Issue no: 839
• APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Georgia’s Parliament Speaker Visits Brussels to Discuss Prospects of Visa Free Travel NEWS PAGE 2
FOCUS ON GEORGIA US RELATIONS
From Tree to Garden, Is the Tbilisi Botanical Garden to be Ivanishvili’s Next Hobby? Georgian PM in Washington this week highlighting its stability and investment potential
Georgia Ranked 71st by Tourism Competitiveness Index BY ANA AKHALAIA
POLITICS PAGE 4
The Science Behind STEM in Georgia SOCIETY PAGE 11
Pick a Quote! Shakespeare and Rustaveli Meet in Georgia SOCIETY PAGE 14
From Easter to Ascension from Mass Culture to Immortal Values CULTURE PAGE 16
he World Economic Forum has ranked Georgia 71st on its Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index for 2016. Spain placed highest on the list, while France and Germany were second and third. Of the ranked countries, volatile African nation Chad finished last. Georgia’s ranking placed it one behind Israel, but ahead of Namibia. The index consists of 15 different types of criteria used to measure the tourism industry and culture of the 141 participating countries. The study evaluates the economic, infrastructural and cultural opportunities in each destination and ranks them accordingly. Georgia scored highest on security measures, but fell well below the average when it came to cultural resources and amenities for business tourism.
10th Black Sea Jazz Festival to Host Unprecedented Number of Participants CULTURE PAGE 17
APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
More than 100 Georgian Soldiers Return Home from Afghanistan Georgia’s Parliament Speaker Visits Brussels to Discuss Prospects of Visa Free Travel BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
ver 150 soldiers from the Georgian Army’s 22nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade returned home Monday after a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan. Military service members of the 22nd Battalion took part in the US-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan’s Parwan Province, providing security at the mission’s air base. “This is an regular rotation and we’re welcoming home one company from the 22nd Battalion. The rotation will be over by the end of April. These soldiers successfully carried out their tasks
at the Bagram Air Base - guarding the security of the facility. Another military unit has already taken over responsibility,” Colonel Omar Begoidze said. The 52nd Battalion of the 5th Infantry Brigade will now take the vacated position, Begoidze said. Georgia has contributed the second largest number of troops to Afghanistan since 2004, first taking part in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and its follow-up the NATO-led Resolute Support mission. Georgian troops have participated in patrols, search and rescue missions, and humanitarian assistance programs during their ISAF deployment. As part of the Resolute Support mission, Georgia’s contingent now focuses on security and Quick Reaction Forces.
eorgia’s Parliamentary Speaker Davit Usupashvili is meeting with top European officials as part of a two-day visit to Brussels that will focus on EU-Georgia relations. Usupashvili met with Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, to discuss Georgia’s visa liberalization process, bilateral relations, Georgia’s upcoming Parliamentary elections, as well as reforms in the judicial system and the state of press freedom in the country. At a joint press conference, Schulz reiterated that Georgia a reliable partner for the EU and confirmed that Tbilisi will not have to implement any additional obligations in order to completer the visa liberalization process. “We had a very intense conversation about the important regional role Georgia plays. We have agreed to maintain close contact at the maximal extent”, Schulz said. Usupashvili said Georgia is close to realizing its goal of receiving an EU visa waiver, but warned that the government cannot take their progress for granted. “We still have much to do, including judicial reform, making the country more attractive for
investors, improving the business environment. This is why we want to be closer to the EU and have ongoing discussions about key issues,” Usupashvili said. At the meeting, Schultz accepted Usupashvili’s invitation to Georgia, saying he planned to visit the country in the coming months. On Thursday, Usupashvili met with the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Issues, Federica Mogherini. Mogherini said she fully supports visa liberalization and EU accession for Georgia, saying the government in Tbilisi had fulfilled its obligations. Following the meeting, Usupashvili said that due to the complexity of implementing a visa liberalization mechanism, the EU cannot set exact date of visa-lifting decision. “The EU currently has a lot to consider, including visa-related issues with our neighbor countries, Turkey and Ukraine. We obtained a firm declaration from the heads of the EC and EU that the issue of Georgia’s visa liberalization will be considered separately from other countries,” Usupashvili said. Usupashvili also said the residents of Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions will benefit significantly from a visa-free regime as it will allow them to be exposed to the outside world and come into closer contact with the daily realities of Georgian life.
TBC Bank Introduces Financial Literacy Survey
ne of Georgia’s leading banks, TBC Bank, has funded a large scale survey about financial literacy in Georgia, with the presentation of the results of the survey being held at the headquarters of TBC Bank last week. This counted the first survey on financial literacy in Georgia and conducted by research organizations TNS and the International School of Economics (ISET). More than 1000 respondents took part in the survey across Georgia’s seven major cities, including Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Zugdidi, Poti, Gori and Rustavi. The project is divided into three parts dealing with finance, trust in financial institutions, and financial literacy, in order to investigate Georgian citizens’ behavior within control variables. To find out whether respondents have knowledge of finances, they were asked four questions about interest rate, inflation, interest rate risk and expense. According the survey, 36.9% of the respondents
answered the questions correctly, 24.3% did not know or found it difficult to answer, and 38.8% of respondents answered incorrectly. 59.1% of respondents gave the correct answer to the inflation-related question, 26% did not know or found it difficult to answer, and 14.6% of respondents answered it incorrectly. Only 5.8% of respondents answered correctly to all four questions, 19.2% of them gave the correct answer for three questions, 32.6% of respondents answered well to two questions, 28.7% of respondents to one question, while 13.7% of respondents could not answer correctly to any question at all. TBC Bank press office emphasized that maintaining financial knowledge among society members is a main direction of its social responsibility. The results of the survey will help the Bank to develop its future strategic plans toward financial literacy. Considering the given data, TBC Bank aims to focus on those topics which will best help improve the quality of financial education in the community.
GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
Georgian PM in Washington, Vows to Continue Pro-Western Course BY GEORGIA TODAY
eorgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili was in Washington this week to meet US Vice President Joe Biden and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, John McCain, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Min Zhu. The PM was accompanied by Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze; Economy Minister Dimitry Kumsishvili, and Georgian Dream lawmaker Tedo Japaridze
In the face of fundamental existential challenges to our freedom and democracy, we remain democratic and dynamic
who chairs the foreign affairs committee in the Parliament. On Tuesday the up-coming elections and Georgia-Russia relations were touched upon, with the PM promising that his government would continue down its path towards Western integration and guaranteeing that free and fair parliamentary elections would be held when Georgians go the polls later this year. Kvirikashvili, who took over as prime minister from his much-maligned successor Irakli Garibashvili in December 2015, reiterated that Georgia sees its future with the EU and NATO.
“There is a very clear will of (the) Georgian people ... to be pro-Western, pro-European,” Kvirikashvili told the AP on the sidelines of his ongoing trip to the US. New robust trade and political agreements with Brussels and closer moves towards NATO membership have placed Georgia firmly in the group of former Soviet nations deeply opposed to the revanchist policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Relations between Moscow and Tbilisi have been frozen since August 2008 when Russia invaded and fought Georgia in a
brief, but bloody, five-day war. Russia’s far larger and better-equipped combat forces quickly overran Georgia’s American-trained military units and ended with both Abkhazia and South Ossetia declaring independence, backed by Russia’s vast military and financial support. Kvirikashvili said his government wants to maintain an open line of communication with Moscow, but it will not accept Russia’s actions towards Georgia. “This does not mean that we do not need to try to normalize relations with Russia, but not at the expense of Georgia’s territorial integrity and ability to
make its own sovereign decisions,” Kvirikashvili said. “Our approach is designed to ‘cool down’ tensions to allow space for investment and moving West. In the face of fundamental existential challenges to our freedom and democracy, we remain democratic and dynamic.” Kvirikashvili stressed Georgia has transformed itself from a country ravaged by civil war into a modern democratic state. Politics was not the only topic of discussion during the PM’s visit to Washington, seeing him also talking with representatives of US investment funds, banks and other potential investors on the abovementioned investment climate. Businessmen were told of the preferential business environment in Georgia and the benefits they would experience by investing there. The Georgian PM highlighted Georgia’s achievements of recent years, claiming that his country’s investment attractiveness had improved thanks to a number of recent reforms. He assured his hosts that despite instability in the region, Georgia had managed to keep its economic growth and “all areas of the economy were stable and open to foreign investments.” Georgia’s strategically important location was another advantage Kvirikashvili highlighted, and he explained how Georgia could increase its role as a transit corridor country. He also discussed the new four-point reform plan which included new infrastructure plans, tax benefits, governance reforms and an overhaul of the education system, as a way to increase economic development.
APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
From Tree to Garden, Is the Tbilisi Botanical Garden to be Ivanishvili’s Next Hobby?
Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgian Billionaire and ex-PM of Georgia. Source: politcommersant.ge
BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA
conflict occurred at National Botanical Garden of Georgia, formerly Tbilisi Botanical Garden, between members of political opposition party the United National Movement (UNM) and administration representatives, on Tuesday. The UNM members held a briefing for media at the garden claiming that
former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has plans to take a part of the Botanical Garden in order to unite it with his residency on Sololaki Hill, Tbilisi. The Administration said the UNM information is inaccurate. One of the UNM leaders, Nika Melia, and Tbilisi City Hall member Irakli Abesadze, presented a number of contrary arguments revealing City Hall’s announced auction over 19-hectare land within the Botanical Garden that will end on May 3. The opposition declares with certainty that the auction winner
will be Bidzina Ivanishvili. The core theme that brought over a thousand citizens together at City Hall on Tuesday was an unhidden attempt to sell territory which has the status of Protected Area. Irakli Likvinadze, a Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi, explained on TV Channel Rustavi 2 Tuesday night that the deal aims to develop the area in order to increase tourism potential and make it economically profitable. Environmentalists rigorously opposed the proposal, calling it unwise and dangerous for the environment of Tbilisi, which is already, as they say, facing an ecological catastrophe. Environmental experts say that City Hall lacks not only arguments to sell the area, but also the right and competency to claim a monopoly on the territory. They declared that the territory is categorized as a Protected Area and it must not be sold to a private owner. City Hall refutes the claim. Abesadze debated the matter with Likvinadze, accusing Tbilisi’s local government of an illegal decision that will damage everyone except the particular
business that will purchase it. Abesadze called City Hall inept and claimed that it mismanages most of the projects carried out in the city. “This should not be tolerated,” he said. Following the public outcry, ‘Finservice XXI’, an Ivanishvili-owned company which already bought a part of the botanical garden, released a statement saying they were given a piece of land which is not economically lucrative. Instead, “the company has invested several million, since 2007, in developing a land plot purchased from City Hall,” the statement maintained. At Tuesday’s protest, former candidate for the Tbilisi Mayer’s office, Nika Melia, told media that the protest will continue unless the decision of City Hall is turned around. He announced a wider rally against Davit Narmania, the Mayor and his team, in order not to let them ‘sell Tbilisi’ all to ‘one billionaire,’ by which he clearly meant Ivanishvili. “This is not a mere demand from a single party, but comes from all society,” Irakli Abesadze declared. He said it is their unconditional demand that the auction on the Botanical Garden be
canceled. According to Abesadze, Ivanishvili should not be granted an exclusive right on the territory, where a new Krtsanisi-Shindisi road was to be constructed. Tbilisi Botanical Garden is not the sole issue Bidzina Ivanishvili is criticized over- joining Panorama Tbilisi, which incorporates construction of a business center in the heart of Tbilisi that will be connected to a residential and business zone behind Ivanishvili’s residence by cable car. A number of protests have been held against the decision made by the local government of Tbilisi in support of the project. Professionals in the field of architecture and the environment believe that the project has no potential to serve the public good, but only a private business interest. As for the latest Botanical Garden issue, Tbilisi City Hall unwaveringly says that the auction will not be canceled. Will Ivanishvili, the largest shareholder in Georgia, be allowed to purchase part of the Botanical Garden for his own private use in the name of tourism development?
GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
Counting Chickens…An Election System for the People BY ZAZA JGARKAVA
he Georgian Parliament will determine the fate of the electoral system during Holy Week (Easter). Who will have to turn red, the majority or the minority, will be decided on Red (Good) Friday, when the constitutional amendment on the abolition of the majoritarian rule will be voted. The whole opposition, including the parliamentary minority, is currently demanding the cancellation of a majoritarian system starting October 8, 2016, after the Parliamentary elections. While the majority plans to introduce a proportional system from 2020, the four year difference is giving rise to the existing political passions, since it has vital importance. The results of the vote are to be made known today, when 113 supporting MP votes will appear on the scoreboard. Whether the votes will be for the majority or the minority is hard to predict, as the majority lacks at least 17 votes for the desired outcome, not to say anything about the minority. Georgian Dream has already tried to initiate a constitutional amendment once, when the bill on moving the parliamentary sessions from Kutaisi to Tbilisi, prepared by Koba Davitashvili, an MP from the majority, was introduced. However the majority was not able to
introduce it. And all this happened when the ruling coalition was united. Now, when there are neither Republicans, Forumers nor Free Democrats in the coalition, it is highly unlikely that the governmental majority will achieve the desired results. So, the majority as well as the minority will be facing quite tough negotiations. Both parties are accusing each other of adjusting the electoral system in their own favor. One of the leaders of the minority, Mikheil Machavariani, believes that the law, which the majority plans to introduce from 2020, has many ambiguous points and that it is tailored only for Georgian Dream. “The only thing written in their law is that after the elections of 2016, all 150 mandates will be proportional. It explains nothing about whether the system being will be regionally proportional, or just proportional. It is unclear and unacceptable. Georgian society is not familiar with the subject matter. I have a feeling that the Dream’s version is customized for the officials and not the people,” said Machaviani. For now the government is offering the opposition the chance of dividing the electorate into majoritarian districts proportionally, meaning it offers the unification of small electoral districts so that every majoritarian will be elected by the same number of voters. To date 6 thousand in one district and 300 thousand voters in another district each elected one MP into
parliament. The intellectual face of the majority, MP Gia Zhorzholiani thinks that this step is very important and that it will make every Georgian citizen equal. “I want the parties to become stronger in our country and, in my opinion, proportional elections were one of those mechanisms which did not support this. If there aren’t strong political parties, then proportional elections become constraining and confusing. Proportional elections are effective in those countries which are multi-party or where there is a tradition of parties,” said Zhorzholiani.
Although it seems like this is a fair decision considering the geography of our country, it still results in ambiguity. Since, for example, it is inconceivable for the districts of Dusheti and Kazbegi to have the same MP, as it is impossible for the population of both to not only not know that MP personally, but even to have seen him in real life. If a consensus is achieved between the political parties and the project of the majority gets 113 votes, then the MPs will have to discuss the changes first in summer and later in September, because,
according to the Constitution, the amendments should be taken through two separate sessions with a three-month interval. If this parliament does not approve the amendments during three readings, the decision will have to be made by the next one. But the opposition fears this outcome, because in backstage conversations, they state that they do not wish the project to be adopted on the first reading, since such a decision can be made for only one reason, which is the government boasting cooperation with the opposition to its (international) partners.
APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
Margvelashvili Says Georgia Will Never Accept Russia’s Annexation of S. Ossetia
BY NICHOLAS WALLER
eorgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said in a televised interview Sunday with France 24’s Robert Parsons that Georgia would never accept Russia’s attempt to annex slowly the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “We chose a very clear vision with respect to Russia. We said that we would negotiate with Russia and talk on a rational basis…the Georgian state is occupied by Russia’s military. They have created artificial states on our territory. This is unacceptable. Georgia will never accept annexation…or occupation and the attitude that a neighboring, powerful nation has towards us.” Margvelashvili said he believes normalized relations with Russia can continue so long as both sides treat each other with respect and as equals. Discussing Georgia’s upcoming parliamentary elections, Margvelashvili praised the robust debates common amongst Georgians, saying the greatest achievement of more than a decade of political and economic reform has been the openness and plurality that Georgians enjoy in their political system. “Georgians are actually actively engaged in politics…People truly care about politics; they care about politics,” Margvelashvili said while also noting that up to 60 per cent of registered voters say they are disillusioned with the current situation in the country. Margvelashvili strongly urged Georgian voters to shed their disillusion and exercise their right to vote by turning out in high numbers for the October 8 parliamentary elections. “The political parties have to be much more active and go out there to campaign. I will actually be active, advocating for people to get out and vote for anyone, any political party they want. But we must have active voters,” Margvelashvili said when
asked about his expectations for the upcoming elections. Margvelashvili deflection a question about criticism of his Georgian Dream coalition regarding the persecution of the opposition United National Movement, Margvelashvili said the government welcomes and takes into consideration all types of criticism as it helps move society closer towards European integration. Though he refused to comment on a possible return of former president-turned governor of Ukraine’s Odessa Region Mikheil Saakashvili to Georgia later this year, Margvelashvili said it was up to the voters to decide if Saakashvili has a future in the country. When speaking about Georgia’s billionaire oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili – the founder of the Georgian Dream coalition and a controversial figure due to his political influence over the country, despite not holding elected office – Margvelsashvili denied having had any direct contact with Ivanishvili or having been forced to carry out his policies. “I’ve personally never been pushed by him on any particular issues. He is, however, apparently active with his political force...He apparently has communications with them,” said Margvelsashvili. He added that Ivanishvili’s involvement in Georgia’s political process should be expected due to his influence and contributions to the country’s growth. Margvelsashvili adamantly stressed that Georgia’s future as a society would be closely tied to the country’s historically deep-rooted European values of democracy, progressivism and tradition. “We are culturally a very European nation. That means...having traditions or some kind of values, but at the same time giving another person the right to have free choice on any that matters for them. Of course, we are coming from a very closed empire, the Soviet empire, and the emancipation of personal freedoms takes time. But we are a European culture,” Margvelashvili said.
