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Issue no: 1171

• JULY 26 - 29, 2019 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

In this week’s issue...

FOCUS

Study Shows Lack of Transparency in Georgia’s Wrestling Federation

ON TBC & ANAKLIA A look at how the Prosecutor's Office may be changing Georgia's fate

PRICE: GEL 2.50

NEWS PAGE 2

PAGE 6,8

6 Reasons Why Boris is Bad News for Britain NEWS PAGE 3

Russian Journalist Alexei Romanov on the Latest Shifts in Russian-Georgian Relations POLITICS PAGE 4

TBC & US Embassy Release Statements on Charges against Company Co-Founders POLITICS PAGE 6

Russians Thinking About Constitutional Changes? POLITICS PAGE 7

Minister: Number of Infrastructure Projects Tripled in 2019 BY THEA MORRISON

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Image source: gov.ge

eorgia’s Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, Maia Tskitishvili, says that the number of infrastructure projects has tripled in the country in 2019. Tskitishvili made the statement at the presentation of the biannual performance report on projects financed and implemented by the ministry. "This year, GEL 400 ($137.8) million will be spent in the regions for the implementation of 6700 projects. The dynamics of such project implementation is much higher compared to last year and three times more money has been spent, which means three times more projects,” she said. She also said that the ministry made 100% use of the budget for half a year, a historic indicator. “This result was preceded by many systematic changes in the Project Management and Performance Monitoring Unit. By the end of the year, we hope to see a better indicator, and next year we have even more ambitious plans,” the Minister said. Continued on page 9

Discover Tbilisi Hills Golf & Residences SOCIETY PAGE 11

Workshop on Gender & Economics in Georgia SOCIETY PAGE 12

Georgia to Host 4th Int’l Print Festival ‘LIFE N STYLE’

CULTURE PAGE 15


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 26 - 29, 2019

Study Shows Lack of Transparency in Georgia’s Wrestling Federation BY THEA MORRISON

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he study of 2015-2018 expenditures and related corruption risks at the National Wrestling Federation of Georgia revealed such findings as inadequate financial documents, conflicts of interest, problems with the disposal of state assets and failure to fulfill official commitments. The report was prepared by the nongovernmental organization Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) with the support of Luminate, a global philanthropic organization. The NGO says that during recent months, the Georgian Wrestling Federation has repeatedly attracted public attention, with both wrestlers and persons working in the field speaking out publicly about alleged misuse of budget funds in the Federation and other forms of mismanagement. The IDFI says their research was mainly made possible based on public information received from the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport. However, the NGO claims the process of research was especially complicated by the fact that the National Wrestling Federation is a non-transparent entity, which ignores

all official requests of the NGO. “The lack of transparency increases the risks of corruption and inappropriate disposal of finances in the National Wrestling Federation,” the organization concluded. The report also reads that the financial reports of the state wrestling program are not aligned with the budget execution reports issued by the Ministry, adding there is significant inconsistency between the amount of funds transferred by the Ministry, the amount spent by the Federation and the amount returned. “The Ministry has not fully disclosed the financial reports of the Wrestling Federation. The latter is obligated to submit these reports to the Ministry. This suggests that either the Ministry does not wish to disclose certain information, or the Federation is failing to comply with its reporting obligations,” the IDFI says. Further, the funds allocated for the administrative team of the National Wrestling Federation are distributed as bonuses based on uncertain procedures which significantly increase the risk of kickbacks. The NGO underlines that the State Audit Office has not carried out an audit of the activities of the National Wrestling Federation, which weakens consistent financial oversight and increases the risk of corruption.

Moreover, inconsistencies found in the financial documentation of the National Wrestling Federation point to serious problems in the management of funds. “The procedures for issuing bonuses to wrestlers or depriving bonuses from those who failed anti-doping tests are not properly regulated, which raises the risk of improper disposal of finances,” the report reads. The survey also revealed that the Federation mainly cooperates with companies that are related to other sports federations, which raises questions about possible behind-the-scenes deals and conflicts of interest. The Georgian Wrestling Federation receives annual funding from the state budget through the state sport program, given in the form of subsidies. In addition, according to a 2014 government decree, the federation receives monetary prizes for showing good results at championships, which are often covered from the government reserve fund. The highest bonus for showing good results in the 2018 European championship in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling was received by the financial advisor: GEL 12,980 ($4.474) out of GEL 63,580 ($21.916) total bonuses issued to the administration staff. Although the bronze winning wrestler at the 2018 European championship was

Image source: Geo Wrestling

stripped of the medal for violation of anti-doping rules, three months later, a bonus of GEL 61,200 ($21096) was still issued to the athlete, his coach, medical and administrative staff for the already stripped medal. In 2015-2018, approximately GEL 30 ($10.34) million was allocated to the National Wrestling Federation from the state sports program, as well as from the Government Reserve Fund. The Federation spent GEL 12,517 ($4314)

on the import of Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling uniforms from abroad, while GEL 8,276 ($2852) was spent on local transportation of the good from the Tbilisi customs zone to the Federation building. The General Administrative Code of Georgia does not directly apply to sports federations. As a result, the Wrestling Federation is not obligated to disclose the requested public information, which reduces its financial transparency.

The Laughter Festival Arranged with Natakhtari Lemonade TRANSLATED BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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Photo: And Then We Danced/Facebook

And Then We Danced Awarded at Odesa Film Festival BY ANA DUMBADZE

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he 2019 Swedish-Georgian drama film 'And Then We Danced,' directed by Levan Akin, and the Ukrainian film 'Homeward,' helmed by Nariman Aliev, shared the Grand Prix at the Odesa International Film Festival, the closing ceremony of which was held on Saturday in the Ukrainian port city. Akin’s film also won the hearts of the International Competition jury, which was comprised of Belgian director Peter Brosens, actress Ivanna Sakhno, director of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Karel Och, actor Barry Ward

and Georgian writer-director-producer Nana Ekvtimishvili, who handed 'And Then We Danced' the Best Film Award as well as the Best Actor Award for the performance by Georgia’s Levan Gelbakhiani. 'And Then We Danced' is the first Georgian film about love between two homosexuals. It was screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and received very positive feedback. The plot tells of Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) who has been training at the National Georgian Ensemble with his partner Mary (Ana Javakishvili). However, when Irakli (Bachi Valishvili) arrives, he becomes both his rival and strongest desire.

sparkling and fizzy mood were enjoyed by all in Mtatsminda Park with Natakhtari Lemonade at the Laughter Festival. Natakhtari Lemonade launched a number of activities to entertain children and their parents throughout the day: a soap bubble show, assembling a giant puzzle, 3D gifs, karaoke, laughter therapy, as well as animators’ and Experimentorium shows and taking polaroid pictures. “We try to add some sparkling and entertainment to the lives of people and to make this day amusing and unforgettable. People came with their families, as we had various fun activities for kids as well as for adults,” notes Keti Zhvania, the Public Relations Manager of Natakhtari. “I think the Laughter Festival brought a lot of fun to our everyday routine.”


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 26 - 29, 2019

6 Reasons Why Boris is Bad News for Britain

Image source – The Telegraph

BY AMY JONES

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n July 23, 92,153 predominantly middle to upper class, right-wing males with an average age of 57 voted for Boris Johnson to become the next Conservative Party leader and therefore Prime Minister of the UK. The result has left many Britons reeling, comparing his election to that of Donald Trump in the USA. But, why do just so many people dislike Johnson and consider him to be bad news for Britain?

HIS RACIST COMMENTS Johnson has regularly been called out for racist comments. Whilst editor of the Spectator in 2008, Johnson was criticized for publishing an article saying: ‘orientals… have larger brains and higher IQ scores. Blacks are at the other end of the pole.’ In 2016, he also referred to Africa as “that country” whilst describing the world as a “less safe, more dangerous and more worrying place’ than it had been a decade previously. More recently, Johnson described women who wear burqas and niqabs as ‘looking like letter boxes’ in his column for the Daily Telegraph. ‘If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber, then ditto,’ he continued, saying he would tell them to remove it.

the eyes of a retired British serviceman. He also referred to a golden statue in the temple as a “very big guinea pig.” This was not the only blunder Boris made during his time in office. In 2017, Johnson stated that Nazanin Zakhari-Ratcliffe, a British citizen detained in Iran, was in the country to train journalists. Following his comments, she was brought in front of an Iranian court and told that her sentence would be doubled.

HIS PERFORMANCE AS MAYOR OF LONDON During his time as the Mayor of London from 2008 to 2009, Johnson left a string of failures in his wake. Knife crime increased, he missed his affordable housing target, closed fire stations, firing 552 firefighters, apprenticeships fell by 100,000 despite his promises to increase them, and his garden bridge project left a £43 million bill. Perhaps the worst blunder of all: he forked out £320,000 on a water cannon which he was banned from using. The Guardian estimated that his ‘vanity projects’ amounted to £940 million of taxpayers’ money.

