Page 1 georgiatoday

Issue no: 805

• DECEMBER 25 - 28, 2015



Georgia steps towards its EU future as Prime Minister Garibashvili steps down

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In this week’s issue... Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Killing Police Officer NEWS PAGE 2

Parliament of Abkhazia Ratifies Military Agreement with Russia POLITICS PAGE 3

Afghanistan to Benefit from BTK Railway BUSINESS PAGE 6

Georgia Accelerating on Her EU Path BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA


he European Commission on December 18th issued a positive report on Georgia’s visa liberalization process, giving a green light to the country that has long aspired to return to her historical family, Europe. The Commission positively assessed the overall achievement of Georgia in terms of carrying out a number of successful reforms in diverse sectors. “The EU-Georgia Visa Dialogue has proved to be an important and particularly effective tool for advancing far-reaching and difficult reforms in the Justice and Home Affairs area and beyond, impacting on areas such as the rule of law and justice reform. Beyond VLAP (Visa Liberalization

Action Plan) benchmarks, Georgia took further steps to reform the Judiciary as well as the Prosecutor’s Office. These issues are monitored in other dialogue frameworks, such as the Association Committee and the Association Council, and will also be monitored in the context of the Association Agenda,” the report states. President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, has welcomed the positive report believing that [it] fully reflects the progress that Georgia has achieved in the last three years. The President stated that a very important process is awaiting the country, which must be crowned by the EU’s political decision on officially opening EU borders for Georgian citizens. The President is confident the government, parliament, political parties and society will remain united in realization of the European choice. Continued on page 2

Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst: Ogden on EU Fever SOCIETY PAGE 8

New Mziuri to Open in Tbilisi SOCIETY PAGE 10

English Language Centre British Corner Celebrates Christmas with Nativity Show CULTURE PAGE 16

Doing Christmas, Georgian Style CULTURE PAGE 19

Delicious Dishes to Delight Food Lovers

Zandukeli Str. 27




DECEMBER 25 - 28, 2015

Georgia’s Prime Minister Resigns BY TAMAR SVANIDZE


eorgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, one of youngest state leaders in the world, resigned after three years of ruling the Georgian government. “Nothing is forever except the Lord and the homeland,” Garibashvili said during his televised speech, which was closed to media. “I was honored to be part of a team which carried out many changes and reforms in favor of the country,” he

said while confirming his resignation. Garibashvili did not name his successor, however local Georgian TV stations released information stating that Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the country’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, will replace Garibashvili following his resignation. There are no clear reasons for the PM’s resignation. Garibashvili presented his government’s three-year Progress Report only two days ago and enjoyed his team’s success on Georgia’s visa liberalization with the EU last week. Garibashvili entered politics with his long-time associate, Georgian tycoon

Georgia Accelerating on Her EU Path Continued from page 1

and former Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, in October, 2012. Garibashvili also served as Minister of Internal Affairs from 2012 to 2013. Ivanishvili named Garibashvili as his successor as Prime Minister when he voluntarily stepped down in November, 2013. At 33 years old, Irakli Garibashvili is the 2nd youngest state leader in the world after Kim Jong-un.

Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Killing Police Officer BY TAMAR SVANIDZE


halva Abuladze, a man found guilty of the murder of a police off icer and the attempted murder of four other police officers, has been sentenced to life in prison. The sentence was given at the court in Akhaltsikhe, Georgia, for the murder of Beka Margishvili and the attempted murder of four others. Shalva Khachapuridze, Abuladze’s lawyer, believes that his client was not given a fair trial.

Khachapuridze told local news agency Interpressnews that the court’s ruling was “a vendetta” and his client is innocent. “There are no other examples of sentencing a person to life for murdering one person,” Khachapuridze said. Shortly after Abuladze’s arrest, it became known that this was not his first time in prison. While serving a seven year sentence for attempted murder and carrying an illegal firearm, he was released by the Pardon Commission in November, 2013. Abuladze was arrested on April 10th, 2015 for the murder of Police Officer Beka Margishvili during a special police

Shalva Abuladze, a man found guilty of the murder of a police officer and the attempted murder of four other police officers, has been sentenced to life in prison. Photo: InterPressNews

operation in Borjomi, following a weeklong manhunt. At first, he pleaded guilty, but later withdrew his testimony, stating he had been pressured into pleading guilty.

Following the European Commission’s report, Georgia’s Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili, held a special press conference for media representatives. “Today, the dream of many of my fellow citizens and ancestors has come true,” the PM said, going on to name the day as historic for Georgia. “Today is a historic day for our country and its citizens. We have stepped forward on our way to European Integration, which will largely determine our future with the European family,” he said. “Today we have enough reason to celebrate,” Janos Herman, the Head of the EU Delegation to Georgia stated at a special press-conference. “For us, the EU Delegation, it is a great honor to be involved in this process. All EU member countries will also be happy and share this feeling. We all congratulate everyone who participated in this important success,” Herman stated. He said, “given the experience of Moldova, the period that lasted from the progress report to the introduction of visa liberalization lasted 4-5 months. However, there might be a considerable difference between the countries,” the EU Ambassador added. He emphasized that the European Commission will continue to monitor how Georgia performs the commitments under the Action Plan on Visa Liberalization. The Catholicos Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II said Georgia should not think not what Europe will bring, but also what [we] can offer Europe. The Patriarch also confirmed that Georgia has taken a big step toward Europe. “This is a great achievement, a great celebration for all the people, including the Church.” The Washington Post released an article following the ‘big news’ for Georgia stating that western orientation is prevailing in Georgia.

“Last Friday, after years of diplomatic wrangling over the course of two administrations, the Republic of Georgia received a report from the European Union allowing its citizens visa-free travel within the European Union sometime soon. Nevertheless, some news media earlier this year suggested that Georgia was turning toward Russia rather than the EU,” the WP says. The article says, since its independence in 1991, Georgia has favored Europe overwhelmingly. “Polling has found levels of support for the EU that Brussels could only dream of elsewhere in Europe, and serious ongoing problems between Georgia and Russia would naturally strengthen those pro-Europe leanings.” According to WP, politicians need to talk to the public about why a EuroAtlantic orientation is important for Georgia, if that’s what they really want for the country. Otherwise, it could start shifting north again. That said, it hasn’t, yet,” the article concludes. Paul Stronski, representative of the Carnegie Peace Foundation’s Eurasian Program, sees Georgia as a worthy partner of the US and Europe, deserving of a loosening of visa regulations. “I hope that after some time, and it will take a longer time of course, a visa-free regime will be introduced with the United States, too,” Stronski told the Georgian bureau of Voice of America. Georgia’s European path has long been countered by the Russian side that has occupied one fifth of Georgia’s sovereign territory, widely utilizing her soft power, information propaganda as well as other means, to hinder the country’s steady shift from the Russian influence. Despite Russia’s continuous efforts to make Georgia reverse from her EuroAtlantic course, the principle of “more Europe in Georgia and more Georgia in Europe” is gaining greater and greater value.



