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Issue no: 1043

• APRIL 27 - 30, 2018

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

FOCUS

ON BIDZINA Billionaire Ivanishvili has agreed to return to politics

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In this week’s issue... Georgia's Foreign Minister Meets Counterparts during Visit in NY

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NEWS PAGE 2

MEP Moody on Sanctions, Smokescreens & Workers' Rights POLITICS PAGE 4

New Draft on “Protecting” Religious Feelings Causes Controversy in Georgia

White Sails: Welcoming a New Living Standard with 10,000 sq.m. of Recreational Space BUSINESS PAGE 9

Isle of Women, Mexico

BY THEA MORRISON

SOCIETY PAGE 12

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member of the parliamentary opposition party, the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia (APG), Emzar Kvitsiani, has initiated a draft law which makes insults of religious feelings punish-

Tbilisi’s Unmissable Plunge into the World of Art

able by law. The draft has already been submitted to Parliament and Sopio Kiladze, the Chair of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of Parliament, which has to make the first decision about the draft approval, stated she supports the initiative. Continued on page 3

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CULTURE PAGE 12

Emerging Georgian Artist Gains Popularity in Rome with Live Performances CULTURE PAGE 15


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

APRIL 27 - 30, 2018

Georgia's Foreign Minister Meets Counterparts during Visit in NY BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgia’s Vice-Premier and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikheil Janelidze, held several high-rank meetings with his counterparts within the framework of the United Nations (UN) ‘High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace’ in New York. At the meeting with his Swedish counterpart, Margot Wallström, the ministers discussed increasing the dynamics of cooperation between the two countries in different spheres, particularly the cooperation between law enforcement agencies to eradicate issues of violations of EU-Georgia visa-liberalization rules. The Swedish Foreign Minister positively assessed the decision to send a Georgian police attaché to Sweden. The ministers also emphasized the importance of using visa-free and free trade regimes for developing trade and business contacts between the countries. Discussions also focused on the recent developments in Georgia's occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, including human rights violations and frequent imprisonment of Georgian citizens. Mikheil Janelidze thanked the Swedish side for supporting Georgia. He also met Côte d'Ivoire Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marcel Amon Tahon. The two emphasized cooperation between Georgia and Côte d'Ivoire within the framework of international organi-

Photo: Georgia’s Foreign Minister meets his Moldavian counterpart. Source: MFA Georgia

zations. Special attention was paid to cooperation within the framework of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Janelidze introduced his counterpart to Georgia's priorities during the Chairmanship of the Open Government Partnership. Tahon in turn expressed interest in sharing the successful experiences of Georgia in fields such as civil service, good governance, education and healthcare. At the meeting between the Georgian and Moldavian Foreign Ministers,

Janelidze and Tudor Ulianovschi discussed Georgia-Moldova cooperation, as well as Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration process. The importance of exchanging bilateral high-level visits was also noted. The Georgian Foreign Minister invited his Moldavian counterpart to Georgia. The UN high-level meeting was held on 24-25 April at the UN Headquarters, gathering contributions from top speakers with experience in peacebuilding and sustaining peace. While delivering his speech there, the

Georgian FM focused on the government peace initiative aimed at improving the lives of those living in Georgia’s two Russian-backed breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He introduced the meeting participants to the grave human rights and living conditions of the people at these regions, noting that the missions of the UN and other international organizations are not admitted to these regions to monitor the situation there. Georgian minister added that Russia does not fulfill the obligations it agreed

to in the 2008 ceasefire agreement which obliges the Russian Federation to withdraw its forces from the occupied regions. He underlined that the Government of Georgia supports the peaceful resolution of the conflict and thanked the UN member states for assisting Georgia in this process. In his speech, Janelidze also spoke about the joint efforts and responsibility of the international community in the process of securing and maintaining world peace.

Bidzina Ivanishvili Returns to Politics

Image source: blog.lboro.ac.uk

BY THEA MORRISON

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EU, UNDP Assist Georgian Parliament to Promote Strategic Vision, Transparency & Accountability

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outh engagement, sport integrity and the development of human capital are in the spotlight of the 20182020 Strategy and Action Plan presented by the Parliament’s Committee on Sports and Youth Affairs on 25 April to representatives of the Georgian Parliament, Government, Tbilisi municipality, Olympic and Paralympic Committees, youth organizations and donor agencies. The event opened with an address from Irakli Kobakhidze, Georgian Parliament Speaker, followed by welcome remarks from Janos Herman, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia. Mikheil Kavelashvili, Chairperson of the Parliament’s Committee on Sports and Youth Affairs, stressed that in the coming three years, the Committee will pay particular attention to its primary function of law-making. “Georgia’s legislation on youth and sports will be developing in several key areas, including youth activities, revision of the Law on Sports and development or revision of the regulations related to international legal instruments and political obligations. The implementation of the Association Agreement with the European Union, sports conventions

and the other international political decisions, such as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, will be at the center of our work,” Mikheil Kavelashvili said. The Strategy and Action Plan of the Parliament’s Committee on Sports and Youth Affairs has been developed with the assistance of the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP), based on the results of a baseline research conducted in 2017. Niels Scott, UNDP Head in Georgia, noted that the recent Global Parliamentary Report, published jointly by the Interparliamentary Union (IPU) and UNDP in October 2017, acknowledges the development of the action plans by the Georgian Parliament’s committees as an innovative approach to increase effectiveness of parliament operation. Eight out 15 parliamentary committees started publishing their annual reports and three-year strategies and action plans in 2014 when the practice was first initiated with the assistance of the EU and UNDP under their larger initiative for strengthening parliamentary democracy in Georgia. The 2017 Open Parliament Action Plan has mandated all parliamentary committees to develop and publish their annual action plans.

eorgian billionaire and founder of Georgian Dream (GD) ruling party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who was Prime Minister of Georgia from 25 October 2012 to 20 November 2013, is to return to politics and chair his party. The information was released by Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili after the GD meeting. He stated the party offered Ivanishvili the chance to return to politics and he agreed. The PM said everyone knows how important Ivanishvili is for the ruling party. “He is capable of strengthening the main political core of the party [GD]. He can provide more and new dynamics for further development, and more efficiency and progress for both executive and legislative authorities and self-governing bodies," Kvirikashvili explained. According to the Prime Minister, in the

next few days a political session and party congress will be held. "The political council and delegates from all over Georgia will unanimously elect Bidzina Ivanishvili as the new chairman and will also elect new members of the political council," he added. Ivanishvili, who is often affiliated with

Russia, founded Georgian Dream (GD) coalition in 2012 which shot ahead in popularity of then ruling party United National Movement in the October parliamentary elections. In 2013, Ivanishvili quit politics but according to opposition parties, he has remained as the “informal governor” of the country ever since.

Armenian Opposition Presents Nikol Pashinyan as PM Candidate BY THEA MORRISON

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he Civil Contract party leader of Armenia, MP Nikol Pashinyan has been named by the Yelq faction as its candidate for Prime Minister, a post that became vacant on April 23, after the PM and ex-President Serzh Sargsyan resigned amid large-scale protest rallies all over Armenia. During an April 25 rally, Pashinyan addressed the demonstrators, saying

Sargsyan’s resignation alone will not stop the protests. “The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) has to surrender. We will not allow them to appoint a new PM,” he stated. The opposition leader added that the police stated they will not execute acting PM Karen Karapetyan's orders. ”The police and the police chief have said they will refuse to execute Karapetyan's instructions. He is not the acting Prime Minister and they are not authorized to comply with his instructions," Pashinyan was quoted by news.am.