HIS STANCE ON BREXIT

HIS PERFORMANCE AS FOREIGN SECRETARY

Johnson played a monumental role in the Leave Campaign in the run up to the EU referendum in 2016. He is known for his claims that 80 million Turks will arrive in the UK and that £350 million spent on the EU would instead be spent on the NHS. Now, he has promised the UK a hard Brexit, insisting that the country will leave the EU on October 31, with or without a deal.

The Guardian reported that ministers who observed Johnson’s work as foreign secretary were very critical of his performance in the role due to his ‘laziness, inattention to detail, contempt for relationships, congenital unseriousness and dangerous indiscretion’. In addition, during a trip to Myanmar, the British Ambassador to Myanmar had to stop Johnson midway through his recital of a Rudyard Kipling poem in the country’s most sacred temple which referenced British colonialism in the country through

Johnson’s false claims permeate more than just the Leave Campaign. In the last hustings of the leadership contest, he was berated for his remarks about kippers (a fish). Whilst waving a kipper on stage, he ranted about “pointless, expensive, environmentally damaging” EU regulations imposed by Brussels bureaucracy. However, it was, in fact, the UK government which imposed regulations, not the EU.

HIS FALSE CLAIMS AND FACTS

Euronews to Be Launched in Georgia BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

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eorgia is preparing to welcome yet another international media platform, Euronews. The Memorandum of Cooperation between the international network and the Georgian company Silknet was signed by Michael Peters, Euronews CEO, and George Ramishvili, Chairman of Supervisory Board of Silknet, on July 25. The content of Eurnoews Georgia is to be offered to viewers in the Georgian language and, along with Euronews, is planned to have 20% coverage of the developments taking place in Georgia. It will be presented as a brand new Georgian news television network and digital platform.

Image source: newcaststudio.com

The representation of the Silknet Company states that by signing the Memorandum, Euronews has obtained a reliable partner which is fully taking the responsibility to maintain and strengthen the reputation of the major international media platform. Euronews is to strongly accentuate and ensure the impartiality of the editorial policy, appoint an editor-in-chief of the newly-launched TV channel and bring together an editorial board. The editorial board will be tasked to determine the strategic directions of operation and regulations for balanced broadcasting, fully corresponding with the fundamental values and principles of media, including independence of editorial policy, freedom of expression and impartiality. Launched in 1993, Euronews represents one of the Europe’s leading television news networks, operating in 160 countries in 12 different languages.

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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 26 - 29, 2019

Russian Journalist Alexei Romanov on the Latest Shifts in Russian-Georgian Relations EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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ith the Rustavi 2 case still seemingly hanging by a thread, GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Alexei Romanov, a Russian journalist residing in Georgia, to hear his insights on both the legal aspects and the now infamous anti-Putin monologue delivered by Rustavi 2 anchor Giorgi Gabunia that created so much fuss in his native country.

FIRST OFF, LET’S HEAR YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE RECENT ECHR RULING ON THE RUSTAVI 2 CASE. It was a tremendously important victory for the government and a defeat, both tactical and symbolic, for the opposition. They were demanding the resignation of Gakharia and what they got instead was that Gvaramia, who had been de-factor leader of the political opposition for quite some time, had to go. Whether it’s also a strategic defeat, time will show –we’ll see whether the opposition manages to survive without relying on Rustavi 2 reporting. On the other hand, it’s obvious that Rustavi 2’s days as a staunchly critical opposition television are numbered. Of course, we see promises that the editorial policy won’t be changed and so on, but that’s a simple spin that I don’t think even the naivest people in Georgia will believe.

WHAT WERE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF THE ANTIPUTIN MONOLOGUE FROM THE RUSTAVI 2 TV HOST? As a journalist, I would say that it’s first and foremost unprofessional. It was quite unexpected, as I have known this anchor for quite some time and to see him do that – to alienate even the channel’s core audience to that extent – was quite shocking. I have yet to meet anyone here in Georgia who thinks that what he did was right and sensible. But to be honest, I don’t think it was a spontaneous decision - I think this kind of aggression, rejection, was exactly what they were striving for. I think this reaction, these protests around their office, this outpouring of negativity from Russia, was what they were trying to get, and they succeeded.

AND WHAT WOULD THEY GAIN FROM THAT? I will take a guess. As far as I can be a judge of what’s going on now in Georgia, I think we are at a “make or break” moment; we are witnessing a clash of generations, if you will. On one side, there is more conservative-minded society, not necessarily pro-Russian,

We are witnessing a clash of generations

but one that wouldn’t mind mending some burnt bridges between Georgia and Russia; to find some sort of a working format within the existing confines; something reminiscent of Soviet times, for example. During Saakashvili’s time, such things would have been out of question: you’d have been branded a traitor for even saying it, but the current government that promised the normalization of relations with Russia might not necessarily object to it. Quite the opposite. Of course, they will keep saying they want to get the country into NATO, the EU, that Georgia is Europe, but at the same time, even now, some of the representatives of the current government say that they wouldn’t mind finding a workable solution that would circumvent the frozen diplomatic relations. On the other side, however, we’ve got this new generation, young Georgians, who are now trying to get their heads around a vital question: we, being patriots, have been taught that Georgia’s territories are occupied and Russia is to blame for that – 'are we going to say that’s ok? Who is responsible?' And where, for the older generation, this wound that is Abkhazia and Ossetia has more or less stopped bleeding, they’ve grown used to it, this younger, impetuous lot is not so receptive to that idea: for them the wound is still quite open. And there is a clash between these two camps – One side, I must say, quite a sizeable part of Georgian society, is ready to cooperate with Russia at least in some way, leaving the territorial conflicts out of the equation, while another side, the younger one, is ready and eager to fight for it, to show that they want nothing to do with Russia, that ‘we remember what this country did to ours, and we are ready to fight for that,

SOME OF THE KREMLIN OFFICIALS CLAIMED?

Putin might be playing the Kniaz Vorontsov card other path, that will get Georgia into Europe.’ I think Rustavi 2 has firmly sided with this camp and tried to burn the remaining bridge to make that position a point of no return.

BUT WHY ALIENATE YOUR OWN AUDIENCE, INCLUDING THAT VERY YOUTH, WITH AN OBSCENE MONOLOGUE THAT IN THE END BENEFITTED NO-ONE? WHAT DID THEY GAIN FROM IT? This wasn’t a message meant for Georgians. This was a message to Russia and Russians. Rustavi 2 accepted the risk of aggravating its own audience to get this message across. That’s why it was delivered in Russian. The aim was to enrage the Kremlin, the Russian establishment, those people in Moscow who were actually ready to alter Russian policy on Georgia to a certain extent, to take a more reconciliatory path. This path is no longer accessible. I am aware that there were certain negotiations going on between the Georgian Dream and the Russian authorities, certain commitments, and now all this is gone.

COULD THOSE NEGOTIATIONS HAVE BEEN ABOUT REMOVING THE VISA REGIME FROM THE RUSSIAN SIDE, AS

Yes, there were ongoing talks about that. But that wouldn’t have come as a one-time gesture. If Russia gives something, it always asks something in return. What they would demand for cancelling the visa regime – that’s what we do not know. But it’s quite evident that there were ongoing talks and now they’ve hit a stumbling block.

HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE REACTION OF THE GEORGIAN AUTHORITIES TO WHAT HAPPENED? The statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asking the international community to condemn a journalist from a private channel was, to be frank, ridiculous. What was the message? We cannot do anything about that, so please tell these bad guys off? That isn’t serious.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE REACTION IN RUSSIA? The Russian response was surprisingly understated. I expected a much more severe reaction, some serious measures, but this didn’t happen. Neither Spokesman Peskov, not other speakers, pretty much no decision-making figure in Russia, gave it much credit; on the contrary, they tried to sweep it under the rug, make it look like a minor misunderstanding. Compare it to the Gavrilov incident – there we had a serious, coordinated response from the Kremlin: they were quite angry about what happened. Nobody said that one was nonsense and not worth commenting on.

PUTIN HIMSELF SAID OUT OF RESPECT TO GEORGIAN

PEOPLE, HE DOESN’T SEE A REASON TO INTRODUCE ANY FORM OF SANCTION… SEEMS MIGHTY CHARITABLE FROM A GUY WHO RELISHES EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO TORMENT HIS NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES. Yes, a surprisingly peaceful reaction from Putin himself too. Why? Hard to tell. On the other hand, we need to keep in mind that if they really were at the brink of some major agreement, they might not want to burn the remaining bridges to ashes. Russian authorities literally loathe it when they have to change their calculations because of outside factors. Then again, Putin might be playing the Kniaz Vorontsov card, who during the times of the Tsar, managed to spread Russian influence in Georgia by offering various carrots instead of sticks. Putin knows that trick – he has pulled it off with Chechnya and Kadyrov before, and it’s considered a success. After wrapping up the second Chechen War, the first thing he did was buy the Chechen elite over to his side. I wouldn’t exclude the Kremlin resorting to such a scenario in Georgia as well.