New Year, New Prime Minister OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


week before the New Year and the country is left without a prime minister or government. As former Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili returns home, the cabinet has moved to working in temporary mode. The process of cleaning up the staff in the government that started at the beginning of this year has come to its logical conclusion. Like his team members, Premier Garibashvili has also left his post. Everything now lays in the hands of the parliamentary majority and the question is, who will stay and who will be sent home of the 86 MPs of the Georgian Dream? Members of Garibashvili’s executive government started to leave their positions at the end of January and this process has continued throughout the year. They did so of their own free will. The Minister of Internal Affairs was the first to go, and the Ministers of Infrastructure and Environmental Protection followed. This was followed by other unexpected “go home”-s from high-ranking officials from the government and the party. Political experts evaluated these “go home” decisions as a way of “punishing” Garibashvili from ex-premier Bidzina Ivanishvili’s side. The same experts also claimed that this was only the beginning and

that the prime minister himself would become obliged to pen his own resignation. As it turned out, the day Garibashvili announced his decision through live streaming to the country, was December 23rd. According to the Guria News agency, this announcement, as well as the date, was agreed with Bidzina Ivanishvili in advance, though Garibashvili had made some alterations to it and was announced two days earlier than ‘planned.’ “The ceremony of presention of the new prime minister by Garibashvili was already planned- it is to be the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giorgi Kvirikashvili. However, Kvirikashvili’s mother passed away and the funeral was scheduled December 24th. Garibashvili’s farewell should have been announced on December 25th.” According to the information by the same agency, the development of events was accelerated after the spreading of information that premier Garibashvili was advocating electing Judge Levan Murusidze as a permanent judge. However, expert Gia Khukhashvili explained Garibashvili’s unexpected leave otherwise. As Khukhashvili announced during live streaming on TV Imedi, Garibashvili’s decision has left many questions and, by taking this step, he has put his team into an awkward position. “What is happening today, is ultimately very good for Irakli Garibashvili. It is hard to carry a greater burden than one is able to. Every day we witnessed that this load was too heavy for him and society did

not have a feeling that this was a person capable of making his own decisions. He was unable to become a leader. Not because he was unwilling to, he tried, he worked a lot, but the burden was greater than his resources. Freeing himself from it is truly a thing to congratulate him on and I do not see anything tragic in this,” Khukhashvili declared. One of the leaders of a newly emerged political union, Pavle Kublashvili, doubted the sincerity of the premier’s decision. According to Kublashvili, Irakli Garibashvili’s departure was accompanied by many a mystery. “Our prime minister left really astonishingly- after numerous postponements of his briefing, and without paying farewell to journalists. Garibashvili did not make this decision, all decisions that were connected to him – being Minister of Internal Affairs, being Prime Minister... these were made by Bidzina Ivanishvili. This is why, in reality, nothing will change in the country,” Kublashvili said. According to the Constitution, the parliamentary majority should present the candidate for the post of new prime minister to the President within 7 days. The President has already officially assigned the former government to work in the mode of Acting Government. How long the old cabinet will have to stay in this role is unknown if the majority cannot agree on who the new PM will be. Which would keep the old cabinet in its ‘Acting’ mode right up until the end of spring.


Parliament of Abkhazia Ratifies Military Agreement with Russia



ccupied Abkhazia’s local media reported that the de facto parliament of Abkhazia has ratified the so-called agreement with Russia concerning the issue of a united army. The report claims Parliamentary Head Daur Arshba stated that the unification of the armies primarily aims at providing security. According to the report, 26 MPs voted in favor of the agreement, while one voted against and two refrained from voting. Ratification of the agreement is also planned at the Russian Parliament, Duma. The document, describing the creation of a united army, was signed on Novem-

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ber 26th by Russian and Abkhazian Defense Ministries. Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned a military deal between Russia and the breakaway region of Abkhazia. The Georgian Foreign Ministry called upon the international community to assess Russia’s illegal step and to take the appropriate measures in order to prevent further escalation of the fragile security situation in the region.




DECEMBER 25 - 28, 2015

Russia’s Visa Facilitation with Georgia a Poisoned Apple for Georgians?

Some claim Russia’s endeavor solely pertains to tempting Georgians with a poisoned apple. Source:



ussia’s Foreign Ministry has announced visa-facilitation with Georgia following the EU’s decision to waive visas for citizens of Georgia on December 18th.

On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry (MFA) announced that from December 23 a visa-regime will be facilitated for Georgian citizens. The statement published said that for business, working, educational or humanitarian purposes in Russia, multiple entrance visas will be granted. The Russian MFA says Russia is committed to encouraging the maintenance

of relations between citizens of the two states, which may in the future be reflected in introducing rules for visafree travel. The Georgian PM’s Special Envoy in relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, stated that simplification of the visa regime for Georgians is the right step for Russia to take and will solve problems that many Georgians face. “It has been very hard to receive Russian visas [in the past]. The simplification will solve many problems for our citizens. The interests of our compatriots living in Russia as well as Georgian businessmen and ordinary citizens also need be taken into account,” Abashidze declared. Before the announcement, Abashidze told reporters, “we have been trying to lift our relationship with Russia from a deep impasse, and small signs of it indeed exist.” The issue of visa-facilitation for citizens of Georgia was raised amid the process of granting Georgian citizens a visa-free regime for Schengen countries, when Russian President Vladimir Putin at a regular press-conference stated that the Russian side is ready to facilitate or waive visas for Georgian citizens. “Georgia’s former adventurist government should carry the historic blame for the country’s break-up. Russia did not initiate the degradation of RussianGeorgian relations,” Vladimir Putin

Georgian and Russian Passports. Source:

went on to say. Georgian ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili has responded to Putin’s statement, citing “as always, Putin remembered me. Vladimir Vladimirovich cannot forget me. He does not like what I do in Ukraine and I understand him. He has told so many lies about me that he will soon need surgery to prevent his nose from growing,’ Saakashvili wrote. Meanwhile, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has called the Russian President’s statement about cancelling the visa regime to Georgia the right one. PM Garibashvili stated that the Georgian side is ready to continue its pragmatic course with Russia. “The Georgian government cancelled the visa regime for Russian citizens in 2011. We have also allowed Russians to stay in Georgia longer this year, as we are interested in attracting more tourists from Russia and for contacts between people to be simplified,” the PM stated. Leader of Democratic Movement Nino Burjanadze, who is widely considered as pro-Russian, declared Putin’s statement was no surprise at all as the Russian government had informed her about its readiness several months ago. When she returned from Russia in June, she announced the Russian government’s consent on simplifying the visa regime for Georgian citizens and on

launching serious talks regarding abolishment of the regime.

