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Issue no: 915

• JANUARY 27 - 30, 2017

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue...

EU Integration Informational Campaign Kicks Off NEWS PAGE 3

FOCUS ON KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE Facing rejections and criticism from EU parties, the Georgian gov't fights to keep EU aspirations burning bright PAGE

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Female Genital Mutilation Becomes Punishable in Georgia Stop FGM. Source: elizabethbeattie.co

POLITICS PAGE 5

Corruption Perception Index 2016: Georgia Has Lowest Corruption Rate in Region BUSINESS PAGE 7

Georgia on Bloomberg Risk Map SOCIETY PAGE 8

CineClub to Explore the House of Others

BY THEA MORRISON

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he government of Georgia approved the package of amendments against women and domestic violence on Tuesday, according to which female genital mutilation (FGM) becomes punishable in Georgia. The package of amendments to more than 20 laws was prepared by the Ministry of Justice and aims at bringing Georgian legislation in line with the provisions of the Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention, which Georgia signed back in 2014 and which is now ready for ratification. Following approval by the government, article 1332 was added to the Criminal Code, which implies criminalization of female genital mutilation. This means that female circumcision or coercion of a woman to undergo FGM under religious, ethnic, national or other traditions, becomes punishable in Georgia. A similar act against a pregnant, disabled or underage woman will be considered an aggravating circumstance. Moreover, punishment will be tightened for

Thomas De Waal on Gas & Politics

CULTURE PAGE 9

Tsilkani Architectural Complex Given Status of National Immovable Monument CULTURE PAGE 12 stalking, forced sterilization and domestic violence. The information about the existence of FGM in some Kakheti villages populated by the ethnic Avar community was initially released by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) in November 2016. IWPR reported that when boys are circumcised, they are taken to the district hospital where a surgeon operates on them. However, for girls, the procedure is usually done at home. The article also said the female circumcision

is dangerous and represents a gross violation of human rights. The representatives of Georgia’s Public Defender, Ucha Nanuashvili, went to visit the mentioned villages and confirmed the existence of such practices among Avars. Afterwards, the government initiated the amendments to the law which were approved by the government on January 24. The proposed amendments will be voted by parliament and, if approved, the changes will take immediate effect.


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

JANUARY 27 - 30, 2017

Kazbegi People’s Friendship Arch Mosaic to be Renovated

BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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he municipality of Kazbegi plans to renovate the viewpoint area named 'The People’s Friendship Arch' which was constructed in 1982 and features a well-known and wellloved mosaic showing landmark moments in Georgian history. Located at the Jvari Pass, the viewpoint can be found near the Gudauri resort and is a popular stop for beautiful views of the Kazbegi landscape. The renovation plan considers rehabilitating the 5,500 square meter area and

transforming it into a tourism complex touristic with the current viewpoint, a souvenir shop, café, hotel and a car park. Kazbegi Municipality announced a tender for the rehabilitation and construction works, with a maximum budget of 25,000 GEL, the deadline for which is January 26. After concerns were raised that the mosaic would be dismantled, on Wednesday, news site Mtis Ambebi quoted Jemal Sudjashvili, Head of the Architecture Service of Kazbegi Municipality, as saying that the mosaic will not be dismantled or removed and that, according to the tender requirements, only the restoration of the viewpoint and creation of tourism infrastructure is planned.

Georgian Gov’t Administration Responds to EPP President’s Call to Release Political Prisoners BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgia’sgovernmentadministration has responded to a statement by the European People’s Party (EPP) President, Joseph Daul, which called on Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili to release political prisoners. The EPP president made the statement after a meeting with the Georgian parliamentary minority party European Georgia, which consists of former members of the opposition bloc United National Movement (UNM). Among the European Georgia members was ex-Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava, who served a two-and-a-half year term in prison and was released in early January. Daul said he was particularly pleased to see Ugulava. “My thoughts go out to the other political prisoners still detained in Georgia and I call on PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili for their immediate release,” Daul wrote in his Facebook post on Tuesday. Georgia’s government administration released a statement in response, saying they respect the opinions of their European colleagues and always consider their suggestions. “However,” the statement writers reminded Mr. Daul, “justice in a democratic system is administered by the judiciary, not the executive branch or a prime minister.” The letter places an emphasis on Georgia’s self-identity as a European country,

associated with the European Union, which continues to implement European standards in every aspect of society and has transformed itself into a country rooted on the basic values of human freedom. “In a democratic system, those guilty are held responsible for their crimes, including violent criminal acts resulting in deaths, torture, dishonor and humiliation.” The statement concludes by reassert-

ing the Government of Georgia’s “genuine and good-faith intention” not to interfere with the decisions of the court. “The government cannot introduce impunity, which is also unacceptable in a democratic society. These are not the values of a Western, democratic and constitutional state. The Georgian government's adherence to these values cannot be compromised in response to a politically motivated statement,” the administration said.

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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY JANUARY 27 - 30, 2017

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Three Georgian Candidates Presented to Strasbourg Court Rejected BY THEA MORRISON

Giorgi Kvirikashvili during his speech

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he European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg has rejected all three candidates for the position of Georgia’s representative as presented by the Georgian government. The Strasbourg Court was to choose one person from the presented three, Eva Gotsiridze, Alexander Baramidze or Giorgi Badashivili, for the position of Georgia’s representative to the ECHR, but the Court rejected all three candidates and asked the government to relaunch selection procedures. Mamuka Zhgenti, Georgia's former Ambassador to the Council of Europe, reports that the candidates were supported by only one person in the EHCR Committee; five voted against and two abstained. The three candidates from Georgia had interviews at Strasbourg Court on September 29-30, 2016, however, the voting process was delayed until January 2017. The ruling party Georgian Dream (GD) says that the decision of the ECHR is not “a failure of the government” and new candidates will be presented for the post. However, the opposition believes this is an embarrassment for Georgia and are calling out the candidates for their “incompetence”. Nino Kalandadze, member of the opposition United National Movement, says

European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. Source: strasbourgobservers.com

that this is the first precedent that all presented candidates were rejected at the ECHR. “This is definitely a sign of alarm, and it means that our government should more carefully make decisions when it comes to judicial independence and selection of judges,” Kalandadze said. Member of the parliamentary minority, European Georgia, Giorgi Kandelaki says the ECHR asked the Government of Georgia to send “more suitable” candidates next time. “The GD government once again brought shame on itself by sending to Strasbourg totally inappropriate candidates,” he said. Ana Dolidze, the Parliamentary Secretary of the President, also expressed concern over the issue. “It is very sad that we are on the list of countries which do not comply with Council of Europe standards and that the list provided by the government was rejected,” she said.