If Russia gives something, it always asks something in return


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 26 - 29, 2019

Private Property vs. Freedom of Speech OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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he ideal case in the interaction between private property and freedom of speech is their unison. I think America is the epitome of that harmony: freedom of speech is one of the greatest achievements of our time and it is firmly and perennially guaranteed to be kept up by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The tricky part of the deal though is that America knows exactly the measures and boundaries of free speech, never shoving it into disagreement with the value, called private property, which is just as important an accomplishment of the civilized part of Mankind. We in Georgia have heard and learnt all that could be perceived about democracy and freedom of speech, but I think we have misconceived the phenomenon of private property. At least, this is the impression one gets based on what we are witnessing in the latest and the bulkiest cause celebre about one of the Georgian TV stations under the name of Rustavi-2. I have lived under the bright skies of

the Free World for many long years and I have personally tasted both the sweetness of freedom of speech and the greatness of private property, garnished with a solid sense of human responsibility for both. Once in America, when I, the soviet citizen, saw for the first time in my entire life a sign saying, ‘No Trespassing’, I was shocked, and I certainly asked the colleague accompanying me what the sign was all about. She smiled at me generously, although a little sarcastically, and gave me an immediate heads-up not to step on the land which belonged to somebody else, or else . . . Yes, in the West in general and in our beloved America in particular, private property is what capitalism firmly stands on and is valued very highly not only as a material but a moral category too. This said, I would like to ask a question: if Rustavi-2 TV station is private property – and it sure is – why should somebody have the temerity to trespass the rights of its owner to do with his private property whatever he desires to, only, within the limits of the jurisdiction of the currently functioning law in the country? Following the final court ruling after the procrastinated legal litigations here in Georgia and there in Europe on the subject of the television’s ownership, the

manager, appointed by the owner of the station, comes to his job to attend to business as usual and all of a sudden is surrounded by the excited staff of that station with a visibly brash attitude, demanding from him guarantees for the safety of their jobs and the intactness of their editorial policy. Question: Why do they have the right to dictate their con-

ditions of work and journalistic behavior to the owner of the company? I understand that freedom of speech is holy and democracy sacred, but how about private property and the freedom of the owner to dispose of his own property at his own discretion? I will never understand the flagrantly dubious declaration of some of the brave

big-mouthed public figures that Rustavi-2 belongs to the people of Georgia. No, it does not! It belongs to the owner of the station. Period! The belonging of a mass medium to people is an egregiously romanticized symbolic socialist liberal stance which has nothing to do with the reality of a purely capitalistic life-style, which we fought for here with all our blood and conscience thirty years ago. Finally, the cherished capitalism is here, and now we want to defy its most significant rule of thumb – respect for private property! I am not diminishing the significance of freedom of speech but at the same time I have no desire to reduce the importance of private property in our lives. Journalists who are impetuous and rash enough to stick their demands right into the sensitive nose of the station’s owner and his manager are certainly the promoters and fulfillers of freedom of speech but they are, in the first place, the hired personnel of the property owner. If I were in his shoes, I would fire anybody without any second thought who dares to say anything against my business intentions, based on my right of ownership. The morale: long live freedom of speech, but my property is what I rely on, and please be generous enough not to touch it!

TBC & US Embassy Release Statements on Charges against Company Co-Founders BY ANA DUMBADZE

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BC Bank Group released a statement Thursday regarding the charges the Georgian Prosecutor General’s Office filed this week against TBC Bank co-founders Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze. “The Board of Trustees of TBC Bank Group is sure that Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze are innocent and looks forward to refuting all disputes against them," reads the statement. It goes on to say that the TBC Bank group (TBC PLC) confirms that on July 24, following the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office move to charge the two co-founders, TBC PLC Chairman Mamuka Khazaradze and Deputy Chairman Badri Japaridze decided to leave their posts. “They made the decision in order that the charges against them would not have any influence on the group's activities and to allow them freedom to continue the dispute,” the members of the TBC Bank group said. In the statement, the Group’s Supervisory Board and Management thanked Khazaradze and Japaridze for their unique role in establishing TBC Bank in the difficult 1990s. Additionally, "for their highly significant contribution to the successful development of the bank and for turning it into one of the largest and most respectable companies in the South Caucasus." "Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze will try to join the Board of Trustees of TBC Bank Group after the accusations against them are refuted. The Supervisory Board has immediately appointed an independent director for

the TBC Bank Group, Nikoloz Enukidze as Chairman of the Supervisory Board," the statement reads. The US Embassy to Georgia expressed concern regarding the context and timing of the charges the Georgian Prosecutor General’s Office filed against TBC Bank co-founders Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze. The Embassy

released a statement about it on Thursday. “We are closely following developments related to the criminal charges the Georgian Prosecutor General’s Office has filed against TBC Bank co-founders Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze. We are concerned about the context and timing of these charges.

"An impartial and transparent legal system that is free of political influence is vital for Georgia’s Western integration and its ability to attract foreign investment. "We continue to support the Anaklia [Deep Sea] Port project, a significant source of US investment in Georgia that has the potential to advance the country’s

economic growth,” the statement reads. On Wednesday, the Prosecutor General's Office of Georgia charged Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze of laundering $16,754.000. “Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze are charged for the laundering of $16,754.000, as a result of which they received a large amount of income,” reads the statement of the Prosecutor General's Office. The Prosecutor General's Office of Georgia launched an investigation into laundering on 2 August 2018. For his part, Khazaradze, who is also the founder of the Anaklia Development Consortium, told journalists on Wednesday that, “everything is directed against the Anaklia Port Project and the government is trying to suspend the construction of the Port". “It’s all a government plan to stop the construction of Anaklia Deep Sea Port. We saw the same kind of attack in January and it caused very serious damage to the bank's shareholders as well as the Anaklia Port Project. "Yesterday, we selected a new general constructor for Anaklia Port [see GT page 8], which suspiciously coincided with one of the minister's statements that there is ‘no progress.’ Today, we heard the Prosecutor’s statement from TV aimed at harming Anaklia Port. If someone thinks that Anaklia is my personal project, they are very wrong. This is the project of our children, the project of our future generations; this is an absolutely new way, and a very important step to Europe,” Khazaradze said before entering the Prosecutor’s Office to hear the charges against him. He also added that he is ready for anything and nobody can intimidate him.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 26 - 29, 2019

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Russians Thinking About Constitutional Changes? BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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ints in the Russian media over the past several weeks suggest that there might be some important constitutional changes ahead. In the long run, that could mean a prolongation of Vladimir Putin’s rule well beyond 2024. For Georgia, for obvious reasons based on difficult relations which exist between Tbilisi and Moscow, it is of utmost importance to watch any developments among the Russian elites, especially as prolongation of Putin’s rule would limit any chances of improvement in bilateral relations into the 2020s. The timing and careful wording of various articles might also suggest that potential changes could touch upon the power of the President of Russia and that of the State Duma. Russia’s Speaker of the Duma recently penned an article to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Russian Constitution. Vyacheslav Volodin, who is often regarded as the mastermind behind many of Russia’s internal policies, discussed the general, even constant, need to change and adapt the Russian constitution to the rising challenges of the present. The idea is nothing new, and it would

Image source: Sputnik / Alamy Stock Photo

not draw attention if not for, at the very end, the proposition made to increase the Duma's powers. The author suggested that it would be better if the organ participates more actively, even plays a major role, in the formation of the Russian government. So far, the Duma only endorses the decision made by the Russian President, but Volodin's tacit prop-

osition could mean the transition from a presidential to parliamentary state, where the Prime Minister, with the Duma, would wield a decisive power. This comes five years ahead of the incumbent Putin's last term as Russian President. The Russian Constitution bars politicians from running for a third consecutive term (Putin first served two

four-year terms, then as PM and then again as President: overall 19 years). Moreover, Volodin's article comes upon half fantastic, half intriguing rumors that in the near future Russia and Belarus will become one state and Putin will be free from the Russian constitutional restrictions as a new constitution will have to be created. All this makes the chances of Putin staying a plausible scenario. Many thought he would not come back in 2012, so 2024 too should not be considered as a definite end to his rule. Since it is very unlikely that Belarus will join Russia of its own volition, the only way for Moscow to have Belarus in a sort of unified state would be militarily. This is fraught with multiple repercussions, from grave economic sanctions from the West to actual military moves by NATO in the Baltics and Poland. Also, Moscow cannot allow there to be yet another theater of military actions when it already has a veritable arc of enemies (Ukraine, Georgia) on its borders. This would mean that a Belarussian scenario for prolonging Putin's rule is unlikely to work. Thus, we are left with Volodin's idea. Overall, it seems that both the “Belarussian” and “Volodin” models are meant to test the waters and ideally to prepare the scene for forthcoming constitutional

changes. The time is ripe to prepare the ground, as any brisk changes just before 2024 would cause large disturbances. Still, even with the right preparation for constitutional changes, large protests are likely to follow. In 2012, Putin’s return caused massive protests in Moscow, while just several days ago, reportedly, tens of thousands protested in Moscow demanding fair elections. Moreover, it will be much tougher for Putin to convince the ruling Russian elites that his presence will be successful. Many counterarguments exist, the most important of which is the decline of the Russian economy. Reform-driven economists want to see radical changes, while the government has already missed an opportune timing. On the foreign policy front, the Kremlin’s failures in Ukraine stand out as most evident for the Russians. Many fundamental questions exist and the Russians, particularly the younger population, are unlikely to follow Putin’s decision to stay in power. Thus, large-scale protests will be seen countrywide. In many ways, the prolongation of Putin’s rule is a conservation of various internal and foreign policy problems which have accumulated since his coming to power in 2000. His leaving the office will open the door for the reconsideration of many policies.