They Collect. They Steal. They Control. They Profit. BY INGE SNIP
hat’s right. At this moment, someone is stealing your information, they are spying on you, and they are selling this to the highest bidder. I am not kidding. Every little thing you do is scrutinized and analyzed to the tiniest movement you make. Even worse, your private conversations are recorded, stuff you write (and delete) is saved in a large database, and depending where you are in the world, they might even listen to whatever you say through your phone’s microphone, or even what you don’t say: the music you are listening to, whether you live near the train tracks, or your barking dog. And then everything you get to read, to watch, to see: they have meticulously curated it especially for you. They decide what you see. They control what information gets to you, and more importantly, what doesn’t. So, how does this make you feel?
Personally, I am outraged. And so should you be. If it was the government of your country I was talking about, would you initiate a coup d’état? If it was the government of another country spying on you, would you demand your government make it stop? If it was your neighbor, would you go to the authorities to report it? Think about it for a little while. Because who I am talking about, who is actually spying on you, and profiting off you, is doing so with your consent. That’s right. Facebook. Twitter. Google. Instagram. And many other social networks. They are doing exactly what you wouldn’t want your (democratically) elected government to do. What you wouldn’t want your neighbor to do. Or even want your mom to do! Outraged? Join the discussion on May 3rd at 7pm with Generator 9.8 and Topishare on issues of current social media and what solutions exist. Working language: English Free entrance At: Generator 9.8, Atoneli st 29 (near Dry Bridge), Tbilisi.
APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
Policy of Détente OP-ED BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
he Anglo-Saxon corporations which control the main international financial flows, have recently changed their rhetoric. After attempts to break the Russian economy “into pieces” they have taken the first steps to enter into a dialogue. It is significant that on the eve of the May summit of the “Big Seven,” Japan has expressed interest in
After attempts to break the Russian economy “into pieces” they have taken the first steps to enter into a dialogue. It is significant that on the eve of the May summit of the “Big Seven,” Japan has expressed interest in becoming the eighth member
becoming the eighth member. It is hard to believe that just a few years ago, at the peak of exacerbation of the Ukrainian and the Middle East crisis, the transcontinental group wanted to destroy at one blow its rivals - the Russian Federation, the European Union, the Arab world. To start a war in Syria, sinking it in blood, they moved to Ukraine, where they carried out a bloody coup and established a conflict, and now have begun to destabilize Europe. And all for the sake of the interests of a few clans, the main assets of which are amazingly focused on one small island - the UK, more specifically within the City of London - where 117 of the 500 largest corporations in the world are concentrated. Headed by the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, the “Island Club” includes 4000 of the oligarchs who control the country’s finances- the so-called Commonwealth of Nations is the largest association in the world sitting on 24% of the Earth’s land area and comprising 30% of the world’s population. Today, this pack has had to reformat its policies. If we look at history, this is exactly what happened in the early 1970s. Then, after a hard confrontation with the Soviet Union, the West also had to change its line, and proclaim a “detente” policy. Like now, then the causes were associated not with good will on the part of Western elites or with contradictions emerging within the “Anglo-Saxon corporations.” It was caused by the need to resolve issues arising between the European elite. Several European countries, partly in aim of preserving their independence, expressed a desire to take account of their interests. First the French President de Gaulle, later joined by German Chancellor Willy Brandt, after that head of Switzerland Rudolf Gnegi, made
to limit the Dollar’s dominance. A little later there was another hotbed of tension when the Saudi King Faisal hit the interests of the UK and the US by taking ceasing sale of oil on the international markets and inflating energy prices. Today, the due reformatting policy of Anglo-Saxon corporations is associated with new challenges. On the horizon looms China. Beijing and Delhi are the main competitors for London and Washington. After all, India and China are not only advanced technology, but also a huge number of GDP countries. It has two of the largest (by population) sales markets - according to the UN forecast, by 2100 they will account for 6.6 billion people out of 11.2 billion worldwide. In the 1970s, the struggle with competitors led to the fact that the United States officially refused to convert dollars into gold. A number of charismatic leaders were forced to leave office early and retire from politics (de Gaulle, Brandt). The Saudi King Faisal was assassinated in mysterious ways - according to an investigation by the Egyptian journalist and one of the associates of Gamal Abdel Nasser Mohamed Heikal, British and American intelligence agencies may have had a hand in it. Switzerland held onto its neutrality as long as it could, but was forced to surrender. The last step was the surrender of the Swiss authorities, who agreed to disclose the banking secrets of foreign clients. The US and UK pressure was gradually implemented into Swiss law in 2008-2009. As a result, they have gained access to information about the accounts of virtually all the world’s financial and industrial groups. Dimitri Dolaberidze is an expert in Political Geography based at the Center of Research for the Study of Georgian Complex Development Issues.
Georgian President Pardons 95 Inmates for Easter
BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
eorgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili pardoned 95 inmates for the Easter holidays his press service said Wednesday. Zviad Koridze, the government’s point man for prisoner reviews, said the pardon included 10 women and 2 juveniles.
69 of the prisoners will be released from custody and allowed to celebrate Easter with their loved ones. The remaining 26 prisoners had their sentences reduced, but will remain behind bars Koridze said. He also noted that the president’s pardons do not cover those convicted of violent crimes. According to Georgia’s Ministry of Correction, 731 inmates were released from the country’s penitentiary system in 2015.
APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
Anti-Corruption Agency Detains Head of Baghdati Municipality for Embezzlement
he officers of the Anti-corruption Agency under the State Security Service of Georgia, as a result of operative-searching and investigative activities, have detained the Head of the Baghdati Municipality, Irakli Gegeshidze, for abuse of official authority and embezzlement in large quantities.
The investigation established that LEPL “Municipality of Baghdati Self-Government” announced a simplified electronic tender on 26th February, 2015 on rehabilitation works to be carried out on Baghdati-Zegani-Sakraula road, as a result of which “Kveniphneli Ltd” won. On 20th April, 2015, Gegeshidze concluded an agreement worth 950 000 GEL.
After the works were accomplished by Kveniphneli Ltd., Gegeshidze accepted the works with a breach of agreement, in particular, neglecting a negative report given by Levan Samkharauli of the National Forensic Bureau, Gegeshidze personally accepted the works, avoided the Standing Committee, and transferred the remaining part of the total amount
The Head of the Baghdati Municipality, Irakli Gegeshidze was detained for abuse of official authority and embezzlement
under the agreement 227 654, 80 GEL to Kveniphneli Ltd, which he then embezzled. The investigation is on-going in order to examine expedience of calculation carried out by Irakli Gegeshidze, after which, the quantity of the embezzled amount may increase. Investigation is carried out on the fact
of abuse of official authority and embezzlement in large quantities. (Article 332 part I and Article 182 part II subparagraphs “D” and part III, subparagraph “B” of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which envisages from 7 to 11 years imprisonment). The investigation is being carried out by the Anti-Corruption Agenct under the State Security Service of Georgia.
