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facebook.com/ georgiatoday

Issue no: 883

• SEP. 30 - OCT. 3, 2016



Undiscovered Pirosmani work gifted to the National Museum PAGE 2 by Cartu Fund


In this week’s issue... Georgia’s Ex-Deputy Interior Minister Charged with Abuse of Power NEWS PAGE 3

Russia’s Parliamentary Elections: Pretext to Putin’s Presidential Campaign POLITICS PAGE 6

Reaching Heights: Georgia’s Misunderstood Democracy POLITICS PAGE 10

Give a Man a Fish… Georgian IDPs in Western Georgia SOCIETY PAGE 14

Georgian Ultranationalists Arrested after Rampaging through Central Tbilisi The number of attacks on foreigners and minorities has been noticeably on the rise in recent months. Source: Getty



leven members of a radical ultranationalist youth group known for its overt neo-Nazi ideology were arrested after several its followers began rampaging down a central Tbilisi street late Tuesday night. Tbilisi police officials broke up a march by the group – known as Georgian Power – once its members began attacking Turkish cafes and restaurants, as well as passers-by who were wearing typical Islamic dress. The incidents took place around central Tbilisi’s Marjanashvili Square and the adjacent Aghmashenebeli Street – an area home to several immigrants from Turkey, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East. The gathering was comprised of members of Georgian Power and a host of other ultranationalist and neo-Nazi groups, including several members of the Dynamo Tbilisi Ultras – the Georgian offshoot of Russia’s notorious Ultra football hooligans.

INTERVIEW: State Minister of Georgia for Diaspora Issues SOCIETY PAGE 15

Foreign Journalists Participate in Media-Tour Dedicated to Georgian Wine CULTURE PAGE 17

The Long Wait for the Batumi Football Stadium SPORTS PAGE 19

Russia's Ultras are known for their frequent attacks on Muslims, Jews and foreigners in Russia and were responsible for organizing recruiting offices and gathering volunteers for Moscow’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine.

The far-right rally originally gathered near central Tbilisi’s Rustaveli metro station to commemorate the September 1993 fall of Sukhumi – the capital of the Russian-backed separatist region of Abkhazia. Continued on page 4





Katie Melua Releases New Music Video with Gori Women’s Choir


n the 27th of September GeorgianBritish singer Katie Melua released the music video for her single ‘Dreams On Fire’ from her 7th album ‘In Winter’, which was recorded in Melua’s native Georgia. The single Features Gori Women's Choir, a native Georgian all-woman singing troupe. Gori is a small town in eastern Georgia that was occupied by the Russian army in 2008 during the Georgian-Russian war. Melua picked this post-war

location in order to add the unique sound of traditional polyphonic Georgian folk to her album. The album itself will be released on October 14th, 2016. In an interview with The Guardian Katie talks about the working process of her recent album: “I’d come to a point in my life where I felt I had to make certain decisions about my career. I turned 30, got married, but really it was hearing the Gori Women’s Choir. I mean, I think I have an OK voice. But compared to these women … it’s like I’ve spent the last six months learning to sing again.”

Georgia Needs to Reduce Mercury Emissions BY NATIA LIPARTELIANI


he United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Georgia and the country’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection have concluded that the Georgian government must pass legislation that will reduce the high levels of toxic chemicals, including the lethal element Mercury, often found in air samples throughout Georgia. The recommendation came after the two parties reviewed the results of several tests done by international organizations who specialize in toxicology and environmental pollution. The group’s analysis found major gaps in the existing national legislation and the data collection system related to the registration, usage, transpor-

tation, storage and sale of toxic chemicals. The UNDP also found a major lack of understanding by the public about the serious dangers that high levels of mercury can pose. The assessment will be followed up by a series of consultations with government officials and representatives from the private business sector. Concrete initiatives designed to help Georgia implement a global treaty on combating the adverse effects of Mercury, known as the Minamata Convention, will be enacted in the coming months.

'Lost' Pirosmani Painting Goes on Display in Tbilisi BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


eorgia’s Cartu Fund has donated a painting by famed local artist Niko Pirosmani to the Georgian National Museum of Art. The painting, titled Roe Deer Drinking Water, is considered one of Pirosmani’s “lost” masterpieces, as it had never been shown to the public. The work was part of the private collection of Tbilisi’s Tsitsishvili -Gedevanishvili family from 1949-2011. The painting was later sold at an auction by US-based art dealer Sotheby’s. Earlier this year, Roe Deer Drinking Water reappeared at a Sotheby’s auction and was subsequently bought by the Cartu Fund and donated

to the National Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Pirosmani art. A second painting by Pirosmani - Arsenali Mountain at Night – was also acquired by Cartu Fund and recently repatriated to Georgia, the Foundation’s Chairman Nikoloz Chkhetiani said at a press conference on September 27. Arsenali Mountain at Night is scheduled to go on display at the National Gallery in the coming months. Cartu Fund is a charity fund established and financed by Georgia’s billionaire oligarch and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Pirosmani was a self-taught primitivist painter born in Georgia’s eastern Kakheti region in the mid-19th century. He later rose to prominence in the Soviet period after his death in 1918. His works are best known to depict Georgian and Caucasian folklore traditions and the region’s natural landscapes.




Chaloka Beyani: Georgia Has Made Progress with IDP Situation


haloka Beyani, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), says Georgia has made progress in terms of improving the living conditions of its IDPs. Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze held a meeting with Beyani, who arrived in Georgia for an official visit on 26 September, 2016. Janelidze provided him with detailed information on the difficult human rights situation in Georgia’s occupied regions, emphasizing the importance of international monitoring mechanisms for assessing the situation in the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. The UN Special Rapporteur highlighted the progress Georgia has achieved over the past few years in terms of providing appropriate facilities for IDPs. “Progress has been made since last

year on the issue of housing, also with moving forward with the IDP law,” Beyani said. Both sides reaffirmed the importance of the international community’s role in safeguarding the universally recognized human rights of refugees and internally displaced persons, which, first of all, implies creating relevant conditions for their safe and dignified return to their places of origin and for the protection of their civil, economic and cultural rights. According to Beyani, prior to his visit to Georgia he appealed for access to Georgia’s occupied territories but was denied. Within the framework of the visit, he will visit the villages on the occupation line and will meet the local population. He will also head to Zugdidi where he will visit the new settlement of IDPs. More on the new IDP settlements, including Zugdidi, on page 14.


Georgia’s Ex-Deputy Interior Minister Charged with Abuse of Power BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office (POG) has charged in absentia former deputy interior minister and current police chief of Ukraine’s Odessa region, Giorgi Lortkipanidze, with abuse of power while serving in the administration of former President Mikheil Saakashvili. The Prosecutor’s Office said on September 22 that Lortkipanidze is accused of using excessive force to disperse a rally in central Tbilisi in May 2011. The incident left two people dead and 250 injured. The Prosecutor has also charged four former officials from the United National Movement (UNM) in connection with the case, including Constitutional Security Department (CSD) head David Akhalaia, his deputy Vasil Leluashvili, former Interior Minister Ivan Merabishvili, as well as the former head of the Tbilisi CSD Revaz Shiukashvili, and his associate Levan Kardava. The accused were formally charged after POG released video footage of the rally on September 20. The video showed CSD staff blocking the movements of protesters on Tbilisi’s central Rustaveli Avenue and Freedom Square, and attacking them with rubber bullets and batons. POG said Lortkipanidze would be tried in absentia if he fails to report to the court proceedings.

“The steps made by POG against me are related to the upcoming October elections. Their sole aim is to prevent me from returning to Georgia,” Lortkipanidze wrote on Facebook

Lortkipanidze responded to the charges by saying he could not appear for questioning in Tbilisi because he was delivering a speech at a parliamentary committee meeting in Kyiv. He claims that before seeking asylum in Ukraine, he had already been questioned by prosecutors in connection with the case. “The steps made by POG against me are related to the upcoming October elections. Their sole aim is to prevent me from returning to Georgia,” Lortkipanidze wrote on Facebook. Former President Saakashvili also commented on the issue, saying Lortkipanidze had nothing to do with the events in May 2011. Saakashvili believes that the recent video footage was released because the current government is afraid that he and Lortkipanidze will return to Georgia after the elections.

“They want to intimidate Lortkipanidze and not let him back into Georgia,” Saakashvili said via a live video feed on Facebook. The new video footage emerged only two weeks before the elections and caused speculation from local political pundits that the government is attempting to sway voters. Deputy Prosecutor General Mamuka Vasadze said the video had nothing to do with the elections and was obtained only recently. “We received confirmation about the footage’s authenticity on September 16,” Vasadze told Imedi TV. If found guilty, Lortkipanidze and the four other ex-officials could spend up to eight years in prison. The rally on May 11, 2011 was a protest against the heavy-handed policies of the UNM.