"I warn Karen Karapetyan not to step into the government building anymore," he added. The opposition leader stated that the 'My Step' initiative would start protest actions at noon, on April 26. “One more step and we will finish this story,” he said, adding that the blocking of roads and bridges is among the actions scheduled for April 26. Armenian media reports that at least 80 trucks are waiting for this purpose on the Yerevan-Sevan highway, ready to drive into Yerevan and block the streets.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 27 - 30, 2018

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Saudi Arabia to Open Embassy in Georgia

Days of Georgian Culture in Pesaro, Italy BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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aving gone through distressing wars and devastated by the loss of so many territories, painfully squeezed between Russian autocracy and Western democracy, distraught with current hardships and troubled by its fuzzy future, Georgia is still trying its affordable best to amuse the world, and is doing its share of good with the help of its vibrant talent and elevated art. Between April 11 and 18, the Days of Georgian Culture were held in Pesaro, Italy in Gioacchino Rossini’s hometown. The event was organized by the Embassy of Georgia in Italy, the Renata Tebaldi & Mario Del Monaco International Academy of Operatic Singing, and the City Administration of Pesaro and dedicated to the centenary of the first Democratic Republic of Georgia. The festivities were opened by a weeklong and widely attended exhibition of works by Georgian artists and sculptors. One of the highlights was a traditional

folkloric music concert from Tusheti and a photo exhibit and documentaries depicting the Tusheti customs and traditions. The Italian guests were also lucky enough to taste indigenous produce from this beautiful mountainous region of Georgia. One of the latest Georgian feature films ‘Tangerines’ was also screened very successfully. During the Culture Days, the Georgian Ambassador to Italy, Kakha Sikharulidze, had meaningful meetings with Pesaro City Hall and staff members as well as the president of the local Chamber of Industry, Alberto Drudi, as a result of which soon the delegation of business circles of the Marche Region will visit Georgia with the purpose of deepening business relations between Georgia and Italy, and planning for the future. He also met with the prefect of Pesaro, Carla Cincarilli, the president of the City Cultural Committee, Ilaro Barbanti, and director general of the Confindustria Marche Nord, Dr. Salvatore Giordano. The Days culminated in a gala concert at Rossini Opera House with the participation of world renowned operatic singers soprano Nino Surguladze, soprano Nino Lezhava, baritone Sulkhan Gvele-

siani, and tenor Otar Jorjikia, all accompanied by pianist Eka Metreveli (incidentally, the spouse of Ambassador Sikharulidze). During the reception, the guests had a chance to taste the wonderful Georgian wine produced by the famous Winery Khareba. Last year, the Days of Italian Culture were held in Batumi, which has now been reciprocated by Georgians in Italy. As a matter of fact, the heart and soul of the entire event in both countries were the sisters Lezhava – Nino and Leeka. Several years ago, soprano Nino Lezhava was selected by the late Maestro Mario Melani as his heiress and substitute in the Pesaro Academy. Leeka Lezhava has from the very first days worked in the Academy as the administrative assistant to her sister, in fact, organizing every piece of work in the wide-spread activity of this renowned European school for vocal training. Not many years have passed since those amazing sisters from Georgia deservedly took in their caring hands the complicated process of running the Academy. They have so far managed very well, and their blueprint for the future looks quite promising too.

BY THEA MORRISON

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eorgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) reports that after the meeting of Georgian Ambassador Giorgi Janjgava with the representatives of the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry, it was decided that the Embassy of Saudi Arabia will be opened in Tbilisi. "Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs plans to open an Embassy in Tbilisi in May in order to promote relations between the two countries," the official note of the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry reads. Georgian MFA reports that development of mutual ties with Saudi Arabia

is very important for Georgia. “For this purpose, in January 2015, the Embassy of Georgia opened its embassy in Riyadh, which greatly contributed to the development of bilateral and multilateral relations between the two countries in various spheres, including political, military, trade-economic, investment and tourism spheres,” the statement of the Georgian MFA reads. The ministry noted that the amount of direct savings investments from Saudi Arabia in Georgia exceeded $100 million, adding that in 2017 alone, 60 thousand Saudi Arabian citizens visited Georgia. The MFA says that Saudi Arabia's national airline Flynas entering on the Georgian market will further increase the number of Saudi Arabian visitors to Georgia, adding the airlines will launch regular flights from June.

France & UK Support Georgian Govt's New Peace Plan

New Draft on “Protecting” Religious Feelings Causes Controversy in Georgia Continued from page 1

The ruling party Georgian Dream (GD) is also said to support the draft, including the Parliament Speaker, Irakli Kobakhidze, who expressed readiness to take part in discussions over the issue. Kvitsiani’s initiative was disapproved by all religious minorities but lauded by the Georgian Orthodox Church, which represents the official and major religion in the country. The Patriarchate has long claimed that “there has been an ongoing deliberate attack on the Church and its saints,” giving the example of Giorgi Gabunia, a journalist of oppositionminded Rustavi 2 TV, who voiced a joke about Christ last month. Gabunia’s statement about Jesus Christ angered the far-right, nationalist group named ‘Georgian March,’ which attacked Rustavi 2 journalists, for which six of its members face imprisonment of up to eight years. Several days ago, the students of the Theological Seminary, run by the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church, organized a protest rally against AIISA, a company which produces condoms wrapped in packets with

prints of the Georgian Queen and Saint – Tamar, and other Georgian symbols. The protesters gathered at the old building of parliament on Rustaveli Avenue on April 20, saying the AIISA was insulting religion and naming their actions “blasphemy.” Protopresbyter of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Giorgi Zviadadze, says he does not support the imprisonment of people for offending the religious feelings of others but he agrees that certain regulations should be imposed to make everyone respect other people’s beliefs. “We should not insult someone else's religious feelings. To solve the problem, discussions should be held with the participation of specialists and civil representatives. We all should agree on certain rules in order to regulate this field,” Zviadadze stated. However, Tamaz Lomidze, a Georgian priest who serves in Munich, Germany, has openly come out against the draft law, saying the adoption of such a law will be a step backwards for Georgian society. “If people cannot have healthy discussions about religion, and need special regulations, this indicates that it is not a developed nation,” the priest’s Facebook post reads.

Metropolitan of the Evangelical-Baptist Church Malkhaz Songhulashvili, believes that if Parliament supports the draft, it will be one of the most “shameful” events in Georgia’s history. “This is medieval obscurantism, particularly from the religious perspectives of monotheistic religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism… This draft contradicts the principle of freedom of speech,” he stressed. Furthermore, Tariel Nakaidze, Chair of the Georgian Muslim Union, said that the draft law, according to which offending religion will be punishable, is unacceptable to the Muslim community. “The adoption of this bill is only in the interests of the Patriarchate and Orthodox Church,” he added. Numerous Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) based in Georgia also noted their being against the draft, saying it contradicts freedom of expression and “attempts to suppress critical thinking in society.” The NGOs call on the Parliament of Georgia and, first of all, the Human Rights Committee to pay attention to both constitutional and international standards as well as the needs of the country and not to support this initiative.

