talk about this with all partners in bilateral formats. I will repeat that Georgia wants and is ready for integration into NATO and that Georgia has carried out all the required reforms to do so,” Zurabishvili stated. At the joint press-conference with Stoltenberg, the Georgian President said her country is grateful for the support received from the Alliance. “Georgia's path to NATO integration reflects the choice of the Georgian nation. Our path is very successful, which ensures more security in Georgia, more willingness and the modernization of its defense forces," she said. Zurabishvili said support of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,

Image source: President’s Press Office

while its two regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia are occupied, is of crucial importance. She noted that Georgia has proved its commitment and also that it is a very

trusted and active partner of NATO. “Georgia is actually trying to be an exemplary partner. It is a trustworthy partner thanks to its contribution to the NATO peacekeeping missions,”

she added. She also spoke about the need for more security in the Black Sea region. “It is very important for us that the Black Sea remains a stable and secure

area that links us with the EU and our partners,” she said. While delivering his own speech, Jens Stoltenberg announced he will be coming to Georgia in March. “I’m looking forward to it. I know that Georgia is a beautiful and hospitable country. I will discuss our partnership with the Georgian government and political leaders. I will also attend a NATO-Georgia training. Our message is that our mutual partnership is getting stronger. This benefits both NATO and Georgia,” Stoltenberg said. The NATO Secretary General underlined that Georgia, as all sovereign and democratic states, has the right to become integrated into NATO. He repeated that it was upon the alliance members to decide when Georgia joins NATO and that nobody has the right to interfere with the process. “We will never tolerate big nations, for example Russia, attempting to bring others into its sphere of interests,” the NATO Chief said. Stoltenberg underlined that the partnership between the Alliance and Georgia brings more stability and a more secure environment. “I look forward to working with you because Georgia is moving ever closer to NATO membership,” he told the Georgian President. Zurabishvili visited Brussels on January 21-23. It was her first official visit abroad in the rank of President.

Opposition Claims GD Did Not Support ‘Magnitski List’ at PACE Meeting BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgia’s Parliamentary Minority party European Georgia (EG) claims that the members of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party did not support the so called Magnitski List at the meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). PACE adopted the resolution on the Magnitski List, which includes the Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili List created by Georgia. The resolution calls on European countries to impose sanctions against those countries and people who violate human rights, including in the occupied territories of Georgia. The EG party member Sergi Kapanadze demanded an explanation from GD as

to why they did not support the list. He says the only two lawmakers from Georgia who supported the resolution were members of European Georgia, Davit Bakradze and Giorgi Kandelaki. At a special press-conference on Wednesday, Kapanadze said that a serious discussion was underway about the Magnitski List within the format of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. He noted that GD members were not even participating in it. “This is not only about the OtkhozoriaTatunashvili List; this is a resolution which calls on Russia and other occupant countries to ensure the protection of human rights. Yet the Georgian authorities have not even expressed their position,” the opposition MP claims. Kapanadze explains that the Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili List was adopted upon the initiative of European Georgia and with resistance from the ruling party,

but then Parliament went ahead and adopted a resolution. “This List was supported not just by PACE but also by the European Parliament, the parliaments of Ireland and Lithuania, and US Congress. As such, serious questions have arisen about GD and the steps taken by them regarding this issue,” he added. The ruling team rejects the accusations. Tamar Chugoshvili, First Vice-Speaker of Parliament of Georgia, says she supported the resolution on the Magnitski List at the PACE meeting. She said that when the OtkhozoriaTatunashvili List was being added to the Magnitski List, it had two co-authors from the opposition and two from the ruling party. “Three votes were carried out on this resolution, two on changes and one in relation to the resolution itself. I supported all of them but in the last case

Image: European Georgia member Sergi Kapanadze. Source: 1 TV

my name was not seen. Maybe it’s a technical error,” the Vice-Speaker said. The Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili List contains 33 persons convicted or charged

with grave crimes committed against citizens of Georgia in the breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions since the 1990s.

British Speedboat Killer on the Run in Georgia Is Arrested Continued from page 1

Video footage filmed on a mobile phone during the date reveals Brown shouting they were going “so fast.” The boat was over double the 12-knot speed limit. Shepherd decided not to face the consequences by skipping bail before his court appearance in July last year. He notified his lawyers that he would not attend his trial at the Old Bailey in midMay. Despite remaining in telephone contact with Shepard, his lawyers, Tuckers Solicitors, denied knowing of his whereabouts throughout the trial. Police admitted that Shepherd may have fled abroad after he was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence following his trial. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison. The handling of Shepherd’s case has

drawn criticism. Firstly, many are angry that he is able to claim legal aid for his trial. Secondly, the Court of Appeal granted him permission to appeal against the conviction on 19 December 2018. He applied for permission to appeal in August 2018 whilst on the run. Charlotte Brown’s family have been outraged by the slow reaction of the British police. “He’s still on the run, he hasn’t served a day of his sentence and he’s been allowed to still be in communication with his lawyers,” her sister Katie told the BBC before he handed himself in. After records showed Shepherd was in Tbilisi, Georgian police and the British Met Police worked together to bring him to justice. “The Georgian authorities are actively cooperating to identify Jack Shepherd in Georgia and after that to implement relevant legal measures.”

On 23 January shortly before he handed himself into police, Shepherd gave an interview on Rustavi TV. He described the incident as a “tragic accident.” “The boat had faults, but experts invited by my defense established that these faults developed when the boat was removed from the water. Charlotte was driving the boat when the accident happened but unfortunately, this fact was forgotten and the media did not mention it either,” he added. Although his identity has not been officially confirmed, extradition proceedings will begin straightaway. He will begin serving his sentence upon arrival in the UK. Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, Charlotte’s father Graham Brown said “I feel very emotional at the fact that my daughter will get some justice...He’s done the right thing and thank goodness he has handed himself in.”


