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For the first time on May 30, mayoral candidates must not only be directly elected by the voters rather than selected via party list, but also must gain at least 30 percent of the total vote. But will that 30 percent threshold, a compromise inserted after fierce debate between the parties about this powerful political post, help guarantee a competitive election?

Eka Siradze, the leader of International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) thinks that the threshold should be a measure of fairness in voters’ minds. In lots of countries there are different systems, she said, but “the mayor, being elected in the threshold system, will have more powerful mandate, than a mayor being elected without a threshold.”

The debate around the threshold pitted Mayoral Candidate Irakli Alasania’s National Alliance for Georgia party, which demanded a 50 percent threshold, against the incumbent mayor Gigi Gugalava’s and President Mikael Saakashvili’s ruling National Movement party, which advocated no threshold at all. The debates ended with the 30 percent middle choice proposed by the Christian Democrats.

But is that threshold high enough to guarantee a competitive race? Current polling figures show Gugalava ahead by a comfortable 38 percent. Meanwhile, only 13 percent of voters say they support Alasania, with other opposition party candidates coming in much lower. An additional 16 of voters were undecided, according to the poll, which was conducted by the Caucasus Resource Research Center (CRRC) last November. The poll was conducted randomly among 2000 Tbilisi residents and contained a +/- 3 percent margin of error.

From Various

A higher threshold was also the choice for most Tbilisi residents, according to the CRRC research, conducted at the request of NDI to assess voter attitudes and trends. Eighty percent of Georgians answered that a threshold during the mayoral election is needed. Only 6 percent of that group thought a 30 percent threshold was adequate, while the vast majority (60 percent) consider a 50 percent threshold or more to be the best suggestion.

From Various

Though Alasania threatened to withdraw from the mayor’s race when the threshold was set at 30 percent, he later changed his mind. Victor Dolidze, Chief Executor of Alliance for Georgia, explains that that 50 percent threshold was not a do-or-die requirement for their leader.

“We still think that 50 percent was absolutely appropriate for this situation but, as the government did not take this correct step, we agreed on a 30 percent threshold,” he said. It was the right move, apparently: according to the NDI survey:, 43 percent of Tbilisi citizens sare against the idea of Alasania’s boycotting elections and only 20 percent think that boycotting would be right.

From Various

“Certainly the 50 percent, at this certain period of our county, increases the chance for the mayor’s race to move to a second round,” said Tamar Zhvania, director of United Nations Development Programme Georgia (UNDP Georgia). “But to define the 50 percent threshold as an ultimate way out is impossible in terms of democratic standards. There is no direct approach to ideal election standards in the modern world so we can’t say for sure that thresholds might have a drastic significance during this election. “

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Surati-3960Georgia agreed with the ambassadors of EU Political and Security Committee about the special visa regime with EU countries. This was declared by the Foreign Minister of Georgia, Grigol Vashadze after the meeting of EU 27 ambassadors in Radisson SAS Iveria Hotel, on November 13.

“I don’t like speaking about things before it is officially signed as a document but I can explain the double responsibilities the simplified visa regime will bring to both sides. For EU this is to give Georgian citizens possibility to travel along the EU countries more easily and in our turn we should brush up our legislation in that way to be suitable for the standards of simplified visa regime”, stated Vashadze at the press conference.

Surati-3964Another important issue about which the minister spoke with EU ambassadors was the support of the union towards Georgia. The Sewdish Presidency of the EU political and security committee Olof Skoog stated after the meeting that EU tries its best to change situation in future and spread its monitoring along the whole country. They say that they try to change the position of Russia towards this issue but it is vain yet. “We continue in Brusels to discuss the issue about preceding our mission and mandate problems”, said the head of the delegation Olof Skoog.

Vashadze also added that in spite of the fact the mission’s monitoring borders are limited, the mission is successful in Georgia. He added that at present EU mission is actively involved in the process of returning back four teenagers kidneped by the separatists from village Tirdznisi. Vashadze also added that, according to separatists , the health condition of four teenagers is not under danger.

Closed door meeting lasted 45 minutes. Before this EU ambassadors held meetings with the Prime Minister Nika Gilauri at first, then with the State Minister of Reintegration Issues Temur Iakobashvili. Before meeting with the Foreign Minister, the delegation had lanch with Mikheil Saakashvili at the President Palace. After the meeting with Vashadze, EU ambassadors held their last meeting of the day with non-parliament opposition leaders.