BY BENJAMIN MUSIC

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uring a meeting at the UN in New York, high-rank representatives of the UK and France stressed their support for Georgia’s sovereignty, condemning the occupation of its territories and praising Georgia’s peace initiatives. The representatives addressed other officials during a meeting on “Respect for Human Rights for Sustainable Peace” on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the statements issued by the UK and France, thanking them for their continued efforts to re-establish Georgia’s international borders. Going hand-in-hand with the strengthened French presence in foreign matters, the European nation spearheaded the condemnation of the occupying forces

in Georgia, while emphasizing the peace efforts. “The initiatives on the construction of bridges and improvement of the humanitarian condition are what we need today," one French diplomat positively acknowledged. "The UK supports Georgia's peace initiative, it's a pragmatic, innovative plan and provides better opportunities for building bridges between the communities that are separated by war," one representative of the UK noted. Both governments continued to praise the work of international monitoring missions to record human rights violations in the occupied territories, notint the importance of the monitoring missions having full access to the regions and receiving the full support of both parties involved in the conflict. The statements came after the Government of Georgia introduced a new peace plan consisting of three main directions to spur trade, improve education, and provide essential services to the regions' populations.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

APRIL 27 - 30, 2018

MEP Moody on Sanctions, Smokescreens & Workers' Rights We genuinely appreciate the support that has come from other countries and Georgia's expulsion of a diplomat was an act that we are grateful for and respectful of. It’s a demonstration of our interconnectedness and that Russia's actions in different ways in different countries worldwide requires a response.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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ill the European Parliament (EP) adopt a somewhat belated resolution on the Tatunashvili case? What do they think in Britain about Georgia’s decision to expel a Russian diplomat over the Skripal incident? And is Brussels going to put pressure on the Georgian government over work safety and rights after the tragic accident involving six miners? These were the questions we asked MEP Clare Moody, CoChair of the European Parliament & Georgia Friendship Group, in an exclusive interview for yet another episode of the “Messages from Brussels” series.

THERE WAS A PECULIAR STATEMENT FROM THE DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER OF RUSSIA, GRIGORY KARASIN, WHO SAID THAT GEORGIA MADE THIS DECISION UNDER PRESSURE FROM THE UK AND USA... We have seen so many comments coming out of Russia in recent weeks about what’s been going on; there are over 20 different versions of what was supposed to have happened to the Skripals. They even said it was Sweden that did it. Sweden is not known for such actions; so it was a way of stirring up a smokescreen to disguise what was actually going on…

WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT'S DECISION TO ADOPT THE OTKHOZORIATATUNASHVILI LIST, WHICH AIMS TO PUT SANCTIONS ON THOSE INVOLVED IN THE MURDERS? With the Tatunashvili case, I'm pleased that his body is now back in Georgia with his family, but of course with that there have been more discoveries about what may have happened to him while he was held prisoner. I think that it is really important for there to be a proper investigation into his case with accountability as the aim at the end of the investigation.

cases and beyond that, in all such cases that exist in those areas.

HOW FEASIBLE DO YOU THINK THE INVESTIGATION IS EVER GOING TO BE IF THE SOUTH OSSETIAN SIDE REFUSES TO COOPERATE?

CAN WE EXPECT THE EU AND ITS MEMBER COUNTRIES TO ADOPT THIS LIST, TOO?

That’s absolutely the right question. There have to be consequences to actions and the List you mentioned is a good process to follow through as it identifies individuals that are involved in both the

Yes, I think it would be right to expect this in terms of that being the right and proper thing for other countries to do. I know I would be fully supportive of that and I will make the case to my own govern-

ment, to the UK government, to support it. I'll also make the point to the EU administration; I can’t say that is absolutely guaranteed that Georgia will get EU support for it or the individuals involved, but what the actual impact of the sanctions from outside the EU would be is a question that needs to be answered. In any case, I will raise that point precisely.

NOT MUCH WAS SAID IN THE EP ABOUT THE TATUNASHVILI CASE, UNLIKE THAT OF MUKHTARLI, WHERE A RESOLUTION WAS ADOPTED. SHOULD WE EXPECT A RESOLUTION? Well, one very concrete thing which is happening is that we have a security and defense subcommittee coming to Georgia in May, and I would expect this Tatunashvili case to be central because we are going to visit the boundary line. We'll be reporting back to the EP on it.

CAN WE EXPECT IT WILL END IN A RESOLUTION?

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Indeed I think there would be. It would certainly be part of our debates in the committee and we'll be looking at having a resolution in the EP, in particular in relation to the fact it’s now 10 years since 2008 and the centenary of the Georgian Government, and we will also be looking at including in there a resolution reference to the Tatunashvili case as well.

ON TO THE SKRIPAL CASE. WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT ON GEORGIA’S DECISION TO ALSO EXPEL ONE RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT AS AN ACT OF SUPPORT TOWARDS THE UK?

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE RECENT MINE-COLLAPSE IN GEORGIA WHICH KILLED SIX MINERS? SHOULD THERE BE MORE PRESSURE FROM THE EU FOR THE GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT TO BETTER DEAL WITH THE SITUATION? CAN YOU SEE THE ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT SUCCESSFULLY IMPLEMENTED IN A COUNTRY WHERE LABOR SAFETY IS OVERLOOKED? I'm a very big supporter of the close relationship between the EU and Georgia, as supported by the Association Agreement, (AA) but the AA is a wideranging document and it is really important that within that document there are associated laws that need to come into affect which are focused around labor rights and very particularly around health and safety protection. I know there is a law that is being brought forward around the health and safety perspective, but it is really important that it is properly monitored and implemented.

IT CERTAINLY TAKES TIME... AND MEANWHILE PEOPLE ARE DYING In my view, it has to be taken head-on and really quickly, because you cannot have people dying when they go to work; their families see them off in the morning and then they don’t come home at the end of the day. This is a fundamental right to life; so I really want to see the health and safety elements of the Association Agreement put into affect but I see it’s just as much about labor standards and labor implementation in work across all sorts of issues; absolutely on life and death, d ath, but de there are wider points.

This article was prepared in the scope of “Messages from Brussels” series, a project by European Alliance for Georgia, a Brussels-based advocacy organization dedicated to “Bringing more Georgia into Europe.”

Church Squabbles OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

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he anti-Georgian campaign in occupied Tskhinvali has hit a new direction. This time, the de-facto government is talking about cultural issues rather than territorial, with de-facto leaders blaming Official Tbilisi of robbing them of Ossetian cultural heritage, a 10th century religious icon made of ivory. Some 15 years ago it found its way from the Tskhinvali Regional Museum to a Christie's Auction in Geneva and ended up in a courtroom. Of course, the stolen antique artifact was returned to its legitimate owner - Georgia. This court decision resulted in a huge outburst at the time; however, this was only a drop compared to the latest, which saw an Ossetian “delegation” travelling to Geneva to once again demand the

return of the icon to Ossetia. After the Easter holidays, Ambrosi, the so-called Bishop of the “Alanian Eparchy,” was stripped of his Ossetian passport at the Roki Tunnel “Customs Checkpoint.” The priest was on his way to Vladikavkaz, but was sent back to Tskhinvali. Everyone is convinced that this is connected with a disagreement between him and de-facto President Anatoly Bibilov, begun when Bibilov met the Patriarch of Russia, Kirill, and upon his return from Moscow declared his willingness to let the so-called Ossetian Church fall under the management of that of Russia. The issue of the icon was also raised after the abovementioned meeting. Later, Bibilov met Bishop Ambrosi and talked about the necessity of joining with the Russian Church, but when the Alania Eparchy refused, Bibilov decided to use the icon as a leverage of influence. Continued on page 6


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POLITICS

Church Squabbles Continued from page 4

“We have not conducted any illegal actions against Father Ambrosi. He was granted the Ossetian passport in 2006 on certain conditions; he convinced us that he would be able to return the icon to Tskhinvali, but was unable to fulfill the promise, as the latter is still in Tbilisi,” Bibilov said. For a long time, the liturgy of the Georgian Orthodox Church has not taken place in the Tskhinvali. After the so-called peacekeeping forces of Russia entered, most of the churches were taken away by the “The Church of Russia Abroad.” However, before occupation, when the so-called “Alanian Eparchy” was founded in 2003, the Ossetian priests decided to be subject to the Greek Synod rather than the Russian Church. This triggered disagreement, resulting in Bibilov refusing to visit the Tskhinvalian Church of the Virgin Mary this Easter, and instead, together with other officials, going to

the Church of the 58th Army of Russia. Who would have imagined that a 25 cm tall icon discovered in 1924 in the Church of Okoni village in the Znauri region, would become the main instrument of political controversy. The ivory icon, adorned with gold and pearls, has been bestowed an adventurous fate: in 1992 the precious artifact was stolen from the museum, though this was blamed on a Georgian, a man named Zemlianikov, who tried to sell the icon at Christie's in Geneva, claiming that he had bought it at a flea market in Vladikavkaz. After four years, the Swiss court transferred the icon to the Government of Georgia and from that day on the religious relic has been a political one. To date, the miraculous power of the icon has only shown itself in punishing one priest by seizure of his passport; but who knows? Maybe this list will extend and those taking part in the Geneva discussions, demanding its return to Tskhinvali, will also be punished one day.