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY JANUARY 25 - 28, 2019

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Memorandum of Understanding Signed between Anaklia City & the Law Society of England & Wales

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n January 17, Anaklia City signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Law Society of England and Wales, which will become Anaklia City’s strategic partner in developing the legal framework for the Anaklia City and Special Economic Zone projects. The meeting was attended by the founder of Anaklia Development Consortium, Mamuka Khazaradze and the Deputy Vice President of the Law Society of England and Wales, David Greene. The MoU was signed by the CEO of Anaklia City, Ketevan Bochorishvili and Deputy Vice President of the Law Society, David Greene. The Law Society is a professional body that represents over 180,000 solicitors in England and Wales. It exists to represent, promote and support solicitors, so they in turn can help their clients. As an organization, the Law Society works to ensure that no-one is above the law

and to protect everyone's right to have access to justice. It promotes England and Wales as the jurisdiction of choice and the vital role legal services play in our economy. The special economic and legal status of Anaklia is defined by the Constitution of Georgia. The Law Society will be actively involved in the process of establishing a special legal framework for the Anaklia Special Economic Zone. The legal framework of Anaklia City will be based on the best practices of international business in order to be able to provide a fair, transparent and flexible legal environment which will allow companies to make long-term forecasts and enjoy predictability of the legal environment. The Law Society will also be involved in developing Anaklia's corporate governance structure, to ensure a modern and balanced system, providing the ground for the proper and sustainable

development of Anaklia City. “We are actively cooperating with the Law Society and its members, who will be our strategic partner to establish the legal environment for Anaklia's Special Economic Zone project,” Bochorishvili said. “Our legal framework will be based on the best international practices and ensure the needed attractiveness to encourage multinational companies to select Anaklia. We will also work with them to develop the legislation that will attract various large multinational companies working in both industrial and service industries. Indeed, there is an

important role in this process for Anaklia Port and maritime legislation to drive the industry development.” “We are delighted to have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Georgia’s Anaklia City JSC and to help develop the special economic zone and disputes resolution center based on English common law,” Green said. “The Law Society of England and Wales is committing to sharing best practices in English common law with our Georgian colleagues and working together to protect and strengthen the independence of the legal profession and rule of law

in Georgia. Our members are international in their outlook and this project will provide an opportunity for our members to work alongside their Georgian colleagues in the best interests of their clients.” The Law Society and its members were actively involved in the process of establishment of the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC). They have been actively cooperating with the AIFC Court team and the AIFC is the first to establish a commercial court based on the principles of English Common Law on a territory of the post-Soviet Union.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

JANUARY 25 - 28, 2019

Viktor Erofeyev on his New Book ‘Good Stalin’ & his 2018 Deportation from Georgia ern Russian author writing a book on Georgia and Stalin. So, I think it was some sort of error made by the Ministry.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST VISIT GEORGIA FROM ABKHAZIA AND AVOID THE REPERCUSSIONS?

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eknowned Russian writer Viktor Erofeyev was banned from entering Georgia on November 23. As it was later ascertained, this it was due to the fact that the writer had violated the Law on the Occupied Territories, which presumably refers to his attendance at the Festival "Rendezvous with Russia" held in the de facto Republic of Abkhazia in October 2017. After he visited Abkhazia, Erofeyev published several articles on the state of events in the de-facto state, including a widely-read column in the New York Times, which included a particularly interesting comparison in which he described the situation in Abkhazia as a sort of “Political Darwinism:” “A big fish, Russia, is trying to swallow Georgia, while the smaller fish, Georgia, was trying to swallow Abkhazia,” he said. What he calls Political Darwinism, Georgians call separatism. GEORGIA TODAY spoke with Viktor Erofeyev, whose book ‘Good Stalin’ was recently published in Georgian. “To put things into proper perspective let us start from the very beginning, shall we?” he told us. “German magazine, ‘Mare’ asked me to go to Abkhazia and recount my impressions. This wasn’t an easy decision to make, as I knew that I’d have to enter Abkhazia from the Russian side, thus violating all that is dictated by historical truth and law on the Georgian side. I met various people in Abkhazia: the now deceased President Bagapsh, the historian Lakoba, who had a starkly different perspective on things that transpired in the 1990s and since, foreign peacekeepers and so on. It broadened my perspective on the conflict. Where before I’d seen it all through the painful prism of war between brothers, Georgians and Abkhazians, now I came to

see it from the Abkhazian perspective. Could you call this separatism? Probably. But then again, it’s no different from what we’re seeing in Europe nowadaystake Spain, for example. I wanted to explain this phenomenon [in my article]. I also discovered that there was an option for Abkhazia to choose the European path too, rather than being ever-rooted to Russian influence. And that’s what I wrote about in the New York Times, that even in Abkhazia, not everyone is happy with how things worked out. Russia bosses them around and they aren’t particularly enjoying it. To be frank, I don’t remember the exact arguments, but I did argue for more Western involvement in Abkhazia.”

YOU WROTE “THE WEST SHOULDN’T MAKE AN OUTCAST OF ABKHAZIA,” WHICH, I THINK YOU’LL

AGREE, IS CONTRARY TO THE NON-RECOGNITION POLICY THAT BOTH GEORGIA AND THE WEST FAVOR. You know, the issue here is that the longer Abkhazia remains in isolation, the more likely it is to be swallowed by Russia, and trust me, Moscow is not one to turn down a slice of pie this delicious. That was the leitmotif of my article.

YOUR ABKHAZIAN VOYAGES MIGHT HAVE COST YOU ENTRY INTO GEORGIA. WERE YOU GIVEN EXACT REASONS FOR YOUR DEPORTATION LAST NOVEMBER? Not exactly. However, I must say that the people who were performing the procedure were civil and friendly, even if they couldn’t explain the reason I wasn’t being allowed to enter the country. They showed genuine compassion

for my trouble. To be honest, up until the very last moment, I expected a phone call to come in from the Ministry or somewhere and reverse the decision. But it didn’t work out and we, me and my friends, had no time to make calls and try to somehow settle the matter.

THE OFFICIAL STATEMENT SAYS THAT YOU WEREN’T ALLOWED TO ENTER BECAUSE OF YOUR EARLIER VISITS TO ABKHAZIA. And this is illogical, because I was in Abkhazia before May 2018, the month I visited Georgia without any problems whatsoever. I had been to Abkhazia three times, but all those visits were before May, and if I was allowed to enter Georgia in May, then what was the justification for their refusal to let me do so in November? The border guards were surprised when they found out my book was about Georgia. It’s not every day you get a mod-

The first two visits took place in 2011-12, and back then I didn’t really know I was supposed to do it from the Georgian border. That was my political foolishness. In 2017, I did know, but it was just for one evening to visit my friends and I flew straight to Sochi. It wasn’t political or anything; however, I understand that from the perspective of the Georgian government, I made a mistake and broke the law. I’m not denying that. In 2017, after two visits to Abkhazia, I was allowed into Georgia, in the company of the famous sculptor Zurab Tsereteli. We were to attend the opening ceremony of the Museum of Contemporary Arts. I didn’t think this law had such a zero-sum approach to it. I think they could also have taken into consideration that I wouldn’t have a full understanding of all this and maybe let me off with a warning or something. I’m not a government official and nor am I a Russian politician. If I made a mistake, I, once again, offer my sincere apologies to the Georgian people, as I would very much like to continue to cooperate with Georgia and the Georgians. The title of my own speech was ‘The Influence of Georgia on my Works’ and I hope this says something about me. I sincerely hope this situation will be resolved somehow and I’ll be able to come back. Ghia Khancheli, the legendary Georgian composer and a great man, called me and said that the government wasn’t right in this case. I respect and love this man and can’t help but think he is right. But, once again, I do not have any claims or pretenses against the government. All I want is to be able to maintain contacts with my Georgian friends and to publish my books in Georgian.