Left Leg Out, Right Leg In… Georgia Beware: Ogden on Brexit OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN
eople have been asking me lately in which direction I am going to vote in the referendum to decide whether the UK will remain in the EU or not. The answer, I regret to say, is that I don’t intend to. This seems strange, since whenever I am confronted with someone who chooses not to vote for anything at all, I babble about it being the only voice one has in this day and age, and the only chance to change things. This time, however, I am going to leave it to the British people. I’d normally sheer away from doing anything of the sort, of course. You can’t trust people; as a great man once said, people like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis. But this time I really feel as though there is no choice but to abstain. The European Union began solely as an economic body that has since evolved into a supranational quasi-state with its own legislation that duly affects all member states. Quite why Britain was dragged into this neither I - nor anyone else - will probably ever know. I don’t consider myself European; we don’t kiss when we shake hands, after all, nor do we feel the need to fill our beer with gas.
It’s fashionable amongst pretentious socialists to forget history these days and pretend that none of it matters now. The condescending university graduate will scoff at historical references, blind to the obvious truth that our past is unescapable and continues to shape our future. The bold speeches of the statesmen of previous decades (and centuries) might have faded to less than whispers on the wind, but they’re still there, gently pushing, pulling, influencing. I am not, in my own estimation, a European. I’m an islander. Too many of our
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people fought too many wars to be free of continental rule for me to be anything else. I imagine the ruffled collars of Drake and Raleigh ruffling (that’s what a ruffle collar does, I imagine) in the sea wind as they smashed the Spanish Armada off our coast; and after those national shades faded into memory, others took their place: men wearing red coats at Waterloo marching to meet Napoleon one last time, or exhausted figures in air force tunics climbing into Spitfires to tear the German war machine apart. It naturally begs the question of what
on Earth the point in all that was if we were to be dragged into European rule anyway. In that sense, then, I find myself siding with the ‘Out’ faction, for sentimental and patriotic reasons for which I will make no apology. Yet it is, really, too late. As much as it may be possible for an EU-free Britain to renegotiate trade deals with the continent, Brussels is hardly going to be in the mood to do any favours to a country it feels has walked away; President Obama categorically stated this week in London that the USA will not hurry to make any trade agreements with an independent Britain. ‘Out’ campaigners complain about immigration, with vague worries over Islamic extremism being bandied about. As compassionate as Germany is being to refugees from the Middle East, many recent terrorist attacks have been orchestrated by home-grown radicals; immigration simply does not figure. Besides which, easy residence within and travel to the EU is very convenient (though why we can’t have had a deal like the Norwegians and the Swiss is still beyond me). With my sentimental soul wanting out and my practical spirit knowing there is no choice but to remain in, I feel unqualified to vote. What, you might wonder, has any of this to do with Georgia? I’m happy to say that I’ve been a Georgian citizen
these last four years, and the future worries me. I do not want my second home to make the same mistakes of my first. I am not solely referring to the European Union here, though I will say that Georgians can be blinded by Western political rhetoric; I’m still convinced Saakashvili thought the Americans sincerely meant every word of their professed friendship before 2008. I haven’t got the feeling that the EU particularly cares whether Britain stays in the Union or not; likewise, I can’t imagine they’re as interested in ‘bilateral cultural relations with Georgia’ as they like to say. Georgian politicians seem happy with the way foreign deals are developing, what with increased Turkish cooperation, the New Silk Road project, and investment interest from the UAE. As a Georgian citizen, I’m horrified by the increasing Ottoman-era rhetoric from Erdogan (as all Georgians should be, remembering Turkey’s activities here), as well as concerned by human rights abuse in the UAE. As for the New Silk Road project...well, as wonderful as it is to have more Chinese money being pumped into this country, I don’t think it wise to forget that the purpose of a road is to be walked on (I dread to think how little of English infrastructure is actually owned by Brits). I am, as ever, over my word count. But please, Georgia, do be careful.
APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
Heads Up! You Get What You Pay For… But Not Necessarily in Georgia OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
he summer is almost here, and our seaside is getting ready for the season, but getting ready in this particular case means doing plenty of various difficult things. Today, this would mean something totally different from what it was a couple of decades ago. Currently, the sphere of service, as any other field of the country’s economic activity, is faced with severe competition in the market which automatically means needing to keep in mind all that makes a player in the field easily sellable and readily acceptable to the clients of so many disparate tastes. Let us take for instance the city of Batumi – one of the most beautiful and popular places in Georgia – and have a cursory look at the situation there. Batumi is a solid sea port but at the same time is a resort which is preparing for the 2016 summer season as any other resort would. There are some strong points that make Batumi attractive for visitors in the expected tourism boom period: the grow-
ing modern city with tens of beautiful high-rise buildings, a unique 20-kilometer boulevard which is the longest strolling seaside street in Europe, the botanical garden with an outstanding collection of trees and plants, spectacular sights, numerous comfortable beaches, lots of exotic catering spots, and finally, our wonderful hospitable people. While this is all very good, it seems it is not enough. The competition in the region – and in the world too – is so harsh and intensive that it becomes practically impossible to make serious money in the tourism industry. A tourist in our time has become a ‘spoilt’ species. In the epoch of relaxed and cheap transportation, abundance of happy board and lodging, high-quality service and affordable sojourns practically anywhere around the globe, tourists can have anything they want if they are ready to spend the money. Hence the question: why should a tourist spend money here in Georgia, say, in Batumi? Is the service level here higher than anywhere else where people want to enjoy the sea and the sun? Probably not! Moreover, service as such may sometimes be found at nadir here – as unsavory as it
might be to recognize. So is it cheaper at least? No, it is not! In fact, rumor strongly has it that this summer a tripling of prices is expected. Tripling! Based on what? According to what mercantile standards? What could make a regular service worth three times what it was? The only answer here is the fact that the beach season on Georgia’s shores is only two months long, and the seller of a service wants to grab this scanty opportunity and save money for winter, working profitably throughout the 60-day summer. We could qualify this kind of attitude in the sphere of service as greed but it should rather be fear for the future that pushes people to think in the short run, which usually results on a loss of clients in the seasons that are ahead for years to come. Tourists have a habit of arriving, trying and, if they get frustrated, being left with no desire to return. This is how people go bankrupt, and the entire field of commerce goes bankrupt, and countries go bankrupt if trade is not handled properly. Standard of living is based on trade – a simple truth! And if we mess it up, then say goodbye to the good life. You sell, you buy – this is what
it is all about. The key to good commerce is in price formation. In Georgia, prices have always been weird on everything, especially on hotel accommodation. You cannot have Euro-American prices in hotels, for instance, and offer deeply Georgian socialist service and quality. You can make someone buy your lowgrade service once or twice, but not always. Eventually, a client will understand the trick and feel deceived, which may be the beginning of the end. It is the ABC of commerce that prices and quality have to be compatible because the boom of information and access to means of disseminating that information have made us all knowledgeable in almost every walk of life. We know by heart all the price tags and the ways the prices are generated and manipulated. Lying
has become not only irrelevant but practically impossible. People know exactly what costs what, all laid out on the God-blessed Internet profusely and transparently. Instances of good service are equal to moments of human happiness. For example, how would you feel if you went to the beach to relax and forget for a while the clatter of the world that you have temporarily eschewed, and all of a sudden, somebody sticks right into your tired ears the loud nerve-wrecking cacophony created by merging the sounds of motley pieces of music, played by various caterers right on the beach where you want to sprawl and sigh with relief? I know I am doing some kind of disservice to the tourist industry of this country by saying this, but my purpose is just the contrary: heads up!
Georgian Intelligence Arrests Five for Attempted Nuclear-Grade Material Sale BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
eorgia’s intelligence service agency has detained five citizens for allegedly trying to sell nuclear weapons-grade uranium. Security service investigator, Savle Motiashvili, announced to the media shortly after the arrest that intelligence officers had detained five Georgian
citizens in the Black Sea town of Kobuleti when the group planned a USD 3 million sale of weapons-grade uranium. According to Motiashvili, investigators found the uranium while it was still housed in a radioactive-proof container and hidden in the Kobuleti home of one of the accused. A radiology review revealed that the 1,665 gr. substance contains two radioactive isotopes: Uranium-238 and a small amount (0, 23%) of Uranium-235.
