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Issue no: 1215




Tbilisi is all set for the holidays!

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In this week’s issue... Three Sentenced for Stealing 139,000 GEL from Commercial Bank Consumers NEWS PAGE 2

Kazakh President Announces Major Political Reforms POLITICS PAGE 4

The Russian Effect on the Czech Republic POLITICS PAGE 5

Burjanadze Claims Georgia Should Celebrate Victory over Fascism with Moscow POLITICS PAGE 6

Public Defender Publishes Report on Violence in Prisons SOCIETY PAGE 8

Georgian Internet Industry against Internet Piracy BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


eorgian media, commercial and informational internet portals are concerned with the high statistics of internet piracy on Georgian websites, highlighting their belief that internet piracy disrupts the development of the internet industry in the country. The Anti-Piracy Center is joined by Georgian online platforms and organizations specializing in protecting intellectual property, including Entrepreneur, Georgia Today, IPN.GE, TKT.ge, popsport, mygroup, the Innovation Agency, and others. These websites and organizations demand steps be taken to improve the situation. In particular, they urge the major advertising companies to not locate their advertisements on pirate online platforms. The anti-piracy Georgian platforms believe that the latter will aid the development of the internet industry, and the matter of intellectual property protection in Georgia. Continued on page 5

Patriarch Celebrates 42 Years in Power SOCIETY PAGE 9

The Brotherhood of Man, Middle Eastern Hospitality, Georgian Wine, & the Christmas Spirit CULTURE PAGE 12

One of 20 PEN Translates Awards Goes to a Title Translated from Georgian CULTURE PAGE 13

Georgian Museum of Fine Arts Presents Exhibition ‘Hopscotch’ CULTURE PAGE 15

Chinese Art Exhibition CULTURE PAGE 15

How Beeline Employees Celebrate New Year

Veon Georgia HQ, Tbilisi




DECEMBER 27 - 30, 2019

Tbilisi Mayor Invites Everyone to Join New Year Celebrations

Public Transport to be Free on New Year’s Eve in Tbilisi BY ANA DUMBADZE


Photo Source: Tbilisi City Hall



eorgia’s main New Year tree was lit up on December 25 in First Republic Square in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze invited

everyone to join the New Year celebrations. "The First Republic Square and Orbeliani Square will be the two main venues in the city, hosting various events between December 25 and January 13,” he told the crowd. Kaladze noted that this year's celebrations traditionally promise to be diverse and include street markets, musical performances, and much more.

Thai Airline Begins Operating in Georgian Air Market BY ANA DUMBADZE


ir company Thai Air Asia X has launched direct charter flights from Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, to Tbilisi, TAV Georgia reports. The first flight was carried out on

December 25. Air Asia will implement five charter flights by Airbus 330 planes until January 2. The airline will carry out additional charter flights in April 2020. Thai Air Asia X is a Thai long-haul low-fare airline, operating in the aviation market since 2014. Currently, the company offers flights to 66 international and 29 local destinations.

ublic transport will be free on New Year’s Eve in Tbilisi, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze announced today. "The metro system, buses and Rike-Tbilisi ropeway will be free of charge from 11 am on December 31 through 4 am on January 1. 160 buses will operate on 75 routes at 30-minute intervals. The timetable will be the same for Christmas night. I think this kind of facilitation is very important for our citizens," he noted. The following buses will be serve the residents of the capital on New Year's Eve: N1, N2, N3, N4, N6, N7, N8, N10, N11, N12, N13, N14, N15, N18, N19, N20,

N22, N23, N25, N27 , N28, N30, N31, N34, N36, N37, N39, N40, N41, N42, N43, N44, N45, N47, N48, N49, N52, N53, N55, N56, N58, N59, N60, N62, N63 , N66, N68,

N70, N71, N73, N74, N75, N76, N77, N78, N79, N80, N82, N84, N87, N88, N90, N91, N95, N99, N101, N103, N104, N106, N108, N109, N110, N112, N121, N122 and N140.

Three Sentenced for Stealing 139,000 GEL from Commercial Bank Consumers BY ANA DUMBADZE


hree individuals have been sentenced for stealing 139,000 GEL from consumers of Bank of Georgia and TBC Bank via a phishing scheme, announced the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia. Tbilisi City Court sentenced citizens M.D. and M.A. to eight years in prison, ordering a fine of 40,000 GEL for each, while M.B. was sentenced to five years and six months in prison.

Photo Source: shutterstock.com

The investigation established that the detainees spread advertisements on Facebook, which attracted users onto pages that resemble the websites of Georgian commercial banks and asked them to input account information which the perpetrators then used to funnel money into their own accounts. The individuals were convicted on charges of unauthorized access to a computer system, unauthorized storage of computer data, unauthorized creation, storage and distribution of computer programs, as well as theft. They were detained back in April 2019, the Prosecutor’s Office reports.




DECEMBER 27 - 30, 2019

Kazakh President Announces Major Political Reforms



azakh President KassymJomart Tokayev announced a package of significant political reforms, during the second meeting of the National Council of Public Trust, held on December 20 in the Kazakh capital, Astana.

The 44-member council was established July 17 to tackle some of the country’s most acute issues. “We are overcoming the fear of the alternative opinion. The government does not believe that disagreement is a destructive or socially dangerous phenomenon,” Tokayev told the council during the meeting. The state demonstrated its political will to achieve concrete results in what

Tokayev described as an “extremely sensitive area.” “There should be no doubt as to the need for political modernization, which I said in my state-of-the-nation address,” the President said. “At the same time, the reforms should contribute to the stable development of our country, not undermine it. We need to strengthen the creative foundation of the political process so that pluralism becomes an impor-

tant element in enhancing economic well-being and human capital.” Once the law is passed, peaceful rallies will require notification to the relevant authorities only, rather than going through a permission process. “It is time for both society and the state to adequately relate to the public expression of position. We need to understand that rallies are not only a right, but a responsibility,” said Tokayev. The threshold to form a political party will be reduced from 40,000 to 20,000 people in an effort to reduce barriers to equal political participation and expand opportunities for civic engagement. Tokayev said the law on parties and elections should also be gradually changed. Kazakhstan also needs to build a tradition of parliamentary opposition, the President noted. “We need to understand the main condition for a new social paradigm – the presence of alternative views and opinions. We understand that alternative opinions and public debate do not lead to stagnation, but, on the contrary, are some of the main requirements for development,” Tokayev said. He instructed the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs to start procedures to join the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aimed at abolishing the death penalty. Kazakhstan has maintained a moratorium on capital punishment since December 2003. Article 174 of the Kazakh Penal Code, which penalizes incitement of social, national, tribal, racial, class or religious

hatred, will be humanized and will have more clearly defined terms to reduce ambiguity and vagueness. Tokayev said the government is aware of the demand for further political changes. “Democracy should serve development and creativity, and not estrangement and collapse. There should be no place for populism,” he said. The Kazakh President supported the idea of including civil society representatives on the boards of directors of socially significant enterprises in the quasi-public sector. The government will complete the selection procedures and propose candidacies for those roles by March 1, 2020. The government has proposed cutting more than 100 types of activities of state companies and more work needs to be done, Tokayev added, particularly in big cities, where the competitive environment is well developed. The country’s foreign workers’ quota will also be reduced by 40% next year from 49,000 to 29,000. The government will continue work to prevent discrimination against local workers by foreign employers. All companies with more than 250 employees and where more than 30 of them are foreign citizens will be subject to regular inspections. “Now the Ministry of Labor will be able to quickly respond to any violations, including disproportionate wages, social conditions and so on, not allowing problems to accumulate from year to year,” said Tokayev.