Georgian PM & President of Azerbaijan Discuss Joint Projects BY AMY JONES

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n 22 January, Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze met with Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan to discuss projects of strategic importance between the two countries. The meeting was held within the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. The pair discussed bilateral relations,

including economic ties, strategic partnership, and joint transport and infrastructure projects. They spoke of Georgian and Azerbaijani potential of receiving cargo shipment from Central Asia. In addition, the two leaders discussed the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline project and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia David Zalkaliani also attended the meeting. “Georgia and Azerbaijan have a com-

Photo source: Government of Georgia

mon vision concerning strategic issues. We are involved in joint transport and

infrastructural projects which carry geopolitical importance taking the cur-

rent situation on the world into account,” stated Zalkaliani following the meeting.

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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY JANUARY 25 - 28, 2019

The Case for Georgian Woman in Syria & Iraq

Image source: The Clarion Project

BY AMY JONES

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ince the beginning of the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts, tens of Georgian citizens have traveled to Syria to participate. However, there has been little discussion about the involvement of women in said conflicts. On 23 January, the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (Rondeli Foundation) held a public discussion in Tbilisi on women from Georgia in the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts to highlight the important issue. Research by Aleksandre Kvakhadze, a research fellow at the Rondeli Foundation, found that 17 Georgian women were located in Syria or Iraq, 12 of whom are ethnic Kists from the Pankisi Gorge region to the south of Tusheti. A further four were Azerbaijani from the Kakheti and Kvemo Kartli regions and one woman was an ethnic Georgian who converted to Islam. No women from Adjara, the area with Georgia’s highest Muslim population, are known to have traveled to Syria or Iraq. What exactly motivated the women to head to the conflict? With an average age of 26 and at least a high school education, the question of motivation is extremely significant. Mia Bloom, professor and author, believes the main factors are revenge, redemption, relationship, respect and rape, rather than radicalization. Many women travel to conflict zones for marriage and family relationships. Indeed, respondents interviewed by the Rondeli Foundation in Pankisi Gorge explained that financial support was an important motivational factor. Another respondent noted that many secondary school girls had romantic feelings or empathy for those fighting in Syria when the conflict was more active. Escape from domestic abuse is also thought to be a reason for some of the women. Ideological indoctrination nonetheless played a

key role in inspiring women from Georgia to move to Iraq or Syria. Irada Garibova and Ana Suleimanova from Karalja village in Eastern Georgia left their husbands and traveled to Syria as their husbands were not religious. Their husbands were “more concerned about their businesses than the jihad,” reads the report. Nonetheless, the vast majority of Caucasian women captured after the loss of territories and withdrawal of jihadi groups had followed their spouses to the region. In accordance with sharia law, women were excluded from fighting and decision-making processes. Instead, they were confined to their homes and charged with caring for the household. Many women lived isolated lives void from communication, with total dependence on fighters. Aside from Diana Ramazanova from Dagestan, who detonated a suicide bomb in a police station in Istanbul, Caucasian women were not reported to have participated in hostilities. As IS has lost its territories, the future of Georgian women in Syria and Iraq is uncertain. Having lost their husbands or protectors, the women are extremely vulnerable. 19 Russian-speaking women were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Iraqi court after being captured. It is likely that this includes women from the Caucasus. In addition, one woman from Georgia was sentenced in Iraq, along with her children. The future of these women is unclear. The leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has organized the return of some North Caucasian women from Syria and Iraq, whilst women returning to Dagistan were arrested upon their return. It is also thought that some women are avoiding returning to Georgia fearing the risk of arrest. Given their minimal involvement in the brutalities of conflict and their vulnerable positions, perhaps rehabilitation would be more effective than imprisonment. Perhaps by telling their stories, the women could even prevent others from following the same path.

Donald Tusk: “EU-Georgia Partnership is Outstanding” BY AMY JONES

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n 22 January, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili met with EU President Donald Tusk as part of her trip to Brussels. Tusk spoke of the strong relationship between Georgia

and the EU. In an official statement released after their meeting, Tusk announced that the “EU-Georgia partnership is outstanding and far-reaching.” He mentions the successful introduction of the visa-free regime in 2017, which has allowed over 300,000 Georgians to travel visa-free to the EU so far. He also underlines the strong trade partnership between Georgia and the EU. Zurabishvili and Tusk discussed the Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia during their meeting. “The agreement has brought significant benefits to our citizens and has the potential to strengthen further Georgia's social, economic, political and institutional resilience,” reads Tusk’s statement. In addition, Tusk re-affirms the EU’s support

Photo source: Twitter

towards the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. Tweeting about the meeting, Zurabishvili said, “Outstanding meeting with @eucopresident Donald Tusk, who stood, once again, for Georgia’s #sovereignty and #TerritorialIntegrity. #Georgia and the #EU are great partners. I look forward to working together to enhance our #partnership during my term.” Donald Tusk will visit Georgia in July 2019, when the 2019 Batumi Conference celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership.

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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

JANUARY 25 - 28, 2019

WEF 2019 & the Strategic Outlook of Eurasia BY AMY JONES

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n January 23, Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze participated in discussions on the strategic outlook of Eurasia at the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos, Switzerland. The discussion ‘Eurasia in a new global context’ focused on economic prospects in the region. The Prime Minister participated in the discussion with the vice chairman of SUN Group, a Dean and Professor from the School of International Relations, the Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Integration, and the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). During the talk, Bakhtadze underlined the regional importance of Georgia due to its location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. “We regard ourselves as a bridge from Europe to Asia,” he said. “Our historical roots are European and our outlook is European. But at the same time, Georgia is located at a crossroads of civilizations. We would like to facilitate trade between Asia and Europe, between China and the European Union. Georgia is the only country in the region that has a free trade agreement with both the EU and China.” Thanks to its location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Georgia has excellent potential to become a transportation and logistics hub in the region. Bakhtadze