ANALYSIS: Visa-facilitation by Russia is perceived dissimilarly within Georgian expert and professional circles. Some claim Russia’s endeavor solely pertains to tempting Georgians with a poisoned apple. Likewise, the majority of pro-westerners in Georgia consider the Russian decision a meek diplomatic trick to gaining the favor of the Georgian people prior to the 2016 parliamentary elections. At this crossroad, Georgia has nearly entered the pre-electoral campaign, where expectedly pro-western and pro-Russian parties will have a nontrivial battle to gain seats in Parliament. Looking at the latest opinion polls by various US organizations in Georgia, despite extensive Russian propaganda in the country, western supporters face no decline. That said, a number of studies have pointed to the need for increased communication with the public for the Georgian government to elucidate the benefits of the EU integration. Meanwhile, Georgia remains a strategic location in the region for the west, in terms of Europe’s energy security, new trade routes via the newly inaugurated Silk Road Project and stability in the region.



Afghanistan to Benefit from BTK Railway BY TAMAR SVANIDZE


fghanistan could use the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) regional transport hub to ship its cargo. “Afghanistan can benefit from the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars regional transport hub in the future,” Azerbaijani political analyst and professor of Western University, Fikret Sadikhov told Azerbaijan based Trend news

agency on December 20th. According to Trend, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan have close trade and economic relations and plan to implement various projects in transport and logistics. Afghanistan’s embassy in Azerbaijan announced Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai’s visit to Baku on December 22nd. Sadikhov noted that this is not the first meeting of Azerbaijani and Afghan officials, the presidents of the two countries met at various international


DECEMBER 25 - 28, 2015

Afghanistan could use the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) regional transport hub to ship its cargo. © Sputnik/ Igor Mikhalev

events and discussed the intensive bilateral relations in various fields. During the meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov, as part of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister, Salahuddin Rabbani, said that Azerbaijan’s political, social and economic development model is an interesting example for Afghanistan, and this undoubtedly makes the two states closer and satisfies their interests. The BTK railway was constructed as

a result of the Georgian-AzerbaijaniTurkish Intergovernmental Agreement. The State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ), is financing the project in accordance with the Azerbaijani president’s decree on the implementation of the BTK project activities, dated February 21st, 2007. SOFAZ has allocated two loans, totalling $775 million for the construction of the Georgian section. A new 105 kilometer stretch of railroad is currently under construction as part of the project. The Akhalkalaki-

Marabda-Tbilisi section is also being restored, increasing its capacity to 15 million metric tons of cargo per year. A depot is under construction in Akhalkalaki, to transfer trains from the existing Georgian railway to the new European tracks. According to the report, the peak capacity of the corridor will be 17 million metric tons of cargo per year. “In the initial stage, this figure will be equal to one million passengers and 6.5 million metric tons of cargo.” the report states.

New Year Food Fair to Support Georgian Farmers BY TAMAR SVANIDZE


o support smallholder farmers’ access to local markets, a globally renowned aid and development charity organization, Oxfam, is to organize a pre-New Year food fair in Tbilisi. The fair will take place at numerous locations around the city, such as Bukia Gardens on Pekini Avenue, near the Technical University subway station, on the 26th and 27th of December, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The food fair is a perfect opportunity for people to find diverse, high quality, healthy products produced by smallholder Georgian farmers. During the event, Oxfam and the Biological Farming Association Elkana will present the findings of their study on Food Security and Nutrition. According to the organization, the recent data revealed 70% of the Georgian population suffers from food insecurity and fears the situation will worsen in the future. “Sadly, 50% of the income of the Georgian population is spent on buying food. Moreover, a considerable number of the population have no access to locally

The food fair is a perfect opportunity for people to find diverse, high quality, healthy products produced by smallholder Georgian farmers. Source:

10 Galaktion Street

produced, diversified, healthy products. As a result, there are certain alarming trends developing, especially among the low-income population,” the Oxfam press release said. As result of the findings of this study, smallholder farmers and ordinary citizens are calling on the government to adopt a food security policy which will support smallholder farmers’ access to the local market, in order to empower them to provide high quality products in higher quantities to the local population. The pre-New Year food fair is one of the activities supported by the European Commission funded project, Improving Regional Food Security through National Strategies and Smallholder Production in the South Caucasus, which was launched in 2013. Central to the project is assisting the Georgian government to develop and implement a strategy on food security, which will guarantee the right of every citizen to have access to healthy and high quality food. “By participating in the pre-New Year food fair, people can demonstrate their support for the development of smallholder farmers and the increase in local agricultural production. All attendees will be provided with solidarity pins,” organizers said.

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Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst: Ogden on EU Fever OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN


nless you live in a cave, under Tbilisi Sea or in Gldani, you’ll have noticed that the European Union has given a positive evaluation over Georgia’s visa liberalization prospects for 2016. Monuments nationwide have been illuminated in the blue and gold of the European super-state, and people are sharing the news as though they are already sat sipping a pretentious coffee on the Champs-Élysées after spending their lifesavings in shops that even Saudi princes and American tycoons avoid for fear of bankruptcy. Wonderful news for Georgia though this is, I can still foresee a few problems (though to be honest, with a cynical mind like mine, I’d find something to complain about in Paradise). Though Georgia is

my adopted homeland and I think highly of its inhabitants (by which I mean neither like nor dislike them any more than the English or the French), Georgians can be very impulsive, reactionary and passionate, and sometimes fail to grasp the full implications of a given situation. For example, when Bidzina Ivanishvili, billionaire extraordinary and amateur weekend-politician, became the Prime Minister of Georgia, people seemed to think that they too would suddenly become extravagantly wealthy, a hope that was dashed hours after his election. In the same way, visa liberalization does not mean that many Georgians will suddenly all be given jobs at the Paris office of Vogue, sitting on the edge of a desk and addressing Cara Delivigne as ‘baby’. The current immigration crisis is also unlikely to help Georgians who are hoping to relocate to Europe, since jobs will most likely be given to people fleeing the wars of the Middle East who have


DECEMBER 25 - 28, 2015

Wonderful news for Georgia though this is, I can still foresee a few problems… Source:

lost everything, as opposed to Georgians whose country is becoming increasingly stable. Besides which, since country and culture go incredibly deep with Georgians, most of those who do emigrate usually find themselves pining to return sooner or later. Another issue which springs to mind is that nobody (and I include Georgians along with foreigners) has any idea what Europe is. The phrase ‘European culture’ is something I often hear from the lips of Georgians and Americans, and it means absolutely nothing. I am, according to some, a European; I don’t class myself as anything of the kind, Britain being an island separated from the continent (though I don’t even think of myself as British; angry Welshmen and dour Scotsmen have little in common with me, bouncy tigger that I am). Georgians who want to live in Europe should have a clear understanding of where they want to live and what they do there (and

many do, of course, but I’ve met many more who don’t; if I had a Lari for every time I’ve heard ‘I want to live in Germany/America/Britain because it’s better,’ I’d be as rich as Bidzina…I might even run for office). Of course, for many people all visaliberalization will do is make it easier to on holiday. Fair enough, I say, and good luck to ‘em. But it’s the size and variety within the European Union that makes it such a cumbersome beast (just look at the immigration crisis and see how nobody can agree on anything). Like a lot of Georgians, I’m getting tired of the promises of the EU and NATO, with meaningless words and phrases like ‘bilateral partnership’, ‘deepening cooperation’ and ‘positive

evaluations’ doing nothing but raising expectations. It is possible (though hopefully not likely) that the same might happen with Georgia’s visa-liberalization; after years of false promises from the West, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if somebody somewhere along the line, due to Russian pressure or backlash from the migrant crisis, delays or even aborts Georgia’s visa-liberalization. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.