Georgian Ultranationalists Arrested after Rampaging through Central Tbilisi Continued from page 1

Sukhumi’s capture and the subsequent ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Georgians from Abkhazia by Moscow-backed separatists and Russian military units remains a painful issue for most Georgians to this day. The demonstrators – many of whom were masked and carrying Georgian flags, with a few giving what appeared to be Nazi salutes – began shouting antiimmigrant and anti-foreigner slogans, as well as the commonly heard nationalist refrain, “Glory to the Nation! Death to our enemies!” The group then proceeded to attack several Turkish-owned cafes along the recently restored Aghmeshenebeli Avenue, an area of the city the Georgian government likes to tout as a symbol of the country’s renewal and its orientation towards the West. Some of the far right radicals attacked at least one Muslim woman and tore off her hijab, or headscarf, according to police officials. Georgia’s Interior Ministry released a statement early Wednesday that members of Georgian Power were being held in police custody for holding an unsanctioned political rally. "The participants of the demonstration were seen as being particularly aggressive by the police units that were on duty at the time of the rally. They insulted residents, damaged private property and attempted to harass the owners and patrons of several cafes,” the Interior Ministry’s statement said. The statement, however, made no reference to the deliberate targeting of foreigners or minorities.

Source: Getty

Law enforcement officials have been swift to play down the significance of the events, but made little attempt to halt the rally – one which they admit was unsanctioned from the start.

ATTACKS ON FOREIGNERS, NON-GEORGIAN CULTURAL SYMBOLS ON THE RISE Tuesday’s rally was only the latest in a series of recent incidents involving ultranationalist groups who target minorities, foreigners and symbols of Western culture. In June, a group of young nationalists attacked a vegan restaurant located in Tbilisi’s historical center. The far-right extremists stormed into the small Kiwi Café and began hurling sausages and meat at both the staff and the cafe’s

customers, before rampaging through the cafe and attacking several of the people inside. The assailants later said they were reacting to complaints by the café’s neighbors, who claimed the owners and patrons of the café were “drug addicts and sodomites”. That incident was followed by the violent disruption of an open air international music festival in Tbilisi by a group of nationalists and ultraconservative Orthodox Christian activists who accused the concertgoers of Satanism and “organizing a mass sex orgy”. The number of attacks on foreigners and minorities has been noticeably on the rise in recent months. Resentment amongst young Georgian men towards their foreign counterparts is also begin-

ning to grow as an increasing number of Georgians accuse those from abroad – mainly Westerners – of insulting or attacking “traditional Georgian values” by openly promoting minorities and women’s rights. Echoing the nationalist, ultraconservative ideology first promulgated by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and wholeheartedly adopted by Georgia’s Orthodox Church, a growing element of Georgia’s society has begun to turn its frustrations over a flagging economy and slow progress towards European integration. They have become openly hostile towards those they welcomed with open arms as recently as a halfdecade ago. In the cases of the attacks, the perpetrators often have the tacit or overt

support of both the police and the Church. Immediately after the assault on the vegan café, witnesses claimed the police seemed to openly mock those in the cafe and laughed at the victims’ accounts of the incident. Sympathetic Orthodox priests have taken part in many of the incidents, including at the music festival in June, last week’s attempt to block an official visit by Pope Francis and a notorious incident in 2013 when dozens of members of the clergy took part in a violent attack on an LBGT rally that left dozens injured. While having made impressive strides towards curbing corruption and overhauling its military, Georgian society – whether pro-European or not – has a significant amount of ground to cover before it eradicates the worst elements of its complex-driven nationalism and latent xenophobia.

Some of the far right radicals attacked at least one Muslim woman and tore off her hijab




Take it Easy: There will be No Rose Revolution 2!

Ex-President Saakashvili claims he has no intention of returning for a second "Rose Revolution." Source: www.nytimes.com



o matter how often the government talks about the alleged planned revolution, there is so little time left until October 8 that it will be very hard to organize even a serious protest rally, let alone a revolution. As such, the voters who love revolutions will have to approach the election boxes calmly. Yet by no

means will the elections be calm and boring. Since 1990 we have never seen a boring parliamentary election in Georgia and 2016 will be no exception. It is clear the October 8 elections, like the previous ones, will have two main powers: ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream. All other small parties will compete for the right to be under the wing of either of these two giants. Continued on page 9






Russia’s Parliamentary Elections: Pretext to Putin’s Presidential Campaign BY DR. VAKHTANG MAISAIA


n 18 September, 2016, Russia finally “took care” of the parliamentary elections that were supposed to be held in December this year. This is the seventh convocation of the Russian Duma since the federation declared its independence in 1991. According to the final results of the elections, the ruling party, “Edinnaya Rossia” (United Russia) registered a 4 percent increase in votes since the last elections, managing to obtain enough seats to secure a constitutional majority. Having 343 Members of Parliament, the ruling party becomes even more dominant and a decision-making political entity that can do everything the Kremlin might ask for on a legislative basis, including adopting a number of notorious legislative initiatives. Two puppet opposition parties, openly pledging their allegiance to the Kremlin incumbent administration and personally to President Vladimir Putin, the “Liberal-Democratic Party” led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky and “Spravedlivaya Rossia” (Just Russia) led by Sergey Mironov, obtained only 39 and 23 seats in Parliament respectively. And the somewhat opposition-like party, “Russia’s Communist Party” led by Gennady Zyuganov, came second, earning only 42 seats in Parliament. This means that Vladimir Putin can personally account for 405 mandates out of 450. Moreover, on orders given allegedly directly by Putin, Vladimir Vasiliev, ex-General and member of the so-called “Siloviki” infor-

The first seating of the Russian Duma focused on increasing and intensifying its activities at regional and international levels. Source: uatoday.tv

mal political group, was appointed as chairman of the ruling party in Parliament. In addition, the ruling party will have six positions for Deputy Speakers. The first seating of the Duma focused on increasing and intensifying its activities at regional and international levels. The latter is very important for Georgia and it means that after a period of relative inactivity, the Russian Duma will be intensively involved in foreign-policy making provisions and especially those designed for the “nearest abroad”, includ-

ing Georgia. It is symbolic that at the last stage of the parliamentary elections in Russia, the Russian Communist Party leaders were actively involved in the Georgian Parliamentary election campaign, providing political and probably financial support to their Georgian colleagues whose standings have been on the rise in recent times. The ruling party was very active in Georgia as well, demonstrated when one of the more influential and powerful

members of the Russian Parliament (reelected), member of the General Council of the ruling party and Deputy Chairman of the fraction, Oleg Morozov, came to Gori to spend his “holidays” in Georgia at the most critical phase of the election campaign for his party. In 2012, Morozov was elected as one of the coordinators of internal politics at the Kremlin administration. By gaining the constitutional majority in these elections, Vladimir Putin won the first battle for winning his fourth presi-

dential term and his aim to further cement his indomitable presence in the “political vertical” inside the country. However, considering that only 47 percent of the population (compared to 60 percent in 2011) came out to vote for the ruling party, one could assume that Putin’s rating might be spiraling downwards too, hence his attempt to increase his political weight and position in the “political vertical”. The constitutional majority is indeed a guarantee for adopting any and every amendment reinforcing presidential power and even prolonging terms for presidency, as well as for changing dates at whim for the presidential election. The favoring odds enable the Tzar in the Kremlin to force through vital reforms in law enforcement structures and make life difficult for civil society (for instance, through creation of the mega-monster special service “National Guard” department where he mobilizes more than 400 thousand servicemen, Putin reinforced a new Russian version of the Soviet KGB – Ministry of State Security). Nevertheless, the low turn out for the elections demonstrated notable frustration from the Russian population and their general disillusionment, acknowledged by Putin himself when he brought forward the parliamentary elections from December to September. This is a very unique situation when on one hand Vladimir Putin reinforces his position and increases leverage but on the other he is weakened, drained of popular support due to the rising economic and social problems in the country. However, the elections have demonstrated that he will put his candidacy for a fourth presidency term and will, in all probability, win the elections.