Image source: Mamuka Bakhtadze Twitter

mentioned the construction of the Anaklia Deep Sea Port to help Central Asia trade with the rest of the world. This month, the EU pledged a EUR 233 mln investment for the project, which is set for completion in 2020. When speaking of Georgia’s relations

with the West, Bakhtadze underlined the country’s commitment to join the European Union and become a full member of NATO. In addition, he discussed Georgia’s relationship with the US and its importance for security and the economy in Georgia. “The United States is our

strategic partner,” he said, “US-Georgia relations are on an all-time high level.” Despite the economic potential of the region and the strengthening of Georgia’s relationship with the West, stability remains an issue. “Russia is taking aggressive steps against Georgia,” said Bakh-

tadze, “our answer to this most painful challenge is of course consolidation of our democracy and the rapid and sustainable development of our economy.” For this reason, Georgia is looking to join NATO to improve stability and predictability in the region, thus making the country more attractive to investors. The Prime Minister sees predictability and stability as key factors to unlocking the high economic value of the region. However, Vali Nasr, a Dean and Professor at the School of International Relations, highlighted the uncertainty of Georgia’s accession into the EU and NATO. “There are a lot of things up in the air,” he said, going on to state three of those reasons: First, he questions the appetite of the EU to move eastwards given its current circumstances. Secondly, Russian occupation in Ukraine, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia has shown the West’s reluctance to deeply involve themselves with Russia. Finally, he mentions Turkey’s role in the region. Although Turkey was once moving closer to NATO and Europe, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan now spends more time in Moscow than in any other European city. It is unclear how Turkey would react were Georgia to join the EU and NATO. Despite potential tensions in the region, the discussions underlined the huge potential there. By developing its infrastructure, diversifying its economy and improving its stability, Georgia could become a successful transport and business hub in the region.

2019: Where to Expect Russian Moves BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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peaking about Russian attempts to increase its influence in Eurasia, suggestions can be made with regards to the next couple of years. There are three traditional (major) vectors of Russian geopolitical influence which the country exercised throughout the centuries: the western front – East Europe, Ukraine, Belarus, Baltic States; South Caucasus; and the Central Asian region. I will start with Russia’s western front. Moscow’s influence over the past 18 or so years has diminished substantially. Ukraine is largely lost and though it is fashionable to talk about how Russia has re-emerged as a major power in the region, proven by the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas (Eastern Ukraine), the point here is that Russia has added yet another antagonistic country to its border. There is little chance that Russia will be able to enhance its position in Ukraine, unless military force is used. However, even then, from the long-term perspective, it will be tougher for Russia to confront Ukrainian military power, a reinvigorated western front (through economic sanctions and diplomatic moves). In the Baltic States, Russians can hope for very little to increase their influence in the region. The NATO/EU umbrella is powerful enough to stop the Russians. In addition, there is also a historical animosity of local populations towards the Russian state which hampers Moscow’s projection of power. Thus it leaves us with the only country – Belarus – which could be susceptible

to Russian geopolitical influence in the coming years. Economically and militarily, the country relies on Russia. This lack of diversification is the source of both stability and instability for Minsk, but a crucial point here is that in Belarus there is room for Russia to increase its influence. This could happen through asking Minsk to station Russia militia on its soil. In the coming months there will be a good excuse for that as the US is likely to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). The US will probably try stationing its high-tech missiles on the European continent, which will make it urgent for Russia to use Belarus and the exclave land of Kaliningrad as forward-defense ground. In the South Caucasus, it seems that Russian influence has certainly reached its limits in Georgia. Simply put, the Russians gained most of what they wanted from Georgia in 2008. There is little chance that any future Georgian governments would turn to Moscow (become pro-Russian) as public backlash will be significant, resulting in major disturbances for any decision-maker. There is also, as I argued in previous issues of GT, little room for a significant political rapprochement between Tbilisi and Moscow. The two might talk to each other on increasing economic activity, or even work on security issues, but larger questions such as Tbilisi turning to Moscow, are difficult to see in the longer-term perspective. In Armenia, too, it is unlikely that there are spheres where Moscow wants to further increase its influence. Russia already possesses huge influence through owning vital infrastructure (railways and pipelines) as well as its own military base in Gyumri. What Russia wants is to keep the existent status quo in Armenia.

Perhaps the only country there Russia hopes to increase its stance is in Azerbaijan, but from the regional perspective any major concession from Baku to Moscow will be contingent upon Azerbaijan gaining further advantage in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. And there lies the complication for Moscow: the more it allows Baku to get back territories around Nagorno-Karabakh, the less, in the longer run, Azerbaijan will be susceptible to Moscow’s influence. Sure, Azerbaijan might accede to joining the Eurasian Economic Union in exchange for Russian support for

Nagorno-Karabakh, but Baku’s alliance of convenience with Moscow will still be short-lived. Azerbaijan is simply too well-positioned (oil revenues and a good geographic position) to be easily influenced by Russia. Thus, from two crucial regions, Russia will likely work hard to attain a bigger stance: in Belarus and Azerbaijan. In a striking comparison with the western border or the South Caucasus, Russia will have a much freer hand in dealing with the Central Asian region. This is the space (consisting of five countries) where the EU/NATO and the US influ-

ence is minimal, to say the least. The only power Moscow will consider as its rival is China, but the two countries have larger geopolitical competitors – namely the US – which they want to constrain in Eurasia. This free space which Russia has in Central Asia is in fact a result of the geopolitical shift which the country has been experiencing over the last decade or so. Simply put, Russia has little room for maneuver in the west, so it is turning to the east, which makes it likely that Russia will increase its military and economic capabilities in the region.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY JANUARY 25 - 28, 2019

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Rekan Group Looks to the Future with Batumi View BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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ekan Group is a group of leading companies specializing in the field of investment and construction. Throughout its existence, Rekan Group has carried out various projects in the tourism and recreation industry, marketing and housing, as well as in the fields of telecommunication and infrastructure, most commonly implemented in Erbil and Iraqi cities. The capital of the Rekan Group reaches a total sum of $500 million. Since its inception in 1997, Rekan Group in reconstruction and investment has been chaired by Engineer Ahmed Ali Aziz Rekani, who also leads the Kurdistan Contractors Association. Over the past 10 years, the company has linked the Group to the implementation of projects of the highest levels of importance. Prior to founding Rekan Group, Mr. Rekani occupied the position of President of the Kurdistan Contracting Union for 10 years. He was rewarded for the Best Enterprise by the Europe Business Assembly in Oxford in December 2013. The first major project of Rekan Group was launched in 2005 in Erbil - the New City Modern Shopping Center, which stretched across an area of 24,000 m2

and comprises the first hypermarket, a complex of motels, a bowling area, fuel station and restaurants. New City became the starting point for commercial projects labelled under the name ‘Mega Mall’ and spread throughout different cities of Iraq. The first Mega Mall opened in 2014. Other significant projects launched by Rekan Group include Kirkuk Mall with a 5-star hotel; the Roj Commercial Towers; and residential complex ‘Greenland,’ on an area of 1250000m2 in Erbil and integrating up to 500 villas and 740 apartments The Group also has a number of other projects in different fields being carried out in other cities inside and outside of Kurdistan, including the Rekan Cement factory in Al – Muthana and the residential projects New Town in Thi Qar and Pel City in Duhok. Rekan Group also constructed the Rekan Hospital in the city of Erbil. On December 25, 2014, the Rekan Group launched its very first overseas investment in the Republic of Georgia. The Group commenced the project as a result of purchasing 15,000 m2 of land in the city of Batumi on the Black Sea coast. Batumi is a major tourist destination and one of the most outstanding ‘jewels’ of Georgia. It is also one of the oldest cities in the country. Batumi View is a major project for the