GEORGIA TODAY

APRIL 27 - 30, 2018

Abkhaz Doctors Accused of Treason for Getting Training in Tbilisi OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

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ast week saw another scandal in occupied Abkhazia, this time connected with the rest of Georgia. The Asian Stink Bug problem has been substituted with the Abkhazian doctors problem; those who cross the occupation line and travel to Tbilisi to attend medical trainings. As they say in Sokhumi: “what Tbilisi was unable to do with insects and tanks, it is now doing with the help of medical diplomacy.” The visit of Abkhazian doctors was confirmed in Tbilisi, but the fuss that followed it in Abkhazia left everyone in bewilderment. The group of doctors travelled to the ‘Disaster & Critical Care Medicine Center’ in Tbilisi, to learn how to drive and use the equipment installed in ambulances. Organizer Zurab Lakerbaia said that the training was held in the framework of an agreement signed with a Dutch NGO, and added that the organization was ready to ship the ambulance as a gift to Sokhumi if the local doctors were trained in Tbilisi. The Abkhaz doctors agreed to these terms and the project was fulfilled. But then de facto Minister of Health of occupied Abkhazia, Ruslan Achba, described the deed as treason: "The Russian Medical Academy takes care of the qualifications of our medical personnel. We didn’t ask for trainings and did not agree to anything, especially with countries that are hostile towards Abkhazia.” This, even though he must be aware that dozens of Abkhazians have already made use of the medical programs offered in Tbilisi. Official data suggests that just in the first five months of 2017, 107 Ethnic Abkhazians visited Tbilisi using the deferral program from the occupied ter-

ritory; in 2016 – 325; in 2015 - 307 people, among them 69 children; in 2014 - 868 of which 79 were children. The demand for medical treatment was high in 20062010, too. During that period, the hospitals of Zugdidi and Tbilisi served up to 600 Abkhazian patients, VIPs are also open to getting medical help in Tbilisi clinics. It is known that after having a heart operation in Moscow, the third so-called president of occupied Abkhazia received rehabilitation treatment in Tbilisi. No one has confirmed this officially, but if we consider the fact that former de-facto Minister Rusudan Marshania lives in Tbilisi, runs an NGO and does actively travel to and from Sokhumi, it won’t be a surprise that former “presidents” also visit us for medical reasons. Abkhazian newspaper Nuzhnaya Gazeta published an interview with Zurab Lakerbaia, founder of NGO Alasha, who said that the organization had signed an agreement with Dutch colleagues who work on medical equipment, including supplying ambulances. He said: “We are in need of ambulances. Unfortunately, we don’t have such professionals in Abkhazia who can work with such complex equipment. The Dutch organization demanded that our

doctors were trained in Georgia [-proper]. Tbilisi has a training ambulance so, taking into consideration that recently an Abkhazian emergency doctor was successfully trained in Tbilisi, I decided to send three more doctors and one driver to get acquainted with how the ambulance works. They got the training and returned to Abkhazia. Those who try to make a scandal out of this and exaggerate are also working hard disrupt the contract. If we can’t bring the offered ambulance to Abkhazia, it will be a tragedy- we need these cars, we don’t own the specialized equipment installed in them, and they cost more than 50,000 Euros. And if we have them here, I guess the number of people travelling for medical treatment to Tbilisi will decrease,” he said. Abkhaz bloggers are always irritated when on the internet and social media we highlight the fact that modern Abkhazia is a “Puppet State of Moscow.” The irritation of the separatist government is understandable, but the constant annoyance of the bloggers is more noteworthy, since it is more sincere, but paradoxical as they should clearly see for themselves all the facts which confirm this puppetry even in such crucial aspects as healthcare.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

APRIL 27 - 30, 2018

Why Armenia is Important for Russia BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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gain on Armenia. Protests are ongoing and the situation could easily swing in any possible direction. There are indications that the ruling Republican Party might collapse and new elections follow. Whatever the result in the near future, one thing is clear: although it has become fashionable to portray the Armenian mass protests as non-geopolitical, the pressure on the still ruling government is nevertheless bound to raise some geopolitical questions, such as how relations with Russia will develop and what the impact will be, if any, on the NagornoKarabakh issue under the new leadership. Here, it is important to outline the basic Russian strategy in Armenia. For Moscow, Armenia is important as it serves as a fore post of Russian military and economic influence in the South Caucasus and also a certain tool for influencing Turkey and Iran’s policies in the region. Russia has a military base in Armenia, and from a strategic point of view, Moscow has retained the military perimeter it enjoyed in Soviet times. The long-term Russian strategy is quite simple: to have as many military bases in the region as possible. The military base in Armenia is crucial for forestalling a Western military presence in the

South Caucasus, specifically in Georgia. Indeed, a simple glimpse at the South Caucasus map reveals how the Gyumri base, together with military bases in Samachablo (so called South Ossetia) and Abkhazia virtually encircle Tbilisi. This is important when we discuss NATO expansion in the South Caucasus and how this could potentially result in direct Western military confrontation with Russian troops. Armenia is also important for Russia as it can potentially serve as yet another land corridor to Iran, together with the Caspian Sea and the land through Azerbaijan. Losing Armenia, for Russia, would mean foundational changes in Moscow’s influence in the South Caucasus. Armenia without Russia would mean a much stronger Azerbaijan. The latter, because of Russian presence in Armenia and the domination in the Nagorno-Karabakh resolution process trying to play a balancing game in its foreign policy. Armenia without Russia means a militarily less hesitant Azerbaijan, which will signal the start of renewed hostilities around Nagorno-Karabakh. In that scenario, Yerevan is likely to face difficulties defending its positions. Undermined Russian positions in Armenia are thus directly related to Russia’s ability to influence Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan, due to its strategic position on the Caspian Sea, between Russia and Iran, and being a source of large gas and oil export potential, will have a more invigorated foreign policy if Russia weak-

Yerevan, Armenia. Image source: thenational.ae

ens its hold on the Nagorno-Karabakh process. It will almost have a domino effect. A stronger Azerbaijan will re-invigorate talks around the Trans-Caspian Pipeline (although, admittedly, this process is also influenced by other factors such as a Russia military presence in the Caspian Sea). Georgia, too, will be less frightened and will be ever more vocal in its prowestern aspirations. A weaker Russia in the South Caucasus will also increase Turkey’s positions in the region and enhance the important Turkey-Georgia-

Azerbaijan trilateral format. Thus, in continuation of what I wrote for GT’s previous edition, it is for the moment very unlikely that Armenia’s foreign policy would be put into question. Even the protest leader Pashinian noted in one of his press-conferences that no big geopolitical changes would be taking place for Armenia. The Russians would be very keen to keep Armenia under their wing, limiting possibilities for Yerevan to diminish the Kremlin’s influence in the country. Moreover, many, if not the majority, of

the Armenians themselves understand quite clearly that it will be extremely tough for the country to withstand a two-pronged alliance of Turkey and Azerbaijan. The very security of Armenia depends on how powerful the Russian troops are in Gyumri. True, a new government as a result of protests might indeed be based on very sincere national sentiments, but they are nevertheless bound to raise fundamental – geopolitical – questions, such as potential foreign policy reverberations. Armenia is no exception.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 27 - 30, 2018