Eka Beselia, Chair of the Parliamentary Legal Committee, confirmed the majority of the selection committee members of the ECHR had decided that the Government of Georgia should select its candidates again. She denied the veracity of information released by the opposition, claiming it to be no more than speculation. “The ECHR said the Georgian government should undertake the candidate selection procedure again and a new list presented to the Court by April,” Beselia said. Zaza Khatiashvili, Chairman of Lawyers’ Association, claims that the candidates were rejected after he met with representatives of European Court and provided them with information about the candidates. “I predicted the ECHR would not approve of the list presented by the Minister of Justice, as there are a lot of questions surrounding the three,” said Khatiashvili.

EU Integration Informational Campaign Kicks Off BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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he launch of the European Union Integration Awaren e ss Ca m pa i g n wa s announced at the NATO and EU Information Center on Wednesday. The project’s main objective is to spread information on the existing economic and political relations between Georgia and the European Union, and explain to the general public and citizens of Georgia what the benefits are of the visa liberalization and of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. The information campaign is a part of a wider project to support Association Agreement implementation. The campaign is said to focus on promoting European values and will consist of meetings in the regions throughout Georgia, where experts, members of the EU and NATO Information Center, and

local municipality representatives will meet with the local population to discuss EU integration process priorities. Short film and video screenings will also be arranged. With a total budget of EUR 150,000, the information campaign is to run until May. “Georgia has never been as close to Europe as it is today,” Janos Herman, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, said at the official ceremony of the EU-Georgia Information Campaign launch. “Today, our country, with its centuries old history, culture, and rich traditions, gets a chance to be closer to the free and democratic European family, to play its part in the diverse and rich European culture, in the very important process of strengthening peace and safety,” said Georgia’s PM, Giorgi Kvirikashvili at the launch. “We’re expecting to receive official approval for visa liberalization very soon, which will be another tangeable result on the way to European integration.”


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

JANUARY 27 - 30, 2017

All-in or Fold: Gazprom’s Geopolitical Card Play with Georgia BY VAKHTANG MAISAIA

poration’s shares are owned by the Kremlin, while Prime Minister Medvedev acts as head of its executive board.

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HERE ARE THE MAIN GAINS THAT GAZPROM IS SET TO SEE FROM THE AGREEMENT WITH THE GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT:

here was much public outcry in Georgia as it emerged that the agreement signed by the government with the giant Russian oil & gas corporation, Gazprom, contained significant changes compared with its predecessor, and those changes weren’t exactly in Georgia’s favor, at least at first glance. Despite the commercial agreement coming under the “classified” tagline, it didn’t take long for the main details of the contract to become public knowledge. The transit fee for the Russian gas supplied to Armenia that Georgia was dully paid in natural reserves before, became of monetary value, it apparently being Gazprom’s make-or-break demand. So the 10 % that was due (2 billion cubic meters of gas) will be paid in money, with the fixed rate registered at the moment of the signing (this was most likely what the whole commercial secrecy was about). Another thing that should very much worry Georgian society that the agreement is a short term one – two years, which gives Russia ample leverage to further bully Georgia into even more unfavorable demands in due time. What is also lamentable that the amount of gas supplied to Armenia is due to be increased by 0,3 billion cubic meters for 2019, which means that Georgia will have to settle for financial “royalties” for this, too. According to the agreement, an additional supply of gas will be provided to Georgia for for social consumption – for a “preferential”, advantageous, price of $185, which when you look at how much Georgia has been paying Azerbaijan $170, doesn’t look that advantageous all of a sudden. The previous agreement, signed in 2002, lasted for 15 years and was seen as a coup as it provided a 10 % transit fee in natural resources, which satisfied 70 percent of Georgia’s annual needs (it needs to be mentioned that these needs have increased by 1.5 since 2015). The talk about monetization isn’t new, either: In 2005, Russia offered a healthy sum and advantageous gas prices to the then Government of Georgia in exchange for selling major transit communication routes, but the offer was refused, not without the intervention and advice of the US administration. This in turn resulted in the 2006 Gas War between Georgia and Russia, suspension of the agreement for a year and purchasing gas for $230 from Iran, which the Georgian

government announced amid much fanfare as a feat towards lessening energy dependence on Russia. Notably, Gazprom later played out the same scenario in Armenia. Speaking of energy dependence, Georgia is very much dependent on gas consumption – according to the 2013 statistics, gas constituted 41 percent of the overall energy consumption in the country (compared to 29 percent in 2010). Furthermore, back in 2015, the government adopted a strategy document, “Georgia’s Energy Strategy 2015-2030”,

where in the chapter dedicated to challenges and risks, one can read a rather bluntly put summary that Georgia is completely dependent on energy resources provided by Azerbaijan, especially the import of gas, and that the Azeri corporation Socar has an undisputed monopoly on the Georgian energy market (with more than 50 percent of the segment). The same sentiments were voiced by the Energy Minister and Vice Prime Minister, Kakha Kaladze, who maintained that a whopping 90 percent of Georgia’s gas consumption, that is,

2.5 billion cubic meters, originate in Azerbaijan. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Georgian government’s energy diplomacy overtures did not fool Gazprom, which pushed its own demands and, eventually, the Georgian side relented. Now one might wonder to what end this whole ordeal really was and why Georgia accepted such disadvantageous terms, with a façade of perhaps reversing them in two years’ time. Yet, all the more interesting is what Gazprom’s cards are. 92 percent of the monopolistic cor-