Disinformation One of Georgia’s Top Challenges BY TEA MARIAMIDZE


ne of the top problems that Georgia faces is the spread of disinformation, which challenges the integrity of democratic processes, be it elections or everyday public debate. Non-governmental organization Transparency International (TI) Georgia studied some of the most frequently disseminated narratives of disinformation in the country, as well as their sources and potential impact on Georgian society. According to the organization, the Russian Federation, which occupies 20% of Georgia’s territory, carries out hybrid warfare against the country and one of the most important tools used by Russia in this war is disinformation. The NGO found that the disinformation that is connected to Russia poses a particular challenge to Georgian society and these disinformation narratives have a clear anti-Western agenda. “Most messages in the offline space are spread in the Georgian language through certain Georgian media companies and political parties like the Alliance of Patriots, organizations such as the Primakov Georgian-Russian Public Center and far-right nationalist movements like the Georgian March,” it said, adding that Georgia’s response to disinformation as a part of hybrid warfare is insufficient. “The government is, in fact, unprepared to address hybrid threats. The security service does little in terms of exposing the dissemination of foreign-backed disinformation,” the NGO added. In addition to the Russian disinformation threats, TI says that governmentbacked home-grown disinformation is also prevalent in Georgia, which mainly serves narrow political interests and

aims to discredit the ruling party opponents. The organization claims that since at least the Presidential election in 2018, home-grown disinformation has been used as a tool to systematically discredit political opponents in the online space in Georgia. TI stressed that concerns remain that the Georgian government might introduce anti-disinformation regulation that will challenge the robust legal protection for freedom of expression in Georgia. The NGO called on all political sides, especially the government, to immediately stop spreading or supporting disinformation and misinformation. According to TI Georgia, a separate anti-disinformation unit or agency should be created within the national security structures with the task of coordinating efforts against foreign-backed disinformation. Public officials need to be well equipped to identify and resist foreign interference. TI says the 2018 Presidential election in Georgia saw the rise of social media as a powerful platform to influence domestic debate, adding smear campaigns, disinformation and misinformation flourished on the most popular social media network in the country: Facebook. “While the activities of official candidate and political party pages were largely lawful and legitimate, 20 anonymous pages of various kinds became the main vehicles of negative campaigning online. In this sense, Facebook was used by both political sides to spread disinformation and/or malinformation against political opponents,” the TI study reads. The NGO added that malign use of social media did not stop with the election and the activity of false media pages grew in the post-election period, even in 2019. To note, few days ago, Facebook removed 39 accounts, 344 pages and 13 groups for

Image source: medium.com

“coordinated inauthentic behavior” in Georgia targeting domestic audiences. In a statement released by Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Facebook’s Security Policy, it was explained that the people behind this activity used fake accounts to increase engagement on their content. Gleicher said that the Facebook team identified these accounts through their investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region and their investigation benefited from public reporting. "Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation linked

this activity to Panda, an advertising agency in Georgia, and the Georgian Dream-led government," he said. Head of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) faction, Mamuka Mdinaradze, wrote on Facebook in response that the ruling party has nothing to do with the group mentioned in the Facebook statement. According to him, the majority of the pages that have been removed seem to be either supporting the GD or sharing negative information about the opposition party the United National Movement (UNM) and its 'satellites'. Advertising company Panda, whose pages Facebook deleted, released a state-

ment saying they have great resources on the social network that they rent out, but the media has spread "misinterpretation". According to Panda, TV companies Formula One and Channel One were interested in their resources, though Panda said that these "resources were not fully utilized." They said they had also had suggestions from political groups. The State Audit Office of Georgia said they are studying a statement released by Facebook saying that government propaganda pages, profiles and groups were blocked and deleted. According to the announcement, $316,000 was paid to advertise these pages.




The Russian Effect on the Czech Republic



ur country is part of NATO, we are a member of NATO, so we absolutely follow the NATO policy; the threat to our country is the same as the threat to NATO; it means Russia, it means terrorism, world terrorism - Major General Jaromír Alan, of the Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic, told us. We asked him about his country’s moves to protect itself against pro-Russian propaganda, especially considering there have been diplomatic scandals, as there have been in Georgia, aimed at spreading malign influence. “Thankfully, on our territory we have no Russian military activity; so [the hybrid warfare] is mostly limited to cyber activities and moves which aim to influence the opinion of our people,” he says. “Those psychological operations, or machinations, are perhaps the biggest threat from Russia today in the Czech Republic.”

RUSSIA TRADES IN ANTI-WESTERN SENTIMENT. WHAT DOES IT DO IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC TO CONVINCE THE POPULATION? We have come a long way on the path of democracy, and Western democracy in particular, so I don't think that Russia is able to influence the opinion of our public towards the West, it is not possible; however, they want to influence the opinion of the population against itself, for example, saying that our political system is unstable, that some political party is lying, and so on; so those are the ways they want to influence people.


Georgia is making very good progress in the field of assisting NATO; it is a democratic country, it has improved its parliamentary democracy, its society is politically plural, it is one of the biggest contributors to NATO operations in Afghanistanthere are some 800 Georgians there now. We have 800 people there too, but we are twice larger than Georgia, so this is a really significant contribution. Georgia modernized its armed forces, has experience from operations, is able to create new military capabilities with new equipment, new technologies, and I hope that soon Georgia will indeed join NATO.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE ARGUMENT OF THOSE SKEPTICAL COUNTRIES WHO EXPECT TROUBLE IF GEORGIA IS ACCEPTED IN? I don’t think there are such arguments; I think the main demand from those skeptics is that Georgia first needs to solve its territorial issues with Russia. Every country wanting to join NATO has to solve their own problems first, political problems, territorial problems. The same applies to Ukraine, too.

GEORGIANS AND UKRAINIANS WANT TO JOIN NATO TO BE SAFE FROM RUSSIA, BUT IF WE WERE ABLE TO DEAL WITH RUSSIA ON EQUAL TERMS, WE WOULD NEED TO BE A NON-ALIGNED COUNTRY. WHAT’S THE SOLUTION TO THIS DILEMMA? It's not an easy question and there is no easy answer. In the Czech Republic, we wanted to be a member of the European Union and NATO. NATO membership came first and that for us was a really, really big thing because through this act of becoming a member of NATO, we proclaimed that we are a Western-oriented country, and this was very important for us and I absolutely believe that the same applies to Georgia and Ukraine.

Georgian Internet Industry against Internet Piracy Continued from page 1 The Executive Director of the Anti-Piracy Center, Zurab Bezhanishvili commented on the current internet piracy situation in the country, going into detail how exactly it does more harm than we might realize. “Nowadays, the main source of revenue for legal Georgian internet sites is income from advertising. Several Georgian websites totally illegally, through unlicensed content, take the biggest part of total revenues from advertising. These illegal websites sell their advertising space by attracting visitors with numerous items of illegal content which they put on their platforms. Because of this, legal websites that create original themes or legally purchase textual, audio and video content are seriously harmed. “Consequently, the Georgian netspace is uncompetitive and unhealthy. This, of course, makes the industry less attractive to local and foreign investors,” Bezhanishvili said. Because of internet piracy, important internet gamers/gamblers avoid Georgia and the country’s platforms. If the internet piracy issue was less severe in the country, the Google advertising network would also be more interested in partnering up with Georgian websites and in

doing so, stimulate the local market. Local and international investors are interested in collaborating with Georgian legal streaming websites, but the alarming statistics of internet piracy in the country make it impossible for the sides to work on their partnership. International organizations that have a lot to say in today’s internet industry have already begun to warn Georgia about the alarming amount of content piracy within the country. Earlier this month, Hollywood studios, due to the increasing issue of internet piracy, threatened Georgia with sanctions. At the beginning of December, the President and Managing Director of the Motion Picture Association in Europe, Middle East and Africa, Stan McCoy wrote to the Chairman of National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia (NIPCG) Genadi Lobjanidze. The letter was merely a warning; however, if the State fails to address the problem correspondingly, the Association will put sanctions on Georgia in the form of delays or cancellation of movie and TV premieres. This, of course, will not affect Georgia’s economy positively, not to say anything about the country’s image. That is why it is so important that the media and online platforms join forces to address the issue.