Rekan Group. Batumi View is a dream project located on the Black Sea coast at the beginning of the 7km-long Boulevard which was built in 1881 and represents one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the city. It has recently been modernized by the establishment of cafes, restaurants, children's parks, benches and sculptures. Batumi View is the first building there, situated only 20m from the sea. Batumi View offers apartments and a 5-star hotel for a luxury life, with incredible views and a great variety of facilities, including shopping areas, restaurants and cafes, entertainment areas for children and a swimming pool and fitness center. The given project guarantees a tranquil environment and comes with 24/7 security, front desk service and a private car parking area. The total land of the Batumi View project consists of 15,000 m2 and is divided into three residential blocks and one hotel. Apartments start at 30m2. By launching the Batumi View project, the Rekan Group aims to to create the highest performance levels for any property under its management, through utilizing the most sophisticated and appropriate practices. This will deliver significant new returns on investment for owners while keeping customers happy in the best traditions of the hospitality industry.


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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

JANUARY 25 - 28, 2019

Enjoy the Healing Waters of the Tskaltubo Balneological Resort

BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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eorgia offers a wide range of incredible destinations and resorts, attracting travelers from all over the world. Some of these places are interesting not only for their location or sightseeing opportunities, but due to their exceptional features. Tskaltubo is one of the most outstanding and rarified Georgian balneological resorts. Dating back to the 12th century, it is renowned for its unique healing waters that have distinctive stable physiochemical traits and belongs to the weak radon, chloric-hydrocarbon-Sulphur, and natrium-calcium-manganese group of waters. The high efficient healing-prophylactic impact of the waters derives from their complex composition and combination of major salty components. The natural temperature of the water

(33-35 degrees C) allows it to be used without preheating, meaning age has no relevance. Biologically active microelements have been discovered in the mineral waters of Tskaltubo, which include: iodine, bromine, manganese, lithium, boron, copper, zin, and strontium. These represent important constituents for maintaining a healthy life. The role of special gases – nitrogen, radon, helium and argon, found in the waters of Tskaltubo, should not be undermined either. In addition, the creation of the Tskaltubo waters is recognized as one of the oldest (100-150 thousand years), in the formation of which contemporary hydro-chemical processes have been involved. Tskaltubo has been welcoming and mesmerizing visitors since 1892 and is well-known for the care the high-qualified team of professionals have been giving to guests. Balneosresort Tskaltubo offers a wide

variety of medical, recovery and relaxation procedures to customers, including: mineral water baths, massage, hydro (udnerwater) massage, under-water horizontal spine stretch, body mudmasks, electrotherapy procedures, hydrocolon therapy, and more. The number 1 and 6 buildings of the JSC Balneoresort Tskaltubo Springs are built right on the mineral waters and come with five healing mineral water pools, 33 individual suite-bathrooms, 17 hydro massage and three horizontal spine stretching suites. The visitors are offered a great variety of treatments for diseases related to the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, central and peripheral nervous systems, gynecological diseases, urological diseases, skin diseases and endocrine diseases. Aside from being used as a treatment for your ills, the healing procedures can also be pleasant and relaxing. And morethe resort is located close to a number of famous Georgian sights, meaning your bathing experience can be just one part of a fabulous stay in Western Georgia. There is also a large recreational park located on the territory of the resort, giving visitors the chance to enjoy some magnificent nature. Balenoresort Tskaltubo offers treatment in radon baths, which guarantees incredibly positive results for a number of illnesses. The periods for the effect to be visible of radon therapy are highly dependent on the form of the disease, the stage it is at and the condition of the organism. Results are usually seen after completing a treatment course and reaches maximum affect after 1.5 - 2 months and lasts from half a year to 1.5 years. The resort provides the following treatment procedures for its customers: 1. Mineral water baths

2. Underwater (hydro) massage 3. Healing pool aerobics 4. Classic healing massage 5. Horizontal spine stretches in mineral water 6. Electrotherapy (physiotherapy) 7. Gynecological irrigation 8. “Charcot” showers

9. “Circular” shower 10. Mechanotherapy in water 11. Peloid therapy 12. Hydro colon therapy, and MORE. Balneoresort Tskaltubo welcomes guests of all ages. The ecommended duration of resort treatment for best effect is between 14-21 days.

Road Rules: Zugdidi, Samegrelo BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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nother sign that Georgia is “on the road” to Europeanizing its standards: periodic vehicle inspection, abandoned in 2004 as a corrupt scam, has come back, much better than before. The idea is to only allow inspectionpassed vehicles on Georgia’s roads. These have been accepted, after official examination of their various parts and systems, as being reasonably roadworthy and safe to operate. My car’s time had come, so I drove the 110 km down to Zugdidi, capital of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, which has the nearest inspection point and the only one in that city. As car number 16 in the line, joining it at midday, I didn’t have much hope of getting the thing done that day. Two hours later, the line hadn’t moved at all, and cars in front of me were abandoning their positions with little expectation of success. I decided to do my shopping run (without which one doesn’t go all the way to Zugdidi in the first place), made arrangements with local friends to stay the night, and drove away, thinking I would leave my insured car at or near the front of the line for tomorrow, a thing which no one else reportedly was willing to do. Working hours: 9 am to 6 pm. Returning with a half-full car near 6 pm, I discovered the line still active, inspections ongoing. Letting them know my intentions and that I had a long road ahead of me in the morning, I also let

slip by my accent if nothing else that I was a foreigner. Where from? Canada. Crazy to choose to live in Svaneti? Undoubtedly, but there it was. The men working there told me that, no fear, not only would they let me in quickly, but they would do it that very evening: long after work was supposed to finish! I was very grateful for this, and indeed, that was how it unfolded. There were, however, two issues outstanding which the inspection turned up: one was a faulty fog light, the other something under the car, which they wrote down for me. I must get this pair of things repaired before they could conclude the inspection. I had a month to do so; if again the car failed, it would be declared unroadworthy. I told them I’d get the issues dealt with tomorrow, as that long road home still awaited me. Off to the local branch of Tegeta Motors the next day, which is in Rukhi, on the road towards Gali and Abkhazia, which I had never before driven. Three hours and 240 GEL later, my repairs made, I returned to the inspection point; passed; finished my shopping; and began the journey home. Unfortunately, as my car is “of a certain age” (from 2008), this 61 GEL procedure must be repeated yearly. Oh well, at least it was out of the way for now. I knew from a careful perusal of weather reports that my trip back into Svaneti would be far snowier than the one out two days earlier. This was indeed the case. I also had my first flat tire since buying the car over two years ago and putting new tires and quite a few thousand km on it. Likely from a stone con-

cealed on the snowy road: rock-falls are a common fact of life in these mountains. There was no bump or jolt, just a new, worsening vibration. And how things went downhill from there that evening is a story for next

week. Stay tuned, readers. 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 www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY JANUARY 25 - 28, 2019