1) Becoming a member of Eurasian Union, Armenia gets the full benefits of preferential tariff prices from 2017. This will undoubtedly see larger volumes of Russian gas supplied to Armenia, which is already dependent on the Russian gas market, with 60 percent of imported gas coming from Russia. Monetization will give Gazprom the opportunity to supply Armenia with the needed volume, all the while not allowing Georgia to reap its real benefits and also further outclass Iran as a potential provider (Armenia paid $190 for Iranian gas back in 2015). A win-win scenario for Gazprom, relative win for Armenia (if you discount them becoming even more dependent on Russia as a real alternative), failure for Georgia and inconvenience for Iran. There is also a hint of political blackmail in there – Georgia has its hands tied, as its refusal or stubbornness on this matter would surely aggravate relations with its Armenian neighbors. 2) Tying Georgia down to new agreement can make it easier for Gazprom and Russia to further purchase Azerbaijani Gas themselves, therefore becoming the only major energy provider in the region. Back in 2016, Gazprom voiced that it was ready to purchase the whole export capacity of Azeri gas – 16 billion cubic meters. Gazprom used the same ploy to wholesale purchase Turkmen gas, effectively annihilating the EUsupported Nabucco project before it even started to materialize. Whether Azerbaijan will accede to such requests remains to be seen, but the two sides already have a history of gas trade, with the biggest volume purchase coming exactly one year after the 2008 War. 3) The agreement, especially the fact of its being so short-term, may be a prelude to a joint geological venture on the Black Sea shelf which is reputed to be rich with natural resources, namely gas and oil. In Abkhazia, such endeavors are already carried out by another Russian giant, Rosneft, and it wouldn’t come as such a surprise to see Gazprom nab advantageous terms in delivering and distributing oil from the Black Sea. Add to that the flash-royal of Russia’s geopolitical poker, the security blackmail, and one can see what choices the much-maligned Georgian side might have had in these negotiations – that is pretty much, none.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY JANUARY 27 - 30, 2017

Thomas De Waal on Gas & Politics

gas to Armenia, giving a small amount of it to Georgia. This is again about the context of the fact that there is not enough output in Azerbaijan as it is using most of gas for its own internal consumptionespecially in winter, there is not much available gas for Georgia. So here is a technical reason why Georgia needs to talk to Gazprom. I don’t think it is entirely bad. But the reason the Georgian government deserves criticism is for the fact that the government has made this deal in a non-transparent fashion. The public does not feel confident that it knows all the details; there is a general nervousness at the moment, generally about Russia in the context of the new US Presidency and what it means for Georgia. So, I understand public wants to know more but I’m not convinced there is a political plot with the Government of Russia.

INTERVIEW BY ANNA KALANDADZE, VOICE OF AMERICA’S GEORGIAN SERVICE

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o take a closer look at some of the highly pressing issues currently circling in Georgia’s domestic and foreign affairs, we spoke to Thomas De Waal of Carnegie Endowment in Brussels.

HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE RECENTLY SIGNED DEAL BETWEEN GAZPROM AND GEORGIA ABOUT THE TRANSIT OF RUSSIAN GAS TO ARMENIA? I ‘m not familiar with the technical details of the agreement. This is a very complicated issue and gas contracts are very difficult, although it’s natural that people look for a political context. I would be a little cautious, though, to say that this has any major political implications. Gazprom has, for many years, passed

TELL US HOW YOU SEE THE RECENT UNM SPLIT? WHY DO YOU THINK IT HAPPENED? This is now a party that has lost two elections in a row, major elections, plus the Presidential and local elections. When a party loses an election, it needs to look at itself and ask what went wrong. And I guess there are two completely opposite conclusions here: the conclusion of the Saakashvili supporters that the elections were not fair- “we were cheated, and we need to fight harder, come out on the street, and protest” and the conclusion of the others, including Giga Bokeria, that Saakashvili had become a problem and “we had not rebranded the party to become a postMisha party, and that Saakashvili’s intervention in the elections a few months ago created a negative effect.” So, when you have this kind of disagreement, you naturally end up with a split. This is a natural process, but the problem with the anti-Misha group is that none of them are new forces, especially in Georgia: people know Bokeria, Ugulava and

Bakradze; have known them for many years, and so they do not have the appeal of being fresh leaders. Having said that, I think it is healthy for a party to move away from its founder and a charismatic leader, and try to reorganize itself.

WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR USGEORGIA RELATIONS UNDER THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION? This is obviously the big question. We don’t have answers; I don’t think Donald Trump himself has them, either. Trump wants to do something completely different; he is breaking 70 years of tradition with his comments about NATO and Europe; and obviously his fascination with Vladimir Putin is deeply troubling. But let’s be honest: you cannot run a country by Twitter. All we have is his comments. His nominee for Secretary of State basically repeated US ongoing policy towards Russia, the need to maintain sanctions, and talked about Russian aggression in Ukraine. So, what we are going to see is a conflict between President Trump and his ideas, and the US conservative political establishment which wants to keep the same policies. I doubt one man who is President will be able to change all these policies. I think the only thing we can say for sure is that we are in times of uncertainty when a lot of issues such as relations with Russia will be reviewed and revisited. Of course, this is bad for a country like Georgia which needs stability from the United States. But there are very strong links between Georgia and the US, especially the Pentagon and Georgia, and those cannot be washed away or cancelled so easily and so fast. Let’s just hope they continue as before. You can follow Anna Kalandadze, Head of the VOA Georgian section on twitter at @ anavoa or find more interviews via voanews. com/Georgian. The Georgian-language interview first appeared on VOA.