15 M. Kostava str. (+995) 322 30 03 05




DECEMBER 27 - 30, 2019

The Fabricated Impeachment OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


could have skipped the Trump impeachment story because nothing is left to say, but I can’t. I feel like getting it off my chest. The democrats lost the presidential race in 2016 so unexpectedly and disastrously that they will not get over it in the next hundred years. I hate the Dems not only because I am an old Republican with a deeply conservative mind, but because they are ready to destroy America for the sake of revenge, and will do this at any possible cost. This is as clear as day! The democrats have been brewing this mischief from the very first second of their debilitating loss. And they lost the battle only because they betted on the wrong horse, but they can’t blame anybody except their own frustrated selves. Since that hated doomsday, they have been ransacking the national and international political corridors to somehow get back at their tormentor, and, behold, there came a reason from Russia and Ukraine: the Russians helped Trump to become President and then the-alreadypresident manipulated the Ukrainians to get rid of his enemies. Isn’t this nonsense? Isn’t this the nastiest political fabrication of our time? Even the Russian President would admit with regret that the Democrats want to destroy America’s sitting president, motivated exclusively by their vindictive impulses. Now, the only way for the Democrats to turn the impulse into a physical value is the impeachment of the President.

Image source: stylist.co.uk/

Not easy, but possible! Who doesn’t know that if you have a majority in a legislative body, you can do anything you want, but having that privilege, some do right and some do wrong, depending on how smart and honest one is. Trump’s impeachment definitely smells fishy, and the posterity of politicians will

make the right judgment when the time comes. That will happen in the future of course, but right now, we have an American president who is beleaguered by impeachment, but still maintaining the presidential dignity in the belief that this is not yet the end. Indeed, if a majority in a legislature means anything, the

American senate, in the role of judge, should acquit the badly wounded chief executive if there is still smolders at least an iota of political conscientiousness at the highest decision-making level of the United States of America. The Trump story has bothered me badly and I couldn’t help writing to my

American colleagues, the conservative republicans to wit, asking one of them to let me know what was going on in reality, and here is the answer Bill Thomas, the well-known American political writer, obliged me with: “Nothing to worry about! The Senate, where Republicans have a majority, will dismiss the case on Day 1. There is no way Trump will get removed from office. In fact, his poll numbers are going up and have been through this whole process. Democrats, who have become like an organized crime syndicate, will pay a very heavy price at the election in eleven months. Remember, you’re getting the news that’s been filtered through the New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and the rest of the information mafia. Even the soviet newspaper ‘Pravda’ was more honest. Nothing bad will happen to Donald Trump. There has never been a president like this guy. You saw what just happened in England. The same thing will happen here next November. Now it’s obvious for all to see – the dems are digging their own grave.” Hopefully, these bitter but heartfelt words will be proven true someday. The optimistic presumptions are being made all over the place because the economy is doing well and Trump is not a gullible wimp you can easily tread on and crush, but who knows what will happen to those strained doubtful minds in the Senate. The main question here is if America needs to have a president like Donald Trump or not. If it does, and they still remove him, then this is going to be the worst mistake the American people have made in their three-hundred-year history.

Burjanadze Claims Georgia Should Celebrate Victory over Fascism with Moscow

Image source: United Georgia



ino Burjanadze, the leader of the Georgian non-parliamentary opposition party Democratic Movement - United Georgia, says that May 9 is one of the biggest joint holidays, and one which Georgia should celebrate with Moscow.

Burjanadze made the statement in her interview with the Russian media outlet tvzvezda.ru, claiming that the Georgian leadership should seriously celebrate the jubilee- the 75th anniversary of the Victory in World War 2, and be sure to go to Moscow. The Georgian politician claimed that May 9 is a great victory for which millions of people all over the world gave their lives, especially in the former postSoviet space. She stated that around 700

thousand Georgians went to the front line and about 350 thousand did not return. “Therefore, I believe that if we want to be normal people, if we value our ancestors, grandfathers and great-grandfathers, then there should not be two opinions about whether it is a holiday or not, and whether it should be celebrated in Moscow,” Burjanadze told tvzvezda.ru. The politician also stressed that Geor-

gians have to honor this day and the Georgian leadership should very seriously celebrate this holiday and properly mark the anniversary of the Victory. “I believe that we need to go to Moscow, because this is really a joint celebration of a great victory in the war, in which Russians, Georgians, Ukrainians, Kazakhs, and in general all representatives of the nations who lived then in this big country fought together,” Burjanadze stated. Russian media reports that a military

parade dedicated to the 75th anniversary of Victory in the World War II will be held on May 9, 2020 on Red Square. Delegations from 75 countries will sing military songs at one of the central concert venues in Moscow on May 9. Georgia marks May 9 every year by paying tribute to the fallen heroes. The Victory in Europe Day, generally known as V-Day, was the public holiday celebrated on 8 May 1945 to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces. The formal surrender of the German forces occupying the Channel Islands did not occur until the following day, 9 May 1945. It thus marked the end of World War II in Europe. To note, in late October, Burjanadze visited Moscow to hold meetings with the politicians and representatives of the media. It was not her first visit to Russia as she is in favor of starting a political dialogue with Georgia’s northern neighbor, despite its occupying 20% of the country’s territories as of August 2008. Russian media outlet Tass noted that the leader of the Democratic Movement - United Georgia apologized for the antiRussian “provocation” that took place during a session of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy in the Georgian parliament building in June. "I am not afraid of apologizing for that absolutely outrageous incident... I believe that it was a disgrace for the Georgian people and the Georgian state," Tass quoted Burjanadze saying at a meeting with the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Russia’s Federation Council, Konstantin Kosachyov. The majority of the Georgian opposition parties and also the representatives of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) government criticized Burjanadze for her visit to Moscow, saying her actions damage the image of the country and promote the Russian occupant regime.




The President, De-Facto President & Doctor Gaprindashvili BY THE GT TEAM


natoly Bibilov, the de-facto President of self-professed South Ossetia, remarked on the detainment of Georgian Dr. Vazha Gaprindashvili on Wednesday. The pseudo leader said, in his first official comments on the case, that "imprisonment for one year and nine months is an adequate sentence for the doctor." “I cannot say that the court's ruling is strict or cruel. A person who breaks the law must be held accountable: when that person deliberately does so, he must be punished. The only thing that is unfortunate is that this situation is being politicized,” Bibilov went on, claiming that Western and Georgian politicians are not responding to the Georgian side's violations of international norms, a statement which can be considered hypocritical in nature, where the biggest violation of the international law is undemocratic hostile separatism from a country and its being a proxy military landmass for Moscow. “The Georgian authorities have illegally placed their checkpoints on the border and thus violated all norms of the law,” Bibilov claimed. “In respect to Vazha Gaprindashvili’s case, it is obvious that technical processes yield no results; they carry on sluggishly without sound judgement,” President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili stated the same day.