9

White Sails: Welcoming a New Living Standard with 10,000 sq.m. of Recreational Space

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he recent changes in the construction regulations in Georgia made an impact on the real estate market. From one side, the changes were necessary due to the recent liberal approach which caused the rapid but chaotic development of the real-estate segment. The applied regulations are in favor of citizens and customers: new rules regulate the issues which are of greatest concern, like architecture, parking, and recreational zones. Of course, the potential buyers should be happy by this as it means they will receive a much better product at the end of the day. A number of developers are less than eager to welcome the new regulations, as it means they have to spend more on infrastructure and facilities, increasing the direct cost of the construction. At the same time, price is regulated by the market, so instead of increasing the selling price, investors are forced to reduce the profit margins. In all countries, the capital cities represent the core of economic growth, business, buying power and other economic indicators, and the same applies for Tbilisi, but what is the situation in the regions? Over the last decade, Adjara has become a center of real-estate development. The presence of local and international investors and proximity to the sea have made Adjara the main “exporter” of real estate to foreigners, who represents at least 80% buyers there. Foreigners are buying apartments as their summerhouses, for business and for living. Actually, more for business and less for living, because the current style of apart-hotel type buildings is not typically very comfortable for a cozy or quiet lifestyle. If we

analyze the real-estate market of Adjara, it is obvious that all developers are offering more or less the same terms. They are attracting customers with small studio apartments, with payback in around four years, with entertainment facilities or international brands, and management and rental services of the property. But, unfortunately, no recreation zone or yard where kids can play. Will these buildings comply with the new regulations? Among all these skyscrapers, the White

Sails residential complex is grabbing potential buyers’ attention with quite a strong selling point: over 10 000 sq.m. of common recreation space and yard. The White Sails complex is located in the most developed (and developing) area of Batumi and it is not a simple building with flats for sale; it really is a residential neighborhood for living in. With all the facilities, parking for over 70% of residents, outdoor swimming pool, children’s playground and other

infrastructure, the complex, which is set for conclusion by the end of 2019, sets one of the highest standards in the real estate market, in fact, much higher that the new regulations require. The authors, developers and owners of this unique complex are Raul Kaitamba and Astamur Chazmava. “We’ve been in the architecture design business for over 14 years,” they told us. “To date, we have designed over one million square meters, including houses,

hotels and sports complexes. We realized that most developers request commercial living buildings, meaning overcrowded flats in skyscrapers. We saw a niche for a product which is targeted on customers that have higher demands in quality, that need not just a flat to rent out but place they could live and do business in at the same time. Therefore, we decided to create a residential complex that people would love to live in, which will be comfortable, and which considers all the needs of its residents. The multifunctional residential complex White Sails is placed on a 19 000 sq.m. land plot and consists of only five blocks with a total of 850 apartments. The decision was made to sacrifice the commercial part to create more comfort for residents; for example, the current new regulation requires having parking space for 40% of the apartments, and we raised that to 70%. We decided not sell the parking space but to have it as free usage for the apartment owners. Most important, instead of making an area overloaded with buildings, we dedicated over 10 000 sq.m. for common recreational facilities like a children’s playground, eco-zone, outdoor swimming pool with a section for children, walkways, outdoor fitness zone and more. Add on high safety standards, smart house function and competitive prices and you get unique, resident-oriented living comfort. We also offer management and rental services, as we believe tourists will greatly enjoy all the facilities of the complex.” White Sails complex has surpassed the strict regulations and created a product that is highly in-demand on the market. This means that it is possible to fulfill the requirements and regulations and still be competitive.


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

APRIL 27 - 30, 2018

Black Sea Blockchain Summit: A Glimpse into the Future BY MÁTÉ FÖLDI

Kyiv, who deals with business that operate with virtual currencies and use blockchain.

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TELL US ABOUT YOUR COMPANY AND THE SERVICES IT PROVIDES

ith technology continuing to evolve and mesmerize at lightening speeds, it can be difficult to keep up with all the new developments and innovations. Especially with things like cryptocurrency and blockchain, an everchanging field where new trends and methods are, at least as I understand it, being developed on the daily. Blockchain Technology forms the building blocks of our future, making it imperative that one gets a solid education in the medium sooner rather than later. Wednesday’s Black Sea Blockchain Summit, organized by Spotcoin and hosted by Fabrika, brought a one-of-a-kind interactive experience to Tbilisi. The innovative event was organized by Spotcoin, a pioneering company building a platform to connect Georgia and the region to the new smart economy. The summit showcased distributed ledger technology, its impact on FinTech, and how it is creating new business opportunities in the Black Sea region. Six target objectives guided this incredibly educational and mind-opening summit: • Enhance understanding of the value of blockchain technology and digital currency • Explore the disruptive effects and opportunities • Identify and source blockchain projects and partnerships • Discuss regulatory issues and solutions in a cross-functional atmosphere • Understand the demand crisis and how to bridge gaps in blockchain knowledge and skills • Establish networks, public-private partnerships, and strategic alliances The summit united industry leaders, market makers, educators, government representatives and tech entrepreneurs to learn, to educate, and to network around this dynamic new technology. A host of international experts and entrepreneurs in the field, from individuals to government representatives and businesses convened to explore opportunities, constraints, advantages, and knowledge gaps in order to enrich the digital asset landscape. 15 international and Georgian speakers from nine countries (Georgia, Ireland, USA, Poland, Armenia, Moldova, the Netherlands, Ukraine and China) presented to a captivated audience, including Keynote speeches from Nikoloz Khundzakishvili (CORA Director, Efes Brewery), Leo Liu (CEO/ Founder, Expread Corp), and Margaryta Sivakova (Attorney, Juscutum), punctuated by panel discussions and face-toface meetings with the presenters. “This is a first-of-its-kind event for Georgia, and the Black Sea Region,” said Spotcoin’s Chief Strategy Officer, Sean Mulcahey. “It’s a great opportunity to explore the disruptive effects of blockchain, and discuss opportunities to address the challenges within the emerging regulatory environment. Attendees had the opportunity to identify potential blockchain projects and form new strategic partnerships.” To mere mortals whose relationship with computers and technology effectively consists of a social media addiction and the odd video game binge, all this talk of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology can be, well, rather cryptic (if you’ll excuse the attempt at wordplay). Yet, the legal issues that come with setting up businesses is something that most, if not us all of us, can relate to. As such, GEORGIA TODAY sat down down with Margarita Sivakova, a lawyer at Juscutum Attorneys Association in

the AML/KYC process. It is also important for investors to understand the risks and the rights they have when investing into crypto projects. For this purpose, we have developed a Scam Test. Investors can check the reliability of the project via this test. This industry is unregulated to an extent that investors have sometimes essentially no rights, so it is crucial to check everything in advance before committing to an investment. If you are considering investing in a project, we always advise you first look at the team behind the project. If they have a good background, and their trying to develop the product and the business has some history, that’s a good sign. But again, it’s always better to check everything carefully and maybe seek some legal advice. This is because Whitepapers simply outline the project and it usually includes a lot of forward-looking statements which might not materialize. But I am not giving any investment or legal advice now.

Juscutum Attorneys Association is a Kyiv-based law firm providing legal services to businesses that are doing ICOs, this includes start-ups and already established companies which want to innovate their business. We also deal with different crypto companies, from crypto exchanges to payment systems.