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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

JANUARY 27 - 30, 2017

NGO Claims Energy Ministry Violated the Law BY THEA MORRISON

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on-Governmental Organization, the Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA) says that Georgia’s Energy Ministry violated the law. The GYLA released a statement on January 26, which says that on January 18, they officially appealed to the Ministry of Energy with a request they provide information about the talks with Russia’s energy giant Gazprom. However, the has yet to be met. GYLA’s statement says that they requested the following documentation: • A copy of the previous agreement with Gazprom, which expired on December 31, 2016. • Copies of all documents concerning the negotiations with Gazprom launched from January 1. • A copy of the new agreement with Gazprom, which will be signed by all sides. Moreover, if the requested information and documents were secret, the GYLA asked the Ministry to provide them with copies of documents proving the deal was truly confidential. “In response to the appeal of the Young Lawyers Association, on 25 January we were notified by the Ministry of Energy that the requested information and documents were not protected at the Ministry

and therefore could not be provided to us,” the statement of the NGO reads. The GYLA says that the Ministry violated the law when they did not send the GYLA’s request to the administrative authority responsible for the requested information. And in case such authority was not found, the Ministry of Energy should have returned the statement to the GYLA with proper reasoning. “The action of the Ministry makes the grounds for confidentiality of the Gazprom agreement more obscure. This reinforces the suspicion that the Ministry is avoiding issuing information, even though it is obliged to do so by legislation,” says the GYLA statement. The new deal with Gazprom was reached on January 12 and means that Georgia, as a transit country for the transportation of Russian gas to Armenia, will from 2018 receive payment from Gazprom. Under the previous agreement, which expired on December 31, 2016, Russia has been paying Georgia for gas transportation by supplying natural gas to the amount of 10% of the volume of transported gas. The NGOs, the opposition and the president have said many times that the deal is “unprofitable for Georgia’s economy and endangers the country’s energy independence.” They also call on the authorities to disclose the agreement details and hold a special parliamentary hearing over the issue.

UN Speaks Out against Inguri River Crossing Closures

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tatement of Niels Scott, Resident Coordinator, on behalf of the United Nations Country Team regarding the announced closure of crossing points along the Inguri River. “We note the announcement of the imminent closure of the Khurcha-Nabakevi and OrsantiaOtobaia crossing points along the Inguri River. It is incumbent on the United Nations to raise the very real concerns of the population being negatively impacted by these changes, creating greater vulnerability and isolation of those living in the adjacent areas. Based on observed patterns, the closure of the remaining pedestrian crossing points will likely affect at least 1,000 crossings a day on average. “The United Nations are concerned that the announced restrictions will have negative consequences for the humanitarian and development needs of those living in Abkhazia, Georgia. As movement is further restricted, the people of Abkhazia will find it more difficult to access basic services such as healthcare and education and to

participate in economic activities and social events such as weddings, funerals and public holiday commemorations, as well as family gatherings across the dividing line. Notably, access to education for children who have been crossing to attend schools in their mother tongue will be impeded. “We wish to recall the words of the United Nations Secretary-General, who, in his report to the General Assembly in May 2016, urged the authorities in control to reconsider and avoid closing any further crossing points. In his words, the issue of freedom of movement across the administrative boundary line has security, humanitarian and human rights dimensions and remains of utmost importance to the local population. “Again, we urge relevant parties to consider the impact of the announced closing measure on the welfare of the local residents. We call on all sides to ensure the rights and needs of all people living in Abkhazia are respected. “The United Nations remain open to continue our constructive dialogue and support finding practical solutions to the issues that may arise.”


GEORGIA TODAY

BUSINESS

JANUARY 27 - 30, 2017

Produce in Georgia Adds Two More Enterprises to its List BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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iorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minster of Georgia, announced that an enterprise producing construction materials is planned for the Didi Lilo area as a part of the Produce in Georgia program, with more than GEL 3.5 million to be invested in the project. He added that the government would be giving away one hectare of land for the future venture. An enterprise to produce glass is set to be opened, also through the Produce in Georgia project, with GEL 1 million to be allocated to finalize construction. As the Prime Minister noted, the Government of Georgia supports start-ups in several directions:

through subsidizing loans for the first two years and providing them with half the interest payments required by commercial banks in the country, and by offering State-owned land free of charge. Georgia’s PM thanked Zviad Tsikolia, famous Georgian industrial designer, who has expressed his willingness to participate in the Produce in Georgia program and build an enterprise for plastics production which will be carried out with the government’s support.

Corruption Perception Index 2016: Georgia Has Lowest Corruption Rate in Region

BY THEA MORRISON

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he global anti-corruption organization, Transparency International (TI), released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 on January 25, claiming that Georgia has the lowest corruption rate in the region. CPI showed that Georgia’s score is 57 and is ranked 44th among 176 countries, which is the best indicator in Eastern Europe and the Central Asian region, except for European Union member states. In the Corruption Perception Index 2012, Georgia had 52 points (51th place), in 2013 - 49 points (55th place), in 2014 - 52 points (50th place), in 2015 - 52 points (48th place). TI says that over two-thirds of the 176 countries and territories in this year's index fall below the midpoint of their scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). The global average score is a paltry 43, indicating endemic corruption in the country's public sector. CPI showed that more countries declined than improved in this year's results, showing the urgent need for committed action to thwart corruption. “In too many countries, people are deprived of their most basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the powerful and corrupt enjoy lavish lifestyles with impunity,” said José Ugaz, the Chair of TI. Although Georgia’s score in the annual CPI has slightly improved, TI says some measures need to be carried out in Georgia, in order to further elim-

inate corruption: • Informal influence on state institutions should be eliminated and public and private sectors should be effectively separated; • An independent, anti-corruption agency should be created; • Independency and political impartiality of judicial authorities and law enforcement agencies should be ensured; • Independent, professional civil service should be created which will be free from nepotism and political influence; • The independency of supervisory and regulatory institutions should be strengthened; • Effective, anti-corruption mechanisms should be created in state enterprises; • Journalists who reveal corruption facts should be supported and proper measures should be carried out based on their obtained information. The 2016 report revealed that the corruption perception level is lowest in Denmark and New Zealand, and highest in Somalia, Syria, North Korea and South Sudan. The Corruption Perceptions Index was established in 1995 as a composite indicator used to measure perceptions of corruption in the public sector in different countries around the world. The Corruption Perceptions Index aggregates data from a number of different sources that provide perceptions of business people and country experts of the level of corruption in the public sector. During the past 20 years, both the sources used to compile the index and the methodology have been adjusted and refined.