"With the case of Vazha Gaprindahvili, we are seeing bureaucrats who cannot make the political decisions we expect. Georgia is stuck in this ongoing technical process," the President said. "We are working with the help of international associations. We have been trying to put the Geneva International Discussions into its initial political format. Days prior to the Normandy Format talks, I reminded the President of France to consider the case of Georgia, namely our present conflict regarding the imprisoned doctor and the never-ending issue of our occupied territories. "For the first time, during the FrenchGeorgian Dialogue, named after the legendary Georgian officer and national hero of France Dimitri Amilakhvari, France assessed the situation of Georgia in words that have never been used before,” Zurabishvili stated. On Thursday, the First Deputy Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of the State Duma of Russia, Dmitry Novikov, responded to President Zurabishivili’s comment, saying the idea of negotiating the issue of Russian-Georgian relations in the Normandy Format would be "peculiar, even artificial." “This position seems to me rather odd, because these problems concern two countries only, and two countries should solve them,” Novikov said. The deputy claims that the “Normandy format,” in relation to the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics, is a “special situation”, while here the issue at hand is bilateral relations between

Image source: Tabula.ge

Russia and Georgia. The structure of the problem is thus different and the same format cannot be applied. The day before, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili offered the initiative in an interview with Channel One of the Georgian public broadcaster. The President stated that current talks with Russia are futile; therefore, it would be pertinent to conduct a dialogue with

Moscow in the "Normandy Format". In her view, the multilateral format is better, because Georgia is unable to conduct negotiations alone and needs support. The so-called “Normandy Format” talks involve the representatives of the Normandy Four countries (Germany, Russia, Ukraine, France) and aim to resolve a war that began after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014.

Well-known Georgian Doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili was abducted by Russiancontrolled occupational forces on November 9 and was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison, “for deliberately crossing the border”. The Doctor did not admit to “crossing the border,” rightfully and justly saying that Tskhinvali is part of Georgia and which is ‘now’ (temporarily) occupied by Russia.

4 nights

2 Pax





DECEMBER 27 - 30, 2019

In coordination with the Patriarchate of Georgia, the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates shares the joy of families and children on festive holidays of Christmas and New Year by distributing food aid to 100 families and gifts to 460 children of tolerance and peace and highlighted that his country and Georgia share the values of tolerance and personally expressed his pride towards the atmosphere of tolerance he experiences in Georgia. Then he mentioned that the members and partners of the Global Council for Tolerance and Peace (GCTP) received affirmation of support from the UAE for their council, which is in line with the UAE policies at a celebration of completing 2019, the Year of Tolerance, which was held on 16th and 17th of December 2019 in Abu Dhabi noting that the activities of this year started in the beginning of February when the Human Fraternity Document was signed by Pope of Vatican, Francis II and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar - Ahmed Al-Tayeb in the presence of 700 religious figures, including a delegation from the Patriarchate of Georgia. The Ambassador also briefed the attendees on the activities and initiatives of the organization Red Crescent.The Emirates Red Crescent is the United Arab Emirates affiliate of the International


n December 23, the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Georgia organized a charity event for the Patriarch's godchildren and their families. The event was held at Trinity Cathedral Youth Center and was attended by patriarch's godchildren along with their families, Ambassador of the UAE in Georgia – H.E. Essa Albasha Alnoaimi, Head of the State Agency for Religious Issues – Mr. Zaza Vashakmadze and Archbishop Shalva Kekelia as a representative of Georgian church. At the outset of the event, Archbishop Shalva Kekelia delivered a speech where he thanked the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates for this initiative and support, noting that he is proud that the Patriarch already has 40,000 godchildren, which

Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. In 2001, the UAE Red Crescent was selected as the second best humanitarian authority at the level of the continent of Asia. The authority works to support the official authorities in peacetime and wartime, in accordance with the provisions of Article 26 of the First Geneva Convention of 1949. The Ambassador thanked the Patriarchate for providing the opportunity to assist these wonderful families and expressed their readiness to stand by them in the future. He noted that despite religious differences, humanity and kind activities are paramount. Zaza Vashakmadze, Head of the State Agency for Religious Issues, under the governmental administration, also delivered a speech at the event, emphasizing how tolerant Georgia is towards other religions and expressing pride due to the above fact and thanked H.E. Ambassador on this initiative and the Church for blessing this charitable effort.

indicates the large number of multiple children families. The Archbishop also noted that the Church itself should help such families, but “unfortunately, it is not able to provide help to this number of families permanently and accordingly, the support of embassies and businesses is very important,” he said. In addition, the Archbishop delivered the blessings of Catholicos Patriarch Ilia II to each attendee of the event, expressing his deep gratitude and love for their families. The Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Georgia, H.E. Essa Albasha Alnoaimi, started his welcoming speech by pointing out the importance of deepening relations between the Emirati and Georgian people on the level of human communication. He also spoke about 2019, which was a year

Public Defender Publishes Report on Violence in Prisons


here is no violence-free environment in the Georgian penitentiary establishments. This is proven by physical and psychological violence among inmates, criminal subcultures, and lengthy and often inappropriate use of solitary confinement, to name a few, - reads the report released by the Public Defender following monitoring in Georgia's penitentiary establishments. The Special Preventive Group of the Public Defender of Georgia conducted monitoring in penitentiary establishments N2, N8, N14 and N15 in July and August 2019. Visits were made to the largest semi-open and closed facilities. The systemic and characteristic aspects of each institution were analyzed in a complex manner, based on the information obtained during monitoring. One of the main focuses of the monitoring was to examine the extent and forms of informal governance in the institutions, as it poses a serious threat to prisoners’ ill-treatment, which leads to violence and oppression. “The institutions are overcrowded and there is a shortage of staff, which tempts the administration to delegate the functions of conflict resolution and “keeping order” to informal rulers. The establishments, where the impact of informal governance is high, are characterized by physical and severe psychological violence among prisoners. Psycho-

logical violence is mainly manifested in extortion, humiliation, marginalization and other violent acts. "A criminal subculture is particularly prevalent in semi-open establishments, where informal rulers are privileged and force other prisoners to obey informal rules. It was found that prisoners are not properly aware of their rights and responsibilities and refuse to exercise their right to complain due to the influence of said criminal subculture and fear of repression. "Prisoners, with only a few exceptions, do not speak about physical abuse by prison staff: they mainly talk about psychological violence and unethical behaviour,” reads the report. The report further emphasizes the inadequate practice of lengthy punitive placement of inmates in de-escalation rooms, which is described by the Public Defender as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” The Special Penitentiary Service largely agrees with the recommendations of the Public Defender and aims to transform the large penitentiary institutions into relatively small ones so as to improve the situation. The Public Defender welcomes the idea of transforming institutions, as long as the goal is to develop a system focused on positive changes in the behavior of convicts, their rehabilitation and their ultimate reintegration into society.



Patriarch Celebrates 42 Years in Power BY ANA DUMBADZE AND NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


he Georgian Orthodox Church marked the 42nd anniversary of the enthronement of Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II on Wednesday. Patriarch Ilia II has officially been the spiritual head of the Georgian Orthodox Church for 42 years, elected on December 23, 1977, when he was 44 years old. A church service was held at the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta to mark the special occasion. Politicians including Bidzina Ivanishvili, Chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Giorgi Gakharia, Prime Minister of Georgia and Archil Talakvadze, Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia attended the liturgy. “Congratulations to our beloved Patriarch on the 42nd anniversary of his enthronement,” Bidzina Ivanishvili said. “You know how difficult these 42 years were, how difficult our country was [to live in] a few years ago. Our country has endured many challenges and trials over these 42 years. The contribution of our Mother Church and His Holiness, the Patriarch, is greatest. The Church and His Holiness have very often been the largest pillars and examples. You know today that our daily or spiritual life is


difficult and needs to be handled in a very well organized and thoughtful manner. Both the State and the Church perform their functions in a very thoughtful and orderly way so that we can overcome all challenges and lead our country to victory. Our country is happy to have such a spiritual father. We wish our beloved Patriarch health and long life.” “It is impossible for us to evaluate [the Patriarch’s] merits to the country, it is impossible to evaluate his merits in building churches, it is impossible to evaluate his merits in the educational field, and most importantly, it is impossible to evaluate his merits in maintaining peace in the country,” the Prime Minister said. “The Patriarch is our shepherd and of course, on behalf of the Government of Georgia, I congratulate him on this great holiday, I congratulate the whole Georgia, the orthodox world on this day, and I wish him health and the ability to serve our country for many, many more years.” The Patriarch in turn thanked his supporters. “Today is a truly historic day. It is a great mercy from God on us. I am grateful to God and our nation for giving me the opportunity to do this job. Our nation has been gifted with love from God and we must keep it close to our hearts. We should not respond with hate to love. I am grateful for your love. God bless you,” he said. His Holiness will turn 87 in January. Based on public polls, Patriarch Ilia II is the most trusted figure in Georgia.