Seeking a Real Political Alternative: Ogden on those Embarrassing Politicians mail...none of it really matters. Girchi struggled to hold electoral attention and win voters to their cause, and this is unlikely to change; likewise, the morbid suspicion of the Georgian people over backroom dealings with former officials will also remain, and the truth behind the rumors is irrelevant. Girchi and Burchuladze have shown themselves unfit



s I recall mentioning weeks ago, I hate repeating myself (if you'll pardon the paradox), but this week I feel the need to do so. Last week, two Georgian politicians engaged in a pathetic attempt at a fight on national television. This week, two other Georgian politicians decided to follow suit. In both instances, violence could have been avoided without difficulty; in the first incident, a Democratic candidate failed to maintain the moral high ground over a Stalinist party member, a failure equal to calling your new partner by your ex's name. Although the Stalinist hurled a pen, it was the Democrat who launched the first flailing attack. This week's main event also featured a Stalinist party member (their true name is the 'Industrialists,' which in my mind alludes to Stalin's brutal Five Year Plans; true to their ideology, I suppose), but the circumstances were rather more amusing and alarming in equal measure. A member of Paata Burchuladze's bloc (numbered '1'; more on them in a moment) was debating with an Industrialist. Burchuladze's representative is heard to claim that the Industrialist party and its leader, Gogi Topadze, support the Russian Federation; this statement is beyond contestation, since Topadze himself claims that all Georgian citizens should be granted Russian citizenship. This startling truth, however, prompts the Industrialist to angrily hurl a glass of water at his opponent, who at first puts his hands in his pockets as though

Cartoon: Brian Patrick Grady

unwilling to engage in violence, before changing his mind, as the female host comes between them, and attempts to throw his own glass. This results in his arm cracking the lady around the side of the head, thus proving once again that women are usually the victims of violence in Georgia. Western institutions are rapidly losing credibility in Georgia, mostly due to a string of unfulfilled promises from the EU and NATO, but also due to electoral oversight organizations visiting the country and noting 'improvements and a calm environment'. Turn the TV on, chaps, they're still slapping each other around and hurling glasses of water all over the place. Georgian politics took another hit this week when Burchuladze's coalition bloc

lost one of its key parties, Girchi. Made up of former UNM members and dogged by accusations of links to former President Saakashvili and ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, Girchi struggled to forge an identity as a true political alternative, scoring just 0.6% in the polls, and so joined Burchuladze's bloc in what seemed to be a desperate attempt to win more voters. This marriage lasted barely two months, when yesterday Girchi declared they were leaving the union due to vague accusations of blackmail from Burchuladze, which the former opera singer categorically denies. In Georgia, accusations serve the same purpose as proven truth, but whether Girchi are in league with Saakashvili or funded by Bidzina or victims of black-

Western institutions are rapidly losing credibility in Georgia‌due to electoral oversight organizations visiting the country and noting 'improvements and a calm environment'. Turn the TV on, chaps, they're still slapping each other around and hurling glasses of water all over the place.

to hold office. They entered a political alliance and withdrew from it shortly afterwards; hardly the action of serious politicians giving serious thought to working with other parties. Their attempt to appear as serious contenders and viable alternatives to Georgian Dream and the UNM have crashed and burned long before the election. Foolish Georgian political wannabes making bad decisions is not, on the face of it, comparable to politicians throwing pens or water and slapping each other. The effect, however, is the same; the world's eye is very rarely on Georgia. It rarely only deigns to report on this country when something bad happens, like the zoo catastrophe last year or the war against the Russians in 2008. While national elections usually do merit a few lines of a tiny article on the BBC, nothing happening here will make the West want to live up to its word and include Georgia; blaming the West for delaying on delivering its promises is fair enough, but perhaps Georgians should think about why the EU and NATO might be inclined to do so. The majority of Georgians still want to be part of the West (and who can blame them, seeing the alternative?); the intellectually-challenged keyboard warriors who spend their time bashing Westerners (and in usually quite good English; odd to think they've learned the language of people they hate) when they're not engaging in mother-worship are still a minority. And yet the majority need to do something. A real political alternative needs to emerge, or people need to make their politicians aware that they do not just embarrass themselves; they embarrass the nation.

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Take it Easy: There will be No Rose Revolution 2! Continued from page 5

Yet, all of them plan to pass the 5 percent barrier as a third political power. Free Democrats, Republicans, Patriotic Alliance, Laborists, State for People and Democratic Georgia – this is the list of those political parties which, in light of current circumstances, have quite low chances of overcoming that barrier and so choose to accent their majoritarian candidates instead. As the dynamics of the pre-electional agitation suggest, there are three frontlines in the country: one in Tbilisi, one in Samegrelo, where ex-president Saakashvili’s wife Sandra Roelofs is running, and the third in Adjara. The latter is still the most sensitive of this triad. Traditionally, the postelection period in our country is much more important and vital than the day of the elections itself. Leader of Patriotic Alliance, Irma Inashvili was referring to exactly this practice when she talked about the plans of the National Movement in her TV speech: “Saakashvili is planning again to overthrow the government” and for this he intends to relocate the revolutionary headquarters from Odessa to Trabzon to "direct the revolution" from the Georgian-Turkish border. Mikheil Saakashvili responded to the announcement of the “Rose Revolution 2” with a Skype call addressing the people gathered for the UNM campaign, and later wrote a statement on his Facebook Page: “What unrest and coup are they these people talking about? We will win these elections calmly and quietly: all surveys speak for this. Everything is going towards Ivanishvili’s inevitable loss and the smooth replacement of the government. Neither the movie worth USD 40 million nor the staged recordings or other virtual tricks can save him from an unavoidable fail,”

Saakashvili said. Political analyst Soso Tsintsadze also excludes the development of political events in the direction of a revolutionary scenario: “The era of revolutions in Georgia is over. People suffered every revolution, the civil war... today there is no demand for this, no inner charge exists – I am not saying that nobody wants it, some crazy people might, but the masses won’t follow them. Revolutions are planned by leaders with the help of the people. Our society is not fooled to such extent as to bring the country into another destabilization,” he said. The main political issue is whether the October elections will be followed by protests or not. We can be sure that protests and rallies will follow, but as for a revolution? No. None of the serious political powers, including Bidzina Ivanishvili, need a revolution: this is conditioned also by the new constitutional frame: In a year's time there will be presidential elections in the country and both parties will need to keep the current system intact until then in order not to strengthen unintentionally the "outer-system groups". By which I mean Nino Burjanadze, who has no chance of coming to power if the elections are held normally, but who has resources to own the power post factum if a revolution takes place. Whether she is liked by anyone or not, Burjanadze, despite her unpopularity, still remains an important actor, and ignoring her in any of the possible scenarios would be a big mistake. As for the electorate, we should get used to the idea that a modern state does not exist without fluctuations and changes. Therefore, comfort and ease are out and a period of long-term turbulence, risks and uncertainty is ahead which will be much more long-lasting than those sixteen months until the upcoming presidential elections.




Reaching Heights: Georgia’s Misunderstood Democracy



Finnish MEP Praises Georgia's Commitment to EU Association Agreement

The American Ambassador in Tbilisi says the election campaign of Georgia is so good, he would like such a campaign in the United States!




he recently divulged expert opinion has it that Georgia is the only country in the region ready for free and fair elections. Wow! Can’t be true! But the American Ambassador in Tbilisi puts it even better, saying that the election campaign of Georgia is so good that he would like such a campaign in the United States. Isn’t this something?! On the other hand, if we look back inquisitively enough into the annals, it all adds up: the origins of indigenous parliamentarianism here date back to the 12th century; Georgia’s political adulthood has been tempered in the long and painful process of maturity; our people were compelled to spill plenty of sweat and blood, plodding through the thick and thin of political changes; and it took generations to conceive that the modern political game in our complicated world is played with totally refreshed and renovated rules and tools, having nothing to do with the anachronistic soviet ideology within which this nation spent almost a century. This said, do we actually believe that we have truly become a country of a stable full-grown democracy where the electorate is already elevated to the level of making the most optimal decisions when faced with that magic ballot box? Are we really that gullible as people? I don’t think so! And the ‘extra-mile’ biblical adage should be of great help here

to corroborate my presumption. We have to go through more political education and maturation in order for us to understand that the freedom of speech, as unconstrained as it seems to be in our political reality at this time, is not a panacea for all the flaws and vices that our society is suffering right now, especially in managing the nation’s external and internal affairs. First and utmost in this respect would stand out our inability to accept the change of government with due tolerance and benevolence, and to take every new ruling team for granted as a legitimate produce of our people’s choice. I feel obligated though to render the dues to the four-year-ago peaceful transition of power from one set of hands to another. The process was indeed non-violent, and its immediate aftermath was of course fairly co-habitable for the decisive political powers to let the nation survive the weird change of governmental paws. Secondly, no matter how improved and brushed-up the electoral process seems to all of us, it still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of security and legitimacy because we ceaselessly hear the rumor that revolution is brewing in the country due to the discontent of those political forces who might lose the competition. There is a third reason that pushes me into thinking that elections as such in Georgia need to become far better, as one of the surest symptoms of demo-