If found guilty of illegally selling radioactive material, the five held in police custody could face up to 10 years in prison. On April 1o, intelligence officers arrested three Georgian citizens and three Armenian nationals while the group planned a USD 200 million sale of weapons-grade nuclear material. These arrests were the latest in a series of alarming incidents over the last decade that has involved the illicit sale and trafficking of radioactive mate-
rial across Georgia’s borders. In January, the State Security Service arrested three men who were accused of trying to sell Cesium-137, a highly radioactive isotope that is a waste product from nuclear reactors and can be used to disperse deadly doses of radiation with high explosives. Turkish officials arrested two Georgian citizens in mid-2015 after they were found hand carrying 1.2 kilos of Cesium-137 across the Georgian-Turkish border, the same corridor used by
most Caucasus recruits bound for the Syrian Civil War. A resident of Georgia’s Russianbacked breakaway region of South Ossetia was arrested in 2006 by the national border guard service while trying to smuggle USD 1 million of radioactive uranium into Georgia from neighboring Russia. Western governments have been under intense pressure since the 1990s to help halt the black market sale of radioactive material in the former Soviet space.
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APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
The Science Behind We Can do Business with You: STEM in Georgia Becho, Svaneti
Dr. Ken Walsh, Dean of San Diego State University Georgia
BY TIM OGDEN
n the weekend of 23-24 April 2016, San Diego State University’s Georgia contingent hosted an event for prospective students, foreign dignitaries and educational officials. In attendance were Tamar Sanikidze, Georgia’s Minister of Education, American embassy officials, SDSU academics and the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Resident Country Director, Jenner Edelman. A series of lectures followed opening remarks by SDSU, MCC and Education Ministry executives. Prospective students took part in a number of STEM activities related to general science, physics, and electrical and computer engineering. A home assignment concerning students’ domestic use of gas and electricity was also issued. The results of this were then displayed the following day, with ways in which Georgia could be more energy efficient being discussed; a vital topic for Georgia, especially with the country’s gas deficit causing a minor political storm this winter. Dr. Ken Walsh, Dean of San Diego State University Georgia, then delivered a lecture on construction, with an efficiency exercise then given to students to complete in groups. Dr. Walsh drew particular attention to the ways in which construction work in Georgia can be improved. In comparison with Western standards, the building industry in Georgia falls especially short in the fields of safety and efficiency. Unlike in the West, Georgian building projects are completed
in stages, as opposed to work in various areas being carried out simultaneously; this extends the length of the project unnecessarily. Many in Georgia will also be unfamiliar with the unsafe nature of construction work, something which is obvious even at a glance of most Georgian builders at work. The students then listened to Professor Bill Tong deliver a lecture that covered a range of STEM-related issues. Using chemistry and physics to discover the true artist behind Renaissanceera paintings was accompanied by ways in which STEM tech-
Professor Bill Tong
nology is used in neuroscience to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Even military applications were highlighted; with Professor Tong displaying how cutting edge laser technology is being used to detect roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices in conflict zones. STEM education and research will aid Georgia in the plethora of ways which SDSU demonstrated over the weekend. However, the biggest benefit will come in having American-educated Georgians living and working in their homeland. “An SDSU degree is undoubtedly the best opportunity for me,” said Keti, a prospective student. “I can get an American diploma without having to leave my country.” Unlike many other Western-educated Georgians, however, most SDSU candidates have no intention of leaving Georgia for Western salaries. “I want to help my country, to develop it and make it better,” said Giorgi, another student. “An SDSU education will give me the knowledge I need to do that.” After such an extensive series of lectures covering everything from household gas consumption to neuroscience, one would find it difficult to disagree.
BY TONY HANMER
e Can do Business with You - That was what Margaret Thatcher said to Mikhail Gorbachev when both were the leaders of their countries. There’s work to do, but we can do it; the obstacles aren’t insurmountable. When I enter Becho School, I feel the same way. The building is huge and old, much too much so for its present population of about seventy pupils rattling around by handfuls in their classrooms, which are too hard to heat with so few live bodies in them and falling apart a bit anyway. But, the spirit! One of the teachers, Raia, for art, is such an energetically positive soul that her work and that of her pupils is displayed everywhere. Frescoes adorn the corridors and rooms, along with patriotic and literary quotations. When there is a special day, such as Mother Language Day, posters go up celebrating the event, along with a concert of music, poetry and dance in which everyone down to Grade 1 participates, to wild applause and much appreciation. The school is blessed with a huge grassed yard, in which a few evergreens also flourish; there is a volleyball net and football field set up, too. Now, it’s not all perfect; there are things missing or needed, as I mentioned in my last article. But the collective personality of the place is such that I want to help, to participate in making things here better because my work won’t be stolen, vandalized, ignored or otherwise misused. We settled on a computer room as
the main lacking feature, especially in this day and age of internet and needs for programming skills in so many spheres. The room itself is there, and in it sit an ancient Soviet-era voltage regulator and a functioning internet hub, servicing the one computer in the teachers’ room. But that’s it. The teacher of the subject has nothing to teach with or from. The needs include: eight full sets of computers and their programs; floor and wall renovation; a heater; a lock for the steel door; renovation of wiring and plugs; a more modern voltage regulator; a scanner and printer; some desks and chairs; lighting; six video “eyes” for the school’s corridors and entrance; a video projector and screen. The teaching, learning, enthusiasm and long-term lifechanging results are already waiting in the wings. As a volunteer English teacher in Becho school, I am asking for the funds to buy and supply the above list of things to outfit a first-class computer room. 100% of funds raised will go towards this project, and I will oversee and monitor its implementation from start to finish, as I am at the school on a regular basis. And the journalist in me will also write in future about the success of the project and how it is affecting the lives of an entire school, high up in the Svan Caucasus, far away but brought right into to the world through the power of connection. Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1300 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
APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
Month of the German Language Kicks Off in Tbilisi
‘Month of the German Language’ opened at the Movement Theater with a free performance by famous German quartet GANKINO CIRCUS
BY MERI TALIASHVILI
Contact: www.edelbrand.ge Phone: 599 461908
ith the project of the ‘Month of the German Language’ we want to show people a piece of the linguistic and cultural diversity of three countries- Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and encourage those people to learn foreign languages. Of course, we would welcome German speakers among them. With our versatile program, which includes literary evenings, theater performances, concerts, quizzes, informative events, and much more, we would like to enhance awareness about the German language among the Georgian public- said German Ambassador to Georgia Bettina Cadenbach as she opened the fourth annual project ‘Month of the German Language.’ The opening ceremony was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, public officials and Georgian government representatives, among them Khatuna Totladze, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Georgia. At present, over 140 million people speak German as a mother or foreign language. While in Europe it represents the mother tongue for 100 million people. German-speaking countries are economically advanced and have a very a rich history in the education field. Thus, knowing the language is a very strong asset for anyone interesting in settling in or
doing business with German-speaking countries. Launched on April 22nd and to conclude on June 3rd, the ‘Month of the German Language’ offers educational and cultural events focused on the German language and German-speaking countries. The program includes literary evenings, performances, a poetry competition, screenings, workshops, meetings, and other important events throughout Georgia. ‘Month of the German Language’ opened at the Movement Theater with a free performance by famous German quartet GANKINO CIRCUS. The event-packed month will also see plays like that of “Anger”, written by Nino Kharatishvili and to be held at the Mikheil Tumanishvil Theater on 6 and 8 May. On May 8th, Nino will be awarded with the Givi Margvelashvili Prize for her contribution to deepening Georgian-German cultural relations. On May 11th, a gala concert celebrating the main event of Goethe Days will be organized in Kutaisi, at the Akaki Tsereteli State University, at which an award ceremony will be held to give prizes and certificates to students. The initiators of the grander project ‘Three Countries-One Language’ are the German, Austria and Swiss embassies, DAAD, ZfA, and it is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia under the patronage of the Minister. If you are interested in attending the events you can contact the Goethe Institut Tbilisi for updated news.