On Ivanishvili’s Latest Promise OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

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ithout the help of the opposition, Georgian Dream won’t be able to execute constitutional changes – said the Vice Speaker of Parliament, Tamar Chugoshvili. And the point is becoming ever more relevant as the political elite becomes ever more doubtful of the promise given by Bidzina Ivanishvili to conduct the 2020 Parliamentary elections using a proportional system. And truly, if the amendment doesn’t take place and the 114 MPs do not vote for it, Ivanishvili’s public statement will be no more valid than his previous statements about a “remarkImage source: Wikipedia

able democracy,” “cutting utility costs in half” and “zero interest loans.” Today, the parliamentary majority is comprised of 110 MPs, uniting all members of the Georgian Dream, while a minority of 20 MPs is from the European Georgia party. The United National Movement fraction has a total of 6 MPs, but the authority of one of them, Nika Melia, has been suspended and depends on the verdict of the court. The same fate was shared by majority MP Zakaria Kutsnashvili. As for the fraction Alliance of Patriots, they have 7 MPs, and there are five more MPs who have left the majority. This makes a total of 148 MPs, and whether Ivanishvili’s promise will be kept or not depends solely on them. The parliamentary minority has openly confirmed its readiness to support the

amendment, as did the UNM, making a total of 26 votes. The five members who left the GD also said they will support the proportional system of elections, and so did the seven Patriots. This makes it 38 guaranteed votes. As such, the abovementioned fears of the Vice Speaker are connected not with the decision of the oppositional parties, but with that of the majority. Quite possibly, Chugoshvili fears it will be hard to gather the 74 votes needed to support the amendment, and this sounds reasonable enough. To clear things up, voting for the initiative would mean a ruling death sentence, hence Georgian Dream will need to lead difficult trade negotiations with the MPs. But what could the topic of the trade be? Whether a guaranteed place in the election list or winning a state tender, it is yet unknown. There

is a chance that the MPs will reject all the offers and in this case, it is hard to imagine how Bidzina’s promise will be carried out. The first meeting of the government and opposition was held in Kakheti against the backdrop of the stated fears and saw the discussion of rules for counting the mandates, with Georgian Dream offering the following scheme: the number of votes that a party gets should be multiplied by 150 and divided by the number of votes that all the parties got altogether, while the remaining mandates should be allocated to parties with better results. Despite the mathematics offered by GD, the fears the opposition voiced are still connected to the Vice Speaker’s statement, showing her doubt of the loyalty of her own party members. Her

words have ignited different visions about the future of Ivanishvili’s promise on conducting the 2020 parliamentary elections proportionally. The most popular idea that has been heard of late is that the government of PM Bakhtadze will be replaced by that of a “technical government,” but following a different scenario, and that the elections of 2020 could be postponed to the autumn of 2021. Postponing the elections would also mean voting for the constitutional amendment. Clearly, this road too leads to the majority and minority of the parliament. Although the GD Chairman categorically rules out the described scenario, the facts still imply otherwise. The fate of Georgia’s future election system lies solely in the hands of the majority’s MPs, and it is they who dictate the conditions.


8

POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 26 - 29, 2019

Lavrov Accuses Western Countries of Attempting to ‘Tear' Georgia from Russia BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

S

ergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has recently made yet another comment on relations with Georgia.

“Our Western colleagues, the USA primarily, are using all means to tear our neighboring states from the Russian Federation,” stated Lavrov in an interview with a Latin American media source and RT TV Channel, adding, “We have never strived to worsen relations with Georgia. The authorities of Mikheil Saakashvili’s government sus-

pended diplomatic ties, attempting to restrict our economic interaction.” The Russian Official noted that there has always been close economic coop-

eration between the two countries. “Those who launch major material values in Georgia will clearly remember how close our trade and investment ties

have been. Trade has been resumed now, and I do not think there is anyone who feels uncomfortable about it,” he said.

Key Witness of Khorava Street Murders Remains in Custody The accused himself once again stated at Wednesday's session that he is not guilty of the crime. The Defense demanded his release on GEL 7,000 bail, however, the Court refused to satisfy the motion. Kalandia's next trial will be held on August 5, 13:00. Mikheil Kalandia was detained in relation to the Khorava street murder of December 2017, which left two teenagers – Davit Saralidze and Levan Dadunashvili – dead from stab wounds. He was officially charged with the murder of Davit Saralidze in aggravating circumstances and was sentenced to imprisonment as a preventive measure by Tbilisi City Court on June 6.

BY ANA DUMBADZE

A

ccording to Wednesday's Tbilisi City Court judgment, Mikheil Kalandia, one of the main witnesses of the notorious Khorava Street murders, will remain in custody. Kalandia’s lawyer, Ana Kotetishvili, says the Prosecutor could not present the evidence in the case against Kalandia in the speech in the court session. She added that there is no material or written evidence against Kalandia in the case. The Defense demands the release of Kalandia from pretrial detention.

PM Presents 6-Month Report, Focuses on Regional Development BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

M

amuka Bakhtadze, Prime Minister of Georgia, on Tuesday delivered his six-month report on initiatives implemented within the scope of infrastructure, education, and village support programs, regional projects and mountain foundations. At the presentation, the Head of the Government accentuated the progress achieved in the sector and focused on the importance of the regions for the further development of the country, noting that they are of crucial significance for the current government. “Strong regions mean a strong country.

Thus, regional development is among the paramount priorities of our government,” stated Bakhtadze, adding, “In 2019, we increased the financing of infrastructural projects by 20%, and this is the largest figure that has been allocated for the improvement of infrastructure in independent Georgia.” The Prime Minister said that prior to the launch of this initiative, the government was well-aware of its ambitiousness and the challenges that would be faced by it. In addition, he praised the Ministry of Infrastructure and Regional Development of Georgia for increasing investments by 200 million GEL in infrastructural projects and underlined the importance of achieving inclusive growth in Georgia through the development of regions across the country.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 26 - 29, 2019

9

Anaklia Port Project Again in Uncertain Waters BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

O

n Wednesday, July 24, Anaklia Development Consortium (ADC) announced that French company Effiage had been awarded the contract to build the Anaklia Deep Sea Port. As the general contractor, Effiage will work in partnership with Swiss company ABB and Georgian company CRP. Among Europe’s top five construction companies by volume, Effiage has completed more than 100,000 projects internationally since its founding in 1844. The company’s work includes ports, highways, and power grids, notably the Port of Barcelona, the Port of Dakar, EuroAirport Basel-MulhouseFreiburg, and Crete Airport. The world's leading construction and engineering companies participated in the multi-stage international tender to select the Anaklia Port’s general contractor. 1,500 workers will be hired during the first phase of construction, of which 90% will be locals. The plan for a deep-sea port in Anaklia, located about 140 kilometers north of Batumi by car, just south of the border with occupied Abkhazia, has been discussed since Soviet times. The Georgian government awarded the Anaklia Development Consortium, a joint venture of

Photo: ADC

TBC Holding and Conti International, a contract to develop the Anaklia DeepSea Port in 2016. It is estimated that the project will cost $2.5 billion. In early June, Levan Akhvlediani, the CEO of the Anaklia Development Consortium, said he believed that “there are forces in the country as well as outside it, who are willing to take deliberate

steps to hinder the Anaklia port project,” but, at that time, he rejected the idea of a government-wide conspiracy against his company. This week, however, a new obstacle arose. One of the primary shareholders of ADC and the owner of TBC Holding, high-profile businessman Mamuka Khazaradze, was formally charged with money

laundering. Along with his TBC co-founder Badri Japaridze, Khazaradze is accused by the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office of laundering $16.7 mln in 2007-2008. Responding to the allegations against him last month, Khazaradze fought back, calling them unsubstantiated and meant only to tarnish his reputation – evidenced by the fact that, at the time, no charges had been brought against him or anyone else allegedly involved in criminal conduct. He took to social media to speak out against what he claimed were more unfair practices against his company. On Facebook on May 29, Khazaradze wrote “The Anaklia Project is on the verge of being terminated!!!” WhilePrimeMinisterMamukaBakhtadze was visiting Washington D.C. mid-June, hemetwithSecretaryofStateMikePompeo who later told reporters, “I communicated our hope that Georgia completes the port project. The project and others will enhance Georgia’s relationship with free economies and prevent Georgia from falling prey to Russian or Chinese economic influence. Those pretend friends do not have Georgia’s best interests at heart.” The statement eased many concerns over whether the port project might be abandoned due to political and financial pressure on ADC and Khazaradze personally. Entering the Prosecutor General’s Office on Wednesday, where the charge was officially read to the two defendants, Khazaradze told gathered press,

“everything is directed against the Anaklia Port Project and the government is trying to suspend the construction of the Port..I can say that all these are efforts of the government to stop the construction of Anaklia Deep-Sea Port. The same attack took place in January. It caused very serious damage to the bank's shareholders as well as the Anaklia Port Project.” He continued, angrily, saying "Yesterday, we selected the new general constructor company of Anaklia Port, which suspiciously coincided with one of the minister's statements that there is no progress. Today, we heard the Prosecutor’s statement on TV aimed at harming the Anaklia Port. If someone thinks that Anaklia is my project they are very wrong. This is a project for our children, a project for our future generation, this is an absolutely new way, and a very important step toward Europe.” When asked to comment on the situation, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Natia Turnava said that the Anaklia Deep Sea Port will not be hindered by the charges against Khazaradze, and that the public should wait for the courts’ decision on the matter. “As we have repeatedly stated, the Anaklia project is a very high-level priority for our country. We definitely need a deep-water port in Anaklia, which has unprecedented support from the state. Therefore, nothing threatens this project,” said Turnava.