cratic development of our society: the superfluous participation of politically hungry men and women in the process. Frankly, I suspect that there is not only politics in there to enjoy but also something lucrative, too, in the universally cherished consequence of a successful run. Has it ever occurred to anybody why so many people want to be in politics in Georgia? There are only 150 seats in the parliament, for which 2,805 potential deputies of the Republic’s legislation will be fighting in a couple of days, representing 12 political parties. Almost twenty aspirants per seat! Incidentally, there are more than 200 political parties officially registered in Georgia. Imagine if all of them were lucky enough to have an eager finger in the pie! The statistics make me think that democracy is a touch misunderstood in Georgia and it will probably take us years to get out of the confusion safe and sound. So let us not be overly hopeful that we have achieved the highest peaks in performing the freest and fairest elections in the world and have reached the acme in what is called democracy today. In a word, the process of political maturation – as brittle and delicate as it looks – is certainly on, has a long history and a promising future but it is moving forward slowly. Not to worry! Better something than nothing! As they noted in the West, others in the region are dreaming of these heights of ours.


uropean Parliamentarians gathered with representatives from the EU Commission, NATO, the European External Action Service along with others from Georgia’s civil society and the business community to discuss current political and social trends in the small South Caucasus nation of 3.5 million people. Heidi Hautala, a Finnish Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly praised Georgia’s commitment to fulfilling the requirements of the country’s Association Agreement with the European Union. "The political will in Georgia to implement the necessary (Association Agreement) reforms is both admirable and exemplary," said Hautala. Hautala said that the European Parliament would continue to support Georgia's European integration, and said Brussels would continue pushing for an early resolution regarding the issue of visa liberalization. She also gave high marks to Georgia’s civil society organizations and their work in helping to foster greater transparency in the government and judiciary, as well as the peaceful political climate in the country while important reform efforts were taking place. The issue of visa liberali-

zation is one of the most important, but also thorniest items on Georgia’s list of important milestones as it attempts to draw closer to the West. Georgia and Ukraine were judged by the EU as having fulfilled their obligations in December 2015, after which the European Commission requested the abolition of visas for both countries. Berlin, however, suddenly pulled its support for the measure after it cited a rise in organized crime cases in Germany that they claimed originated in Georgia. Germany’s decision to withdraw its support won the backing of France, Italy, Austria, Greece, the Netherlands and Belgium. As a result, the final decision on the abolition of visas for Georgian citizens remains unresolved.

Georgia Welcomes European Standard two-floor Stadler Kiss Train

JS Georgian Railway prepared a special surprise for its passengers with twofloor European standard Stadler Kiss model electro trains beginning to run in the direction of the Black Sea resort cities. The four new trains from the Swiss company Stadler Bussnang AG are equipped with ultramodern security systems. The 400seat trains fully fit the current sizes of the Georgian railway, with the width of the railway 1520 mm. Each train is 101.7 m long, 3400 mm wide, and 5240 mm high. Georgian Railway worked together with Deutsche Bahn experts and German specialists on the technical parameters.

The Stadler Kiss model train takes into consideration the needs of people with limited abilities who will have lifts in the train and easy-access toilets. Bathrooms onboard also offer changing tables for parents with babies. Train crews serving onboard have been through special retraining courses abroad. The first new train entered Georgia at the beginning of July and successfully ran its first trip to Batumi. It will run to and from the Black Sea cities non-stop and will stop only at seaside resorts Batumi, Kobuleti and Ureki. The same model of train operates in Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Austria and other countries throughout Europe.






Heidelbergcement’s $100 mln investment project: Upgrade of Heidelbergcement Kaspi Cement Plant Launched


n September 27th, the groundbreaking opening ceremony of the USD100 million investment project of Heidelbergcement Caucasus- an upgrade of the Kaspi Cement Plant to the modern Dry Line method of clinker production - was held in Heidelbergcement Plant, Kaspi, Georgia. The investment project calls for full modernization of the Heidelbergcement Kaspi plant and construction of a clinker production Dry Line. The project will further ensure the highest standards of the production process and will result in its greater efficiency. Apart from introducing new technologies, it will contribute to Georgia’s economy through improved trade balance and better environmental management of the surrounding local nature. The ceremony was attended by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili; the Minister of Economy of Georgia, Dimitry Kumsishvili; the Ambassador of Germany in Georgia, Dr. Heike Peitsch; Heidelbergcement Group Director of Northern and Eastern EuropeCentral Asia and Member of the Managing Board, Dr. Albert Scheuer; and the General Director of Heidelbergcement Caucasus, Michael Hampel, who made special welcoming speeches on the occasion. Michael Hampel welcomed guests and gave a short overview of the company’s success story in Georgia: “Heidelbergcement Group stepped into Georgia 10 years ago in 2006 – therefore 2016 is an anniversary year for us: 10 years of dedicated work to develop the Georgian operations into a modern and performing company; 10 years of permanent improvement of the manufacturing facilities and 1- years continued qualification of our Georgian workforce.” “The Heidelbergcement Group is looking forward to helping the state of Georgia in its biggest challenges over the next years by developing the infrastructure-

on the new investment project: “It is important that Heidelbergcement, a German DAX company and one of the world’s leading building materials producers, further expands production and makes huge investments in Georgia,” he said. German Ambassador to Georgia Dr. Heike Peitsch talked about huge potential for development of Georgia-Germany economic relations. “The investments made by Heidelbergcement signifies huge confidence in the country. German logistics companies are also interested in making investments in Georgia,” the Ambassador said. The upgrade and development of the Georgian business of Heidelbergcement Caucasus will take place between 2016 and 2018.


ports, highways, tunnels and bridges -and developing the huge potential of hydro power technology. For both things cement is a basic factor, and Heidelbergcement Caucasus will make sure that Georgia will never be dependent on imports of this key product,” Hampel said. “With the new Dry Line in Kaspi, clinker capacity will be increased by more than 1 million ton of clinker, which

will serve our own plants and also our external clinker customers,” said Dr. Scheuer. “The project will guarantee high quality standard products at the lowest energy consumption and costs. The new Dry Line will set new standards in terms of green technology application not only in Georgia, but also worldwide. All gases of the kiln will be cleaned in highly efficient bag houses. The kiln will have the lowest possible

heat consumption and is prepared to fire the maximum amount of alternative fuels. Raw meal and coal are exclusively milled in vertical mills with minimum electrical energy consumption. This will enable the company to produce its products at minimum environmental damage and will set a new benchmark in the industry”, he said. The Prime Minister congratulated the company on its 10 Year Anniversary and

Heidelbergcement Caucasus is the Georgian subsidiary of Heidelbergcement Group and the market leader for cement in Georgia. Heidelbergcement Group is one of the world’s largest integrated manufacturers of building materials with leading market positions in aggregates, cement, and ready-mixed concrete as well as other downstream activities. The company employs 63,000 people at more than 3000 production sites in around 60 countries on five continents. Heidelbergcement started business in Georgia in 2006. After ten years of continuous development of the business, the Georgian subsidiary Heidelbergcement Caucasus currently operates three integrated cement plants (Kaspi and Rustavi), a cement grinding facility in Poti and a cement terminal on the Black Sea coast. The cement production capacity exceeds 2 million tons of high quality cement annually. The cement business is supported by a strong network of 12 ready-mixed concrete plants that produce more than 670.000m³ concrete per year. Sand and aggregates for the concrete are partly supplied by two own-aggregate pits in Batumi and Tbilisi.