Unique Jewish Collections on Display at Georgian National Museum BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
he Georgian National Museum Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery is presenting the Revived History Exhibition – Restored Jewish Collections, supported by a Rothschild Grant. The exposition showcases 100 objects of Jewish culture from the 19th century to the early 20th to demonstrate the long history of Jewish people in Georgia. Organizers of the exhibition say that here visitors have a unique opportunity to follow the connection of the Jewish and Georgian culture and at the same time understand how the Jewish diaspora were able to preserve their identity. Among the displayed objects are paintings and drawings by Shalom Koboshvili and David Gvelesiani, who were the first Jewish painters in Georgia to begin to capture the traditions, holidays and historic events of their people. There are also old clothes, textiles, and religious, ritual and everyday objects. The collection was previously divided between the Georgian National Museum Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia and the Ioseb Grishashvili Tbilisi History Museum. However, much of the collection was in need of a serious renovation and after winning the Rothschild Foundation grant, the Georgian National Museum began the restoration and conservation of the museum objects. “The history of the Jewish people in Georgia is part of Georgia’s history which is why it was so important to conduct restoration works and present the collection in our museum,” said David Lordkipanidze, the Director General of the Georgian National Museum. “The presented works really show a revived history.” In the last ten years, scientific studies, attribution,
restoration and conservation have been actively implemented; with several exhibitions having been organized and four catalogues published. However, after the partnership between Georgian National Museum and the Rothschild Foundation, which started in 2014, it became possible to complete all restoration work. “The restoration works took a long time and were hard. I often had to travel abroad and consult with foreign Jewish Museum representatives. I am proud that our restorers’ work is so professional and to such a high level,” said Lela Tsitsuashvili, curator of the Revived History Exhibition. The current exhibition was opened on April 26 and will last until May 11. On May 7 and 8, the Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery will host lectures about Jewish culture. Further, in the framework of the Rothschild Foundation grant, the Revived History Exhibition will soon go virtual and have its exhibits uploaded onto the Google Cultural Institute and European Cultural Institute platforms.
APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
Pick a Quote! Shakespeare and Rustaveli Meet in Georgia BY MAKA LOMADZE
his year is the 400th year since the death of William Shakespeare and the 850th since the birth of the Georgian genius Shota Rustaveli. To celebrate, the British Council in Georgia has decided to pay tribute to these two great names through a number of interesting events. The series was opened on Shakespeare’s birthday and death day – 23rd of April, at Art Palace (the State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography). One of the main aims is to expand awareness of Shakespeare in Georgia and of Rustaveli in the UK. We spoke to Maia Darchia the Manager of the Program of Arts for the British Council in Georgia to find out more. “This project marks the legacy of the two geniuses Shakespeare and Rustaveli. Everyone knows about Shakespeare,
“Poor and content is rich, and rich enough” - William Shakespeare
“That which we give makes us richer, that which is hoarded is lost” - Shota Rustaveli, The Knight in the Panther’s Skin whose works are timeless and relevant today but few may know that Rustaveli, born in the 12th century, is as iconic for Georgian people as Shakespeare is for the English people.” The British Council launched one of the most important parts of the project – an online survey of the most popular quotes of Shakespeare and Rustaveli. It is bilingual and anyone interested can vote for their favorite quote at www. britishcouncil.ge/shakespeare-andrustaveli Giorgi Kalandia, Director of the Art Palace, said: “In my opinion, this is a very interesting project. In the fascinating history of our palace museum, I cannot recall such an event. Shakespeare and Rustaveli are two geniuses who were not personally acquainted with each
other, but their creative works and values, their taste and literary language, are tightly connected. We hope to increase awareness of the two great writers, and their similarities, in both Georgia and the UK and I believe the artists themselves will aid us in this and will speak for themselves.” The project is financially supported by the Ministry of Culture and Monument
Protection of Georgia, together with the Art Palace museum, Georgian National Book Center, Tbilisi State Arts Academy, European School, Tbilisi City Hall, and David the Builder University. One of the main goals is to connect the younger generations with these remarkable creators through joint efforts. Dea Metreveli, Director of the Georgian National Book Center, which sup-
ports the project, said, “It’s a great pleasure for us to be a part of this very important initiative, especially because the younger generations are involved. We expect great and fearless ideas from them.” The vote for your favorite quote is on until May 15. Keep your ears open for the next stage of the project, soon to be covered in GEORGIA TODAY.
GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
Ramazzotti in Tbilisi – First Concert of ‘Check in Georgia’ BY MAKA LOMADZE
n April 24, the world-famous Italian singer Eros Ramazzotti performed for a Georgian audience at Sports Palace, mesmerizing the representatives of all generations with his very unique vocal, ultramodern show and 10-piece band within a Perfetto World Tour mega-production. This is the success story of a man who, born in the suburbs of Rome, has joined the top 10 highestselling artists in sixty countries worldwide where he sold 60 million copies. As Mikheil Giorgadze, Georgian Minister of Culture said at the press conference, the ‘Check in Georgia’ project aims to promote tourism in Georgia, as well as to make it a cultural hub and thus boost Georgian entrepreneurship. Antonio Bartoli, Italian Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary to Georgia, greeted his compatriot singer: “I am extremely happy that Eros is in Tbilisi. I am here both as his fan and as the ambassador. Sometimes, we envy these great artists as they can awaken such strong emotions in us. His songs remind us of certain moments from our lives. I believe he is a real ambassador of the Italian creativity.” The opening of the concert was something special, with an angular 3D animation of Eros’s face, proudly displaying the marks of time. Eros performed together with splendid international band - remarkable saxophonist Joe Leader, his close friend Luca Scarpa on piano, Giovanni Boscariol on keyboards, Giorgio Secco on guitar, Thomas Pridgen on drums, Paolo Costa (bass), Christian Pescosta (percussions), Monica Hill and Roberta Montanari (back vocals), and the legendary Phil Palmer (guitar) – a long-time sideman of Eros who has also played with such luminaries as Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa and Robbie Williams.
It might have seen simple, and truly, it was without extra effects and staging maneuvers, but if we note the organizers’ words, this was a distinguished show with the most advanced technology in Georgia ever, on a par with the most prestigious international productions. Eros Ramazzotti once again proved that he is a real professional in terms of attitude, performing manner, cordial interaction with the audience, and no falseness at all. The show was ample with surprises for the public: the artist pushed the grandpiano by some strength, and then polished its legs… Humor was also there… only afterwards starting to play. Hits like Piu Bella Cosa, Piu Che Puoi, Se Bastasse Una Bella Canzone, Musica e and many other songs were heard by 6000 people – in biggest closed concert space for Georgia so far – which was packed. The artist gave all his heart, offering a two-hour program non-stop full of vigor and Southern temperament. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Anri Jokhadze, famous Georgian singer, just after the show: “He is a professional who performed several hits and some very good songs that I liked immensely. The main thing is that the people enjoyed it. I always approve of such professionals coming to Georgia.” For Manana, who chose not to give us her surname, it was a dream come true: “I lived in Germany for two years. Ramazzotti was a frequent guest there. However, each time, I put off going to his concerts. I never imagined that he would come to Georgia. I am very happy”. Ramazzotti, who has performed with Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Tina Turner, Cher, and others, is proud that he has remained a modest guy. He expressed hope that this is not his first and last visit to Georgia. It is planned to make a documentary about Eros Ramazzotti’s trip here that will be screened on Italian channels in summer. Meanwhile, Georgians and Tbilisi dwellers can look forward to Robbie Williams, Maroon 5 and Jose Carreras in the framework of ‘Check in Georgia.’
All That Jazz: Niklaus Troxler at the Berlin Brohan Museum BY LILY FÜRSTENOW
iklaus Troxler is one of the most renowned graphic designers in Europe. He achieved international fame with the unusual posters that he designed for over 40 years from the jazz festival he founded in Willisau, Switzerland. With “All that Jazz,” Bröhan-Musuem pursues its mission of following the strategies and structures of artistic design that began in art nouveau around 1900 and continue into the present. At the same time, the show marks the beginning of the new exhibition series “Blackbox” in the newly designed spaces on the Museum’s third floor, dedicated to poster design, graphic design and photography. In 1966, young Swiss musician and graphic designer Niklaus Troxler held his first concert with the band The Swinghouse Six in Willisau, Switzerland, without realizing that it would develop into one of Europe’s most important jazz festivals. In around 900 concerts and 40 festivals, over 2000 musicians from all over the world have appeared in the town to date, so that the famous pianist Keith Jarrett once called Willisau “one of the best places for music in the world.” Over the course of his long career, Troxler has designed building façades, books, and corporate identities and his innovative poster designs have brought him numerous prizes and awards. The exhibition “All that Jazz” focuses on the jazz posters that Troxler designed over the past four decades for Willisau. The posters, dedicated to the festival as a whole or to individual concerts, are among the most striking works of the now retired design professor. Troxler almost entirely avoids stylistic repetition. From the drip paintings of a Jackson Pollock to the stickmen characters of Keith Haring, from Dada to minimal, all sorts of imagemaking find their way into his designs. A further source of inspiration is the motif world of pop art with its comic-like representations and its references to recourse to consumer articles and advertising. “Knox”—as Troxler is known in the jazz world—designed some of his posters as readymades, for example, one poster as a huge envelope with the necessary concert information as address lines. In this way, Troxler uses art and visual his-
tory as an archive that he interprets and on the basis of which he improvises. His approach shows how similar graphic design and jazz music can be: it was not for nothing that Troxler was once called “the master of visualizing sound.” Niklaus Troxler was born in Willisau in 1947. After studying design at Lucerne’s Schule für Gestaltung, he worked as an art director in Paris before founding his own graphic design studio in Paris in the early 1970s. From 1998 to 2013 he taught as a professor for communication design at Stuttgart’s Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste. Over the years, his posters advanced to become popular collector’s items that are exhibited in numerous countries on four continents. Troxler’s works are included in prominent public collections such as New York’s MoMA, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Zurich’s Museum für Gestaltung, and Staatsbibliothek Berlin. He lives in Lucerne and Berlin. The Bröhan-Museum is Berlin’s museum for art nouveau, art deco and functionalism. It is named after its founder, Karl H. Bröhan (July 6, 1921–Jan. 2, 2000), a passionate collector and connoisseur of art nouveau, art deco and the art of the Berlin Secession. The curators of the exhibition are Tobias Hoffmann, Fabian Reifferscheidt. The exhibition started on 23 January and will close 17 July 2016.
APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
From Easter to Ascension - from Mass Culture to Immortal Values BY MAKA LOMADZE
he annual festival ‘From Easter to Ascension’ is here again. As always, it represents an exquisite classical program and folklore pearls, based on beautiful and valuable traditions and enriched with innovation. The 11th International Festival will start on May 6 and end on May 26. With the blessing of the CatholicosPatriarch of All Georgia, the festival was founded in 2006 by The International Charitable Foundation of the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia and Akaki Ramishvili Foundation. The partners are: Georgian Ministry of Culture, Tbilisi City Hall, ‘Check in Georgia,’ Telasi, and the Italian and Israeli embassies. Notably, the program of the festival includes the Georgian regions as the venues for the scheduled concerts, proving that all citizens have a right to enjoy high art and as an incentive to destroying the Soviet stereotype that implied centralization in the capital in favor of the European model. Besides Tbilisi, concerts will take place in Dedoplistskaro, Mestia and Batumi. In 2006-2010 the artistic directors of the festival were such famous musicians as: Marina Iashvili, Liana Isakadze, Bidzina Kvernadze, and Anzor Erkomaishvili, as well as young pianist Valerian Shiukashvili and composer and conductor Nikoloz Rachveli. In 2013, on the initiative of the festival, a collection of musical compositions by the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II was prepared and published. Since 2011, the internationally recog-
nized Georgian pianist Alexander Korsantia became permanent Artistic Director of the festival and greatly enriched the festival’s programme. Dubbed ‘a major artist’ by the Miami Herald and a ‘quiet maverick’ by the Daily Telegraph, pianist Alexander Korsantia has been praised for the ‘clarity of his technique, richly varied tone and dynamic phrasing’ (Baltimore Sun), and having a “piano technique where difficulties simply do not exist” (Calgary Sun). Since winning the First Prize and Gold Medal of the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition and the First Prize at the Sidney International Piano Competition, Korsantia’s career has taken him to many of the world’s major concert halls, collaborating with renowned conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Gianandrea Noseda, and Paavo Jarvi and orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Kirov Orchestra and Israel Philharmonic. He can be heard at Piano Jacobins concert series in Toulouse, Warsaw, Boston, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Vancouver, Calgary, San Francisco, Lodz, White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg,the Tanglewood, Newport, Stresa, Gilmore, and Verbier festivals and in music series performing solo recitals and collaborating with musicians such as Yuri Bashmet, Vadim Repin and Sergei Nakoriakov, among others. Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, Alexander Korsantia began his musical studies at an early age with his mother, Sventlana Korsantia and later became a pupil of Tengiz Amiredjibi, Georgia’s foremost piano instructor. In 1992, he moved his family to the United States and joined the famed piano studio of fellow Georgian, Alexander Toradze, at Indiana University in South Bend. In 1999 Mr. Korsantia was awarded the Georgian Order of Honor. In 2015 he became an Honorary Citizen of Tbilisi and Batumi. Mr. Korsantia will give two concerts at the 2016 From Easter to Ascention Festival: on June 5, at Tbilisi Grand Concert Hall, together with the Evgeni Mikeladze National Simphony Orchestra where, conducted by Nikoloz Rachveli, he will perform Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26; and on June 9, in Batumi Concert Hall Musical Center with the same program, concerts dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the composer’s birth. As Irakli Kadagishvili, one of the persons in charge of the festival said: “The festival opposes mass-culture and aims to promote the most valuable traditions.” For more information, visit: www.easterfestival.ge
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GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
10th Black Sea Jazz Festival to Host Unprecedented Number of Participants
Quincy Jones will be celebrating his birthday on July 15 by starting the festival with his and The Global Gumbo All Stars Band’s concert
BY EKA KARSAULIDZE
he Black Sea Jazz Festival was founded in 2007 and for the following eight years welcomed a huge number of jazz and world music stars. This year will be no exception. With the status of one of the leading festivals, it has on its 2016 list the greats The Prodigy, Chris Brown, Quincy Jones, James Cullum and Lauryn Hill, who will perform in Batumi on July 15-24. “First of all, I want to highlight that the jubilee festival is to be celebrated with an unprecedented number of participants and duration,” announced Giorgi Kereselidze, director of Eastern Promotions and organizer of the Festival, who went on to explain that the festival will host about 200 foreign and 100 Georgian musicians this year. Moreover, also for the first time, the Black Sea Jazz Festival will last a whopping 10 days instead of the usual seven. “Which means that our
listeners will have two weekends to enjoy world-class music,” said Kereselidze. The opening of the festival will be a highlight, with Quincy Jones celebrating his birthday on July 15 by starting the festival with his and The Global Gumbo All Stars Band’s concert, in the framework of which great artists such as Richard Bona, Alfredo Rodriguez and Jacob Collier will perform. Kereselidze added that Jones will also host the event and, apart from the concert, guests will be able enjoy fascinating stories from the music maestro himself. Macy Gray, on a second visit to Batumi, will close the Black Sea Festival with a huge concert on the main stage of Batumi Tennis Club on July 24. Moreover, after the concert, she will perform as a DJ at the Take Five Club. The festival will also have a daily feature of 40-minute street concerts from Georgian musicians who will constantly move around the city, thereby sharing the festive atmosphere with all. Kereselidze said they would organize a marketplace during that the festival
where snacks and traditional Georgian souvenirs will be sold. “We had this kind of market last year, but this one will be bigger and better,” he said. “We cannot ignore the fact that the Black Sea Jazz Festival has become one of the leading events in Georgia and is significant for both the economic and tourism development of the country. That is why we want to present Georgia on all sides.” This year’s jubilee festival is carried out within the framework of the State program ‘Check in Georgia,’ thanks to which ticket prices are now much more affordable- the expected maximum price of the tickets this year will be 50 Lari. Further, the festival’s presenter TBC Status plans to offer the owners of TBC Platinum, TBC PrimeCard and TBC Status cards the chance to purchase Black Sea Jazz Festival tickets with a unique 15% and 20% discount. The tickets will be available online (tkt.ge) from May 11. Additional information and the schedule are available on the official festival website: batumijazz.ge
Gift from Estonia for Choir Music Lovers BY MAKA LOMADZE
n April 27, with the support of the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection, at the Grand Hall of Tbilisi State Conservatory, the concert of the national male choir of Estonia ‘RAM’ was held, a choir which, in 2004, was conferred an American National Academy of Recording Arts Award. The Estonian National Male Choir (RAM) was founded in 1944 by the legendary composer and leader of the Estonian choral movement, Gustav Ernesaks. The choir was first named the Estonian SSR State Philharmonic Male Choir, known as RAM (Riiklik Akadeemiline Meeskoor), from 1953 changing its name to the State Academic Male Choir, and in 1989 choosing its current name- the Estonian National Male Choir, which is currently the largest full-time professional male choir in the world. The birth of the Estonian National Male Choir was the result of Ernesaks’ work and he stayed connected with the choir until his death (1993). From 1944 –1975, Ernesaks was the chief conductor and later acted as its artistic director. Since, the choir has been conducted by several highly esteemed choral conductors, including
The award winning RAM performed at the Tbilisi State Conservatory. Source: State Conservatoire/ Embassy/Ministry of Culture
Olev Oja (1964–1991), Kuno Areng (1966– 1990), Ants Üleoja (1991–1997), Ants Soots (1994–2005, 2008–2011), Kaspars Putninš (2005–2008), with Mikk Üleoja the chief conductor and artistic director since the beginning of the 2011/2012 season. The repertoire of the Estonian National Male choir includes music from a cappella choral music to large-scale works by composers like Brahms, Britten, Sibelius, Wagner, Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. Besides a number of Estonian composers, Dmitri Shostakovich, Gavin Bryars and others have written music for RAM. The choir has commissioned music from Aare Kruusimäe (Little Christmas Cantata, Saxophone Mass), Tõnu Kõrvits (The Night Is Darkening
Around Me), Mirjam Tally (2 pages, 122 Words on Music and Dance), Andrew Poppy (Something in the Air) and others. RAM has premiered music by Gustav Ernesaks, Urmas Sisask, Tauno Aints, Peeter Vähi, Aare Kruusimäe, Ester Mägi, Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis, René Eespere, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Raimo Kangro, Anti Marguste, Tõnis Kaumann, Toivo Tulev, Andres Uibo and others. The entrance was free to the Tbilisi performance of the fabulous RAM. The concert consisted of two parts, starting with Estonian composers like Mart Saar, Aleksander Late and Konstantin Turnpu, followed by international authors like Gavin Bryars, Henrik Odegaard, Giovanni Bonato and Galina Grigorjeva.