Minister: Number of Infrastructure Projects Tripled in 2019 Continued from page 1 Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze also delivered a speech at the report presentation, in it pledging that Georgia will have “the most modern infrastructure” by 2022. “By the end of 2022, Georgia will boast the most advanced infrastructure to enable us to further develop our economy, to engage more citizens in economic development, and ultimately to join forces and defeat poverty," he claimed. The PM said the financing for infrastructural projects in 2019 will increase

by 20%, a record-breaking indicator in the history of independent Georgia. He noted the fact that the actual investment made by the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure in infrastructure has exceeded the planned amount by GEL 200 million ($68.94 million). “The statistics for the last six months show that the ministry has been doing its job perfectly. Regional development is a vitally important direction and we must achieve inclusive growth in Georgia, which is only possible through the equal development of the regions," he said.

Bakhtadze thanked the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure and her team for the excellent work. “We have more regional projects to implement that are crucially important to our citizens in various regions of our country, among them local roads, infrastructural programs for water supply systems, development of athletic and educational infrastructure, and more,” he noted. The Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia reports that as of July 1, from the financed projects, 750 projects have been completed, more than 3500 projects are underway, and construction

procedures for 700 more have already been launched. The budget of the projects to be implemented in the regions is GEL 310 ($106.86) million which is GEL 67 ($23.1) million more than last year’s budget. “Accordingly, this year, 393 more projects will be funded, and in total 1201 projects will be financed. In the past six months, 137 projects, worth GEL 40 ($13.79) million, have already been completed in the regions. The absorbed budget exceeds last year’s indicator by GEL 37 ($12.75) million and amounts to GEL 62 million,” the ministry said. Further, 405 projects will be financed

from the Regional Fund and include construction of 39 new emergency centers and 104 new ambulance centers, and renovation of 262 existing ambulatories. In addition, for the first time, works towards disaster prevention are ongoing in numerous municipalities. At this stage, nine projects are underway, while 156 projects will be completed worth GEL 20 ($6.89) million. Compared to the same period of 2018, the Ministry spent GEL 183 ($63.08) million more in financial resources, which is the highest in the history of the existence of the Ministry.

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10

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 26 - 29, 2019

Dinner in the Sky Georgia – An Ideal Venue for a Unique Dinning Experience WHAT ARE THE OUTSTANDING FEATURES OF YOUR MENU?

INTERVIEW BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

W

hen it seems all the dining opportunities have already been tried in Georgia, yet another venue is brought in to excite locals and guests! Dinner in the Sky, which opened in is a totally innovative concept, offering you a chance to move beyond the limits and enjoy a menu of mouthwatering dishes while flying in the sky over stunning Georgian landscapes. Dinner in the Sky is certainly a new and courageous statement on the Georgian gastronomic market and, as it has been up and running successfully for two months already, GEORGIA TODAY decided to check in with the co-founders of Dinner in the Sky Georgia, Sogol Davari and Abtin Baharali, to find out about the exclusive concept and discover what clientele should expect of the truly divine venue.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO LAUNCH DINNER IN THE SKY IN GEORGIA AND HOW SUCCESSFUL DO YOU EXPECT IT TO BE? Undoubtedly, the main and definitive motive behind this decision has been the peculiarity of Georgia in different respects. Featuring a very rich culture, Georgia is veritably renowned as being tolerant and accommodating to foreign visitors. I, personally, have a great experience of Georgian people’s hospitality since the very first day of my arrival. Georgia’s amazing nature and mild climate, interesting monuments and architecture as the reminiscences of a dramatic history, long story of wine production (dated 8000 years B. C.), to name but a few, are the essential characteristics which intrigue people to visit this prosperous, beautiful country. Moreover, its diverse, yet distinct gastronomy reflecting the fusion of different customs and traditions, as well as the abundance of natural local ingredients owing to Georgia’s fertile agriculture, guarantee success to any investment in food industry and gastronomy. Every single feature integrated into Georgian ethnic identity is exactly what we needed to develop the Belgian concept of Dinner in the Sky®. Going up to 50 meters off the ground to offer a breathtaking panorama of the natural environment and urban landmarks, serving authentic Georgian cuisines and wines, playing folklore

music and performing ethnic traditions in the air, applying local potential in an entirely modern and innovative style, is what we do at Dinner in the Sky®. Dinner in the Sky® is an originally Belgian franchise restaurant which has been successfully operating in 71 countries over the last 13 years. Regarding the promising growth of Georgia’s tourism rate, and thanks to the special geographical and cultural status which makes it “one of the most beautiful places in the world,” as the Belgian founder of DITS said on his first visit, we strongly believe that our installation in this marvelous land is going to be one of the best Dinner in the Sky® experiences ever, worldwide!

HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK DINNER IN THE SKY CAN CONTRIBUTE TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF TOURISM IN GEORGIA? Dinner in the Sky® has received many awards in the field of tourism and guest service excellence several times during these 13 years of operation in 71 countries. We know how to attract tourists with an innovative approach and international reputation. Media buzz, positive reviews written by rigorous critiques of CNN, Forbes, New York Times, and Food and Travel, as well as being first ranked by TripAdvisor for several years in different countries, all bear witness to such capacity. On the other hand, Georgia is itself an amazing destination for tourists thank to its prosperous nature, culture and architecture, so that has reached the 4th place in the list of world’s fastestgrowing tourism destinations. Dinner in the Sky® Georgia gives its participants the opportunity to see all the iconic landmarks of Tbilisi as well as its eyecatching nature in one single frame and at the same time experience the fabulous taste of Georgian gastronomy. That’s why travel agencies choose Dinner in the Sky® as one of their must-go spots for their tourists, and why people who have spent a session with us tend to do it over and over, explicitly admitting the uniqueness of such an experience which is “worth every penny.” Moreover, being an international franchise restaurant, Dinner in the Sky® Georgia encourages other international trademarks to invest in this beautiful country and promote Georgia’s tourism industry even more rapidly.

GEORGIAN CUISINE IS QUITE DIVERSE, MAKING IT PERHAPS DIFFICULT TO SURPRISE GEORGIANS IN TERMS OF GASTRONOMY.

Georgia is the land of tasty foods and wines. Of course any restaurant who wants to find its market must present a distinguished menu to satisfy the demands of the client. Dinner in the Sky® is definitely no exception! Our 5-star menu, which encompasses a wide variety of Georgian-touch cuisines made using genuinely organic, local products and ingredients, is exclusively designed by our artful chef. Additionally, in certain sessions, we perform a “Supra in the Sky” offering both the traditional Georgian menu and the local customs. Live preparation of the meal during the flight session before clients’ eyes and the serving of Georgian wines and spirits are other features that have gained a lot of admiration among participants from the very beginning of Dinner in the Sky’s operation in Georgia. As Dinner in the Sky® is a European concept, Georgian haute cuisine has been delicately interwoven with modern serving styles and so has left a unique signature in Georgian gastronomy which attracts the attentions of both residents and tourists. Having said that, what matters most about Dinner in the Sky®, something which sharply distinguishes it from other ordinary restaurants, is its innovative concept and extraordinary experience. People participating in our events from the start declare that their experience is inexpressibly beyond what they previously expected, a memorable exhilarating experience they had never tried before. People have had enough of ordinary restaurants, it’s time to experience something new. It is because of its bold, fresh and innovative idea that Dinner in the Sky® was selected by Forbes for its list of 10 most extraordinary restaurants in the world.