Breathe Deep: If You Want Change, You Have to Fight For It BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


t is always a good idea to put the spotlight on local problems, like air pollution and road regulation problems, especially when Tbilisians are spending a lot of their time stuck in traffic these days. Even individual citizens have been motivated to take up the fight to make changes for the better. One such individual is Ukrainian-born Daria Kholodina, who now holds Georgian citizenship and, as a citizen, genuinely cares about the local environment enough to act. On December 23, Kholodina brought together local green initiatives, NGOs and active citizens at ‘Tbilisi’s Way Out of Pollution and Hibernation’ meeting to talk about traffic problems, urbanization, nature protection, air pollution, recycling and the environment.

“I am really in love with Georgia but to be honest there are some major problems and the longer I live here, the more problems I see. However, I want to live here and I want to create a better environment for future generations,” Kholodina told Georgia Today. “I discovered various organizations and NGOs who are fighting against this injustice, and the idea came up to organize an open platform where they could get to know each other, discuss the situation in the country, talk about their projects and maybe create some new ones,” she added. Georgian Young Greens, Guerrilla Gardening Tbilisi, Green Gift, Friendly Roads, City Institute Georgia and other NGOs are occupied in different fields but it turned out that the sphere of their interests are crossed and related: with the ultimate aim of bettering Tbilisi’s environment. Yet another large evening jam in Tbilisi encouraged the audience to open their

meeting with the issue of traffic problems. Despite the fact that today it is also a hot topic for the Government of Georgia, there is still a lot to be done. “The decision to ban the registration of righthand cars in Georgia is a great initiate because today it creates many dangerous situations on the road,” said Gela Kvashilava, Member of Advisory Board at Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport. “There is no other country in the world which has both left and right-hand cars. It is like having two national currencies- ridiculous!” Another issue high on the list of dislikes is the trucks travelling through the capital; too large for the narrow streets and often old and producing heavy pollution. Bicycle lanes are on the wish lists of many meeting participants. Representatives of Guerrilla Gardening Tbilisi said that one bicycle line would be constructed in 2016, though this is far from enough

to satisfy the growing number of cyclists in Tbilisi. “It is a myth that moving by bicycle in the city is impossible due to Tbilisi’s landscape,” said Mamuka Salukvadze, the Director-General of City Institute Georgia. “But it is true that today it is really dangerous to travel by bike- and that’s why we are working on a plan for Tbilisi’s urbanization on which bikeways will be a definite feature.” City Institute Georgia is a GermanGeorgian organization which recently won the Government’s tender to create a Master Plan for Tbilisi’s urbanization. According to Salukvadze, the Master Plan will raise new building construction issues, especially in the old city; the creation of alternative transport like trams, which can function not only in Tbilisi but also connect important surrounding towns, for example, Rustavi-Tbilisi-Mtskheta; and much more. The first results of work on the Master Plan will be officially pre-

sented in January 2016. Salukvadze believes that the Plan will not only be able to liberate the city from the large number of transport means, but also improve the environment. Nevertheless, city improvement projects always require the active involvement of citizens. “I used to work in Tbilisi City Hall,” he said. “It was quite challenging to deliver my message to the heads, which is why we need a greater force outsideactive citizens who want to protect their city.” There is a lot to fight for. It was recently reported that the controversial Budapest Hotel construction in Vake Park has been approved and is to start on December 27. Guerrilla Gardening Tbilisi, who has fought alongside active citizens for three years to prevent the construction and preserve the park, will gather once again at Vake Park on December 27 at 3pm to protect one of the main green areas in Tbilisi. Fancy joining them?




DECEMBER 25 - 28, 2015

New Mziuri to Open in Tbilisi BY MERI TALIASHVILI


rom spring, Tbilisi will be added to by a new look social café in the heart of Mziuri Park, down off Chavchavadze Avenue in Vake, where everyone will be able to spend their spare time in a positive and friendly setting. The project New Mziuri has inspired many, from the government and private sector to ordinary citizens. The idea was inspired by well-known photographer Anna Goguadze, creator of the Sun Festival and winner of numerous important awards, among them the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for “Gender Equality Support in Georgia”. Georgia Today spoke to her about her timely new project.

ANNA, AT WHAT PHASE IS YOUR PROJECT NEW MZIURI? As you know, the first sponsor of the project is TBC Bank. Simultaneously, we are carrying out negotiations with various organizations and getting ready for the New Year. On December 13th, a new campaign ‘My Gift to Mziuri’ was launched on our Facebook page whereby we published a list of the equipment we need for our social café. Everyone is welcome to take part and support it. We hope many will get involved and make New Year gifts to Mziuri. For instance, in our café we will have random cups, spoons, and plates of those who donate them, so

that even in one cup they will see themselves at our café.

WHAT STEPS ARE MOST IMPORTANT TOWARDS FULFILLING THE PLANS OF THE PROJECT? We think we have already got past the most vital phases to grab the interest and inspire the involvement of the public. Tbilisi City Hall made a positive resolution towards our project. I’m happy TBC Bank became our first financial supporter. What’s more essential now is to follow the plan in order to completely finance the project and start reconstruction works on the café by the end of February. We want to create a venue by spring that can serve as a place for everyone and at which a variety of entertainment and educational events can be held throughout the year. Mziuri has always had this potential. Our society really lacks these sorts of spaces. I believe that is the project proves sucessfully, we’ll be able to bring part Nodar Dumbadze’s dream Children’s Town to life.

share on board to help create the space Mziuri project aims for.

HOW DO YOU ENVISION YOUR DREAM MZIURI? Our dream Mziuri is well-groomed and green, boasting good infrastructure. This is a place in the center of the city where I can be far away from city noise, relax, have fun and spend a good time with friends, listen to tasteful music, see artworks of modern artists, attend different kinds of events – a place where everyone finds their own Mziuri regardless of their interests, field and capability. My dream Mziuri resembles that of my favorite writer Nodar Dumbadze.

WHY IS THE PUBLIC SO SUPPORTIVE AND SENSITIVE TOWARDS THE PROJECT? Our society is constantly looking for leaders; those who work to resolve the problems the city faces. Society itself should be involved in the creation of a space where they plan to live. Nobody will come and do it for us (other than parks and greening). In any case, civil

responsibility is essential. We build the city. Fortunately, many support our project. In the framework of social responsibility, I hope companies will take their

IS THERE A MOCK-UP OF NEW MZIURI, IF SO, WHERE CAN WE SEE IT? We have started working on two visual models Tbilisi City Hall submitted to

us. On December 20th we publicly showed how its amphitheater and café building will be after construction works.