TELL US ABOUT THE LEGAL SERVICES. IS IT DIFFERENT THAN WHAT A STANDARD LAWYER WOULD DO ? To a certain extent. Of course, you have to have a legal background, but the services are quite innovative and this is why I love this field. Because a lot of tasks that standard lawyers are doing are new and interesting at the beginning but then get boring and repetitive, here, things change every day. So, as you probably heard from my speech, it is a very dynamic industry and this opens up an opportunity to become a market maker. So, for instance, maybe you heard about a document called SAFT (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens), which I briefly mentioned during my presentation. Using this document, the issuer company can sell their Tokens to investors before they are actually issued, the promise to sell those tokens at a later date is what lies at heart of this document. I won’t burden you with too much detail- I’ll skip to the interesting part, as it was developed by the American law firm Cooley using standard Simple Agreement for Future Equity. After this event, the price of lawyer services per hour has gone up from around USD 400 to USD 1000. You can read in your free time about Marco Santori who developed this document. Juscutum has provided legal services to quite a few ICO projects and we usually start with a discussion about the project when we meet the project representatives. We ask them about their business model, about their Tokenomics etc. After that, we send them a followup letter in which we list our services and ask them to send their Whitepaper, so that we can more deeply analyze the project. The typical legal service we provide involves first choosing the jurisdiction most appropriate for the ICO in question, because there are different jurisdictions for different business models. In order to constantly keep track of developments in various jurisdictions, we often go to conferences and speak directly to the financial regulators to get interesting insights on their approach to crypto companies. This is another interesting part of the job, because you are not just sitting at the office; you have to communicate, you have to be active, you have to present at the conferences and you are constantly going on different business trips. So, after we check all the project documents and decide on the most suitable jurisdiction, we usually check the projects Whitepaper to see if all the correct disclaimers are in place. After that we look at the Token legal design. Token legal design means what kind of a rights attach to the Token i.e. what investors can expect to get from purchasing the token. Broadly, the market has developed two key types of tokens: utility and security. Each type entails various rules and procedures, which the project will have to comply with and it is crucial to establish it at the very beginning. After we finish all of the above-mentioned steps, we start two processes in parallel: our company’s team, which deals with the process of company

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED AS LAWYERS IN THIS INDUSTRY?

Image source: Spotcoin

incorporation, begins the process of company incorporation, bank account opening etc. in the jurisdiction that the project has chosen after our recommendation. At the same time, the blockchain practice, starts developing all the needed agreements for the project such as the Token Sale Agreement, which defines obligations of the company, which issues Tokens and the rights it gives to the Token-owner. We also develop Privacy and AML/KYC policies. AML/KYC policy sets out how the company will verify its investors. Privacy Policy defines how the data requested by the company to verify investors is processed and stored. This is a very interesting area now, because you may have heard about the GDPR which will come into force on May 26 this year and all the companies that process the data of EU citizens will have to ensure that they comply with this Directive. This gives us extra new work when it comes to developing the Privacy Policies of the companies. So, after all the documents are complete, certain projects do the private placement and if they are doing that we develop SAFT and help them with the process of filing Form D (if US investors are involved.) We have a whole set of instructions on how to go through this process. If there are any questions, we always try and help the projects as fast as we can, we are quite flexible in this regard, we are ready to communicate and reply promptly, without delay. We understand the strict deadlines that the projects often have as you have to move quite quickly in this industry. After the project launches the ICO, we help with post-ICO work, which is probably one of the most important parts. Many people think that ICO is the most important, but no. After you raise the capital, this is when the hard part kicks in as you have to implement what you have promised to do, and this usually involves obtaining all the necessary authorizations, licenses, in order to start operating. We also help our clients with the post-ICO legal matters.

THE PEOPLE YOU PROVIDE SERVICES FOR, ARE THEY FROM A WIDE RANGE OF INDUSTRIES? Clients come from various industries. Many industries are becoming interested in blockchain. So, we have quite varied projects and requests, starting from fashion coin, finishing with auctions on the blockchain. I, however, think that the best projects are technological, which have the goal of solving problems in the industry. Real sector ICOs are, however, also becoming quite interesting and I believe we will soon see the rise of security tokens. I think that the traditional sector sees it as an opportunity to innovate itself and to attract new capital. We now have some projects which have already raised money in the IPOs, but now they want to do an ICO and, for me, that is a sign that the ICO process is gaining more trust and credibility.

WHAT LEGAL ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PEOPLE LOOKING TO GET INVOLVED WITH CRYPTOCURRENCY; ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC GUIDELINES? It is very different depending on the type of business people are attempting to start. What I would definitely advise is getting legal advice. If you’re doing an ICO, you need a lawyer to structure it correctly. If you are thinking of establishing a crypto exchange, you need a lawyer to advise on any licenses that may be needed and on

Personally, I think unstable regulation poses the biggest challenge. However, at the same time, it is also the biggest interest. It is always new and interesting and you can make projections as well. I remember once I did analytics for one project and in the consultation said that a token might have signs of a CFD (contract for difference) instrument. Only a few months later, FCA (UK financial regulator) came up with the same sort of statement claiming that certain cryptocurrencies might have CFD signs and should be regulated.

WITH REGARDS TO YOUR PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH SPOTCOIN, HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO GAIN ANY INSIGHT INTO THE CRYPTOCURRENCY NETWORK IN GEORGIA? Through my work with Spotcoin, and from attending this event, I am able to see that it is very developed in Georgia. I believe this a jurisdiction which might soon become the place where lots of ICOs will be conducted. Georgia definitely has a lot of potential in terms of attracting good business into its jurisdiction. *** Spotcoin’s vision is to make digital currencies work for everyone. Based in Tbilisi, Georgia, with a team of 30 people, it offers quick access and simple liquidity through its overthe-counter clearing house. It is also launching an ICO on May 1 to develop a global, digital exchange platform and grow its sustainable mining operation. Restrictions apply to residents and citizens of China, South Korea, and the United States. More information is available on their website. You can contact Ms Sivakova at: margaryta. sivakova@juscutum.com; https://www. linkedin.com/in/margaryta-sivakova/


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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

APRIL 27 - 30, 2018

Isle of Women, Mexico

BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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ot, apparently, an offshoot of either the Amazons’ homeland or the birthplace of Wonder Woman. But the translation of Isla Mujeres is, yes, Isle of Women. We spent a day there during our Cancun week. We had learned a valuable lesson from the Chichen Itza pyramid site tour: These all-inclusive package events aren’t, take a lot of time, fit in too many activities, and have a tip box at every new event. This time we did the whole thing ourselves, thoroughly enjoyed it, and came away quite satisfied, not exhausted and overwhelmed or feeling way too hit-on for cash. The 25-minute ferry could have been marred by its insistence on playing obnoxiously loud and twerky music videos on a large screen to drown out the boat noise for the handful of us who took this cheaper, slower alternative to the sexy, packed Ferrari ferry, which our bus driver had suggested we avoid. We allowed ourselves to be awed by the unnamable colors of the Caribbean Sea, again, the purity of the water and the approaching small island, a mere 650 m x 7 km in size, population about 12,700. As with the mainland shoreline, here, too, hotels had their stretches of beach and shaded lounge chairs for a price. It

was developed mostly in the same timescale as Cancun itself, so, since 1970; but it has boomed from its ancient Mayan roots and a cult to Ixchel, the local goddess of medicine and childbirth. The Isle’s buildings are beautifully decorated, many of them with murals of all types. Its main transport is rentable electric golf carts and scooters- quiet but pricey and needing a driver’s license for insurance coverage, which I didn’t have on me anyway; we went on foot. Of course, it’s a very tourism-oriented location, but we were in that category of people too, and enjoyed wandering around at our own relaxed pace. The sea has a very different quality on each of its long sides, the inland-facing one being less wavy than the one open to the ocean. But everywhere, those gorgeous hues of water, for which new names must be invented. We were much more cautious of the sun now, still feeling its painful effects from our second day’s Cancun sea jaunt; more sunscreen, more than once, more covering up! But we were able to swim and really luxuriate in the water, which was just the right temperature. Who knows when we’ll be back? The sea off Vancouver Island is so cold I almost instantly turn blue in it! Back to the free lounge, and lunch, including tortillas with fillings and a shared banana split. The narrowness of the Isle enabled us to cross and see both sides of it, and the far side, a bit rockier,

has almost no tourists, though it’s quite swimmable as well. Best of all, we were on our own, not bound to a group and its schedule. Yes, we missed out on the swims with dolphins, the bike riding and all the too many other organized activities which came with the bus tour. But no time pressure. Indeed, by about 4 pm we were ready to take the return ferry and get supper in the vicinity of our hotel. And the Isle gave us a last glimpse as we left a few days later, glittering invitingly out of my airplane window, fitting in entirely. 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 1800 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