Government to Initiate Technical & Economic Analysis for Solar Power Plant Construction in Georgia

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BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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he Georgian Government is set to launch a technical and economic study for the construction of solar power plants, Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili announced during a government meeting earlier this week. Eight locations will be analyzed in the coming 18 months for suitability to construct the plants, a

decision which, according to the PM, will be a step forward towards the enego-independence of the country. Further, the launch of the first wind power plant in Kareli last year is regarded as a significant move towards the use of alternative sources of energy. Kvirikashvili expressed hope that the government will receive a number of interesting offers from investors regarding construction of the future solar power plants.

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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

JANUARY 27 - 30, 2017

Georgia on Georgia Moves Bloomberg Risk Map Forward in Developing its System of Protected Areas OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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he Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of G e o rg i a a n d Un i te d Nations Development Program (UNDP) completed a 7-year program to promote the long-term financial sustainability of Georgia’s Protected Areas. With USD 1 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the program was implemented by the Agency of Protected Areas and Caucasus Nature Fund (CNF) in cooperation with the Transboundary Joint Secretariat (TJS) for the South Caucasus. The summary workshop of the program on January 25 brought together a wide range of partners and beneficiaries. Gigla Agulashvili, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, and Niels Scott, Head of the UNDP in Georgia, addressed the participants of the meeting. “The last seven years were critical for making the system of Protected Areas in Georgia more effective and sustainable,” said Minister Agulashvili said.

"We made good progress in improving the financial sustainability of the Protected Areas, developing biodiversity monitoring and environmental tourism. In order to keep pace of these positive developments, we hope to launch the second phase of the program soon". Since 2010, the program has benefitted 10 Protected Areas and National Parks in Georgia with the focus on infrastructure projects, environmental tourism and education. “Sustainable management of Protected Areas has environmental, economic and social benefits. The examples of Borjomi-Kharagauli and Lagodekhi national parks show that local residents are the first to benefit from environmental tourism and other opportunities,” said Scott. Assistance to the Protected Areas is part of a wider cooperation between the Government of Georgia, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP), aiming to support Georgia in expanding access to green solutions and making environmental issues an integral part of development.

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he following phrase caught my eye when looking at the chart of the Global Risk Briefing: ‘Bloomberg’s risk map signals where danger lurks’. I could not believe what I saw there – Georgia was among the countries of the world with the highest risks to survival. We are positioned next to Ecuador, Tunisia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, etc., some of them even doing better than us in some of the indicators. I have nothing against these nations, of course, but, as I know, they qualify as developing countries and, most importantly, none of them is striving for membership in NATO or the European Union. I am literally dumbfounded! How are we to accede to the highly appreciated Western alliances with those scary Bloomberg numbers? How could they be true? How have we so egregiously fallen? How is it possible that Georgia ranks among the most unsuccessful countries in the world which are under the risk of failure? Could this be a mirage from one of my nightmares, or just a specter of very, very bygone times? But the fact is a fact: Bloomberg says so, not me! I understand that anybody can lie or err the truth, but why should Bloomberg, a universally respected and trusted media company, have any reason at all to proliferate false information

about Georgia? I doubt they have bungled anything, but if they have, should we not take the company to court for the atrocious insult? I wish we had a case but there’ll be no chance – the murder info is right there, in color and all. If these stupefying figures that I’m looking at as I write are correct, then all our political bla-bla makes zero sense. On the other hand, the Bloomberg data on Georgia could very well be true, judging by the stories I see on the TV, hear on the radio and read in the press on a daily basis. For example, a couple of days ago I came across an article in one of the local papers which reads that in Georgia, just 5 percent of its population is feeding the remaining 95 percent. This means that less than 200 thousand people of four million are working in this country realistically to procreate something specifically valuable that facilitates our survival. I wish that was the only thing which comes to mind. Some of our inquisitive economists insist that building the market economy, in the true meaning of the term, is a real bust in Georgia as a prerequisite of developed capitalism. To compound the picture, the same economists say that we have built a consuming society rather than a producing one, within which our main concern is biological existence and national survival, not the orientation of the economy on satisfactory social life and wellbeing. On top of all that – I continue reading – building a civic society is belated, and genuine principles of

market economy are only words. The avalanche of negative descriptions of our economic life does not stop there: complete freedom of manufacturers has yet to be achieved; banks are in fact detached from investment activity; the capitalism we have here can only be called wild and uncivilized; one third of our active population has emigrated abroad in search of their share of bread and butter; clannish relationships in business have developed; interests of business and politics have merged; the state budget has lost its investment function, having acquired a consuming function instead; unemployment is becoming rampant; downfall of the economy has been triggered by mismanagement, and the national economy has found itself under a repressive regime. If this informative endeavor is true, then we might want to believe the above Bloomberg analysis. Most likely, Bloomberg would not have risked its reputation for Georgia even though Georgia is its choice for study in the south Caucasus region – Armenia and Azerbaijan not featuring in it. https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/ global-risk-briefing/ - here is the link one might want to have a look at in case my writing has made the wrong impression. Checking the facts twice never hurts, especially if you are trying to do it by yourself. I’m not saying this for foreign investors, by the way. Hopefully, they are nonchalant towards inquiries and breakdowns like this.

Tbilisi to Toast Revered Scottish Poet for 8th (but not final!) Time BY ALASTAIR WATT

O

ne of the standout events on Tbilisi’s social calendar will soon be upon us as preparations are nearly complete for the 8th Tbilisi Gala Benefit Burns Supper and Ball, to be held at the Funicular Restaurant on February 4. Three charitable causes – Temi Community (caring for a wide range of vulnerable people), Catharsis (helping the homeless elderly by providing hot meals) and Dog Organization Georgia (providing shelter for stray animals along with sterilization, vaccination and adoption programs) - will benefit from an event which last year raised 54,000 GEL. While Burns Suppers have been held all across the world for decades, the Tbilisi version is relatively young and its establishment in Georgia has been entirely down to the devoted and warmhearted British expat Fiona Coxshall. Fiona, who is set to depart Georgia this year, reflected on the beginnings and continued success of the Burns Supper in Tbilisi: “When I came here there was no Burns Supper. I love Scottish dancing and know others do, too, so I knew it would be a success.” She added: “It’s something different which has built up a reputation for good fun with lots of dancing.” Indeed, a night of good food, plentiful drink, and dizzy dancing awaits around 240 guests to celebrate the life and works of Scotland’s most celebrated poet, and perhaps its most celebrated son, Robert Burns, whose poems and songs written in the 18th century continue to entertain and inspire today.