Traditions: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER


his is one of the seasons, Christmas, when one changes one’s behavior according to the time of year. As Tevye and his village so powerfully sang and demonstrated at the beginning of ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ that word, tradition, can be a powerful force in motivating us to do or not do certain things. We have just got past the shortest day and longest night of the year, Winter Solstice, December 22. Here, ringed by mountains, one is more sensitive to this than on plains: our sun rises now at 9:30 am, and sets at 4:15 pm, because of the topology, not because of being so far north. At least daylight extends outside these hours somewhat, though, and having put the 22nd behind us, we look forward only to longer days until June 22! Then it begins again. We, and our livestock if we have any, sleep longer; cows

stop their milk, hens their eggs; the shop is open fewer hours too, as people simply come to it less in the dark. Once the mandarins come up for sale in Zugdidi, we buy a lot for both the shop and ourselves. When I lived in Ushguli before getting married, President Saakashvili sent the village boxes of them as a seasonal gift. I urged my host family to keep a bag of the skins in the freezer until they were all gone, instead of feeding them to the pigs. Then, adding local moonshine, and waiting until Easter before filtering it and adding sugar syrup, I produced a passable version of Cointreau liqueur, which they relished. I now do this every winter. At home I’ve learnt not only this, but also to julienne each skin as it becomes available before adding it to the alcohol. Then, once I’ve made my liqueur in spring, I make marmalade too, and can confess that there’s none finer to my taste. Most of the alcohol has burned off in the boiling, but that fine flavor remains. As always, I beg you, gentle reader, to treat any alcoholic product with the

respect it deserves, and don’t let it ruin you! It’s doable, believe this writer who enjoys a sip but has not once been drunk in his life! We make many things from fruit in the season, to store up in the long dark fruitless winter months and enjoy: compotes, liqueurs, wines (even from our raspberries), dried versions, jams with or without boiling, and more. I set up the camera on a tripod and try to find out where the local fireworks will be coming from, to shoot a few rounds in the fantastic mountain winter setting which encircles us. As westerners living in a country which celebrates certain dates according to a different calendar, it can be hard to know how, or indeed when, to commemorate them. December 25 isn’t even a holiday here: January 7 takes its place. But we don’t mind. Whether one is “religious” or not, there’s plenty of festivity of various kinds to indulge in, partly due to the hang-on from atheist Soviet years of trying to replace Christmas with New Year’s as the main winter holiday. Both my wife and I are far from actual family in Svaneti. But we make time for each other, as well as being sure to celebrate with our local friends and neighbors. It’s really a communal time, and we love this. Christmas 2019 feels strange in Georgia due to the political climate, the rage and anguish currently visiting us. People here will have to figure out how to cope with, or protest and change, what has happened and cannot be undone. They say that depression can be greater in this midwinter season, whether due to lack of light or to some people being isolated, or to financial pressure. I find that decommercializing the thing for myself, focusing on relationships and on giving in less expensive but no less appreciated ways, are good antidotes. I also love the beauty of winter, which

feeling comes naturally to a photographer. And if one felt “cut off” as a foreigner here during the Christmas/New Year season, one should only remember how hospitable are the people of Georgia, and seek someone, even total strangers, to share it with in one way or another. Don’t go it alone! Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since

1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti




DECEMBER 27 - 30, 2019

The Brotherhood of Man, Middle Eastern Hospitality, Georgian Wine, & the Christmas Spirit



he Brotherhood of Man usually seems like an abstract concept, but when total strangers invite you into their home to feast on local specialties, nothing could actually feel more concrete. Paradoxically, the countries in which I’ve experienced the most selfless and genuine hospitality are also the same places where I’ve encountered virulent paranoia, prejudice, and ignorance. Both seem to be man in his primordial state. In my travels, three countries stand out for both extremes: Syria, Libya, and Georgia. These also happen to be my favorite places on earth and the focus of my professional life over the last fifteen years. Despite many Middle Easterners being filled with conspiratorial fears about outsiders, in general, and Arabic-studying Americans and “New Yorkers” in particular, I’ve never been made to feel as welcome and as spiritually connected to humanity as I have in the greater Middle East. During my years in Syria, it seemed like a daily occurrence that taxi cab drivers insisted that my ride was free -- because I was helping international understanding by being in Syria -- while strangers that I asked for directions, got off their motor cycles and jumped into my family’s rental car to personally take us to our destination. I’ll never forget the time, in 2002, that upon hearing I was from Manhattan and engaging in a conversation about being a humanist in the new millennium, a cab driver shed a tear and gave me his key

chain depicting the World Trade Center, where he had been in the 1980s. True, I’ve also seen the inside of a few different Syrian jail cells at the airport and the Jordanian border, been kidnapped and held at gunpoint by Kurdish rebels, and had my Shi’a friend steal my tennis racket after reporting me to the authorities for being a ‘covert Fulbright scholar.’ Returning to the plus side of the ledger, in all the years that I’ve visited Libya, I’ve rarely paid for a meal – business colleagues, acquaintances, and even bystanders (who witnessed me dining alone) all falling over themselves to beat me to the check. I’ll also never forget the time that a shopkeeper mobilized his entire social network to ensure that I wasn’t late for a meeting with a former prime minister. Or the other time that a cabbie, after hearing about my doctoral research at Cambridge about Britain’s relationship to the Sanussi Sufi Order, arranged to drive me for free the whole next day on the condition that I gave his children a lesson about Libyan history. On the other side of the equation, I once got stopped at the metal detectors inside the entrance to the Corinthia Hotel and after giving my American passport, I was accused of being a Lebanese spy searching for evidence of Musa Sadr’s murder. When I explained that I had no Lebanese origin at all, I was told that my accent in Arabic (which is actually distinctly Shammi, i.e. Syrian) and my green eyes (which are actually quite hazel) proved otherwise. I was duly detained and the number of secret police who followed me every evening from the hotel into the old city for my traditional hookah and backgammon increased from one to three.