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APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATRE
GABRIADZE THEATRE Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 May 4 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari May 5 MARSHAL DE FANTIE”S DIAMOND Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari MARJANISHVILI THEATRE Address: 5 Marjanishvli St. Telephone: 2 95 59 66 May 4 START WITHOUT A NAME Ana Kozakova Directed by Levan Tsuladze Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-14 Lari TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATRE Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge May 5 DIVORCE Giorgi Eristavi Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 8 Lari CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge
Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari April 30 – May 5 ELVIS & NIXON Directed by Liza Johnson Genre: Comedy, History Cast: Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Alex Pettyfer Language: Russian Start time: 22:10 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari MOTHER’S DAY Directed by Garry Marshall Genre: Comedy, Drama Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari THE MODEL Directed by Mads Matthiesen Genre: Drama Cast: Anders Frithiof August, Mads Matthiesen Language: Russian Start time: 13:00, 19:30, 22:15 Ticket price: 8-14 Lari RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari April 30 – May 5 THE HUNTSMAN: WINTERS WAR Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama Cast: Sam Claflin, Chris Hemsworth, Emily Blunt Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 22:00 Ticket price: 8-14 Lari CRIMINAL Directed by Ariel Vromen Genre: Action, Crime, Drama Cast: Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot Language: Russian Start time: 17:15, 19:30, 22:30 Ticket price: 11-14 Lari
THE CHOICE Directed by Ross Katz Genre: Drama, Romance Cast: Benjamin Walker, Teresa Palmer, Alexandra Daddario Language: Russian Start time: 17:00 Ticket price: 8-9 Lari MOTHER’S DAY (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 12:15, 17:2019:55, 22:35, Ticket price: 8-14 Lari MUSEUM
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge THE TRAVELING MUSEUM OF THE CAUCASUS THE PERMANENT EXHIBITION NUMISMATIC TREASURY November 17, 2015 – May 1, 2016 ALEXANDER KARTVELI GEORGIAN GENIUS OF AMERICAN AVIATION April 19- May 1 EXHIBITION HUMAN LOVE IN DYNAMIC ORNAMENTS By Maia Tsetskhladze SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 www.museum.ge April 20 – May 1 The exhibition TREE OF LIFE ILLUSTRATIONS OF CANONICAL TEXTS MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave.
April 20 – May 1 GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM AND THE EMBASSY OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC IN TBILISI PRESENT PHOTO EXHIBITION WITHDRAWAL OF SOVIET TROOPS FROM CZECHOSLOVAKIA BY CZECH PHOTOGRAPHER KAREL CUDLÍN GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze April 21 – May 10 F63.9 EXHIBITION BY CONTEMPORARY ARTIST ZURAB ARABIDZE April 26 – May 11 EXHIBITION “REVIVED HISTORY” Georgian National Museum’s restored Jewish collections Supported by Rothschild Grant The exposition showcases about 100 objects of Jewish culture from the 19th to the early 20th century. In 2014-2015, with the assistance of the Rothschild Foundation grant, the Georgian National Museum implemented a project including restoration and conservation of the museum objects. Among them are paintings and drawings by Shalom Koboshvili and David Gvelesiani, old cloth, textiles, religious, ritual and everyday objects. MUSIC
TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24
May 5 CHARITY FOLK CONCERT TO SUPPORT KESARIA OGADZE Participants: Folk ensembles Rustavi, Chveneburebi, Didgori, Kviria, Sakhioba, Ertoba, Ialoni, Tamarioni, Agsavali Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 8-15 Lari CLUB ELEKTROWERK Address: 2 Monk Gabriel Salos I Tum. May 1 Locomotive Promotion presents: THE ALGORITHM - DJENT From France (Electronic, Experimental, Metal) Line up: THE ALGORITHM – DJENT, Electronic, Experimental, Metal ACID VICTIM – Dubstep, Drum’n’Bass, Electro SHRAVES - Nu-rave, Dubstep, TripHop, Experimental DARK PRINCE – Dubstep, Drum’n’Bass, Electro FISHKA - Post Rock, Blues, Electronic, Trip Hop, Ambient SICWAVE – Dubstep, Drum’n’Bass, Electro Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 15 Lari MOVEMENT THEATRE Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 May 3, 5 LIVE JAZZ EVENING JAM SESSION WITH RESO KIKNADZE QUINTET Start time: 21:00 Free entry May 4 Charity Concert to support Girshel Javakhishvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 20 Lari
GEORGIA TODAY APRIL 29 - MAY 2, 2016
Side by Side for Victory: Georgian Railway Sponsors Georgian National Basketball Federation
eorgian Railway is now an official sponsor of the Georgian National Basketball Federation. The company will provide financial support to the national and youth teams as well as the Super League of 500,000 GEL. According to the agreement signed between the Railway and the Federation, the money should be spent on events planned with the participation of the national team. The support will also be distributed among the three youth teams of 16, 18 and 20 ages. The Memorandum on Mutual Cooperation was signed by Mamuka Bakhtadze,
the General Director of JSC Georgian Railway and Mikheil Gabrichidze, the President of the Basketball Federation. The Minister of Sports and Youth affairs Tariel Khechikashvili attended the ceremony held at Radisson Blu Iveria and thanked Georgian Railway for supporting the development of sports in Georgia. “This is not the first time when Georgian Railway has stood beside Georgian sports and this is more than welcome. In recent times, more and more sponsors are returning to Georgian sports. They should keep the trend. We are working seriously in this direction and the participation of every sponsor will largely support the preparation of the national teams,” said Khechikashvili. Bakhtadze said that sponsoring the National Basketball Team is a big respon-
sibility and expressed hope that the team will successfully face the upcoming challenges. “Becoming the sponsor of the National Basketball Team is truly a big responsibility. We are confident that with mutual efforts we will be able to please Georgian fans,” he said. “In deciding to sponsor, we took into consideration all the factors which are important for the development of our basketball team – current success and potential as well as objectives,” said Koka Guncadze, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Georgian Railway. “Our team is comprised of a successful generation. They have serious plans and I think you will agree that the victory of Georgian basketball players is our victory, too. This is why we wanted to contribute and we will continue supporting sports in Georgia.” “Cooperation will depend on the results achieved by the national team. The spon-
sorship amounts to half a million GEL, which is a rather a large amount. The Georgian Basketball Federation has never had such a sponsor and once again I want to thank the Georgian Railway for their contribution,” said Mikheil Gabrichidze the President of the National
Basketball Federation, , after signing the memorandum. “Side by Side for Victory” is the motto with which Georgian Railway supports the Basketball Federation and urges fans towards more engagement. The company believes that Basketball needs more pro-
motion in our country. JSC Georgian Railway has been extensively contributing to the development of various sports and it is also the General Sponsor of one of the most successful rugby teams, Locomotive, and a water polo team.
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April 29 - May 02, 2016