ANNA, WHO ELSE IS INVOLVED IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROJECT? THE MAIN TEAM. Together with my friends, we have held Sun Festival at Mziuri since 2006. Since establishing it, a group of volunteers have been working and most of them have become my close friends. The same principle works for New Mziuri. Everyone is eligible to work with us. At this moment, I’m working along with my friends, though new volunteers are coming.

ACCORDING TO THE PLAN, WHEN DOES THE PROJECT END? We would very much like to complete construction works by the end of March and let New Mziuri shine from April!



New Electronic Management Service to Improve Education System


Carolina Herrera Launches New Fragrance for Men: CH Men PrivĂŠ


UNDP Head in Georgia, Niels Scott: The new educational service will advance the quality of the current educational reforms

National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement (NCEQE) with the help of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Georgia and the Government of Sweden. The new portal of information management will come into full operation when the current educational records are digitalized and education system staff re-trained. According to UNDP Head in Georgia, Niels Scott, the new educational service will advance the quality of the current educational reforms and benefit thousands of students and teachers in Georgia. “The most important thing is to implement it properly; the information that will be put into the system must be checked carefully for accuracy,� Project Manager Sandro Shelia told Georgia Today.



new electronic service for the education system is a project of unprecedented importance that will begin operating from 2016. The system will improve educational information management and will hold the digital records, such as diplomas and certificates, of 73 higher education institutions, 2,334 schools, 92 professional colleges and 150,000 students in Georgia. It will improve the information exchange process between educational institutions and increase access to education records. The system has been set up by the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia through the Education Management Information System (EMIS) and

inding great Christmas gifts in this busy gift-giving season can be a unique challenge. And whether you’re just starting shopping for the special people in your life, we’ve got you covered with great gift idea. Ici Paris Carolina Herrera has recently launched CH Men PrivĂŠ, a new fragrance with warm and spicy undertones. The CH Men PrivĂŠ man has irresistible charm and he knows how to make an immediate impression. This exotic and stylish spicy oriental fragrance for men has a blend of top notes of bergamot and grapefruit. “With sensuality and an evocative allure, the world of CH Men PrivĂŠ forms an unmistakable duo. Classic and timeless, yet modern and intoxicating at the same time, the fragrance defines elegance, luxury and passion. A seduction on every level.â€? Sumptuous, elegant and slightly daring, the allure of CH Men PrivÊ’s luxurious note of whiskey and leather is unmissable. Initial notes of fresh and zesty citrus in the form of grapefruit are punctuated by hints of frozen lavender, cardamom, sage and red thyme. Finally, the scent of benzoin and the elusive tonka bean prevail. Like the CH PrivĂŠ man, it is timeless yet modern with a masculine allure impossible to resist. Combining elegance and sophistication has made CH Men PrivĂŠ designer fragrance the perfect gift for Christmas and New Year. CH Men PrivĂŠ is now available in Georgia at Ici Paris stores in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Toilette.

Invitation to Participate in the Sales Procedures Announced by the Embassy of the Republic of France in Georgia on the Sale of 3933 sq/m Land Plot Located in the Center of Tbilisi

),567(8523($167</( $3$570(176,1327, GORGASALI STR. 36

Total are - 110 m2 Balcony - 6 m2 (Agmashenebeli Street view) Balcony - 9 m2 (Sea view) Bedroom - 20 m2 Living room - 21 m2 Kitchen - 20 m2 Hall - 10m2 Bathroom - 5 m2





Total area - 53 m2 Balcony - 6m2 Bedroom - 14 m2 Living room and kitchen - 24 m2 Hall - 4 m2 Bathroom Ba B athro rooom m - 5m 5m 2

The Embassy of the Republic of France in Georgia has announced a Sales Procedures on the sale of land plot located adjacent to the Rustaveli Avenue at 4 Khazina St., Tbilisi, Georgia. The land plot has the following characteristics: cadastral code â&#x20AC;&#x201C;; total area of the land plot - 3933 sq/m. The land plot qualifies as type 2 recreational zone with the following coefficients: K1= [0,2], K2=[undefined] and K3=[Undefined]. Please, take into account that the Sales Procedures n will be conducted in accordance with the Rules for Submission of Offers available on the web-page of the Embassy:, or by e-mail request at The interested Parties shall submit their Expression of Interest in a form and to the addressee(s) envisaged in the Rules for Submission of Offers. In case of additional questions, please, contact [the consul or hes representative] at the following e-mail [] or call at [(00 995 32) 272 14 90] from Monday to Friday from 9:30 AM till 12:30 PM. The Expression of Interest shall be submitted to the Contact Person indicated above no later than 15th of October 2015.




DECEMBER 25 - 28, 2015

Georgia isn’t ready for a wholesale switch to the Summerhill way of educating its children

Summerhill Shocker: Svaneti BY TONY HANMER


ow that the water situation seems to have stabilized (and here I don’t mean frozen; it’s running inside the house, even ran all last night!), I’ll move on to other subjects for now... My wife and I recently watched a four-part British TV miniseries from 2008 which was of particu-

lar interest to us as teachers, and it’s become a hot topic for discussion between us, slowly spreading to the schools where we work as well. It was called “Summerhill”, and was about Summerhill School in the UK, which dates its founding to nearly a century ago, in 1921. Wikipedia describes it here: The school is made to fit the child, not vice versa, and is run democratically—every child has a voice, equal to that of everyone else, adults included. They make their own rules. Crazy thing

is, it seems to work: how else could such a place have existed at all for nearly a century? The show detailed the arrival of an inspection team from OFSTED, the UK’s Office for Standards in Education, in 1999. Their secret purpose was to have it shut down as soon as possible, due to official dislike of the immense amount of freedom accorded the pupils and a strong doubt over the possibility of Summerhill’s producing properly educated young adults as its norm. The school challenged the intended move in court, won, and continues to function today. Internet and marketing guru Seth Godin has written a book, available for free download, called “Stop Stealing Dreams”. In it he also espouses the educational philosophy of schools like Summerhill, and claims that the Western world’s educational system, made to deal best with the needs of the Industrial Revolution, has run its course and badly needs to be superseded by a more modern model. After all, why bother to learn anything by heart nowadays when you can just Google it? If that sounds superficial, there’s much to it than that. Basically: Help a child find its passion, then get out of the way when you realize that a juggernaut has been released! I write now (soon to have completed five unbroken years of weekly GT articles) because I have read from the time that I first could, my early school years in Rhodesia, fanatically, and started writing soon after that as well. So in this way I can really relate to this educational idea. I was blessed not to have TV in the house in those years, so blessed; by the time we got it, in Canada when I was 10, it was “too late”. The damage was done: I would be a

reader and a writer for life. Part of me, though, also clings to the opposing idea that children don’t know everything that’s best for them, though they might know more than we give them credit for. That they really do need our guidance, and sometimes our discipline, or to be “forced” into good patterns, morally and otherwise, which at the time seem repugnant, unnecessary or otherwise wholly negative. These patterns then become part of the maturing process, the growth into adulthood. This isn’t just from the Christian upbringing which was my childhood—”Train up a child in the way he/she should go, and when older he/she will not depart from it”. Which may sound like an awfully brainwashing thing to do, in today’s world. So in me, too, the debate rages on. I realize that Georgia isn’t ready for a wholesale switch to the Summerhill way of educating its children; nor am I even convinced that Summerhill, as it exists, is the only or the best way to go. But I suppose that as a westerner I’m possibly much more open to aspects of this model than Georgians might be; a large minority of them still think that in Stalin they got what they deserved, for example, and still think that a strongly authoritative leader is needed here, now. I’ll let you know how this wraps up; speaking of which, Merry Christmas, western dates! Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1250 members, at He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