Vake Reaching Heights with the AXIS Towers


oon to be fully erected on Chavchavadze Avenue, Vake, behind the statue of Galaktion, the AXIS Towers are set to become the face of modern and future Tbilisi. AXIS Towers introduces totally new lifestyle standards and expectations for Georgia. It is an entirely Georgian project, implemented by Georgian specialists in cooperation with global partners. Construction of the AXIS Towers was first launched in 2006. However, due to the 2008 crisis, the construction was suspended. In 2015, the construction was resumed by the partnership of AXIS Company and the Georgian Co-Investment Fund, which invested USD 83 million. There are five lines of development in AXIS Towers: residential, hotel, office, commercial and entertainment, all of which will be housed in one building, supplementing each other for the comfort of clients and guests. Mains electricity is to be supplied directly by central stations, meaning that communications will not overload the network, while funds will be spent on development of the present network and sub-stations. AXIS Towers will be served by 22 fast elevators promoting independent movement, vital for such a multifunctional complex. People who live, work or have fun here do not need to go out to shop or look for high quality service- they can find everything they need in the AXIS Towers “building-city in the city,” spread over 100,000 square meters and 41 floors, 37 of which are above ground and 4 underground. There will be parking space on three of those four underground floors, which will cover 25,000 sq. meters. One floor will be used for commercial space with a supermarket and various shops. The residential area, located in the

stone tower, will offer apartments from 43 sq. meters- all light and sunny due to their large reflective windows. All corner apartments have 13.4 sq. meter terraces which can be enclosed by sliding windows, making them safe comfortable spaces for arranging a winter garden in cooler weather. Each detail is designed for your comfort. Heating-cooling systems, controlled by special apps, allow you to heat or cool all rooms simultaneously and there is a fire safety system of international standards. Construction of the residential tower structure is complete and soon the facing of the façade will begin- a natural white granite has been selected. The glass tower and pedestal of AXIS Towers will house an A-class office center, a spa and fitness center, as well as a 25-meter swimming pool with movable roof and an open terrace. A sky bar will open on the top floor of the building. The 5-star Hotel Pullman, which is a part of the largest French brand Accor Group, will also open there. All these functions make the AXIS Towers more attractive for investors. AXIS Towers will also be creating a public area on its territory in recognition of the fact that there is a lack of pedestrian streets in Tbilisi beyond the Old Town. The pedestrian street, which is intended to be entirely set up as a recreation zone, containing around 12 A-class cafes and restaurants, will connect Chavchavadze Avenue with Abuladze Street. The main objective of the AXIS Towers project is to bring as much benefit to the city as possible. It will promote the turning of Chavchavadze Avenue into a business center and an extension of the tourist zone from the Old Town to Vake district. ADVERTISING



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Give a Man a Fish… Georgian IDPs in Western Georgia BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES


who have been through the same. The solution? Spread them out into existing Georgian communities. “There are numerous closed buildingsvillage houses- for sale throughout Georgia,” Milorava highlighted. “Rather than waste money on these ‘ghettos,’ the government could buy such houses for the IDPs. They have their gardens, they have local neighbors, and they have a chance to build a more sustainable future for themselves and their families within a Georgian community.” “Ask any IDP what they want most, and do you know what they almost always reply?” Milorava asked us. “More help,” he answered. It reminded me of that old proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. While some of the IDPs are relics of an old system which supported them fully and so can never awaken to the idea that they must now work for their independence, others already see what can be done but need some help to get there- be it in the form of a plot of land to work or a grant to start a business. These are the ones the government can enable so that they no longer need to live off the State, waiting for help that may not come. That said, some have been offered grants by various non-governmental organizations to start small businesses but have chosen to remain on benefits. This is where legislation, case-by-case assessment, and benefit cuts come in- an unenviable, complex and expensive endeavor, but one well worth the long-term advantages. I want to close with the words of Daniel Blake (a fictional British man struggling to navigate the UK unemployment benefit system in the 2016 Cannes Palme d'Or winning film, ‘I, Daniel Blake’). I think it rather accurately describes what the IDPS, as humans and citizens, want. And not only the IDPs: all disadvantaged Georgians living below the poverty line as the government spends on quick-fix glamor to win the latest election. It may not apply to all of them, but it certainly applies to many. “I am not a client, a customer, nor a service user. I am not a shirker, a scrounger, a beggar, nor a thief. I'm not a National Insurance Number. I paid my dues, never a penny short, and proud to do so. I don't tug the forelock but look my neighbor in the eye and help him if I can. I don't accept or seek charity. My name is Daniel Blake. I am a man, not a dog. As such, I demand my rights. I demand you treat me with respect. I, Daniel Blake, am a citizen. Nothing more and nothing less. -

hen I sat down to write this article, I wasn’t really sure what stance to take on the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and their settlements as witnessed on the media tour I went on last week. I come from a different culture and education system, and yet I’ve lived here long enough to see reality from a Georgian perspective. And so I hope my report will be seen as reasonably balanced. The tour hit seven settlements in western Georgia (Kutaisi, Tskhaltubo, Zugdidi, Poti and Batumi) housing IDPs from Abkhazia, brought together around two years ago after more than 23 years spent living in abandoned and derelict buildings scattered throughout the country. The Georgian government forces fought three wars against Russian-backed sep- Zugdidi settlement, 320 families- suffering from high unemployment, too little living space and water shortages aratist forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia 1991-2008. Accord1.5 years following completion of reno- those digging in. And what more does POTI - 1420 FAMILIES, ing to the latest statistics of the Georgia have but fertile land waiting for vation works. 6500 RESIDENTS Georgian Ministry of IDPs from an eager hand to reap the benefits from the Occupied Territories, Accom- “New IDPs Settlement” in Maltakva it? But the tune would, I’m sure, change SIZE MATTERS modation and Refugees, there are The flats were allocated by lottery, regard- if the government suggested said eager currently 263,598 registered IDPs less of family size. One woman lives in farmer would no longer be eligible for in Georgia. Many South Ossetian a two room flat (one bedroom, one living benefits once the fruits of her labor could IDPs (2008 war) were housed in area, bathroom and kitchen); a family be sold for a profit. individual 2-room units conAside from receiving other state benwith four small children lives in the same structed as “IDP villages” in agrisize flat close by. If the IDPs register cultural areas such as those outside the flats in their names and take ownZUGDIDI - 320 FAMILIES Gori. They now have gardens and ership, then they are considered “satLagidze Str. some have extended their living isfied.” Some do. Others refuse. One areas. The Abkhazian IDPs, fleefamily of five is waiting for a separate ing their homes in a different era studio flat as part of the “Two-room, of Georgia’s development, were plus one” deal they were promised a not so lucky. year ago. But that bureaucratic machine The family on the left lives in a The settlements we visited were of request, review, appeal and grant, one-bedroom flat. newly built apartment blocks as we know, takes time. They’ve been waiting for a bigger flat (aside from one in Kutaisi- a confor over a year. verted military lyceum) and one EMPLOY OR SUPPORT? in Tskhaltubo (a converted hosThere are IDPs (mostly women, I might pital). We were met in each settlement Tskhaltubo settlement complained that add) who say, ‘Give me land and I will by a group of residents, sometimes headed their kitchens (built against internal walls work it.’ “One hectare is all I need,” by a local support group leader, to explain with no ventilation and so no official gas said one woman in her mid-40s, a the situation to us clearly. installation) were inadequate, I agreed. resident of Zugdidi settlement. “I’ll We heard their complaints. My heart But then I remembered entire villages grow enough food for my family and The mains water pipe is full of went out to them, but at the same time I’d been through without mains gas sup- sell the rest.” sand and water allegedly only I couldn’t help but think “I’ve seen worse, ply, with residents cooking daily meals Most of the IDPs we spoke to were runs in their flats in the evenings. much worse, elsewhere in this country.” and surviving the cold winters with wood from the Gali district of Abkhazia and fires or camping gas. so had owned houses with gardens in A lack of kindergarten spaces was men- their pre-war lives. Putting it into A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE When the residents of the Zugdidi set- tioned in Zugdidi, Poti and Batumi set- numbers, I was told over 80 percent of efits (disability, pension, etc), IDPs are tlement complained that they have tlements- the nearest state kindergartens IDPs feel “some connection with the given 45 GEL per month. As are their scheduled water (evenings only) and are some kilometers away and do not land.” The government has openly “sold” children. And their children’s children. And this even if the beneficiary has a that the mains drinking water can’t be have enough room to take on all the house, a job, a car and a nice flat-screen drunk due to the sand in it, I accepted needy IDP children. The same issues KUTAISI - 71 FAMILIES, TV. that clean drinking water is a human unfortunately exist throughout the “Investigate who really deserves to right everywhere, not least in a devel- country, including in Tbilisi, though 196 RESIDENTS get that meager benefit and if they oped country. But then I remembered City Hall boasts it has added 4 new #52 Kharebava Str. really don’t need it, stop giving it,” said how many villagers throughout Georgia kindergartens since 2015 and is rehaNukhri Milorava of CHRC (Charity still exist on well water which they pull bilitating a further three to accommodate the many children waiting Humanitarian Center ‘Abkhazeti,’ advoup throughout the day as needed. cates of IDP development). “Save it up When the residents of the smallest for places. But there were genuine issues and use it to fund development brought up that really made projects to give the IDPs a more TSKHALTUBO - 343 TSKHALTUBO - 45 FAMILIES, me stop and think “Hang on a sustainable future.” FAMILIES, 918 RESIDENTS 113 RESIDENTS minute…” 9th April Str. #6 Eristavi Str. Like the leaky roofs, baseINTEGRATION ments with pipes dripping out Another issue- a big issue- is water and sewage, the lack of integration. In the years since isolation on hollow-block walls the war left them homeless, the in a wet and windy area in IDPs have repeatedly been The playground here allegedly Tskhaltubo, and repeatedly lumped together in various locacost the government $37,000. the complaints of flooded basetions throughout the country- be ments and rising damp (as it in abandoned hotels or in old building foundations are in schools and sports halls with some cases below the water table). land for 1 GEL in the past to those wish- individual “living spaces” sepaSuch stories smacked of bad plan- ing to develop businesses on that land rated by curtains. Now they’ve ning and the old “Saakashvili” and put people to work through those been given new flats, but have, style “Build it quick and pretty, businesses. So why not cheaply “sell off” again, been lumped together and, shut ‘em up” – but this time done village land that is otherwise abandoned, as such, the government has Built with non-isolated hollow The flats in this refurbished by the current government, with give it to those who will eagerly make enforced a “ghetto” “otherness” blocks, the flats are freezing in hospital building have generous funding from KPW (Ger- use of it, then give them the tools or perspective for those in the new the winter and boiling in the unventilated kitchens many). Cheap materials abound, training they need to make it work and blocks. Villagers see the IDPs as summer. Basements are flooded in facing internal corridors and so money supposedly spent but make it last? outsiders and different, and the those buildings constructed on the gas company refuses to install results far from the expected qualA bright idea which offers more chance IDPs themselves feel naturally low-lying land. mains gas. ity, and damage clear just one or of long-term independent survival for more at ease sticking with those