The Tbilisi Burns Supper 2016

The evening will also be punctuated by a number of traditional toasts, including the Address to a Haggis, a tribute to the Scottish delicacy of spiced sheep innards which Burns hailed as the “chieftain o’ the pudding race”. There will be some inter-gender bantering as well with the Address to the Lassies (women/girls) countered swiftly by the Address to the Laddies (men/ boys), while the Immortal Memory, seen as the signature speech of any Burns Night, will be delivered this year by UNDP’s Niels Scott. The Burns Supper changed location in 2015 to the Funicular and organizer Fiona has been highly impressed with Tbilisi’s revived landmark venue atop Mtatsminda. She reserved praise for head chef Jorge Da Silva, who she described as “more than just a chef; he offers a personal service and takes immense pride in his work and workplace.” Once a delicious four-course meal, including the aforementioned haggis, has been washed down by wine, whisky,

or both, guests are lured to the dance floor by Nicol McLaren and the Glencraig Band (Isobelle Hodgson on keyboard, Maggie Adamson on fiddle) for some Scottish country dancing. Breaking from the reeling and whirling, an auction and grand prize raffle will be staged, while the night (which often runs into the morning) concludes with a disco. By that point, Fiona, who picks out the song “Lassie wi’ the Lint-white Locks” as her favourite work of Burns, will be reflecting on an eighth Burns Supper impeccably done. And while it might be the last she organizes in Georgia, Fiona is adamant that the event can continue to flourish even in her absence. She said: “This year I have had the help of a small committee, and I hope they and others can carry it on. As I leave Georgia, I think people will remember me for the dog shelter and the Burns Supper. And I dearly hope that this is a tradition which is maintained for years to come.”


GEORGIA TODAY

9

CULTURE

JANUARY 27 - 30, 2017

Of Dead Food Critics: Svaneti BY TONY HANMER

H

ow's this for a culinary challenge? You must make the best feast ever, annually, over several days. Your guests are the dead from your own family, whose spirits return for the occasion. Who from your living family members LIVES and who DIES in the next year will be based on their reaction. (They go away in the middle of it all and discuss the respective feasts with other ghosts). C'mon, Svans, are you Orthodox or not? Case in point. January 18 was the holiday locally called Lisgvjinaal, described in a recent Georgian article which I had my wife check out for me as "hosting the dead". The author was an up-and-coming director of a Svan language film, Dede, based in Ushguli, which is hitting the international film festival scene and getting considerable recognition. I gleaned more information from an Etseri source to balance things out. Like many Svan traditions, this one started in the unknown past; there no news exited the province for most of the Middle Ages. Taking place after the "Old" New Year of January 14, one must clean all stoves and cooking surfaces of oil, as no fats are allowed in the first stage of cooking. If three-legged furniture is available to use, it is used. One important dish from old times, now probably not made at all anymore, included cannabis. This was first roasted

then ground with a pestle and mortar; you would add some water, heat it, mix, skim, and add cheese, ending up with a hippie version of khachapuri (Georgian cheese bread). This was the only dish with any fat allowed in it. Then followed the big family supra (feast), including cannabis oil as well, and all dishes and recipes involving the best foods. Candles were lit, and there had to be lobiani (bean bread) and a triple libation of wine poured out. The head of the family opened the door and welcomed the dead in for the whole event, which would involve daily feasts for between three and seven days. The second day was a kind of "announcement'. It was not to be held after Jan 19, and was not a "fasting" feast, meaning

that all foods and ingredients were allowed. On the Monday, the spirits would leave the house to compare feasts with those of other families and discuss the life or death fates of all family members. Families asked them for peace, of course. Sunday saw their return, and there had to be warm porridge; they would stay until dawn, then depart until the next year (or event!). Already prepared food needed be reheated for them, and they would partake of it until leaving. There were no expectations of seeing food invisibly being eaten, but it was all done anyway. There must be araqi (moonshine) available for them at this time. As they left, you could look for their footprints in the new snow.

There would be a separate feast for the family children so that they didn't bother the dead, although apparently children's laughter was not forbidden, as it made the dead happy. If all of this was not done, or not "up to snuff", you would have no peace in your heart; no wonder, as who knew who might die as a result? You would apologize profusely to the dead and hope for the best. Whew! Hey, you can believe what you like, but this seems a heavy performancebased burden with potentially disastrous consequences for failure of any kind. Practice for what the book of Revelation in the Bible calls the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, apparently one of the first events in the eternal period of the finished Heaven? Perhaps not, because that

event seems to be entirely devoid of pressure to "get it right"; by then, those whose place is in Heaven are already there, and the rest have excluded themselves. I'm not even saying that you have to be Orthodox, or Christian at all. But if you CALL yourselves Orthodox, Svans... I'll let someone else finish that sentence. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1350 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

CineClub to Explore the House of Others BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

I

n the early 1990s, a cruel and devastating civil war took place between Abkhazia and Georgia, immersing the post-Soviet region in conflict. During one night alone, in 1993, upwards of 300,000 Georgians were forced to abandon their homes in Abkhazia and move to various cities and towns throughout Georgia. Many still have the keys to their old houses in hopes of returning. Those on the “winning” side had to look for a fresh start, relocating to the countryside, where they were assigned houses previously occupied by the “enemy”. Living in the houses of others, memories linger within every wall and piece of furniture, a constant reminder of the horrors experienced by owners past. And though the new house-dwellers may seek peace, for some it seems unreachable amidst the war that continues to rage within them. A heavy theme indeed, and one which is masterfully explored in the post-war awardwinning drama, House of Others, directed by Rusudan Glurjidze, and written by Dato