But looking back with more than a decade’s remove from these incidents, the tribulations have grown in hilarity, while the hospitality has multiplied in its life-affirming warmth. Seen with hindsight, the kindness of strangers does more for us than give us a tasty morsel or a soft bed, it renews our faith in humanity. It was first in the Middle East that I experienced the true Christmas spirit: to give that which is precious and irreplaceable to a complete outsider, without ever expecting to receive. And this sense of hope, and of human goodness, is what I would wish to share with all my colleagues, friends, and family this holiday season. To be honest, I’d even like to share it with my enemies – if only they would get out of their own narratives long enough to listen. In today’s hyper-partisan and technologically advanced times, many urban Americans are increasingly cut off from traditional patterns of community and hospitality. For me, the Middle East Institute differs from other think tanks in that it doesn’t simply study the Middle East as a “Foreign Policy problem set” facing Americans, but cherishes how the aesthetic creativity and cultural contributions of the region can highlight our shared humanity and interconnectedness. In my practical experience, the Christmas spirit has always been best exemplified by Middle Eastern hospitality and its traditional food and beverage practices. Therefore, this Holiday Season – dear reader -- might I suggest a return to the essentials. The greater Middle East is the birthplace of both Christianity and wine. This year why not return to basics with some Georgian wine at the holiday table? Wine is central to Judeo-Christian rituals. It is a requirement for the eucharist – as well as for Shabbat and Passover. A more secular property of wine is its ability to encapsulate a sense of place and epitomize the traditions of a culture. Nowhere does it fulfill this function better than in Georgia – a country in which most non-urban households make their own wine, and elaborate feasting rituals for guests and family is a monthly occurrence. Georgia is not only the birthplace of wine, it is home to over five hundred indigenous grape varietals and an array of wine styles, many of which are the closest we can taste today to what the ancient Christians (as well as Greeks, Romans, Sumerians, and Israelites) drank. Georgia’s most emblematic contribution to the world of wine is the Qvevri – the uniquely shaped large clay vessel that controls temperature and oxidation, while facilitating the vinification of skin contact wines. Wine likely was ‘invented’ in Georgia 8000 years ago, because the clay from the Alazani river in Kakheti has special properties that lend itself to making airtight vessels. When Jesus turned water into wine, he almost certainly turned it into unfiltered, claypot fermented wine with no added sulphites. And when the last supper was eaten, the wine it was washed down with was likely quite similar from a visual, flavor, and textural perspective to today’s Georgian Amber wines – (although it might have been a bit sweeter and a bit weaker -- as addition of water, sugar, and/or spices were highly common in the Greco-Roman world at the start of the Common Era). Prior to the Greeks and Romans with their addition of water and spices, all ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures fermented, aged, and transported their wine in various types of clay jars.

They also didn’t add yeast or remove the skins and pips of white wines during fermentation – likely giving them that cidery funkiness and tannic earthy-ness that epitomize the best of today’s natural and Georgian wines. The Ancient Romans invented sulphite addition (to stabilize wine for transport) as well as separating the must from the skins, fining and filtering (all to increase clarity and remove impurities), but these were never the default methods of vinification in the ancient world. The traditional methods of vinification were gradually abandoned throughout most of the Western world from late Roman times onward as “improvements” in science allowed for the introduction of novel techniques to reduce spoilage, decrease labor, increase yields, and better facilitate transport. As such, oak barrels and various other vessels began to replace claypots. By the late 18th century oaking, sulphite addition, fining, filtering, as well as yeast addition had all become standard in all fine wine regions. It was only in the Caucasus that truly ancient and low intervention winemaking techniques remained the default. But then after WWI and the ensuing Soviet occupation, Caucasian wineries succumbed to the industrialization and collectivization of viticulture. As such, authentic wine traditions were mostly abandoned in favor of increasing yields, factory-style production and resulting mediocritization -- borrowing the worst of the innovations of Western winemaking. Throughout the bleak Soviet years in Georgia and Armenia, traditional winemaking was usually preserved in the monasteries. Since the Russian boycott of Georgian wine in 2006, the RussoGeorgian War of 2008 and the opening of western markets, it has witnessed a remarkable resurrection over the last decade. On the consumer side of the drama, hipsters, vegans, naturalistas, and wine nerds have all played their parts. While on the producer side, many of the protagonists in that drama have been driven by their Christian faith, love of homeland, and desire to return to their roots. To me nothing conveys the spirit of Christmas like the generous body, hearty tannins, meatiness, and ripeness of black fruit of an aged Kakhetian Saparavi made in Qvevri. As someone raised in a secular home with a vast cellar, but without many spiritual traditions, wine has always brought me closest to other worldly divinity, as well as to family. Despite being a devotee of the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, I’ve never been able to undertake the leap of faith nec-

essary to experience the suprarational harmony contained within the doctrine of the resurrection. But possibly the only time I can come close to basking in suprarational bliss might be at a supra while savoring a floral, yet tannic, and apple-y Amber wine like a Kakhetian Kisi (Dakishvili and Tchotkiashvili make my two favorites). For something even more elegant and mystical, try the savoury, yet delicate wines from the western-central Georgian region of Imereti --those from Georgia’s most famous female winemaker, Baia Abuladze are to die for especially her Tsolikouri blends. At its best amber wine defies human logic – the combination of texture, florality, salinity, and acidity somehow producing balance and elegance seems far more inconceivable than the virgin conception. Yet, if you are looking for a wine that truly defies the intellect, try the Chakvevri noir de blanc from Dato’s winery in Guria (the extreme Western part of Georgia bordering Turkey). It is a white wine (that looks Amber), made from red grapes, vinified in Qvevri, but without skin contact. I am working my way through several cases, and each time, I discover something different in the wine. Last weekend’s, paired brilliantly against both a skate in parsley/ butter sauce and against rabbit in mustard. It tasted of savory versions of caramelized apple and butterscotch – it was completely unctuous, while having low alcohol content and no residual sugar. And the theologians think the Trinity is a genuine mystery! I do feel it might have been inadvertently unchristian of me to buy nearly 5% of the winemaker’s total production and nearly 20% of the total export to the United States. Humor aside, I lack much spiritual practice in my life, except for the elaborate wine tasting and discussion ritual that I practice nightly and impose on all guests. Sharing a superlative bottle with someone special, makes me feel the deepest human communion. As we both drink and the intricacies of the wine linger on our tongues and in our minds, the shared experience connects us to each other, to our ancestors, and to inherent brotherhood of all humanity. Merry Christmas. A version of this article was first published by the Middle East Institute's Frontier Europe Initiative Program. Jason Pack is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Middle East Institute, a former competitor on the University of Cambridge's Blind Wine Tasting Team, Founder of Libya-Analysis LLC, and a frequent op-ed writer covering issues of geopolitics, culture and wine.



One of 20 PEN Translates Awards Goes to a Title Translated from Georgian


ooks from eighteen countries and eleven languages have won English PEN’s flagship translation awards. They include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short stories and children’s literature, and, for the first time, a translation from Georgian. The round sees the highest number of awards ever given by the program, and among them are landmark books: the first translations into English of novels by women from Libya and the Central African Republic. Two of the six titles shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2018 were PEN Translates award-winners. "The movement of words and ideas across borders has never felt so urgent,” said Will Forrester, Translation and International Manager at English PEN. “These awards go to twenty vital, exceptional works of international literature, and mark extraordinary breadth and quality: with titles from across Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe, and from small and large publishers alike. English PEN is delighted to support these books, and to continue our unwavering commitment to internationalism, the free movement of words, and literary diversity." "English PEN has long argued for the broadest possible internationalism in our publishing world, not as a niche interest or a luxury, but as a cultural necessity,” Daniel Hahn, Chair of the PEN Translates Selection Panel, said. “With each round, this our fifteenth, PEN Translates receives an ever-greater number of more competitive, more promising, more diverse submissions, from terrific publishers of all sizes who, even in a risk-averse business, continue to look out at the world with ambition. These twenty titles add to the bibliodiversity that UK readers can enjoy in twenty quite different ways. Each selected title is a work of translated literature English PEN is proud to be associated with, and I’m delighted we’re able to help them into the market. Like many other curious readers, I’ll be awaiting them eagerly." Books are selected for PEN Translates awards on the basis of outstanding literary quality, the strength of the publishing project, and their contribution to UK bibliodiversity.