Summerhill School, a school made to fit the child and run democratically—every child has a voice, equal to that of everyone else, adults included




Georgian Students Beat the British at their Own Game! BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


tudents from the St. George’s British-Georgian School gained better results in British examinations than students in England in 2015. The Headmaster, Dr. Christopher Greenfield, told parents and students at the annual certificate award ceremony that students had bettered the results in England by nearly 20%. Students at BGS achieved 100% pass rate in the GCSE and IGCSE (International General Certificate of Education) examinations. Of these passes, 88% were high grades. In England students only achieved 69% high grade passes in the GCSE examinations in 2015. “In my 30 years of leading schools,

including two schools in UK, these results equal the best my students have ever achieved. And all BGS students are Georgian, studying in a second language, and also following the Georgian National Curriculum at the same time! The students and teachers involved deserve huge congratulations,” said Dr. Greenfield. Altogether, 18 BGS students were awarded GCSE, IGCSE and A Level (Advanced level) certificates at the ceremony held at school this month. The award of ‘Best in School’ went to Nata Khatiashvili who achieved high grades in all 8 of her IGCSE/ GCSE examinations, of which 5 were top (A*) grades. Dr. Greenfield explained to the students, parents and teachers at the ceremony that success in British examinations depends on more than knowing facts. “Students are required to explain, evalu-

Kouchner Returns to Motivate Georgian Health Care Sector BY KETEVAN DIDEBULIDZE


oard chairperson of Global Alliance, Bernard Kouchner, visited Georgia for the second time this year to share his medical experience. Kouchner met representatives of Georgia’s public sector and medical NGOs.

He welcomed the Georgian government’s great effort and initiative towards developing and strengthening Georgia’s primary health care sector. “Today, primary healthcare is one of the priorities of the Georgian government and the Ministry of Health is actively cooperating with Global Alliance on working out programs. Strengthening primary healthcare is the most vital aspect.”

Nata Khatiashvili receives “Best in School” certificate at the St George’s British Georgian School Certificate award ceremony

ate and apply knowledge. They are required to use analytical skills and critical thinking, especially at Advanced level. The teachers who helped students achieve these impressive results also deserve our thanks and congratulations,” he said. St. George’s British-Georgian School students sit British examinations prepared by the Edexcel (Pearson) Board. This is one of four boards accredited by the UK Govern-

ment to set examinations in England. The GCSE examination (the General Certificate of Secondary Education) is usually taken by British students at the age of 16. The IGCSE is the international version of the GCSE. Advanced Level examinations are usually taken in two stages at ages of 17 and 18. They are used by British universities for their entry requirements. They are taken in two parts. AS examinations are

part one, and A2 examinations are part two. The examinations are recognised throughout the world, and accepted by most universities as reliable evidence of educational achievement. All Edexcel examination papers are written by educational experts in UK, and also assessed by experts in UK. The system ensures the standards and integrity of the examinations.

Kouchner said that those international recommendations provided by Global Alliance are very important but mentioned that the involvement of Georgian experts in the process is no less vital and that recommendations need to be adapted to Georgia, with the country eventually adopting a plan to increase the motivation of primary health care doctors. Bernard Kouchner held his meetings at the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) with representatives of the Ministry of Health and doctors. Director of the NCDC, Amiran Gamkrelidze, also attended the meeting and made some comments in this regard.

“We are trying to implement primary health care reform for the third time. The first conception was worked out in the 90s which was the adoption of the United Kingdom’s model. The second attempt was in 2002-2003, when The World Bank initiated a reform. The main thing now is that we must implement this reform more successfully that previous ones.” Gamkrelidze commented on Bernard Kouchner’s visit and said that his remarks and recommendations are very important but that further development in part depends on increased financing- Georgia needs minimum 5% of GDP to reach its goals.




DECEMBER 25 - 28, 2015

Christmas Gift to Children in Need BY MAKA LOMADZE


stra Park hosted a very nice occasion on December 22. Charity and kindness are at last becoming fashionable in Georgia. Undoubtedly, Georgians cherish children. Iavnana Foundation is another bright example of that. For years, it has been in the service of helping children in need. This time, on the cusp of the New Year’ s celebration, multi-children families with social needs were treated to a festive feast, as well as to the wide variety of entertainment Astra Park offers. Forty five children aged from two years to young teenagers had a chance to watch 7D super-modern film screening, as well as participate in different games and dance-along karaoke. The New Year’s disposition was added to by Santa Claus and animators. The Iavnana foundation has existed since 2004. Its main goal is to save the future generation, organize high-class

gala concerts and events in Georgia and abroad, and help children deprived of parental care to improve their social conditions, as well as assist talented children in their future studies and motivation. Its founder is Paata Burchuladze, world-renowned opera bass singer, who in 2006 was made the UN Ambassador of Good Will, while in 2010, was awarded the same title by UNICEF. “I want to extend special thanks to Astra Park. It is a pity that we can color only one day for these kids who are here for the first time,” Burchuladze, a great singer and philanthropist, said. “It is already a good tradition of our foundation to hold such activities for kids during the pre-Christmas period. Astra Park is our partner in this positive undertaking. We have a database and choose children from it, sent from the social agency under the Ministry of Health and Labor Protection. This data is constantly updated,” Teo Jorbenadze, Artistic Director of Iavnana, told Georgia Today. Iavnana Foundation was represented together with its friends. Giorgi Bakhutashvili, actor, was one of them:

Enjoying Christmas at Astra Park, Tbilisi

“It was the children’s New Year’s wish to meet me and came with pleasure. I believe that such activities should become more and more frequent. It must not be a matter of showing off in front of the cameras. We should worry about these children’s future even more so as there is a great number of socially unprotected kids,” Giorgi told us.