Chubinishvili with the director. Continuing its great monthly tradition of sharing Georgian culture, history and film, the Tbilisi CineClub is kick-starting 2017 with a showing of House of Others (103 minutes), followed by an open Q&A session with the director herself. The drama has won four Best Film awards (Czech Republic, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, NETPAC) and is set to attend a plethora of festivals throughout 2017. “House of Others raises questions of ethics and morality which are now even more relevant than when we started to shoot the film,” says Glurjidze. Filmed in an abandoned “Greek” village in the Adjaran mountains, the principal message of the movie is undoubtedly that there are no true winners in warfare. How that message is conveyed is for you to discover on Monday. See you there! Tickets can be purchased at www. kinoafisha.ge or at the cinema box office. WHERE: Amirani Cinema (Kostava Street) WHEN: January 30, 7pm TICKET: 3 GEL (plus 2 GEL admission fee as a donation towards organizational costs which include end-of-show Q&A sessions with directors and producers)

ROUTING

TBILISI ISTANBUL ATATURK AIRPORT ISTANBUL ATATURK AIRPORT TBILISI TBILISI ISTANBUL SABIHA GOKCEN AIRPORT ISTANBUL SABIHA GOKCEN AIRPORT TBILISI BATUMI - ISTANBUL ISTANBUL - BATUMI

10 Galaktion Street

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: info@peoplescafe.ge

FLIGHT NUMBER

TK 387 TK 385 TK 383 TK 386 TK 384 TK 382

WEEK DAYS

DEPARTURE

ARRIVAL

EVERYDAY

05.50 11.45 18.10 01.40 07.30 13.55

07.25 13.25 20.00 04.55 10.50 17.15

07.40

09.00

20.45

00.10+1

17.50 13.55

19.10 16.55

TK 381 EVERYDAY TK 380 TK 393 TK 392

EVERYDAY


10

CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

JANUARY 27 - 30, 2017

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 January 29 THE NUTCRACKER Pyotr Tchaikovsky New redaction of choreography by Alexei Fadeechev State Ballet of Georgia Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 - 70 GEL GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 January 27 LULLABY Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 9 GEL January 28 SONNETS William Shakespeare Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 11 GEL TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge February 2 DIVORCE Giorgi Eristavi Directed by Davit Doiashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 8, 10 GEL GRIBOEDOVI THEATER Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 January 29 SCARLET SAIL Alexander Grin Directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 5 – 10 GEL

GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 January 27 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL January 28 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL January 29, February 2 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 January 27 PERFORMANCE ECLIPSE Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL January 27 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Participants: Sandro Nikoladze, Irakli Menagarishvili, Levan Mikaberidze Special Guest: Lado Marjanidze Start time: 21:00 Free Admission January 28, 29 PERFORMANCE THE TEMPEST Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge

Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari January 27 – February 2 SILENCE Directed by Martin Scorsese Cast: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson Genre: Drama, History Language: English, Russian Subtitles Start time: 18:30, 21:45 Language: Russian Start time: 16:00, 21:45 Ticket: 10-14 GEL XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE Directed by D.J. Caruso Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 11:30, 14:15, 19:00, 21:40 Ticket: 8-14 GEL THE GREAT WALL Directed by Yimou Zhang Cast: Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 13:00, 19:00, 22:00 Ticket: 9-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL January 27 – February 2 LIVE BY NIGHT Directed by Ben Affleck Cast: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson Genre: Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 16:15 Ticket: 10-11 GEL LA LA LAND Directed by Damien Chazelle Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical Language: Russian Start time: 13:15, 19:15 Ticket: 9-14 GEL DONT KNOCK TWICE Directed by Caradog W. James Cast: Katee Sackhoff, Lucy

Boynton, Javier Botet Genre: Horror Language: Russian Start time: 22:10 Ticket: 13-14 GEL THE GREAT WALL (Info Above) Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION: GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY FROM 8TH MILLENNIUM B.C. TO 4TH CENTURY A.D EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY The exhibition showcases money circulation on the territory of Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. THE TESTAMENT OF DAVID THE BUILDER AND THE NEW EXHIBITS OF MEDIEVAL TREASURY The exhibition showcases: the fragment of the only surviving testament of David the Builder; a copy of its glass negative made by Aleksandre Roinashvili in 1895; paleographical blades of David the Builder's handicrafts created by Sargis Kakabadze in 1911; the richly embellished gospel "Ceremonial" (Sazeimo) which in all likelihood belonged to Queen Tamar, and more. September 27 – September 22 (2017) EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA January 16 - February 16 EXHIBITION UPLISTSIKHE 60 See artifacts from archaeological excavations at Uplistsikhe. The exhibition is dedicated to the 93rd anniversary of the birth of the Georgian archaeologist David Khakhutaishvili.

MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. EXHIBITION “LADO GUDIASHVILI AND GEORGIAN MONUMENTAL PAINTING” The exhibition showcases only one aspect of Gudiashvili's great art - monumental painting, which was presented discretely at various stages of his life. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION Here, visitors can discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION January 10 - February 24 EXHIBITION OF ALEXANDER BAZHBEUK-MELIKOV'S ARTWORKS ROOMS HOTELS (TBILISI) Address: 14 Kostava Str. Telephone: 202 00 99 January 27-29 CHARITY AUCTION AND ART EXHIBITION AND SALE FOR RATI GOMARTELI The exhibition presents the work of talented artists working in diverse mediums and styles introducing us to a variety of themes and concepts. MUSIC

KAKHIDZE MUSIC CENTER Address: 123/125 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 296 22 07 January 28 EVENING OF SYMPHONIC MUSIC Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 5 GEL TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 January 27, 28 ILIKO SUKHISHVILI 110TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT Start time: 19:30 ELEKTROWERK Address: 2 Monk Gabriel Salosi 1st Turn Telephone: 596 96 36 36 January 27 A MAD FOX TALES PRESENT: ANJA SCHNEIDER Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 40 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 January 28 CONSERVATOIRE GRAND HALL 75 ANNIVERSARY Start time: 18:30 Ticket: 5 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 January 31 LIVE JAZZ EVENING WITH RESO KIKNADZE Start time: 21:00 Free entry