Tbilisi’s Unmissable Plunge into the World of Art BY BENJAMIN MUSIC

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bilisi is to experience a cultural conglomeration of fashion designers, photographers, and movie directors during the first weekend of May. Out of 52 weekends in a year, the organizers of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi, the CineDoc Tbilisi, and the Kolga Photo Tbilisi week have all decided that the first weekend

of May serves as the best time to hold their events. This overlap of important art festivals will take hold of the Georgian capital as days become dedicated to pure cultural expression. The public will experience difficulties escaping these happenings as posters, public exhibitions, and street alleys echo the messages of the various art festivals. Photographers will run from the Fashion Week to the Kolga Photo Award before they head off to take shots at the CineDoc Festival. A tight time management will be required to attend all desired

events, although at some point some time slots will definitely feature fantastic happenings at all three, forcing art lovers to rank them according to priority. This problem will be exacerbated on May 3, as next Thursday marks the opening day of all three events. The Fashion Week will run the shortest amount of time, ending on May 7, whereas CineDoc will end on May 8. Kolga Photo Award decided that one weekend is not enough, as over 20 exhibitions and workshops are to be held across Tbilisi to honor the best photographers. Continued on page 13


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 27 - 30, 2018

Photo: George Georgiou

Tbilisi’s Unmissable Plunge into the World of Art Continued from page 12

Taking a look at the program of all three festivals, Tbilisians won’t struggle to dedicate their free time to something they enjoy:

THE MERCEDES-BENZ FASHION WEEK 2018, MAY 3 – MAY 7: Since 2009, the Fashion Week has been held twice yearly, kicking off both the summer and winter seasons. In May, the week features the trendiest pieces for the upcoming summer, giving the garment industry a taste of what to sell during the next month. Designers come from around the world, but the rising Tbilisi fashion scene easily offers enough top-notch talents to fill the program with Georgian names. Besides national stars such as Datuna and Anouki, other established designers such as Janashia will be showcasing their latest creations. Running from morning to evening, Tbilisi Circus is the main event location. Yet the best creators chose their own spots to give their works the right background. Among some of the selected locations is Fabrika Tbilisi, forging a hipster environment with expensive upper-class garments. Another noticeable place is King David Residence, which will be transformed from an apartment-hotel complex into a fashion hotspot. The ideas are endless, as symbolized in the wide range of location picks, even including Rooms Hotel, the Georgian State University, and the National Opera. As usual, the evenings are to be reserved for drinks and music, with Bassiani providing the desired renegade ambiance, disrupting society through techno tunes. Friday evening’s main designer is Anouki, a Georgian Instagram model married to former Milan football star and current Tbilisi Mayor, Kakha Kaladze. She is inviting guests to admire her works at the Writer’s House, hoping to fuse fashion with literature. Janashia, one of Georgia’s fashion pioneers and the creator of FLABOUR concept stores in Batumi and Tbilisi, will excite the press and fashion critics alike, as her fashion draws a fine line between luxurious and urban, hip lifestyles. See the full program at: www.mbfashionweektbilisi.com

KOLGA PHOTO TBILISI 2018, MAY 3 – MAY 11 A product of the emergence of shutterbugs across the country, the “Kolga Tbilisi Photo” week gathers the brightest and most renegade minds to organize exhibitions and workshops under the spotlight of photography. Considered as the top photography award of the country, thousands of photos get submitted to the jury for the prestigious Kolga Award, which is handed out to the best shots in numerous categories. From mobile photography to documentaries, each category is endowed with a 1500 USD price incentive, which the winner can reinvest into his/her photography ambitions. Mats Karlsson was the lucky champion in last year’s category “One Shot,” awarded the prize for his dystopian picture of a man with his son sitting in a restaurant filled with TVs screening various black and white movies, while he is lost in the display of his phone. At the same time, his son awkwardly looks into the distance as he slowly sips on noodle soup. The festival also hosts various exhibitions dedicated to the best photographers of our century. On May 3, the day before the official start of the photo week, the Tbilisi History Museum is show-

casing the pioneering works of Henri CartierBresson, who is considered the inventor of modern street photography. Visitors can gaze for free at his creations in the city of love, which he captured in an impeccably natural way. He was the first photographer allowed in the USSR from the beginning of the Cold War, making his exhibition even more significant for this post-Soviet Republic. Other exhibitions show Nanuka Zaalishvili’s hunt for Soviet Bus Stops, Vittorio Sella’s 1889 excursion into Georgian Svaneti, or Jan Grarup’s impressive use of the camera in worn-torn countries. As if this wouldn’t already be enough to lose oneself in photography, workshops will accompany the photo week, allowing those interested to pick the brains of the professionals. Thekla Ehling’s workshop will give hobby shutterbugs the chance to get their shots evaluated. Full Program at: www.kolga.ge

CINÉDOC TBILISI 2018, MAY 3 – MAY 8 As the sole international documentary festival in the Caucasus region, CinéDOC takes place for the sixth time in a row as the event has received annual acclaim for screening uprooting and challenging documentaries since 2013. Movie directors come from across the globe to participate in the festival, hoping to receive the necessary critique to stand out from other moviemakers. Yet the event isn’t just a simple cinema gathering which allows the audience to watch one movie after another: “The audience attending CinéDOCTbilisi screenings has the chance to view a variety of documentary films with a unique directing vision, an original visual style, sympathetic protagonists and powerful stories. The film screenings are followed by Q&A sessions with invited filmmakers, master classes with renowned film professionals, and open sessions with international guests,” the festival promotion highlights. Looking beyond the national border of Georgia, the program has side sections incorporating German and French creations. Every year, one nation is welcomed as the special guest, supporting their documentary industry. Next weekend, Romania receives this honor as five movies created by Romanian directors will be screened to visitors. The range of documentaries is extremely wide, featuring numerous short films, but also one erotic documentary showing the oddity of falling in love with a sailor who never comes back as he has given his heart to the sea. Full Program: www.cinedoc-tbilisi.com No matter which event you chose, all three have a unique message to tell. Tbilisi is being plunged into art next week and it is a moment which shouldn’t be missed.