And the PEN Translates award winners are... Three Apples Fell from the Sky by Narine Abgaryan, translated from the Russian by Lisa Hayden. Oneworld, May 2020. Country of origin: Armenia. Why I No Longer Write Poems by Diana Anphimiadi, translated from Georgian by Jean Sprackland and Natalia BukiaPeters. Poetry Translation Center, October 2020. Country of origin: Georgia. Tazmamart by Aziz BineBine, translated from the French by Lulu Norman. Haus Publishing, April 2020. Country of origin: Morocco. Catalogue of a Private Life by Najwa Binshatwan, translated from the Arabic by Sawad Hussein. Dedalus Africa, October 2020. Country of origin: Libya. Embrace by Najwan Darwish, translated from the Arabic by Paul Batchelor and Atef Alshaer. Poetry Translation Centre, June 2020. Country of origin: Palestine. Liminal by Laura Fusco, translated from the Italian by Caroline Maldonado. Smokestack Books, April 2020. Country of origin: Italy. Ankomst by Gøhril Gabrielsen, translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin. Peirene, June 2020. Country of origin: Norway. The Fire in El Bordo Mine by Yuri Herrera, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman. And Other Stories, July 2020. Country of origin: Mexico. Black Box by Ito Shiori, translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell. Tilted Axis, August 2020. Country of origin: Japan. Notes from Childhood by Norah Lange, translated from the Spanish by Charlotte Whittle. And Other Stories, February 2021. Country of origin: Argentina. War Trilogy by Agustín Fernández Mallo, translated from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead. Fitzcarraldo, March 2021. Country of origin: Spain. Portrait of My Double: Four Novellas by Georgi Markov, translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel. Penguin Classics, February 2021. Country of origin: Bulgaria. Jefferson by Jean-Claude Mourlevat, translated from the French by Ros Schwartz. Andersen Press, August 2020. Country of origin: France. Empty Houses by Brenda Navarro,

translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes. Daunt Books, October 2020. Country of origin: Mexico. Damaris by Pilar Quintana, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman. World Editions, August 2020. Country of origin: Colombia. Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree, translated from the Hindi by Daisy Rockwell. Tilted Axis, March 2021. Country of origin: India. Havana Year Zero by Karla Suárez, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney. Charco Press, June 2021. Country of origin: Cuba. Rolling Fields by David Trueba, translated from the Spanish by Rahul Bery. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, June 2020. Country of origin: Spain. Co-Wives, Co-Widows by Adrienne Yabouza, translated from the French by Rachael McGill. Dedalus Africa, June 2020. Country of origin: Central African Republic. Gwangju Diary by Hwang Sok Yong, translated from the Korean by Slin Jung. Verso, May 2021. Country of origin: South Korea. The English PEN's Writers in Translation program has been promoting literature in translation since 2005. Overseen by a dedicated committee of literary professionals, the program includes a dynamic portfolio of activities, which includes translation grants, events, and PEN Transmissions, an online magazine of international writing. English PEN's major publisher grants program, PEN Translates, awards grants to UK publishers for translation costs and is supported by the Arts Council England. Together with the PEN Promotes program (supported by Bloomberg) over 300 books in translation have been supported by English PEN grants since 2005. English PEN, a registered charity, promotes the freedom to write and the freedom to read in the UK and around the world. The founding center of a worldwide writers' association, established in 1921, we work to identify and dismantle barriers between writers and readers, whether these are cultural, political, linguistic or economic.In2011,EnglishPENwasawarded the highest funding increase in the literature sector by Arts Council England to develop literature in translation.





DECEMBER 27 - 30, 2019


GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. December 28, January 4 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL December 27, January 5, 10 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL December 29, January 3 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRINGTIME Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL January 9 REZO Animated documentary film Directed by Leo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS Until February 1 Exhibition NEANDERTHALS IN THE SOUTH CAUCASUS – TSUTSKVATI CAVE, OLD AND NEW DISCOVERIES The exhibition displays the latest findings of archeological and paleontological excavations discovered by Georgian National Museum's Tsutskvati Cave Archaeological Expedition. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 Until January 19

Project "Contemporary Art Gallery" presents the exhibition "How to Catch up with a Dead Hare" by Georgian contemporary artist ILIKO ZAUTASHVILI MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave and jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in the Mirror Room, free yourself in the Infinity Room, resist the laws of gravity and size, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms and discover optical illusions. THE BOOK MUSEUM 5 Gudiashvili Str., National Parlamentary Library +995 32 297 16 40 The Book Museum holds a unique collection of items, including private libraries of Ilia Chavchavadze, Dimitri Bakradze, Giorgi Chubinashvili, the recently recovered book collections of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich Romanov and Brothers Zubalashvili, as well as books with signatures of Ilia Chavchavadze, Ivane Machabeli, Victor Hugo, Dmitri Mendeleev and AntoineAugustin Renouard, etc. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY Until February 29 The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy in Georgia present the exhibition ROMA AETERNA. MASTERPIECES OF ROMAN SCULPTURE FROM THE DINO AND ERNESTA SANTARELLI FOUNDATION The National Gallery features 33 sculptures depicting the stages of artistic or stylistic evolution from the Roman Republic to the Neoclassical era. TBILISI DIGITAL SPACE Tbilisi Mall The first museum of digital art in Tbilisi, where you will meet three different spaces: Vazha-Pshavela's "Dried beech", the world of torches, and a digital space decorated with various graphic and visuals effects. In the main hall decorated with video projections and mirrors you will discover that there is no boundary between Man and nature. Ticket: 10-30 GEL


DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC AND CULTURE 123a D. Agmashenebeli Ave. December 27 VAKHTANG KAKHIDZE’S MUSIC FOR CINEMA AND THEATER, SONGS, JAZZ-FOLK COMPOSITIONS AND POPULAR SONGS The renewed musical project will be performed by Vakhtang Kakhidze (vocal, piano, conductor) and singers Nato Kakhidze, Neka Sebiskveradze, Maka Zambakhidze, George Sukhitashvili and Goga Meskhi Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 20-50 GEL TBILISI CONCERT HALL 1 Melikishvili Ave. December 29 KIDS' TV BBB’S BIG NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY The children’s favorite characters Babilina, Basti, Bubu, Fairy School, Travelers, and Dodi Gio will be traveling around the world. Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-35 GEL January 7 NIKOLO RACHVELI & THE WORLD’S GREATEST SOUNDTRACKS Ssoundtracks by famous Georgian composer Giya Kancheli. Composer, conductor and pianist Nikoloz Rachveli leads the concert and at the same time telling stories about Charles Chaplin, Federico Fellini, Nino Rota, Michel Legrand, Ennio Morricone, etc. GEORGIAN PHILARMONIC ORCHESTRA SOLISTS: Natalia Kutateladze (Mezzosoprano), Giorgi Zagareli (Viola), George Shamanauri (Trumpet), Rezo Kiknadze (Saxophone) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-75 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Griboedovi Str. December 27 Music evening LEVAN TSKHADADZE (clarinet), GIORGI GVANTSELADZE (oboe), TEIMURAZ BUKHNIKASHVILI (bassoon), IRAKLI ZANDARASHVILI (horn), GEORGIAN SINFONIETTA Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-25 GEL December 28 SOLO CONCERT OF TSOTNE ZEDGINIDZE, 10-year-old phenomenal composer and pianist Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-35 GEL

KHIDI 10 Saakadze Descent December 28 UNITE4MUSIC Line-up: Main Stage: WGS, Frequency Shifter, Yaeli (Alphabet), Hecate Legacy, Vulkanski, WGS b2b Yaeli G2: Kdema b2b Tedi, Marikhi b2b Heimdall, LJ, Sevda Opus: IRMA GIGANI, GIORGI GIGASHVILI, NINO BITSADZE, ALEXANDRE JULAKIDZE, TEMO NATOBIDZE, LEXO PIRMISASHVILI Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20 GEL DEPO LAST STOP 1 Zestaponi Str. December 28 ONE STORY Delicious music and gifts Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 20 GEL STEINWAY & SONS 1 O. Dgebuadze Str. December 27 Re-Introduction MAIA BARATASHVILI Ticket price including drink and sweet. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 30 GEL MTATSMINDA PARK December 25- January 14 NEW YEAR MAGICAL DAYS IN MTATSMINDA PARK New Year concerts, Performances, Animators, Drummers. Attractions for all ages Start time: 12:00-18:00 Ticket: 17 GEL ABC LAND 17a University Str. January 5, 6 The legend of Greenwich continues in ABC Land Start time: 13:00 Ticket: 35 GEL WHERE TO SPEND NEW YEAR’S EVE