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY JANUARY 27 - 30, 2017

11

Improvisation at Full Swing in Vake Park Night Club BY MAKA LOMADZE

B

ackstage 76 in Vake Park offers an ongoing series of concerts, giving you the chance to discover new faces and setting new musical standards in a variety of genres in an art café-like setting. On January 24, the duo of Davit Datunashvili and Irakli Abramishvili offered a show of experimental instrumental music to an avid audience there, one of their once-monthly performances. Datunashvili and Abramishvili started their collaboration in 2014. Since then they have recorded two albums and performed at various events. They play improvised, experimental music, which includes noise, ambient, drone and rhythmical elements from many genres. The duo uses guitars as the main source of their live performance, mixing the sound with other electronic instruments and various field recordings. “I used to work with bands but now I have a solo career,” Datunashvili told GEORGIA TODAY. “This latest project acknowledges that even such ‘non-

musical’ things as friction can become music, too. Of course, the direction of noise in music is wellknown and we don’t claim to be inventing anything new- our main niche is improvisation. We are very happy that Backstage 76 opened, as there aren’t many venues for musicians in Georgia, and I can say with every confidence that this is one of the best.” “Davit is a producer and I’m a sound designerand we have totally different styles of working,” Abramishvili told GEORGIA TODAY. “We work together in order to understand each other; we never know what we’ll end up with, but that’s the law of the experimental genre. The emotion of one musician is good, but the emotions of two are better,” he says, adding that the main thing for them is the environment, in other words, the acoustics of the place they are playing in. “We plan to go on tour, as our music fits specific festivals rather than a general audience. It’s not dance music and so needs a certain amount of concentration in the listening. Music is something that I love most of all. I can play for 12-14 hours a day. Even my thoughts become better with music.” I daresay music is not noise, just as singing is not

screaming. However, if we look at the work of this duo from the point of view of art being the reflection of reality, they are more than suited to the aggressive modern world. The question is: do we need exact reflections in this already crazy world? Does art not become malicious in this case? Every genre of music has a right to exist, though such experiments are far from positive in their ambition to pacify and relax. This very music is made for people having a need to discharge, popular every-

where, especially in the West. Those who are filled with aggression will probably like this duo more than those who are searching for peace and anticipating positive emotions from their art. One can hear them once a month at Backstage 76. The most interesting point: one never knows, like the musicians, what they will listen to… The entrance is from Abashidze Street into Vake Park. The concerts are usually held from 8pm to 11pm or midnight.

‘Georgian Fighting’ Given Upgraded Status of National Importance BY MAKA LOMADZE

O

n the initiative of the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection and on the decision of the Georgian government, on January 24, the sport ‘Georgian fight’ was given the status of Monument of National Importance. ‘Georgian fighting’ is an ancient sport that was once widespread in Georgia. The fact that it was practiced even in very early times is proven by a fight scene painted on the wall of Alaverdi Cathedral in Kakheti. The scene features various characters in the act of wrestling, details their clothing, and clearly demonstrates the plasticity of their movements, which without doubt denotes the Georgian traditional fighting art. Such wrestling

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contests in Georgia usually followed religious festivals. The National Agency of Cultural Heritage Protection first conferred the status of non-material cultural heritage monument to Georgian fighting in 2014. Those who initiated the request for this upgraded status consider the Georgian fight as a definer of the Georgian national identity and expression of Georgia’s individuality.

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CULTURE

Tsilkani Architectural Complex Given Status of National Immovable Monument

GEORGIA TODAY

JANUARY 27 - 30, 2017

Adjara Tourism Department Promotes Region in Vilnius BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

T BY MAKA LOMADZE

O

n the initiative of the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection and on the decision of the Georgian government, on January 24, Tsilkani St. Mary Architectural Complex was given the status of immovable cultural monument in the category of National Importance. The Tsilkani St. Mary architectural complex, which currently represents an episcopal cathedral, is located in Tsilkani village in the region of Mtskheta. It comprises edifices of various type and a wall uniting three construction periods: a hallchurch belonging to the 4th century, basilica dating back to the 5-6th century,

cupola-shaped church of 11-12th centuries, and the wall dated of the18th century. The complex is among the most important monuments of the Georgian cultural heritage and history, uniting four distinct patterns, built in different periods. It conveys not only the stages of development of Georgian architecture but also the history of the spread of Christianity. Here, one of the 13 Syrian fathers, Ise Tsilkneli, lived and is buried. He was one of the 13 Syrian fathers who came to Georgia in the 6th century to strengthen the Christian religion. The monument is rich in reliefs, of which some represent the epochal model. Besides its architectural and artistic value, Tsilkali is important for its history, too, having been the episcopal center from which Christianity was spread to the mountains of the Kartli region.

ogether with the Georgian National Tourism Administration and the Mountain Resorts Development company, the Adjara Tourism Department participated in the International Tourism Fair ‘Adventur 2017’ in Vilnius, Lithuania. Enjoying the status of Guest of Honor at the expo, the Georgian stand was visited by the Mayor of Klaipeda and the Minister of Economy during the opening event. Visitors to the exposition could find information about Adjara’s tourism potential and the many possibilities for recreation it has to offer. “Visitors were genuinely interested in Georgia and the region of Adjara, in the opportunity to experience its sea, mountains, eco- tourism and gastronomical tours,” said Micheil Koplatadze, representative of the Adjara Tourism Department. “We had many meetings with business partners during the event and I hope participation in international tourism fairs like this one in Vilnius will help us to promote the region on an international level”. Over 350 tourism companies and organizations participated in Adventur 2017 this year, with an estimated 24,787

visitors attending. For its active cooperation, the Adjara Tourism Department was also awarded with a certificate of appreciation at the expo.

Looking past this week’s fair in Vilnius, Adjara Tourism Department plans to participate in upcoming international tourism exhibitions in Germany, Japan, the UK, South Korea, and Dubai.

Issue #915  

January 27 - 30, 2017

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