The Gender Starts with Me Festival BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


he Georgian Adult Education Network (GAEN) kicked off the 2016 Gender Starts with Me festival on September 25. Organized with the financial support of the German Ministry of foreign affairs, it is held in partnership with the German Embassy in Georgia. Already in its second year, the festival brings Georgian regions into focus, aiming to raise awareness on gender equality, domestic abuse prevention and defense of its victims, covering Samegrelo, Upper Svaneti, Kvemo Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti. Gender Starts with Me also concentrates on women's rights and social activity issues and has organized round-table and public discussions in Tetritskaro, Leliani village, Chokhatauri and Javari. Choosing a lecture format for the topics of human rights and education for Georgian Dance Group at the festival. Source: GAEN

prevention, the festival seeks active involvement and participation from the Ombudsmen Office of Georgia, local municipalities, Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia and local and international NGOs. Meetings with human rights defenders and successful women are also being held during the festival, alongside various cultural events: folk concerts, an exhibition of crafts made by social enterprise program beneficiaries, a film screening, and various activities for children. Gender Starts with Me was a huge success last year with more than 1500 beneficiaries participating, 40 percent of whom were IDPs and local minority group representatives who learned about women's rights and received recommendations on how to react to either being a victim of, or witnessing, domestic abuse. Founded in 2014, GAEN has a mission to promote the principles of adult education in Georgia by answering the emerging challenges of the country’s education policy on the road to Georgia’s integration into the European educational system. GAEN finds the concept of lifelong learning to be an effective tool for eliminating high levels of unemployment and low public awareness of vital social issues. The Gender Starts with Me festival closes on September 30.


INTERVIEW: State Minister of Georgia for Diaspora Issues


n September 23rd, the historical Leuville Chateau Estate, located around 27 kilometers from Paris, France, was finally returned

to Georgia. GEORGIA TODAY talked to Gela Dumbadze, the State Minister of Georgia for Diaspora Issues to find out more on the resolution itself and to hear further development plans for the property.

THE TRANSFER PROCESS STARTED IN 2011. WHAT WAS THE MAIN INFLUENCING FACTOR IN TERMS FINALIZING THIS PROCESS? The main determinant factors were the sincere attitude, coherent actions, and academic approach. Even though in 2011 the memorandum was signed, it was not followed by the transfer of the property. So I would not say that the transfer process actually started in 2011 but more that the procedures have been carried out over the last two years and resulted in the successful implementation of the transfer process and finalization of the agreement both from Georgian and French sides on 23rd of September, 2016. However, it should be noted that we welcome and appreciate any action that has benefited the process of the return of historical Leuville Chateau Estate to Georgia in any form.

THIS PROCESS TOOK QUITE SOME TIME: 12 YEARS OF ACTIVE NEGOTIATIONS AND 25 YEARS OF EXPECTATIONS. WHY? In 1922, exiled chairman of the government of the independent republic of

Georgia Noe Zhordania and his government emigrated in France in order escape the Soviet regime. The chateau was bought in 1927 and the signing parties were government members of the first republic of Georgia and their decedents. For years Georgia, to those immigrants, was associated with an authoritarian soviet country, thus the testament regarding the transfer of the chateau to an independent Georgian republic could not be materialized until Georgia regained its independence and acquired the reputation of a trustworthy country.

WHY DID THE GEORGIAN EMIGRANTS SETTLE DOWN IN LEUVILLE AND NOT ELSEWHERE? I believe the decision to stay there was very much influenced by the warm welcome of the French people and the French government. This was, of course, highlighted by me during the signing ceremony of the transfer process. I’d say the city hall of Leuville has done special service to our country as our emigrants and their predecessors felt supported, and the chateau has been taken care of.

WHAT IS THE POLITICAL IMPORTANCE OF THIS AGREEMENT TO GEORGIA? It has not only political but historic importance as Leuville is not only a beautiful Chateau estate located around 30 kilometers from Paris, but, in addition to that, the return of this territory for Georgia might act as a stimulus to return other territories that have been lost due to different geopolitical reasons in a peaceful way. We plan to establish the GeorgianFrench cultural center there and to preserve its historical identity and involve

different scholars and professionals in Leuville in order to popularize our country in Europe.

THE GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT PLANS TO SPEND EUR 5,600,000 OVER 10 YEARS ON DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROPERTY This is the amount the government is ready to spend; however, we are ready to receive grants and investments from private companies as well- from companies that are ready to invest in a project that has societal, moral and historical importance.

HOW WAS THE AGREEMENT RECEIVED BY THE GEORGIAN EMIGRANTS? During the ceremony I could see how happy they were as the dream of their predecessors, their families, came true. Unfortunately, the daughter of Noe Zhordnia, Natela Zhordania, passed away just a couple of months before this ceremony, but she was very much involved in this process and it was very sad for us that she could not attend.

TELL US MORE ABOUT SPECIFIC PROJECTS I was head of the parity commission for two years and other members included Tea Tsulukiani, the Minister of Justice of Georgia; Ekaterine Siradze-Delone, Ambassador of Georgia to the Republic of France; and Gocha Javakhishvili, Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to France. We made it possible for this agreement to be finalized. We have views and aim to develop concrete plans regarding the future development of the estate.








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

10 Galaktion Street

A Sporting Chance: Etseri, Svaneti

Hard Rock Tbilisi Holds Official Opening Ceremony

TIFLIS 7.5x6cm ING.indd 1



oincident with the start of the 2016-17 school year in mid-September, certain school renovations also began. I'm not sure why, but this time, rather than summer when school is out and not going to be interfered with by workmen and noise, has typically been the season for such things. At least now it was outside work being carried out rather than inside, which isn't so bad for the school pupils and staff's concentration. First, they brought a lot of earth, and began leveling the mess which is the current schoolyard, crisscrossed with water channels, traversed by cattle and other farmyard animals, in wet weather a quagmire. Then they put in cement and posts for a handsome new set of fences, complete with gates. This was really something! But the big moment came when they began working on a smaller area inside the grounds. More cement and posts, all carefully lined up with string, in a neat rectangle. Suddenly their intent became clear, a copy of all those Saakashvili-era constructions which sprang up all over Georgia in apartment courtyards, schoolyards and village squares: a sports stadium of Etseri's very own! Now, the school does already have an indoor gymnasium, and let me tell you, several of the local teenage girls are DEADLY at dodge-ball therein, while the young men do themselves proud at volleyball. But this new arena, if they do it properly, will sort us out for a whole slew of other sports: soccer, basketball and badminton at least, as well as more volleyball and others. It's certainly a potential major improvement in the lives of the local young men as well as school-age children. These youths typically have not enough to do, little regular employment, nothing to spend their energies on aside from the drudge of farming chores. As a result, here as well as elsewhere in Svaneti and I suppose across Georgia, they take to drinking, well, like fish to water. The results are predictable. I'm not saying that this little addition to our village infrastructure will reverse that alcoholic trend and "save us all". But... it might make a difference. Bring some pride; encourage some healthy competition; take up some otherwise idle time (which the Devil knows how to use), instead of seeing who can hold his (only his, never her!) moonshine the best without dying, or, if he dies of it, we'll all publicly mourn him but curse his name in gossip. Well, yes, if you're asking, I do feel these deaths in the community, men I have known (if one is "lucky" a drunk driving accident will only kill the driver, and spare his usually predominantly female passengers); fathers of school-age or younger chil-