HOW DO YOU ENSURE CUSTOMER SAFETY? Dinner in the Sky® is entirely safe and perfectly protected. All the equipment and parts of the platform, as well as the mechanism which raises and holds it in the sky, are designed and implemented according to world standards, among them European model EN 13814 and German norm DIN 4112. Dinner in the Sky’s platform is made in Belgium and all the plans and calculations are performed under the supervision of TÜV (the German Association for Technical Inspection). In order to completely secure the weight tolerance of the flight, Dinner in the Sky always employs a 120-ton crane to lift the platform, people and staff with a maximum total weight of 7 tons. Moreover, months before the first operation of Dinner in the Sky® in Georgia, the

Belgian team came to Georgia to install the platform and train the Georgian crew. Before every flight, the whole construction and the flying mechanism is carefully checked. All the safety tips and instructions are given to guests by the safety supervisor prior to each flight. In doing so, all the crew, from the flight attendants to the engineers on the crane, do their utmost to maintain the level of safety and to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of guests during the flight. Thanks to the safety standards considered by Dinner in the Sky®, there has been not a single accident, not even a minor one, in its outstanding résumé of more than 16800 event days performed in 71 countries across the world during these 13 years. More evidence which confirms Dinner in the Sky’s perfect safety is the fact that even European countries, well-known for the strictest safety regulations and standards in the world, have warmly welcomed Dinner in the Sky’s events from the very beginning of our story. The presence of important figures, such as Prince Albert of Monaco, at Dinner in the Sky® and having the Japan and US ambassadors among our guests at the Georgian Dinner in the Sky®, fully illustrates the high level of safety in our concept.

ASIDE FROM A DISTINGUISHED VENUE, DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL FEATURES THAT MAKE IT A GO-TO DESTINATION? This is not just about a venue: Dinner in the Sky® is a whole new event which is meticulously organized to transform a typical dinner setting into the most exciting memory in your lifetime. It has to do with a dining experience 50 meters up in the sky, when you sit back relaxed in your leather seat surrounded by picturesque nature, listen to the live Jazz music, often accompanied by the hilarious dancing of the crew, served with famous Georgian wines and, at the same time, watching as our chef prepares you a fancy meal in the pop-up kitchen! Experiencing the flight, views, music, dance, wine and dinner, all together in an amiable atmosphere is something that engages all your senses, and that’s exactly what distinguishes Dinner in the Sky® Georgia from other restaurants. According to our guests, it’s the best selfie opportunity!

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE? Dinner in the Sky is the most talkedabout dining experience in Tbilisi right now. As it’s a unique concept, people keep sharing our videos all over social media. In a word, all those who want to transform the ordinary into an extraordinary

experience, are welcome to Dinner in the Sky® Georgia! Generally, in public events, almost 70% of the guests are tourists who want to taste a 5-star Georgian dinner while enjoying the best view of their travel destination. However, Georgians are also attracted by Dinner in the Sky® for its novel concept and exceptional offers which fuse traditional Georgian elements with modern, globalclass services. After all, Dinner in the Sky is not only a dinner served in the sky: it’s all about an unforgettable, unique experience and breath-taking panoramic views of Tbilisi. It’s so satisfying to us when we talk to our guests after the flights. They all believe that it’s a feeling they never had in their lives before, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In addition, Dinner in the Sky® embraces Georgian companies, brands, and even individuals who aim to offer a luxurious, distinguished event with VIP services.

WHAT ABOUT SPECIAL EVENTS? CAN PEOPLE CELEBRATE NEW YEAR’S, BIRTHDAYS ETC.? Dinner in the Sky® is a perfect venue for VIP events of any sort. So far in Georgia, we have organized lots of birthday parties in the sky, proposal occasions, anniversaries, business reunions, diplomatic meetings and product launch programs with commercial purposes, as well as celebrating International Children’s Day, and we are fully ready to celebrate city festivals like Tbilisoba, Independence Day, Batumoba, Rtveli, Cheese Festival, Christmas, and other national or regional celebrations in the SKY. Dinner in the Sky’s event-platform is portable and can be taken to any location in the city. It can have up to 16 flights in eight hours, taking 22 passengers to the sky in each flight. So we can host up to 352 guests in one event day based on client’s demands. When in the Sky, there is no limit to your imagination!

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR FUTURE PLANS. We have thoroughly planned our upcoming activities, so that we know exactly what our next step needs to be while operating in Georgia. As is apparent from the tourism rates, Georgia has a very brilliant future, in that more people will be visiting this country in the course of time. We are ready to develop Dinner in the Sky® in multiple sites and cities, as already planned. Of course, infinite facets of ethnic potential guarantee our success and pave the way for our persistence in Georgia and, as an investor, we are ready to invest more time and money in building the equity of other brands in this beautiful country as well.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 26 - 29, 2019

Discover Tbilisi Hills Golf & Residences O

nly 15 minutes from the city center of Tbilisi, a new, unique complex ‘Tbilisi Hills Golf & Residences’ is being built. As the biggest project in the South Caucasus, 33 million euros is already invested. The complex is spread across 331 hectares and will boast not only a residential space but other important infrastructural buildings too, among them a kindergarten, school, grocery store, fitness center, tennis court, swimming pools and children playgrounds. The jewel of this crown is a world class 18-hole golf course developed by renowned Tilander Golf Design(Finland), stretching over 110 hectares - equipped to international

Infrastructure will take up only 40% of the complex. The remaining 60% will be a natural, green space

standards and set to be the first professional golf course in Georgia. The various types of residential space on offer at Tbilisi Hills Golf & Residences will be sold over time – villas, apartments, and semi-detached homes. On completion, the complex will have up to 5000 residents. Tbilisi Hills is an unprecedented project, following no Georgian examples, one of the many conditions guaranteeing its success. Nowadays, with the growing number of people choosing to live in suburban areas, a tendency very common around the world, comes another reality: the need for a place that provides a residential space with other infrastructural buildings close by, making life more comfortable. Plus, with rising environmental issues, a green environment and fresh air is becoming everyone’s priority. This is something Tbilisi Hills can guarantee. Infrastructural buildings will take up only 40 % of the territories of the complex. The remaining 60 % will be a natural, green space. Looking at the advantages of the complex, Tbilisi Hills is not only an ideal place to live in but a great project to invest in. There is no other space in Georgia that so thoroughly provides every condition for a comfortable life – having the center of the city and all the infrastructural buildings at your fingertips, and being surrounded by a clean, green environment. Given all this, Tbilisi Hills makes an incredible opportunity for investors.

Tbilisi Hills is not only an ideal place to live but a great project to invest in “We have already started the first phase of sales in the complex. At this point, we have land plots, villas, apartments and semi-detached homes for sale,” Head and Founder Skinest Group, Tbilisi Hills Golf & Residences major investor Oleg Ossinovski says. “The building process carries on in sectors, one step at a time – giving our investors another attraction. Since we are planning on adopting a big territory, we have made it our point to bother our present residents as little as possible during the construction works. We started selling on September 21,2018 and as of today, more than 40 % has already been sold. It’s also important to note that a binding memorandum with TBC Bank ensures funding for two future phases. This is another additional guarantee to our consumers.”

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12

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 26 - 29, 2019

Workshop on Gender & Economics in Georgia FISH & MEAT RESTAURANT II FLOOR

Two Different Restaurants in one Space

GEORGIAN RESTAURANT I FLOOR T: (+995) 591 914 416 / Ardagani Lake 6000, Batumi F: Grand Grill Restaurant / F: Ardagani Terrasa

Photo: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation

BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

T

his Monday, July 22, the UN Women project Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) in the South Caucasus held a Workshop on Gender and Economics. The workshop, held at the Radisson Blu Iveria hotel in Tbilisi, was a day-long event aimed at high-level representatives from the government, donor agencies, UN organizations, and the private financial sector. The project is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Austrian Development Cooperation. The Swiss Government is active in Georgia, supporting the economic empowerment of women, especially in rural areas. The workshop was a condensed version of a fiveday training at Lopota Lake, also organized within the project, focusing on economic development and its intersection with gender. Specifically, identifying the key issues within economics where gendered dimensions can contribute to economic development and growth. Welcome remarks were given by Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Ekaterine Mikabadze, UN Resident Coordinator in Georgia Sabine Machl, Deputy Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO) for the South Caucasus Werner Thut, and UN Women Deputy Representative Tamar Sabedashvili. Mikabadze began by acknowledging that women’s economic empowerment is a “hot topic in today’s world,” and connecting to “the top priority of [the Georgian] government, inclusive growth.” She noted that “without providing equal opportunities to every economic agent in the country it is impossible to achieve this goal...Without providing equal opportunities to our citizens it’s impossible to achieve targets.” While recognizing the significant work done in the last few decades in Georgia, “challenges still remain,” said Mikabadze, and “that’s why we put stress on today’s topic of discussion... According to the World Bank’s estimation, if women who currently do not engage in the economy were to do so, it’s estimated that the level of our economic activity would increase by 11%. So, you see, the benefits are really tangible.” Machl followed, with an address to the participants that focused on cooperation and joint effort, thanking the government officials, in particular, who took the time to attend the workshop. Machl pointed to the necessity of not only declaring, in unison, that it is time to end gender inequality, but to take concrete policy steps to dismantle the institutions that maintain such inequality. “We have globally a very clear consensus, but very often it is the social norms or the uneven distribution of the care work that hold women back in the world... unpaid care work is one thing where we all share the same challenges...in Georgia, we see that women are significantly underrepresented in economic activities,” explained Machl. She further added that the primary drivers of women’s low economic