‘Sakartvelos Respublika’ - 100 Years in Print BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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’m not always into the business of Op-ed; I sometimes do the news, and that is a wonderful respite for me because I enjoy the stuff. ‘Sakartvelos Respublika’ translated from Georgian into English, means ‘Republic of Georgia,’ this being the name of a century-old Georgian-language daily newspaper which has served the nation as faithfully, earnestly and competently as was possible through a hundred years of political vicissitudes, economic ills and social tornadoes. The aged paper has hit every possible news-making event or personality that this country has known in the last hundred years, and it is still doing the job with vigor, truth and dedication. Last Thursday, the main conference hall of the National Academy of Science, headed by its executive vice-president Academician Roin Metreveli and the Editor-in-Chief of the celebrated newspaper, Spartak Kobulia, hosted the edition’s centennial jubilee. Present were the patriarchs of national science and journalism who are still in envious creative shape and perfect mood to keep the motherland hearing their precious words of wisdom, among them the famous newspaper’s erstwhile editors Nugzar Popkhadze and Armaz Saneblidze, and of course its perennial presence and patron Guram Gogiashvili. Enthusiastic speeches, analytical efforts, brief comments, deserved laudations, sporadic regrets, slight criticism and hopeful predictions were all in place. The well-spoken floor holders underlined that ‘Sakartvelos Respublika’ had always fought for the purity of the Geor-

gian language which is currently under the threat of relentless contamination with violently introduced barbarisms, stylistic shoddiness and grammatical faults. It was also noted that the weathered paper is a classic example of the printed art, which better than any other comparable edition in the country puts the reader right in the swim of all the most important matters that make up the Republic’s life, and always brings to the surface the topics that nurse the Georgian national ideals, helping our people to maintain their national identity, notwithstanding the storming assault of the overwhelming globalization. It was also emphasized that the paper is financially crippled so badly that it can hardly survive without substantial pecuniary support, which is not readily available at present. The National Academy of Science happens to be one of the rarest donors willing to support the precious publication. Comparison was made with the pre-perestroika ‘good old times’ when the circulation of the paper reached almost one million copies per issue – amazing for just a five-million-strong population at the time! One of the speakers regretfully underlined that the newspaper has a feeble connection with the modern young readership who do not seem to be a ‘reading’ but a ‘watching’ generation, interested not in reading in general but only in using the watchable media of mass communication which makes it easier and quicker to acquire the necessary information. To respond to the dire generic disposition, instigated by financial frustration and an even worse prospect for acquisition of funding, an optimistic voice of hope sounded all of a sudden in the hall: let us create a board of trustees made up of hundreds of sup-

porting members who will protect the future of the beloved paper and find a sure way for its survival. The proposal was heeded and accepted informally, which means that the situation is not completely discouraging. The attention of the audience was caught by the suggestion that concerned the young readership, with the editor of the paper promising to find a way to go straight to the hearts and minds of Georgia’s youth, who are unaware how helpful a source of knowledge ‘Sakartvelos Respublika’ is - and knowledge is the key to success. Nobody knows if this grownup talk will ever reach young ears, but the idea was made clear and stated loudly enough to be heard by all present. Youth is in love with electronic media, but hard-copy usefulness is also corroborated by the continual publication of the greats of the world like the New York Times and Washington Post, and many others like them. No television, no radio and no internet have succeeded in overpowering them. ‘Sakartvelos Respublika’ will share their fate! Incidentally, this jubilee is one of the great national trinity of celebrations, the other two being the 100th birthday of the Tbilisi State University and the centenary of the independent Republic of Georgia. Yes, ‘Sakartvelos Respublika’, the Tbilisi State and the independence of Georgia are peers. Happy birthday to all of them!

Charities to Benefit as Tbilisi Burns Supper Reaches Historic 10th Year BY DONNIE MUNRO

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ow a firmly established highlight on Tbilisi’s social calendar, the Tbilisi Gala Benefit Burns Supper and Ball is to be staged for an historic 10th year at the Funicular Ballroom on February 2. Three charitable causes – Temi Community (caring for a wide range of vulnerable people), Catharsis (helping the homeless elderly by providing hot meals) and Dog Organization Georgia (providing shelter for stray animals along with sterilization, vaccination and adoption programs) - will share the proceeds from an event brimming with culture, and which last year raised over 40,000 GEL. All across the world, from Melbourne to Montreal, Burns Suppers are held on or around January 25, as it was on this day that Scotland’s most famous poet Robert Burns was born in 1759. The Tbilisi version was first initiated by Fiona Coxshall in 2010, and she devotedly organized eight unforgettable editions before leaving Georgia. A committee of various nationalities maintained the tradition last year, staging the ninth edition, and this year we reach the 10-year milestone. A long and memorable night of delicious food, drink, and lively dancing will be relished by hundreds of guests to celebrate the life and works of Burns whose poems and songs have been revered all over the world for centuries. The evening is punctuated by a handful of traditional toasts, among them the Address to a Haggis, which entails the recital of a poem that Burns dedicated

to the (in)famous Scottish delicacy. Various accomplished speakers have been carefully hand-picked to ensure that, despite being a few thousand miles from Burns’ native Scotland, there will be an authentic flavor to the evening. Taking on the role of Master of Ceremonies for a second time is William Dunbar, who quite fittingly shares his name with a renowned Scottish makar poet of the late 15th / early 16th century. This will be the fifth year in a row that Tbilisi’s Burns Supper, of which the main sponsors are AmCham Georgia and PMCG, is being held at the Funicular Ballroom, where head chef Jorge da Silva has again dreamt up a sumptuous gourmet four-course meal to be complemented by sensible quantities of Georgian wine and Scottish single malt whisky. Once suitably nourished, guests are summoned to the dance floor by Nicol McLaren and the Glencraig Band for some Scottish country dancing. Nicol’s

band, which also includes Isobelle Hodgson on piano and Maggie Adamson on the fiddle, fly in all the way from Scotland every year especially for the event. In between the Military Two-Step, Dashing White Sergeant and other wonderfully-named Scottish dances, there will be a live auction (including an album signed and donated specifically for the event by Nina Ananiashvili, Artistic Director of the State Ballet of Georgia and paintings by Maka Gotsiridze and Levan Mosiashvili) and a grand-prize raffle (including generous prizes donated by Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace, Marriott Hotel, Radisson Blu Hotel Batumi, and Hotels & Preference Hualing Tbilisi). Some disco dancing concludes the event, which always runs into “the wee hours” of the morning. *A LIMITED NUMBER OF TICKETS ARE STILL AVAILABLE. Email: burnstbilisi@gmail.com