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lthough it has been serving customers since summer, Hard Rock Tbilisi celebrated its official opening ceremony on 28th Septem-

dren, the latter of whom will gradually forget Dad as they grow up. The waste of a life is infuriating as well as tragic. What about half a year's winter? Indeed. One will have to think about this harsh reality and its effects on our new facility. Hey, or more properly eh, I'm partly Canadian; I know what to do with an outdoor sports arena at below zero C! Board the edges, flood the thing (the water's even free here), let it freeze, and bring on the ice hockey! I'm not an expert at this, having returned to Canada at the late age of ten, but I'll give it my best

shot along with the rest! So much sometimes can depend on such a little thing, after all. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 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

ber. Located in a restored wine factory on Melikishvili Street, Hard Rock Café Tbilisi features external and internal dining areas, two bars a terrace and a private event space. The new venue is also able to offer up to 260 guests live music performances from Georgian bands and international artists. Visitors have a chance to see memorabilia from some of the most well-known rock and pop musicians in the history of musicfrom a shirt worn by Michael Jackson during the Jacksons’ 1984 Victory tour, Keith Richards’ striped vest worn on stage with the Rolling Stones in 1967, and a gold-plated lion’s head pendent necklace from Elvis Presley himself, Hard Rock fans are sure to find some-

thing to please, not least from the mouthwatering menu. GEORGIA TODAY attended the opening and heard from Anibal Fernandez, Area Vice President from Hard Rock International; Zaza Shengelia, Bravo Records President; and Mamuka Khazaradze, TBC Group President and one of the founders of the local franchise- on the dreams and decisions that made Hard Rock Tbilisi a reality. To find out what they said, go to www.georgiatoday.ge and search Hard Rock.





Telavi International Music Festival Set for October 9-15


elavi International Musical Festival, supported by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection, is to be held between 9 and 15 October 2016 within the frames of large-scale government project ‘Check in Georgia.’ Founded by renowned pianist Eliso Virsaladze in the 1980s, the festival was resumed after a break, in 2010. Since then, it is annually conducted with the support of the Ministry of Culture. It is a tradition for the Telavi festival to host top-class musicians of various generations and this year the festival program is dedicated to the 70th anniversary of famous 20th century violinist, Oleg Kagan. Along with Eliso Virsaladze and Natalia Gutman, Kagan was a great supporter of the idea to establish this festival. The key novelty of the 2016 festival is the arrival of a European orchestra. The Beethoven Academy Orchestra from Krakow, Poland, will conduct two concerts directed by prominent conductor Jacek Kaspszyk and young Georgian conductor Mirian Khukhunaishvili. The visit of the Polish orchestra and conductor was made possible with the support of the Embassy of Poland in Georgia. From 9 through 15 October, the Telavi Vazha-Pshavela State Drama Theater will host five concerts performed by celebrated performers Kolja Blacher, Eliso Virsaladze, Alexander Buzlov, as well as young performers William Dutton (Great Britain), Zhang Wei (China), and Dmitry Shishkin (Russia). Other participants in the festival are the David Oistrakh String Quartet and the Tbilisi State Chamber Orchestra “Georgian Sinfonietta.” The festival also includes a concert by popular pianists Nana Dimitriadi and Nana Avalishvili performing piano duets in the Aleksandre Chavchavadze House Museum in Tsinandali. Given the size of the venue of

instruments. Along with students of the Tbilisi Conservatoire, these masterclasses will be attended by youth from the regions. Tickets can already be bought on biletebi.ge and at the box office of the Tbilisi State Conservatoire, and will be available from the Telavi Vazha-Pshavela State Drama Theater box office from 1 October. The organizer of the festival is LEPL Center for Protection, Development and Promotion of

Classical Music. Supporters of the festival are: Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Georgia, GPI Holding, Aleksandre Chavchavadze House Museum in Tsinandali, Telavi City Hall, Hotel “Alaznis Veli,” Hotel “Zuzumbo,” Flower Nursery “Gardenia,” Château Mere. Publicity of the festival will be ensured by: Radio Fortuna, Radio One, Rustavi 2 TV company, Channel 1 of the Georgian Public Broadcaster, GHN news agency, Georgia Today newspaper, and ARTAREA TV company.


9,8 ha non-agricultural, privately owned parcel for industrial use (cadaster code # located next to Tbilisi Airport (It is possible to divide it into several parts)

Address: Airport settlement, Samgori district, Tbilisi Tel: +995 599 529 529 info@cei.ge

this concert, the number of tickets available is limited. As per tradition, the festival will offer a diverse program which includes both masterpieces of world classical music

and works of famous 20th century composers, some of which will be performed for the first time ever in Georgia. In parallel with the concerts, masterclasses will be held for piano and wind

Foreign Journalists Participate in Media-Tour Dedicated to Georgian Wine BY THEA MORRISON


group of wine journalists from Italy, Australia, USA, Portugal and China visited Georgia to participate in a week-long wine mediatour organized by the National Wine

Agency of Georgia. The group was led by wine magister Debra Meiburg who works the National Wine Agency’s contractor company in China- Meiburg Wine Media. The media representatives visited various wine companies in Kartli and Kakheti to learn about Georgian wine culture, history, Georgian cuisine and folklore, and, of course, to taste Geor-

Foreign journalists visiting Kakheti and Kartli Regions. Source: National Wine Agency

gian wines. The journalists plan to write about Georgian wine and culture in order to promote Georgia and make it even more attractive for tourists and foreign wine companies. According to Meiburg, the aim of their trip is to introduce Georgia and its wine to the Chinese market and to those interested in wine. “Due to its history, Georgia is very interesting for the Chinese. We need to establish Georgia on the market as a high quality wine country,” she stated. Another group of visitors also interested in wine came to tour Georgia: the representatives of Swiss company, Mettler Vaterlaus GmbH. The company issues a famous magazine about wine ‘Vinum’ in German, Spanish and French. After the visit the journalists will prepare articles about Georgia and publish them in the magazine. According to the editor-in-chief of Vinum, Thomas Vaterlaus, his group came to Georgia to find out about the wine-making process and investigate old and new methods of wine production. He noted the many grape species in Georgia, all of which have specific tastes. “The wines produced in Georgia are of very high quality. Each wine has individual features which are very rare,” Vaterlaus said.

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GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATRE Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 September 30 ST. GEORGE Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 GEL October 1 CHRIST Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 GEL TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 44 66 October 1, 2 GISELLE Adolphe Adam Ballet in Two Acts Start time: October 1 - 19:00, October 2 - 14:00 Ticket: 10 - 70 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 September 30 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 21:00 Free Entry TBS INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THEATER October 1, 2 A RUSSIAN ON A RENDEZVOUS Based on Ivan Turgenev’s novella “Spring Freshets” Production Supervisor: Yevgeny Kamenkovich Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-55 GEL Venue: Marjanishvili Theater, Grand Stage October 1 THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN Based on the original by Rainer Werner Fassbinder Script: Peter Märthesheimer, Pea Fröhlich Directed by Thomas Ostermeier Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-55 GEL Venue: Rustaveli Theater, Grand Stage October 1, 2, 3 OF RIDERS AND RUNNING

HORSES Genre: Dance Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 25 GEL Venue: Agmashenebeli Avenue October 4, 5 PORTRAITS OF THE CHERRY ORCHARD Osip Mandelstam, Anna Akhmatova Directed by Grzegorz Bral Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-33 GEL Venue: Royal District Theater October 6 THE TROJAN WOMEN Based on the original text of Euripides Adapted & Directed by Tadashi Suzuki Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-55 GEL Venue: Marjanishvili Theater CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari September 30-October 6 THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN Directed by Antoine Fuqua Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke Genre: Action, Western Language: English Start time: 16:30 Ticket: 10-11 GEL SNOWDEN Directed by Oliver Stone Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo Genre: Action, Biography, Drama Language: English Start time: 19:15 Language: Russian Start time: 14:30, 22:15 Ticket: 9-14 GEL ELLE Directed by Paul Verhoeven Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny Genre: Drama, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL DEEPWATER HORIZON Directed by Peter Berg Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Douglas M. Griffin Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL September 30-October 6 DEEPWATER HORIZON (Info Above) Start time: 15:45, 20:00, 22:30 Ticket: 10-14 GEL THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (Info Above) Start time: 14:45, 19:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL SULLY Directed by Clint Eastwood Cast: Tom Hanks, Anna Gunn, Laura Linney Genre: Drama Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL SAUSAGE PARTY Directed by Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon Cast: Kristen Wiig, James Franco, Paul Rudd Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 17:30 Ticket: 11-12 GEL MASTERMINDS Directed by Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon Cast: Kristen Wiig, James Franco, Paul Rudd Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 12:30, 22:30 Ticket: 8-14 GEL MUSEUM