THE BILTMORE HOTEL TBILISI 29 Rustaveli Ave. December 31 NEW YEAR’S EVE AT XEME BAR Ticket price includes: Live entertainment program by Anuki Dvali, Nini Tsnobiladze with the musical band “N-Mode” and DJ Giorgi Ilariani Welcome drinks and extensive snacks (finger food menu) Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 300 GEL GREEN QUEEN BONTIQUE HOTEL 1 A. Kazbegi Ave. December 31 NEW YEAR 2020 New Year night program: Dinner, Live music, Italian pianist, Violinist and Singers, Professional group dancers, DJ, fireworks Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 180 GEL DOORS 26 Tsinstadze Str. December 31 MAX THE SAX /Germany/, Band THE FIVE, DJ, SANTA & GIFTS Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 200 GEL JAZZ CLUB SINGER 1 P. Melikishvili Ave. December 31 NEW YEAR'S JAM SESSION Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 30-50 GEL AMODI 6 Gomi Str., II Turn December 31 NEW YEAR'S CELEBRATION

Live performance by ARA, followed by a disco DJ Set Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 50 GEL TBILISI MARRIOTT HOTEL 12a Rustaveli Ave. December 31 NEW YEAR PARTY A Royal House illusion Synthesis of ancient and contemporary– grandiose chandeliers dazzling at a candlelit dinner, where contemporary House, Funk, and Soul will elevate your festive mood Start time: 23:55 Ticket: 170 GEL FORMER BUDDHA BAR AREA Noe Jordania Bank December 31 JOE CLAUSSELL Start time: 23:59 Ticket: 100 GEL LISI MERE Mukhatskaro December 31 NEW YEAR'S EVE IN A FAIRY TALE! Georgian stars will sing for you. Folklore, pop-retro music, Georgian folk, contemporary dances and DJ. Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 500 GEL RADISSON BLU IVERIA HOTEL TBILISI 1 Rose Revolution Sq. December 31 NEW YEAR PARTY Filini Restaurant: Georgian Supra-Family Dinner Live Band + MC Time: 21:00-02:00 Price: 250 GEL Oxygen Bar: A WALK IN THE CLOUDS, Set canape menu Handpicked New Year’s music Time: 22:00-02:00 Price: 120 GEL Ballroom: New Year’s celebration with Datuna Sirbiladze & Shvidkatsa live performance Time: 01:00 Price: 300 GEL BRIM TBILISI M. Abdushelishvili 12/14 December 31 MAGICAL NEW YEAR PARTY Signature dishes from our Chef and Special musical performances Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 100 GEL GEORGIAN HOUSE 2 G. Tsabadze December 31 NEW YEAR IN GEORGIAN HOUSE Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 40 GEL MONOHALL 2 D. Bakradze Str. December 31 Kayakata Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 40 GEL RESTAURANT FUNICULAR Mtatsminda Hill December 31 NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATION Evening Program: 23:00- Welcome, Gigi Wander (Grand piano) 23:45- Ensemble “Rustavi” 00:00- New Year Celebration 00:30- Gela Gnolidze Band 03:00- DJ Evening host: Giorgi Devadze Package fee: 350 GEL REPUBLIC 6 First Republic Sq. December 31 Celebrate New Year 2020 with the legendary American Singer CRYSTAL WATERS Doors Open - 01:00 Price: 200 – 400 GEL




Georgian Museum of Fine Arts Presents Exhibition ‘Hopscotch’


he Georgian Museum of Fine Arts presents the group show: Hopscotch. The exhibition opened on December 20 and is open

until January. The exhibition includes 16 participant artists of different generations, curated by Konstantine Bolkvadze. Hopscotch brings together a collec-

tion of the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts and contemporary artists’ works. In this way, the museum continues the conceptual line of an open collection so as to facilitate dialogue with contemporary art. This exposition systematizes the history of Georgian visual arts in general: distinguished views, political circumstances, values and aspirations for change represent the key idea of the exhibition. The experimental merging of colors, styles, and various artists clearly underlines the identity of Georgian art. Works of various artists, forming an entire visual dialogue, are united under the same perceptions of form and color, icons, emotional tonality, intertextualities, and artistic temper. Frome the 1960s to date, artists have turned around a common axis, and through this exhibition viewers will find themselves in polygonal ambience. The dynamics of time and rhythm arrange irreversible styles into what seems to be a classified model at first glance; chaotic order is shaped, an intrinsic feature of politically shaky countries. The game Hopscotch is based on the principle of chance, in which you cannot calculate further steps in advance. In the given exhibition, the modus operandi of curatorial research and outlook is subjective. Visual structures, like the game, fall into the categories of losing and winning. Generally, the Georgian art scene develops in a fragmentary way: contemporary art reflects less on cultural heritage. The museum’s collection and soviet period artworks, displayed next to contemporary artists, speak directly about the innovative idea. This kind of curatorial exhibition will continue as a series.

Participant artists of the exhibition Hopscotch: • Ketevan Maghalashvili – Sopo Chkhikvadze • Natela Iankoshvili – Maia Baratashvili • Levan Tsutskiridze – Davit Machavariani • Alexandre Bandzeladze – Beso Uznadze

• Koki Makharadze – Giorgi Kochiashvili • Otar Chkhartishvili – Tutu Kiladze • Ana Shalikashvili – Anuk Beluga • Levan Choghoshvili – Tamar Nadiradze. Georgian Museum of Fine Arts Sh. Rustaveli St. 7 +995 (591) 680 000 @georgianart

Chinese Art Exhibition BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


he Georgian National Museum presents a new exhibition titled ‘Chinese Art in Georgian National Museum,’ dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, and a book on the theme by Irina Koshoridze, Marina Dgebuadze, Natia Demurishvili and Nino Simonishvili. While the exhibition will project the unique nature and beauty of Chinese art, it is also good proof of the centurylong ties that connect the Georgian and the Chinese people. Chinese culture has been recognized and appreciated in Georgia since the early medieval period, the Silk Road just one great example of the fact. Archaeological findings suggest that the best quality silk and porcelain were brought along this road. The number and diversity of Chinese artifacts preserved at the Georgian National Museum give a unique chance for viewers to take a look at the development route of Chinese art from the early medieval period to modern times. Additionally, the variety of Chinese artifacts and their individuality show distinctively impressive artistic aesthetics.



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Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Beka Alexishvili, Tea Mariamidze, Ana Dumbadze, Nini Dakhundaridze Elene Dzebizashvili Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

It goes without saying that China, as a distinguished leader of Oriental civilization and culture, became a trendsetter in the field of architecture, fine art, decorative and applied art. The biggest and richest heritage, which was acquired by the world from ancient China, is a distinct confirmation of this statement. While the exhibited objects, spread throughout three halls of the museum, carry high historical and artistic value, they also give a wide chronological range and demonstrate the friendship between the Georgian and Chinese people. Posters dedicated to the anniversary of the People’s Republic of China will be on display in first exhibition hall. Works created with the inspiration of the Georgian theme in the 1980-90s by Chinese painters Chen Chuan and Jiang Shilung, who were visiting Georgia at the time, will also be exhibited there for the first time. Artifacts from old Chinese culture: textiles, porcelain, paintings on silk and paper, embroidery, armory and Buddhist cult figurines, will be exhibited in the second hall.

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Visitors to the third exhibition hall will get a look at the propaganda posters of the 1950s and 1960s that revive chronicles of the more recent history of the People’s Republic of China. These works are also being exhibited for the first time. The exhibition will open on December 27 in the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia and will close on February 2, 2020. The project is supported by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Georgia.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1215  

December 27 - 30, 2019

Issue #1215  

December 27 - 30, 2019