Photo: Tbilisi Fashion Week

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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

APRIL 27 - 30, 2018

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 00 44 66 April 27, 28, 29 SLEEPING BEAUTY Pyotr Tchaikovsky Ballet in Three Acts Dedicated to Marius Petipa’s 200th anniversary. Choreography- Marius Petipa Staging by Nina Ananiashvili and Alexey Fadeechev Staging Conductor- Alevtina Ioffe Scenography and costumesAnatoly Nezhny Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 30-70 GEL TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge May 1 WELCOME TO GEORGIA A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Musical Language: English, some Georgian (with English subtitles) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 60-80 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 April 27 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL April 28 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL April 29 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING

Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL May 2, 3 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 598 19 29 36 April 28 THE STORY OF A MURDERER Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-15 GEL April 29 INTRO Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL April 27 – May 3 AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo Cast: Karen Gillan, Josh Brolin, Letitia Wright, Chris Evans Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: English Start time: 12:45, 16:00 Language: Russian Start time: 19:15 Ticket: 8-17 GEL ISLE OF DOGS Directed by Wes Anderson Cast: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: English Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 9-17 GEL RAMPAGE Directed by Brad Peyton Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 17 GEL

TAXI 5 Directed by Franck Gastambide Cast: Salvatore Esposito, Sand Van Roy, Franck Gastambide Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 17:15, 22:00 Ticket: 13-17 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL April 27 – May 3 TAXI 5 (Info Above) Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL A QUIET PLACE Directed by John Krasinski Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Noah Jupe Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07

Start time: 17:00, 22:00 Ticket: 8-19 GEL READY PLAYER ONE (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 8-15 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS

Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL April 27 – May 3

April 26 – May 1 UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS OF GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM– INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN

TAXI 5 (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 8-19 GEL

MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 13:15, 16:30, 19:45, 21:45, 22:30 Ticket: 8-19 GEL

PERMANENT EXHIBITION

ISLE OF DOGS (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 16-19 GEL

April 21 – May 31 EXHIBITION DOLLS OF JAPAN

A QUIET PLACE (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 19:45 Ticket: 16-19 GEL

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge

RAMPAGE (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 14:30 Language: Russian

SIGHNAGHI MUSEUM Address: 8 Rustaveli Alley, Sighnaghi Telephone: 223 24 48

April 26-29 23RD INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION FOR BUILDING AND INTERIORS Ticket: 5 GEL ERTI GALLERY Address: 19 P. Ingorokva Str. BLACK I SEA LEVAN SONGULASHVILI & CHRISTIAN AWE ARTAREA GALLERY Address: 10 D. Abashidze Str. TEL 599 91 05 06 April 19-29 SOPO CHERKEZISHVILI’S EXHIBITION THE PLACE WHICH BELONGS TO YOU KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO 2018 May 5 – June 3 Program: May 3- June 3 HENRI CARTIER BRESSON- PARIS Address: Tbilisi History Museum (Karvasla), 8 Sioni Str. May 5 - June 3 Address: Tbilisi History Museum (Karvasla), 8 Sioni Str. THOMAS DAHMEN I Have Seen the Light MEINRAD SCHADE Unresolved JAN GRARUP And Then There Was Silence VANESSA WINSHIP She Dances on Jackson May 11 BRAINIACS- NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC GEORGIA Opening: 19:00 Address: S. Janashia Museum of Georgia, 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. MUSIC

GALLERY

May 1- 20 ZURAB NIZHARADZE'S RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION ‘ZURAB NIZHARADZE 90’ TBILISI EXPO GEORGIA Address: 116 A. Tsereteli Ave.

SPACEHALL Address: 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. April 28 TALE OF US GACHA BAKRADZE COSMIC LOVE ROTATION Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 20-40 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 April 27 TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE STUDENTS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5 GEL TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. Telephone: 99 00 99 April 30 Tbilisi 21st Jazz Festival RAVI COLTRANE, MILES ELECTRIC BAND Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 60-250 GEL TBILISI EVENT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. Telephone: 595 79 79 35 April 28 Tbilisi 21st Jazz Festival BAD PLUS Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 80-250 GEL REPUBLIC Address: Rose Revolution Sq. April 29 Tbilisi 21st Jazz Festival NATURALLY 7 DJ Set: Derrick McKenzie (Jamiroquai), Steve Taylor (iCulture) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 80-250 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 27 - 30, 2018

15

Emerging Georgian Artist Gains Popularity in Rome with Live Performances EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

T

he roots of all great bands grow from underground; as is the story of a young passionate Georgian musician who paved his way in a foreign country through gigs and club nights. Lado Gigaia is a student of the Tbilisi Conservatoire and a fledgling musician who has captured the hearts of Italian audiences in Rome with acoustic guitar performances and songs. Currently, the gifted singer is studying electronic composition at Saint Louis College in Rome and working on his new EP entitled Big White Mountain. The young musician composes songs and has his own band ‘On The Road’ which has performed at several festivals and gigs in venues around Tbilisi. “I’m very pleased that Lado was accepted to the Saint Louis College of Music in Rome,” says the proud Director of Tbilisi State Conservatoire and well-known musician Rezo Kiknadze about his student. “After the completion of the course, he will have the opportunity to continue his work in the music field, based on his own personal preferences and interests. I believe that exciting and interesting experiences await him in his life and career. Although I have been acquainted with him for just a short time, he managed to distinguish himself with his passion.” On May 17, Lado will deliver a solo concert in Wishlist Club, Rome. Additionally, Saint Louis College will release his single on its own label. While listening to the most popular songs by his band, ‘Tents In The Rain’ and ‘Cold Fireplace,’ one is able to capture the synthesis of a beautiful melody, natural sounds and guitar strings; whilst having the feeling you are sitting at the fireside with friends, or are about to set off on an adventurous journey. The music is both tasteful and positive, so it is no surprise that the Italian audience enjoys listening to the live performances during the peaceful evenings of spring. The young musician shared his success story with GEORGIA TODAY.

WHEN DID YOU GET INTO THE MUSIC FIELD? I never thought I’d end up in the music field. I was actively engaged in sports and simply got pleasure from listening to music and playing by myself, but when I had to make a choice between football or studies, I decided to obtain a higher education in the history of art. During the last years at school, I wrote songs and played music with my friend Tornike Lomsadze; yet, I was not planning to become a professional musician. I thought it was already too late and that I lacked the proper background to continue my studies in this field. Still, I gave it a try and luckily I was admitted to the Tbilisi State

Conservatoire. Since then, my life has changed significantly, I met Avto Iremashvili, with whom I founded On The Road. Originally, the band included Tornike Lomsadze, Mikho Jinisiani and Dito Lekveishvili . We started out performing in Tbilisi’s clubs and pubs, and featured at AlpFest 2017. We recorded two singles, Tents in the Rain and Cold Fireplace. The band eventually transformed, and we decided to experiment with our music and enrich it with more electronic sounds. The current members of the band, aside from Avto and me, are Data Tsereteli, Beka Chkhartishvili and Gigi Koberidze. Together with the new team, we performed a concert at Backstage 76. We don’t play one particular music genre, yet currently our main direction is post indie-rock.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE IN ROME At present, I’m studying Electronic Music Composition (BA) at Saint Louis College in Italy, within the frames of the Erasmus program. I applied to the program, sent my portfolio and cover letter, and was admitted to the university. During my first two performances in Rome, I had to play first and open the concerts, which was really stressful. I didn’t know how a foreign audience would react and what the feedback would be. I performed alone on acoustic guitar without accompaniment and sang alone. Fortunately, the public liked my performance, which then gave birth to the idea of a solo concert. I received an offer to record an EP. Saint Louis College will release my single on its own label. The launch of which will happen on May 11. As for my EP, Big White Mountain, I don’t have a particular plan, but I am entirely involved in the working process. After returning home, the band On The Road will carry on delivering concerts and recording new songs.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING SOLO CONCERT ON MAY 17 I will be the headliner of an acoustic show in Wishlist Club. My performance will last an hour and 40 minutes, and I will perform 13 songs from On The Road. Before this concert, I performed in two other venues, Yellow Bar and Le Mura. My friend, who is also a musician, listened to my music and then shared it with the producer who is in charge of the concerts. He liked my performance and offered me a solo concert.

WHICH MUSIC GENRE HAS INFLUENCED YOU MOST AS A MUSICIAN? I try to listen to all kinds of music, yet the four major idols who influenced my taste and eventually my music were Paul Mccartney, Jeff Black, Thom Yorke and Sam Beam. I don’t have specific plans for now on, yet after completing my studies here; I’m planning on going back to the Tbilisi Conservatoire, earning my BA and focusing on my band.

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Issue #1043  

April 27 - 30, 2018

Issue #1043  

April 27 - 30, 2018

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