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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

JANUARY 25 - 28, 2019

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 04 56 January 26, 27 LA TRAVIATA Giuseppe Verdi Music Director of the productionZaza Azmaiparashvili Conductor- Filippo Conti Director- Laurent Gerber (Switzerland/Italy) Scenographer- Massimo Bellando Randone (Italy) Costume Designer- Ester Martin (Spain) Choreographer- Nina Ananiashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 200-300 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. January 25 REZO Animated documentary film Directed by Leo Gabriadze Script: Revaz Gabriadze Genre: Animation, Biography Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL January 25, 26 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 January 25 DON JUAN Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Composer: Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL January 31 IGGI Story By Jemal Karchkhadze Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Music: Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL

CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA 36 Kostava Str. TEL (+995 32) 299 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL January 25-31 GLASS Directed by M. Night Shyamalan Cast: Sarah Paulson, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 19:30, 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Directed by Bryan Singer Cast: Rami Malek, Joseph Mazzello, Mike Myers Genre: Biography, Drama, Music Language: Russian Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 15 GEL MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS Directed by Josie Rourk Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden Genre: Biography, Drama, History Language: Russian Start time: 21:34 Ticket: 15 GEL HOLMES & WATSON Directed by Etan Cohen Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Ralph Fiennes Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Crime Language: Russian Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 15 GEL GREEN BOOK Directed by Peter Farrelly Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini Genre: Biography, Comedy, History Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL SERENITY Directed by Steven Knight Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane Genre: Drama, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

CAVEA GALLERY 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL January 25-31 HOLMES & WATSON (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 14:00 Ticket: 11-15 GEL GLASS (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 16:30, 22:00 Language: Russian Start time: 13:30, 19:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL AQUAMAN Directed by James Wan Cast: Amber Heard, Jason Momoa, Nicole Kidman Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: English Start time: 19:15 Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 16-19 GEL BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 16:15 Ticket: 13-19 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS December 6 – February 28 (2019) WISDOM TRANSFORMED INTO GOLD

IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 298 22 81 November 29 – January 20 Georgian National Museum in the framework of the Project “Contemporary Art Gallery” presents THE SOLO EXHIBITION OF LIA BAGRATIONI A MAD TEA-PARTY MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge December 11 – March 1 Exhibition RED TERROR AND GEORGIAN ARTISTS GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 January 23 – February 24 FELIX VARLAMISHVILI (VARLA) SOLO EXHIBITION On display for the first time, more than 60 artworks of the author kept in the Georgian National Museum and private collections. KHIDI V.Bagrationi Bridge, Right Embankment Every Tuesday, from 15:00-20:00 Until February 20 Multidisciplinary exhibition project IN-BETWEEN CONDITIONS ‘In-between conditions’ displays 18 work contributions expressing cultural impulses affected by political or social forces. WINDOW PROJECT GALLERY 7 Tatishvili Str. TEL (+995) 577 55 35 53 VAKHTANG KOKIASHVILI’S SOLO EXHIBITION SECOND ORDER DÉDICACE GALLERY 27 Atoneli Str. January 29 – February 11 KOTE JINCHARADZE’S EXHIBITION SAND GLASS

MUSIC

SOUNDS OF GEORGIA January 25 SING AND DRINK Mini concerts in the cozy atmosphere of Old Tbilisi, which is a mix of traditional Georgian music, featuring different genres: folklore, a capella, guitar, as well as new Georgian pop and city songs. Start time: 17:00 Tickets: 23 GEL Venue: New Tiflis, 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’ DJ. KAKHIDZE CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE 123a Agmashenebli Ave. January 26 Concert dedicated to the famous Russian composer SERGEI RACHMANINOFF Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra will play his 2nd symphony and 5th concerto for piano and symphony orchestra RHAPSODY ON PAGANINI’S THEME The soloist: Vato Jordania Conductor: Maestro Giorgi Jordania Start time: 19:30 Tickets: 10-30 GEL January 31 SOUNDWAVE Presents: JAY-JAY JOHANSON and KID JESUS Start time: 20:00 Tickets: 40-50 GEL CAFE MZIURI Mziuri Park January 27 SAKVIARO FOR CHILDREN Great fun with invited guests Start time: 12:00-14:00 TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Griboedov Str. January 25 Classical music cognitive program: KEY KEYS LEADER TAMAR LICHEL Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL January 29 Piano Music Evening: ALEXANDER VASADZE In Program: works by Scarlatti, Haydn, Beethoven, Liszt and Prokofiev Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 5 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 January 29 JAM SESSION Every Tuesday Musical art director- Sandro Nikoladze Entry: Free BASSIANI 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. January 25 HOROOM: CLAUDIO PRC NEWA, FRANCOIS X, KVANCHI Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-30 GEL January 26 ZENAARI: STEVE HAUSCHILDT NUM Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL January 26 HOROOM: COSMIC LOVE ROTATION, KRAUMUR Start time: 23:55 Ticket: 10-20 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY JANUARY 25 - 28, 2019