These children, at least for a day, had smiling and happy faces. Vitali Kalutski, a 12-year-old boy, was one of them: “I have done karting, driven a motorbike, a jeep, played games and I am really happy,” he said. Natali, 6, shared her impressions: “We danced and sang. I saw Santa Claus and Snow White. When they asked me what

I would like to get for Christmas, I told them I wanted a microphone and a piano. They promised they would do what they could to make my wish come true.” Those who wish to help the children and give to charity, can do so by calling or texting 0-901-30-30-30 or visiting the website




DECEMBER 25 - 28, 2015

A flashback for many of us: Elene Pitskhelauri and Ucha Kirtava, students at British Corner, amongst those performing the Christmas Nativity

English Language Centre British Corner Celebrates Christmas with Nativity Show BY MERI TALIASHVILI


ifty-three students of the language center British Corner participated in a festive performance, the first of its kind in this center, and an acclaimed


9,8 ha non-agricultural, privately owned parcel for industrial use (cadaster code # located next to Tbilisi Airport Address: Airport settlement, Samgori district, Tbilisi Tel: +995 599 529 529

success. “What I have witnessed here today, these amazing children is such an incredible importance,” Nick Wilkes, Lieuten-

ant Colonel and UK Defiance Attaché told Georgia Today. “I have children of my own, already grown up, but we as parents all remember when our children were in such Nativity plays. It is incredible to see children speaking so many languages and also singing in a foreign language. It was a great experience for me to see it.” The evening was also attended by the Deputy Minister of Defense, Ana Dolidze, EU-NATO Information Center Director, Elene Gotsadze, U.S. Embassy Press

Attaché, Daniel Hastings, and British Embassy Representatives. Among the students who participated in the show were the children of soldiers wounded or killed during the 2008 August War or international peacekeeping missions. Thanks were given to the EUNATO Information Center which organized a charity project for the children and awarded them free English Courses for several months. The project was sponsored by the British Embassy to Georgia and the British Corner.

GEM Fest to Bring Electronic/ House Stars dOP to Tbilisi BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


EM Fest is a rapidly developing Georgian events planning board which is assembled with creative professionals dedicated to producing an unforgettable and unique experience: the best entertainment and the happiest days of your life. GEM fest will present its next event – dOP Liive (Circus Company, FR) on January 8th, 2016. The event will take place at Elektrowerk, which is mainly known as SMOG at Elektrowerk events. Elektrowerk is a brand new venue, situated in the building of an old soviet electric motor factory, with an authentic vintage, industrial mood and interior. Elektrowerk is equipped with a premium class sound system. dOP is a French trio widely known for their distinctive take on electronic music. The trio is composed of childhood friends Damien Vandesande, Clément Aichelbaum and Jonathan Illel, who worked together on numerous projects before establishing themselves under the moniker dOP. Following some experimentation with different styles—from hip-hop to rock—they began making waves in the electronic/house circuit with a string of single and EP releases on various labels including their own Circus Company, Milnor Modern, Eklo, Supplement Facts and more. In 2010 they launched their first full length album ‘Greatest Hits’, a tongue-in-cheek title for the thennewcomers, which propelled the trio to even further international acclaim. Through this concept, dOP took electronic music performances to a new level, becoming entertainers on stage in the same fashion as rock n roll musicians and hip hop artists. Since their inception,

they have been prominent figures on the electronic music landscape, securing a spot on Resident Advisor’s Top Live Acts for 2010, 2011 and 2012.

More information about the upcoming event is available on https://goo. gl/732AZH



Litekultur began with T-shirts with the simple message of Jesus’ love: an enterprise that turned out a complete commercial disaster but somehow got into the hands of the Dalai-Lama who was visiting Berlin at the time

Beutekunst, or The Message beyond the Advent Calendar BY LILY FÜRSTENOW-KHOSITASHVILI


ecember is the time for Christmas. And what would Christmas be without expectations, hopes against hopes and Christmas gifts? There’s one more tradition to it, at least in Germany, equally loved by kids and adults: making and getting advent calendars by which I mean a countdown calendar starting December 1st ending December 24th, with the calendar containing a small present behind the door for each day. Art, candies, toys, whatever goes as long as it makes the recipients happy. In the times of Facebook communication, a calendar like that would advantageously take on a virtual form and reach out to more than just close friends; a whole Facebook community. A happy idea realised by a Berlin artist Oliver Rednitz, under the assumed name of Litekultur, turned his FB profile picture into a Christmas calendar poster message changing each day starting December 1st - a profile picture turned into an artwork in progress, a daily message and calendar seriality all in one. Oliver Rednitz is loved not only for his Christmas calendar. The posts, with messages put all over the urban landscape – grey zones of Berlin suburbs and city center - speak of love, friendship and values that anyone would know but wouldn’t care about in the big hectic city. It would sound naïve that in the contemporary merciless world, amidst wars, capitalist exploitations and other evils, one would preach messages of kindness and love. But

a spoken word matters and a written one can be read by many. For those who see, the message is there, captured in a precise form. And a single word can speak volumes, because in the beginning was the Word. Litekultur began with T-shirts that he produced with the simple message spelling out Jesus’ love: an enterprise that turned out to be a complete commercial disaster but somehow got into the hands of the Dalai-Lama who was visiting Berlin at the time. It was then that people started recognising it. In the meantime there are more messages put on colourful posters spelled out in precise words that speak to one, immediately recognisable fonts against ever-changing but visually expressive backgrounds. Precise, short but always memorable, optically standing out, words to be read and messages to be seen, formed from the abstraction of letters. The whole project has a meta level of Beutekunst (art loot) that is related to Richard Wagner’s cycle of “The Ring of the Nibelungs,” where the ring taken from the bottom of the Rhein river: the socalled Rheingold, that stands for the evils of greed and power and costs the legend protagonists their lives until it is put back into the depths of the river. For Litekultur, Beutekunst is the art that is stolen back, rescued from the evils of the world like, for example, public spaces that are being relentlessly privatized, or German mythology that is contaminated with the Nazi past. It is art intended to rescue whoever discovers it. And whoever gets the Beutekunst has to pass it on in the hope that it spreads its message and the cycle comes to an end, just to begin anew. Practice what you preach.





DECEMBER 25 - 28, 2015


Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 December 25 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari December 26 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari December 27 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATRE Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 December 25, 26 CHRISTMAS TALE Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Start time: December 25 - 19:00, December 26 – 15:00, 19:00 Ticket price: From 8 Lari TBILISI NODAR DUMBADZE STATE CENTRAL CHILDREN’S THEATRE Address: 99/1 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 95 39 27

December 19 ROYAL COW Directed by Guram Bregadze Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: From 6 Lari AKHMETELI THEATRE

Address: 8 Vekua Str. December 27, 28, 29 SNOW QUEEN Directed by Lasha Gogniashvili Musical Start time: December 27 - 12:00, 15:00, December 28, 29 – 15:00 Ticket price: 7, 10 Lari


THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave.