The exhibition showcases a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. June 11 – March 11 (2017) EXHIBITION "MEDIEVAL TREASURY" June 16 – December 16 THE EXHIBITION “NEW DISCOVERIES - GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY” The exhibition will be held in the frame of the international conference On Salt, Copper, and Gold: The Origins of Early Mining and Metallurgy in the Caucasus" September 27 – September 22 (2017) EXHIBITION "STONE AGE GEORGIA" The exhibition displays Stone Age of Georgia (1.77 million - 8 thousand years) as well as anthropological material discovered in other parts of the world, presenting the paleoenvironments and evolution of the land fauna from the late Miocene (8-5 million years), and evidence of the dispersal of the early hominins to Southern Caucasian territories. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION Here, visitors can discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors on which visitors can watch documentaries of various historical events. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 September 16 – October 8 Georgian National Museum Tbilisi History Museum in frames of the project "Contemporary Art Gallery" invites you to the exhibition FROM THE SHORES OF THE BLACK SEA The exhibition brings together artists from Georgia - Lia Bagrationi; Romania - Sebastian Moldovan; Turkey - Nezaket Ekici; Bulgaria - Mariana Vassileva; Russia - Iced Architects; Ukraine - Nikita Kadan. Together they bring installations created in different media, including video art and ceramic works. All of the artists share the same source of inspiration - the Black Sea. SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 www.museum.ge September 14 – October 1 GURAM TSERTSVADZE’S PERSONAL EXHIBITION GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze.

June 24, 2016 – June 24, 2017 NIKO PIROSMANASHVILI’S WORKS “YARD CLEANER” AND “EAGLE SEIZING A HARE” Both paintings were in the ownership of Ilya and Kirill Zdanevich until 1930 when Dimitri Shevardnadze bought part of their collection (39 paintings) including the "Yard Cleaner" and "Eagle Seizing a Hare". Today, both paintings are among the collection of the Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts. NATIONAL SCIENTIFIC LIBRARY Address: ¼ M. Aleksidze September 18 – October2 SPYING FUTURE Exhibition Project of Center of Contemporary Art-Tbilisi in the framework of "Tbilisi Science and Innovation Festival 2016.” Various artists Curator: Wato Tsereteli MUSIC

TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 44 66 October 3 GIYA KANCHELI AL NIENTE Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra Nikoloz Rachveli Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-40 GEL TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili Ave. Telephone: 299 00 99 September 30 SUKHISHVILEBI Tengiz Sukhishvili charity foundation and "First Step Georgia" present the charity performance of the Georgian National Ballet "Sukhishvili" to support children with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 35 GEL BUNKERI N5 Address: 5 Vachnadze Str. October 2 MELLOW YELLOW LIVE Start time: 21:00 Ticket: Free BASSIANI Address: 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. September 30 SHlFTED, ZlTTO, HVL Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL 360 TERACCE Address: 44 K. Apkhazi Str. September 30 SVANSIKH / MACHAIDZE Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20 GEL KAKHIDZE MUSIC CENTER Address: 123/125 D. Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 295 01 19 INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL “AUTUMN TBILISI” October 2 AUTUMN TBILISI - DUO GURFINKEL Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 5-20 GEL





Gerda Taro – the First Woman Photographer on the Frontline BY LILY FÜRSTENOW-KHOSITASHVILI


n a series of lectures, panel discussions and film presentations that took place throughout September 2016 in Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung, Berlin, an attempt was made by the organizers to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The impetus of the war was the military putch of Franco on July 19th, 1936 supported by the German and Italian fascists, conservatives and the Church. The Franco putsch was opposed by hundreds of thousands of representatives of the Spanish civil population, people from all walks of life, as well as by progressive writers, intellectuals and artists Europewide. “NO PASARAN” was the slogan that inspired the masses for the fight against fascism and dictatorship and these words still remain in the memories of the following generations as a motto calling for the selfless struggle against genocide, political and military dictatorships of all kinds. The 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War was commemorated by a photo exhibition “Bilder der Solidarität” (Photos of Solidarity) documenting the tragedy of the war, the photos depicting soldiers and ordinary people who volunteered to sacrifice their lives for the cause of justice, those who came to Spain from all over Europe to fight against the fascists. The photos exhibited at the Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung were made by a famous photo reporter Gerda Taro, the first female photojournalist to cover the front

Gerda Taro & Robert Capa in Paris, 1936, by Fred Stein

lines of the Spanish Civil War. She was the close friend and colleague of Robert Capa both of whom documented the war in Spain. Together with works by Taro, visitors can see photographs by writer-photographer Alfred Kantorowicz. Taro's photos were discovered in 2007 in the so-called Mexican Suitcase that also contained the negatives of Spanish Civil War photos by Robert Capa and Chim (David Seymour), which had been considered lost since 1939. According to the International Center of Photography these three photographers, who lived in Paris, worked in Spain, and published internationally, laid the foundation for modern war photography. Their work has long been considered some of the most innovative and passionate coverage of the Spanish Civil

War. Gerda Taro sacrificed her life while photographing military events, becoming severely injured while taking photos on the front line during the battle of Brunette in Spain and dying shortly afterwards. Kantorowicz, whose photographs are exhibited together with those of Taro, joined the Tschapaiew Batalillon of 21 nations and documented in his works his comrades in arms. The curator of the exhibition is Dr. Benedikt Behrens. Although not all controversies concerning the historical events of the Civil War in Spain have been solved and the repercussions of the war are still noticeable in our society, commemoration of the war atrocities is fundamental for awareness-raising, especially among the younger generation.


The Long Wait for the Batumi Football Stadium BY MARIAM NATSARISHVILI


ootball is a symbol of unity, support and respect in Georgia. “It used to draw us together at the Stadium to watch football matches to enjoy time with family and friends cheering for our favorite teams. It is unfortunate that over the years one of the most developed cities in Georgia had no stadium,” says Nikoloz Merabishvili, a resident of Batumi. The first stadium in Batumi was built in 1935. With a great location at the seaside it offered fans 18,000 seats. In 2002, the local government started to destroy it aiming to use the area for luxurious hotels and business center by the sea. Four years later, the stadium was gone, forcing local football teams to practice in various venues throughout the regionat Kobuleti stadium ‘Chele-Arena,’ for example, 30 km away from Batumi, or at the small stadium in Ureki. However, after 14 years of this discomfort, Batumi is at last to have its own

20,000 seat stadium as the Government of Adjara has decided to spend 38,000 000 GEL to build a new one. It announced a design contest which the Turkish company Bahadur Kul Architects won. The company has designed 22 stadium projects and 17 sport centers all around the world, including in Turkey and Kazakhstan. The new stadium will no longer occupy a prime real estate location near the beach but will be located inland, spread over 8 hectares on Leonidze Street, in the suburbs of Batumi . “The stadium will satisfy the standards of UEFA and FIFA,” said Ramaz Bolkvadze Adjara Minister of Economy and Finance. “In addition, it will also serve the region for holding cultural events such as large scale concerts. The stadium zone will have cafés, shops, parking and comfortable spaces for people to spend time in, and will be fully adapted to the needs of the disabled. The stadium may wellbecome a tourist destination, too,” he added. The façade of stadium is to replicate the Georgian national dance ‘Khorumi,’



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designed to look like dancers who moving and dancing. The stadium will be roofed and will house an elaborate lighting system able to be changed according to the event. The exterior of the stadium will light up in the colors of the flags of Georgia, Adjara AR and Dinamo Batumi. The construction of the stadium is set for completion in 2019. Batumi inhabitants feel positive about the new design of the stadium. They say the project is modern and innovative and hope that local people will find employment there through all stages of construction and after the stadium is built.

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Tim Ogden, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison, Natia Liparteliani

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #883  

Sep. 23 - Oct. 26, 2016

Issue #883  

Sep. 23 - Oct. 26, 2016