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National Museum of Georgia Hosts Exhibition 'Red Terror & Georgian Artists' BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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he red inscription reads: “This kind of verdict was often heard in the court when innocent people, public figures and artists were executed by the Soviet Regime.” Welcome to the Red Terror exhibition. There are many names of Georgian artists, both contemporary and from the previous century, that are known internationally, yet there are many that have been in the shadows for years, forgotten as a result of Soviet rule. To remember and reintroduce the great representatives of Georgian art of the 1920s-40s, the Georgian National Museum for the first time presents the exhibition ‘Red Terror and Georgian Artists.’ The mass repressions known as the “Red Terror,” a powerful weapon directed towards total control, touched upon all layers and ages of society. The mass repressions hit both Georgian and foreign artists living in Georgia, whose creative and public activities had them standing as the vanguard of the country’s art processes. Great Georgian artists such as Petre Otskheli, Dimitri Shevadnadze and Vakhtang Kotetishvili fell victim to the Soviet rule and were shot for their work. These are artists who stood out for their individuality and courage, and distinct styles and ideas that were not acceptable to the Soviet authorities. Foreign artists who lived and worked in Georgia, Henryk Hryniewski and Richard Sommer, were accused of either counterrevolutionary activities or espionage and were executed like their Georgian counterparts, while Kiril Zdanevich, Ivane Pataridze and Vasily Shukhaev spent years in expatriation. Ria Mikadze and Nino Zaalishvili were charged as “family members of public enemies.” People saw the repressions take everything they had, sometimes even their lives. Those who survived execution

or expatriation were forced to live in conditions of limited freedom of expression and their creative life suffered under Tsarist and later Communist Russia. The exhibition Red Terror and Georgian Artists represents the creativity of the repressed artists and the general atmosphere of 1930-40s Georgian art. “The exhibition incorporates two parts. The first focuses on five artists that experienced the worst pressure and were shot,” Eka Kiknadze, the head of the National Gallery and organizer of the project, told GEORGIA TODAY. “The works of Dimitri Shevardnadze, Petre Otskheli, Vakhtang Kotetishvili, Richard Sommer and Henryk Hryniewski are being exhibited on the first floor. The second part of the display is devoted to Georgian artists of the 1920s-1940s. Through these works, we aim to show how the Soviet regime and its ideology influenced art. The exhibition clearly shows the transformation of the artists, how they worked before and after the severe repressions. The Red Terror was especially painful for the artists who worked in the 1910s and so were able to experience Georgia as an independent country with easy access to Europe, until they were separated from it by the Iron Curtain. When the Bolsheviks came to power, the artists were given the order to portray the Soviet regime in a good way and therefore they were restricted from freely expressing themselves in their artworks. They were forced to lie and create an illusion of the cruel reality,” she added. One highlight of the exhibition is that visitors will be able to discover sculptor Vakhtang Kotetishvili. “He is known to society as a splendid writer, but he is less known as a sculptor,” Kiknadze told us. “His wooden statue of a man on his knees represents a symbol of that epoch and people persecuted and oppressed by the totalitarian rule. We chose his sculpture as the main hero of the exhibition, since whereas all the artists in 1930s were ordered to paint happy Soviet citizens

and countries, Kotetishvili dared to carve a statue of a man on his knees, demonstrating a devastated and unhappy man living in the Soviet Union.” All five artists presented on the first floor are exceptional personalities who contributed to Georgian culture. Dimitri Shevardnadze is the founder of the National Gallery of Georgia, having himself collected almost all the artworks by Niko Pirosmanashvili (Pirosmani). He also actively took part in establishing the Tbilisi Academy of Arts with Henryk Hryniewski. Shevardnadze also founded a program of museum management in Georgia and was both initiator and participant of the cultural life of Georgia in the 1920-30s. Yet another victim and important personality whose bold and cutting-edge artworks are presented at the venue is Petre Otskheli, recognized as a modernist and one of the most progressive artists of his time, not only in Georgia but internationally. “The second part of the display showcases how artists were influenced by the totalitarian regime and shows the contrast between their paintings, before the occupation and after it. This can be clearly seen in famous Georgian artist Elene Akhvlediani’s two works, the first painted in the 1920s in a free manner, where the artist’s style and signature is visible, while the second artwork, named ‘Abastumi Resort’ was made in 1940 on order,” Kiknadze said. “At that time, Soviet censorship approved and supported only naturalist paintings. At the venue, one can see examples of Soviet censorship and the artworks that were criticized or prohibited due to their distinctiveness. At the time, jury members instead of art critiques, representatives of the Communist Workers’ Party, evaluated the paintings not from an artistic or aesthetic point of view but based on how it coincided with Soviet ideology.” The exhibition is on at the GNM on Rustaveli Avenue until March 1.

First Official Georgian Library Opens in New York BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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he National Library of Georgia has officially opened a Georgian library in the Queens Library in New York. The Georgian side started working on this project three years ago. Hundreds of Georgian books, films and audio recordings have been taken to the library and the Delegation of the National Library, Levan Taktakishvili and Maia Simonishvili, led by the Head, Giorgi Kekelidze, went on a special visit to New York (NY) to attend the opening ceremony. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Giorgi Kekelidze about the project. “This is the first official Georgian corner in the US,” he told us. “With the help of my coworker Maia Simonishvili, who is the coordinator of the project, we brought around 100 publications to the library at the first stage, both Georgian

books translated into English as well as original language books.” The library is not intended solely for Georgian emigrants, but for everyone,

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GEORGIA TODAY

EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT:

Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

since Queens Library NYC is an international and very important library. The Georgian corner library within it is set to attract the diaspora as well as Amer-

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Samantha Guthrie, Amy Jones, Thea Morrison, Ana Dumbadze, Ketevan Kvaratskheliya Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

icans who are interested in Georgia, its culture and literature, and who want to discover more. “There is huge interest towards Georgia that is evolving, and this library will serve the needs of book lovers who want to get a deeper insight into our country,” Kekelidze said. “The opening of a Georgian corner is an important occasion, since for quite a long time Georgia was considered part of Russia. Now, those who still think that we belong to Russia will realize that we are different countries with very different cultures and literature.” Kekelidze told us that the NY opening represented the 60th Georgian corner opened in libraries around the world, among them Madrid, Barcelona, Bari, Frankfurt, Munich, Potsdam, Paris, Nice and Istanbul. “Additionally, we are continuing to open new libraries in the regions of Georgia to make books more accessible to the local inhabitants,” the Library Head told us. “To date, we have opened

Website Manager/Editor: Katie Ruth Davies Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

923 new libraries [or book boxes] in the villages of Georgia.” The Georgian delegation also met the Head of the Library of Congress during their time in the US to discuss important issues and possible future collaboration. They reached an agreement to bring a Georgian archive of high importance to Georgia: that of Valeri Chalidze, a wellknown Soviet dissident and human rights activist deprived of his USSR citizenship in 1972 while on a visit to the US, who passed away in 2018. “His archive now belongs to the National Library of Georgia,” Kekelidze informed us. “During Soviet rule in Georgia, his name was associated with anti-Soviet activities and his books were prohibited. Among the works issued by Chalidze are hitherto unpublished materials retrieved from the Trotsky Archive at Harvard University, as well as the memoirs of Trotsky, and Chalidze's own works about the Trotskyite opposition of the 1920s and 1930s and the post-Stalin dissident movement in the USSR.”

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1119  

January 25 - 28, 2019

Issue #1119  

January 25 - 28, 2019

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