activity in Georgia are “traditional gender roles and the burden of unpaid care work.” She urged policymakers to take action based on the insights provided by gender economics. Machl closed on a positive note, saying “having all of you here is proof that you care.” “Women Economic Empowerment and Gender Equality is a challenge which is not limited to Georgia and other countries of the South Caucasus. Switzerland saw the largest demonstration in recent history with a huge turnout of around 500’000 people requesting equal treatment, equal pay and no more violence against women,” mentioned Deputy Regional Director of the SCO Werner Thut in his opening speech. Werner Thut shared a video clip in support of his statement that inequality is not a problem unique to Georgia, but even in developed economies with very old traditions of liberal democracy, the problem still exists. He observed that the perspective and approach presented within the workshop were obviously the result of solid scientific research, underpinned with international data and, thus, potentially relevant also for Georgia and its decision-makers. He commended and congratulated UN Women and Dr. Ilkkaracan for their work. Referring to the role of bilateral development partners such as the SDC, their contribution in his view should certainly not be to take a stance with regard to potential policy recommendations and conclusions. However, international stakeholders should contribute to make the knowledge and potential policy options accessible to the Government of Georgia and other stakeholders, in support of evidence-based, informed decisions for addressing issues of gender inequality through public policies. “We would like to invite all interested stakeholders – including the public authorities of Georgia: governmental institutions, parliamentary bodies and others - to participate in these efforts and debates. The Swiss Cooperation Office of the South Caucasus will certainly continue to support and contribute to this important work, in the context of its WEE Program,” said Werner Thut. Finally, Sabedashvili called on high-level decision makers to offer political support to women’s economic development. “This here is where the change starts,” said Sabedashvili, “It’s one thing to discuss in these settings, to theorize...but how this actually gets translated to policymaking and political agenda, this is [what really matters] ...my modest request to all of you is to take [full advantage of] this opportunity, because we have invested heavily in this, along with Austria and Switzerland.” Noted economist Dr. Ipek Ilkkaracan led the workshop. Ilkkaracan is a Professor of Economics at Istanbul Technical University and Levy Economics Institute – New York, Visiting Scholar at Sapienza University of Rome, and co-author of the UN Women Gender and Economics Training Manual. Ikkaracan took participants through international research and data on gender-aware economics, labor markets and gender inequalities, unpaid work, time- and income-poverty, and the intersections of gender and monetary and fiscal policy.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 26 - 29, 2019

13

RVIP: Steele Lake, Canada

BLOG BY TONY HANMER

R

V as in Recreational Vehicle. VIP as in Very Important Person/People. Put it together. My sister and her husband recently bought a 30-foot RV, stepping up the camping game quite a bit, and we took it for several-days’ stay at the above-mentioned lake in mid-northern Alberta recently. Another sister, her husband, and our mother also joined us, adding a trailer RV, truck and another

car. We were in two adjacent campsites, about 5 minutes’ walk from the lake. Arriving on a Wednesday, we watched as the campground slowly filled with weekend holidaymakers from all over. Modern camping in Canada at least still has the trees, the forest, if you’re lucky, as we were. But you’re no longer allowed to bring in any firewood, nor to gather any onsite, nor to take any out with you (“…constitutes theft”). You must buy bundles of it at Registration, $8 per, and split some of it for kindling to start your fire with. We now tarp everything: put tarpaulins over it—well, not the vehicles, but

much of the outdoor areas, including my separate tent and even, high, the fire. This turned out to be quite necessary, given the wettest summer on record Alberta has been having, which typified the first two days of our time, only giving way to sunshine for the latter two. We could sit outside, have our fire, cook, eat, wash up, all while rain descended all around but not onto us. Fishing is tightly regulated by season, minimum length for keeping each species, and catch limit per day. We have been overfishing, it seems, and this is an attempt to restore populations. High fines for breaking the rules!

Bears can still be a threat: store all food and other interesting or nicesmelling items in protected places like vehicles! Never in tents! Otherwise more fines, if the monster doesn’t chew you right up along with the edibles you carelessly leave out or put in your tent! It can happen! More of the camping is done RV style now than in tents, although these also can be found. But every site has an electrical hookup. You can fill up with potable water near Registration as well. There is a cylindrical iron fireplace to use in each site; non-flush toilets and shower blocks with flush toilets (the latter open

for 12 daylight hours) are plentifully sprinkled about. Wi-Fi? Forget it! Bring a laptop and/or a TV with USB port to watch movies if you need to! I sleep quite heavily, so rain, the numerous squirrels’ “Chirrrrrrr”, the occasional haunting loon cries on the lake and nearby neighbors’ conversations all fail to keep me awake. The rain on my tent actually might even simply send me off, nature’s pure white noise. We did, those so inclined, get some dockside fishing in, even catching a few pike; my interest was more in waiting for enough sun-warmth to brave the lake for a swim. I’m now well over the mid-leap panic which used to torment me as a boy fresh from Zimbabwe: CROCS! The water was warm enough for a few minutes’ dip, but not for a half-hour one, which would have left me shivering. But not, still, as cold as that off Vancouver Island, which simply gives my skin the blues and threatens heart failure, so icy is it even on the hottest days. The camping experience has changed a bit since I was a child, but nature, family, the fire, the breath of trees on you, remain. So does Mom’s accordion, with me now taking Dad’s part in the singalongs around the fire of an evening. Precious times. Got to do more of this in Georgia too, somehow. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti

CULTURE

Georgian-Thai Film Shooting Begins within "Film in Georgia" Program BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI

F

Source: http://www.enterprisegeorgia.gov.ge

ilming of a Thai TV series started within the program "Film in Georgia". 'Doubleman' is a GeorgianThai co-production, on which the Thai company Kanthana Motion Pictures will work in cooperation with Georgian company Georgian Film Production. Several parts of the TV series are to be shot in Tbilisi, Mestia and Kutaisi. At this stage, the camera crew is working in Mestia. The series is based on a true story, namely that of Siamese twins. The first known conjoined twins were born in the village of Siamese in Thailand, which led ot the adoption of the name to describe the condition of conjoined births. In the scenes shot on the territory of Georgia the setting is 1870s New York. Filming will continue until July 30. Over 380 people will be employed during the project. The state project “Film in Georgia,” as a result of international promo-campaigns and introductory presentations in different countries around the world, sees Georgia presented as a filmmaking ground. So far the inititative has seen success, with foreign producers' interest in shooting in Georgia growing.

Image source: Facebook

International Folklore Festival Kicks Off in Martvili BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

T

he 4th edition of the International Folklore Festival called “The Country of Legends” was officially launched on July 22 in the wonderful town of Martvili, in the region

of Samegrelo, Western Georgia. The 6-day event brings together folk ensembles from Georgia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Thailand, as well as Belarus, who are offering diverse performances to audiences in different towns and municipalities across Georgia. The International Festival will close on July 27 in Tbilisi.


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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

JULY 26 - 29, 2019

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS Until September 10 Under the joint initiative of Georgian National Museum and Georgian Post, Exhibition: STORY TOLD BY POSTAGE STAMPS Dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the first Georgian stamp. Until August 31 Multimedia technology exhibitionIMMAGICA. A JOURNEY INTO BEAUTY An impressive journey within time, introducing us to Italian paintings of the XIV-XIX centuries; a combination of voice, lighting, immersive visual and multimedia. Giotto– ‘Ognissanti Madonna’ and the ‘Scrovegni Chapel,’ Leonardo da Vinci– ‘Annunciation,’ Botticelli– ‘The Birth of Venus’ and ‘Spring,’ Raffaello– ‘The Madonna of the Goldfinch, Bellotto– ‘Piazza San Marco,’ ‘Castello Sforzesco,’ Canaletto– “The Chapel of Eton College”, Canova– ‘Amor e Psyche’ and ‘The Graces’. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 Until September 10 The Georgian National Museum within the project "Contemporary Art Gallery" presents

Vakho Bugadze's exhibition: ‘Three, Four" Together with Vakho Bughadze are artists Gogi Okropiridze and Katrin Bolt. Within the framework of the exhibition, documentary film about Vakho Bugadze will be presented. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors, where visitors can see documentaries of various historical events. The exhibition also includes one of the train carriages in which the participants of the national uprising of 1924 were executed. It is also dedicated to the history of the antioccupational, national-liberation movement of Georgia and to the victims of the Soviet political repression throughout this period. MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave enough to jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in a Mirror Room, be free in the Infinity room, resist the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms, and discover optical illusions. MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS 10 Betlemi Str. THE MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS The unique collection of the museum aims to provoke feelings of understanding among individuals and serve as some kind of therapy for those who have experience break-ups. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00

Until February 26 (2020) GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY MUSIC

SOUNDS OF GEORGIA July 26, 27, 31 SING AND DRINK Mini concerts in the cozy atmosphere of Old Tbilisi, a mix of traditional Georgian music of different genres: folklore, a capella, guitar, and Georgian pop and city songs. Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 24 GEL Venue: July 26 - 10 Erekle II Sq., Tekla Palace Hotel, July 27 - New Tiflis, 9 Agmashenebeli Ave., Wine bar ‘Wine Station’, July 31Corner of 2 Turgenev Str., and 37 Javakhishvili Str. MOVEMENT THEATER 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 598 19 29 36 July 27 DADE BITI LINE UP: Michèl DJ Set Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 5 GEL July 30 Jam Session Musical art director- Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 20:30 Ticket: 5 GEL RIKE Touristic center "Gamarjoba", Next to Bridge of Peace July 26 Ethnic Dinner Show "Gaumarjos" Introducing cultural performance on the history of Georgia, traditions and culture, performed by professional dancers and singers, along with a culinary performance by an executive chef, pairing delicious Georgian cuisine and wine. Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 120 GEL