Address: 1 Heroes Sq. Telephone: 298 30 35 December 26, 27, 28 “NEW YEAR JOURNEY TO ISLAND LASTA-RIKA” Start time: December 26, 27 - 13:00, 17:00, December 28 – 17:00 Ticket Price: 10, 15, 20, 25 Lari MUSEUM


December 25 – February 10 GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM DIMITRI SHEVARDNADZE NATIONAL GALLERY INVITES YOU TO THE EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO THE 120 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF DISTINGUISHED GEORGIAN MODERNIST ARTIST SHALVA KIKODZE. 300 of Kikodze’s artworks will be shown after 100 years pause, some of which will be showcased for the first time. The exhibition will present paintings, graphic works, illustrations, caricatures of famous artists, sketches, photo materials of a stained-glass window painted by author and a number of documentary materials. Visitors will also have a chance to see Kikodze’s correspondence with other Georgian public figures including Dimitri Shevardnadze, Viktor Nozadze, and Geronti Kikodze. BAIA GALLERY Address: 10 Chardin Str Telephone: 2 75 45 10

December 17-24 LEVAN MARGIANI EXHIBITION EUROPE HOUSE GEORGIA Address: 1 Freedom Sq. Telephone: 2 47 03 11 December 15-January 17 PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS A multimedia project by Tato Akhalkatsishvili FLEA MARKET Address: Mtatsminda Park December 27 CHRISTMAS FLEA MARKET The Tbilisi Flea market is a great place for everyone to find something unique. It gives you a chance to find hidden treasures and oodles of valuable items. Hot gluhwein, warm music, and a New Year’s mood! Time: 12:00 – 18:00 MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 December 25 POTSKHISHVILI NATIONAL BALLET METEKHI Start time: 20:00 December 26 DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHO IS SANTA CLAUS? DO YOU WANT TO MEET BASTI, BUBU AND BABILINA? COME AND SEE BASTI BUBU Start time: 14:00, 19:00 Ticket price: 10-35 Lari

December 27 ENSAMBLE GVIRILA Start time: 14:00, 19:00 Ticket price: 10-35 Lari J. KAKHIDZE MUSIC CENTER Address: 123/125 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 295 01 19 December 25 XVIII INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL “NEW YEAR MUSIC CELEBRATIONS” Chamber Music Concert Boris Berezovsky (piano) Nikita Borisoglebsky (violin) Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 5, 15, 25, 30 Venue: Tbilisi V. Sarajishvili State Conservatory December 26, 27 VAKHTANG KAKHIDZE’S FILM SOUNDTRACKS, MUSIC FOR THEATRE Participants: Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra Soloists: Nato Kakhidze, Neka Sebiskveradze, Maka Zambakhidze, George Sukhitashvili, Goga Meskhi Conductor: Vakhtang Kakhidze Start time: 19:30 Ticket price: From 10 Lari Venue: V. Kakhidze Music Centre December 27 XVIII INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL “NEW YEAR MUSIC CELEBRATIONS” Debut - Laureate of International Piano Competitions Luka Okros (piano) Start time: 19:00 Ticket Price: 5, 8, 12, 15 Lari Venue: Tbilisi V. Sarajishvili State Conservatory




Doing Christmas, Georgian Style BY TAMAR SVANIDZE


he long-awaited winter holidays in Georgia, New Year and Christmas, are just around the corner. Georgians love to celebrate their holidays in a noisy way with big traditional supras (feasts), which includes an unlimited amount of dishes, snacks and drinks. People in Georgia have a special talent to turn any holiday celebration into a feast, involving all family members and friends. This unusual style of holiday celebration attracts tourists from around the world to pack up and head to Georgia to share the very unique holiday spirit. The celebration of the winter holidays in Georgia lasts for around two weeks and has a unique Georgian spirit. While the western world celebrates Christmas before the New Year, on December 25, in Georgia it is done in reverse; first the Georgians celebrate New Year, on January 1st as the West, then Bedoba (the day of luck) on January 2, and following that

comes Christmas, in the style of the Orthodox world which celebrates the birth of the lord on January 7. Then comes Old New Year on January 14. We advise you to allow adequate time for your winter break, though, since your hosts will probably not let you leave the table until you have tried all the dishes and drunk all the wine offered. In short, the feasting alone takes up a lot of time! And the feasting is but a small part of what makes a Georgian Christmas. Alongside the well-known Christmas (Fir) Tree, Georgians also have their own traditional decoration, made from nut wood twigs with long white fluffy shavings, called a Chichilaki. The curly shavings, which the master removes moving upwards from the bottom, are called basila, in honor of St. Vasily’s beard, the patron saint of animals and harbinger of new happiness. Chichilaki are usually decorated with an assortment of fruits, berries and flowers as offerings to heaven for a bountiful harvest. Georgians believe that this white Christmas Tree will bring



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Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

luck and a good year for their families. Once the Christmas holidays are over, people burn their trees on the day before the Georgian Orthodox Epiphany, on January 19, believing that the previous year’s misfortunes go up in smoke with the tree. The chain of celebrations usually kicks off on New Year’s Eve, with the festive table laden to breaking point with the most delicious homemade food, beautifully and richly presented, an abundance of various fruits, freshly picked vegetables, nuts and homemade sweets. Satsivi, a thick paste made from walnuts and served cold (‘Tsivi’ means ‘cold’ in Georgian) with chicken or turkey in it, and Gozinaki, a traditional Georgian confection made of caramelized nuts fried in honey, are two musthaves of the New Year. Homemade wine, warm cheers for the upcoming year and the famous polyphonic singing will make this holiday joyful and unforgettable. Following New Year, on January 2, Georgian’s celebrate Bedoba, a day of luck. The Mekvle is the main person of the day. He or she is the first guest ‘with

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Tamar Svanidze, Zviad Adzinbaia, Beqa Kirtava, Meri Taliashvili, Eka Karsaulidze, Zaza Jgharkava, Ana Lomtadze, Maka Bibilashvili, Nina Ioseliani, Tatia Megeneishvili, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Nino Japarashvili, Maka Lomadze

happy feet’ to arrive at the house in the New Year, symbolically bringing in joy and prosperity. The Mekvle is welcomed with a basket of delicacies in exchange for the candies s/he brings to the family to make the upcoming year sweet. The guest is usually either selected in advance from a circle of close friends or the role is taken on by a family member who leaves the room and reappears again, bringing happiness and joy. Christmas is the most honoured and loved holiday for Georgians. Traditionally, on the eve of Christmas, which is marked on January 7, most believers head to church at midnight to meet Christmas. After returning from church, Georgians light candles inside their homes and sit down to celebrate with more delicacies, as for many Georgians the birth of Christ symbolizes the end of the fasting period which lasts for 40 days. At the close of Christmas day, Georgians bake a special Christmas pie, with eggs and cheese inside. In the morning, all citizens of Tbilisi wait for the festive Alilo procession in

Photographer: Zviad Nikolaishvili Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

which clergymen pass along the streets of the city carrying icons, crosses and flags and praising the birth of Christ in song. Children dressed in white usually lead the procession, symbolizing angels on foot. As the ceremony proceeds, the participants collect donations and gifts to be given to orphanages and people in need. And the final accord of the long lasting holiday celebration is Old New Year, which, as paradoxical as it may sound, finally concludes the winter celebrations. This holiday, celebrated on January 14, marks the New Year according to the old Julian calendar, as opposed to the Gregorian one which the world officially celebrates in modern days. It is a tradition observed by the majority of Georgians, many of whom do not even take the Christmas tree down before this date. The Old New Year is celebrated in a similar way to the regular New Year: with a festive table, an abundance of wine, and bringing together joyful and friendly people to start the year as they mean it to go on.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #805  

Dec. 25 - 28, 2015

Issue #805  

Dec. 25 - 28, 2015