FOLKLORE CONCERTS FOR TOURISTS Sanapiro Str. Bldg 2. Every Sunday July 28 Folklore Evenings of ensemble EGARI Offering folklore events to popularize Georgian folk music among tourists, the concerts present songs, trisagions, instrumental music, dance, and urban folklore from different parts of Georgia, as well as ethnojazz music. Guest can hear live polyphony and a diversity of instruments (Salamuri, Panduri, Chonguri, Chiboni, Doli). Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50 GEL SAMATHA 53 P. Saakadze Str. July 27 From Dusk till Dawn Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20 GEL TURTLE LAKE July 27 Saturnze Line up: Levi Love Disco b2b Daniel Berhane, Sumo, Digital Groove Affair Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20 GEL TSISKARI Ianeti, Didi Jikhaishi, Khoni July 26, 27 Free Wave electronic music festival Line up: BACHO, L8, MZHAVIA, ZAPA, GIO DALAKISHVILI, LEVAN MURGHULIA, GIGI, Le Vancho, Hä Djaka, EKNR (BA. LOTTA) AND MORE... Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 40-100 GEL LAGODEKHI July 27 In the frames of Blues festival organized by Blues Village-ge, JJ Thames from the USA will perform in Lagodekhi Blues Village. JJ Thames is not only a blues

musician, but also an artist who charmingly combines blues with R&B, Reggae, and Funk and makes every concert an energetic show. Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 15-40 GEL AJARA SOHO BATUMI Seafront Promenade, Batumi July 26 Lela Tsurtsumia & Nonstop Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL July 27 SUKHISHVILEBI Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL July 29 LEXSENI Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL SECTOR 26 Seafront Promenade, Batumi July 30 DJ MASEO (DE LA SOUL) / Brooklyn / Long Island / Florida DEKA & MC CUTKILL JERONIMO Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 30 GEL PARADISE LOUNGE Seafront Promenade, Batumi July 27 Quchis Bichebi Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20 GEL UP2YOU Seafront Promenade July 26 Presented by the event company "Click" STEFAN BINIAK (Dusted Decks) and A2K Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20 GEL July 28 Runov at Club UP2U Batumi Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20 GEL July 31 SALIO Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 50 GEL BATUMGORA Venue: Cable car Argo FOLKLORE SHOWS EVERY DAY All summer long, enjoy traditional folk shows every day from 8 pm. Enjoy UNESCO recognized traditional folk dances and songs, Georgian drum shows and master classes in dancing 250 meters above sea level. Start time: 20:00 ECHOWAVES FESTIVAL Anaklia Friends Package: Buy 5 tickets and get 1 free ‘A Tent for 2’ deal includes: a tent on a wooden frame, mattress, bedding. There are lockers, showers, toilets, a restaurant and parking on the territory. August 25-28 EchoWaves is an electronic music festival that invites you to experience the beautiful seaside resort of Anaklia, Georgia, in the shadow of stunning mountains, promising unforgettable summer memories. Start time: 23:59 Ticket: 120-200 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY JULY 26 - 29, 2019

15

Georgia to Host 4th Int’l Print Festival ‘LIFE N STYLE’

BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

I

nternational Print Festival LIFE N STYLE kicks off for the 4th time in Georgia. The festival plays a vital role in establishing printmaking as a significant art form in Georgia. Silk screen printing, also known as Serigraphy, is the act of creating unique copies or prints of art, and is widespread throughout the world. The festival, presenting an incredible collection of screen prints by notable artists, aims to promote screen printing in the country as well as help to exhibit contemporary pieces of art in modern venues. This year, the theme and concept of the festival is BLACK IS WHITE &

WHITE IS BLACK. Author of the festival is Nana Kirmelashvili and the curator is Vakho Megrelishvili, a professor at the Academy of Arts. Screen printing first appeared in a recognizable form in China then later was adapted by Japan and gradually spread around the globe. But over the years, the fields of Serigraphy, Lithography, and Lynchrome came to be fully replaced by digital printing and new technologies, meaning the Lithography workshops shut down in the capital and regions and the profession of printer was forgotten. Concerned with this issue, The International Print Festival LIFE N STYLE was established aiming to bring back the abandoned traditions of printing. Seeing a number of artists working in different mediums getting involved, the

festival gave birth to the only studio for Silk Screen Printing/Serigraphy in Georgia. Within the frames of the festival, this year around 60 local and foreign artists from different countries have created artworks through the silkscreen printing technique. The International Print Festival 2019 opens with the latest collection at the studio located on the second floor of the Wine Factory at Vasil Petriashvili Street 1, Tbilisi, on July 31. Then the festival will set off to seaside city Batumi and eventually end with a concluding event in Tbilisi in October. Screen printing enables one to create several copies of an art image (around 10-15), keeping costs down and meaning art lovers can afford to purchase their favorite artist’s unique artwork. Each copy is signed by the author. “Our mission was to restore this old technology of printing. Although in the Academy of Arts Easel Graphics is still taught, interest toward this field has been low,” Nana Kirmelashvili told GEORGIA TODAY. “After the 1980s, almost no-one was working in this direction in Georgia. So, five years ago, I started exploring ways to bring it back to life. The art of printing requires a special technique and careful work, since millimeters matter. Luckily, I found people with the ability to transfer artworks onto various surfaces and as a result of our substantial effort we managed to restore the tradition. All the artists I suggested take part were more than happy to create print versions of their artworks. After creating an incredible collection, it needed to be exposed to the wider public, so

The art of printing requires a special technique and careful work, since millimeters matter PUBLISHER & GM

George Sharashidze COMMERCIAL DEPARTMENT

Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Sesili Tikaradze

GEORGIA TODAY

EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT:

Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

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

this is how the festival was established. Some people perceive serigraphy as an ordinary print, whereas handmade printing is an absolutely different and individual form of art. Through this method, now anyone can create their own collection of artworks by distinguished artists. It is something of a novelty in Georgia, whereas in the rest of the world, this technology is already one of the leaders in the business of art and creativity. Special art fairs and biennales are organized where prints of different sizes are put on display and sold. As part of the festival, we select artists who transfer their artworks through print. Some of the artworks stay with us and the rest with the author, so that they can sell them at the exhibition. The festival also enables young artists to collaborate and work with famous artists. Over the years we have taken artists, photographers, video makers, sound makers, and designers to mountainous Georgia (Tusheti and Svaneti) where they communicate with folklorists and work on a particular topic. Inspired by mythology, tales and folklore, they eventually come up with individual projects and artworks. This year we are planning to organize the same project in mountainous Adjara.” As the author and organizer of the festival told us, a special prize has been established for the Students of the Academy of Arts to promote young artists and enhance their interest in this field. “We have teamed up with Techno Park for a joint project. We are planning to send an artwork named the Bird of Luck by a transcendental artist to the stratosphere via air balloon. After a while, the balloon will burst, and the painting will descend to the ground to spread positive energy and happiness. In this way, we also want to emphasize once again that art has no limits,” Kirmelashvili said, adding that in this way the festival will be symbolically opened in Batumi. GEORGIA TODAY also talked to the artists and participants of the festival to get deeper insight. “This festival is important since it promotes the important field of graphic arts,” artist Tina Tskhadadze said. “At the end of the festival, a concluding exhibition is organized, where one can purchase a print. This is already my second time participating in this festival.

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

You never know what result you get: it’s like giving birth to a child! Even though I’m a fine arts artist, I really enjoyed trying out this technology. Last year, for the first time, I tried the Eauforte method (gravure) and this year I took part in the Serigraphy workshop. I also for the first time printed my work on silk. I made series of my sketch of Iris Iberica through Serigraphy technology, “she added. “The pioneer who introduced this technology to Georgia was our friend Ladi Togonidze in the 1980s. He was printing labels and various types of commercial materials, and he offered artists work with him and use this technology,” artist Mamuka Tsetskhladze noted. “Nana established a prize dedicated to Ladi, who passed away at a young age. Nana is doing a great job. She is revitalizing an old tradition that that has roots in China. Personally, I have been working and using this technology for 19 years. At this festival I am presenting my artwork of Istanbul that I made with silkscreen printing technology.” Gia Gogatishvili, photographer, told us, “I am taking part in the festival as a photographer for the first time, yet through its existence I have always been involved and helping Nana. At the festival I’m presenting a photo from the series ‘Reflections.’ I want to print it and exhibit it at an art museum in Arles, where a well-known photo festival is held.” “Serigraphy is a very interesting process of making art,” Mari Ataneli photo artist, says. “It is really an amazing feeling when once a year all the artists gather in our studio to work on this technology and present their artworks in an unusual way. The exiting thing about silk printing is that you never know what result you get, it is like giving birth to a child!”

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1171  

July 26 - 29, 2019

Issue #1171  

July 26 - 29, 2019

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