Sopo Datishvili

Shorena Kopaleishvili

Zura Balanchivadze

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Surati-3839Students of 50 public schools in Tbilisi are taking part in literary competition arragned by the youth organization Davitianni, under patronage of Georgian Patriarchate. The competition was held in Sameba Cathedral on November, 11.

The participants of the competition are the students from VIII to  XII classes. The 7 themes for literary competition Tergi 2009  was chosen by the Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II. The most popular topics appeared to be: Patriotism, Role of Freedom and The Value of Human Life. “Our life is invaluable, we should appreciate it,” said Ani Gabriadze, one of the participants.

Surati-3838During the competition students were not limited in the  types of writing. Students were chosen in the first part of the competition locally at there schools. The main criterion was their creativity: each student had to present at least 5 of his works. Nominations for the winners are not established yet but, as the organizers say, the works of winner/s of the first 3 places will be published as a book. The manager of Davitianni School Programs, Tamta Chikovani, says: “The main surprise is that winners will meet the Patriarch and get the bless of his holiness.”

The winners of Tergi 2009 will be known on November, 26. The organizers say that in future the competition will cover the whole country.

Sopo Datishvili

Shorena Kopaleishvili

Zura Balanchivadze

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Surati-3814NGO Former Political Prisoners for Human rights are going to start protest rally on November 23 if the points of the resolution accepted on November 7, 2009 aren’t taken into the consideration by the government. It was declared on the press conference on November 9.

The resolution, consists of three main issues: Freedom to the political prisoners, Freedom of speech (to restore the right of ownership on the seized TV channels), Free and just environment for any kind of elections.

Surati-3823The representatives have some plans for the rally preparations.The member of the Movement November 7, Jaba Jishkariani said that the society should unite for expressing their firm position towards the injustice in the country. “I convoke all the students to join the protest. Our organization is going to hold meetings with the different university students and in that way we will spread our flanks to the young people”, Jishkariani stated.

The head of the NGO Political Prisoners for Human Rights, Nana Kakabadze stated “Today we are going to take the copies of resolution to the legislative branch and to the president’s office and on Wednesday we will hand the resolution to the EU mission in Georgia, also to the US embassy”.

The lawyer Davit Liluashvili who was also presented at the press conference stated that freedom of speech, political prisoners and unjust court are those problems around which the society should on November 23. He also added that November 7, 2009 street protest was just demonstration of the public demands towards the government, so it didn’t matter how many people stood at the street meeting. Liluashvili and also other representatives of the NGO think that the major massage of the people was already uttered on that demonstration.

Maia Eloshvili, the wife and lawyer of a political prisoner Vakhtang Talakhadze, detained in 2006 as a member of the political association Georgian Movement, says that her husband was sentenced without any reason. “We don’t even ask for the amnesty because my husband wasn’t guilty consequently there is nothing to be pardoned”, Eloshvili added.

Still it isn’t known which political parties will join the initiative of the NGO about November 23 rally.  Nana Kakabadze stated that to her surprise there wasn’t vivid position of the opposition leaders about the idea of the demonstration. “The initiative of the street demonstration comes from us. On Saturday demonstration there were mostly the common citizens then oppositional faces, because we protect their demands and our aim isn’t political positions.  Those who think that our demands towards the government is fair, can join us”, added Kakabadze.

The leader of the People’s Part Koba Davitashvili is among those who is going to attend protest rally on November 23. “Our party will stand with them if the paragraphs from the resolution aren’t taken into consideration by the government. We were with the NGOs on Saturday and we will be there in future as well”, stated Davitashvili on telephone interview.

Sopo Datishvili

Shorena Kopaleishvili

Zura Balanchivadze

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746px-Shawarma_ad_Istanbul_(01.10.2008)OMG, I don’t know what to think about while thinking only about my final story 😦 …But I hope that Turkish Shawarma in Tbilisi is a good idea. Despite that I love eating shawarma, I try to be suspicious. In Georgia we very often face with hygiene untidiness, food made God knows where, how and by whom, products sold in dirty and untidy places. Unfortunately, shawarma is one of them.

While writing about this delicious food, firstly I’d ask a comment about Georgian Food … the institution which regulates safety and quality of food in Georgia. I’d ask what do they know about shawarma centers. It’s also interesting to know how they control cleanness  in that places. It would be better to know the approximate number of shawarma centers.

Then I’d go to a doctor who would explain what kind of illnesses and toxins a human might gain from bad shawarma. I’d also apply to several hospitals’ statistics to find out the number of patients with same symptoms.

After that I’d go and ask people near shawarma centers to know whether they eat shawarma and how often they do it. I’d also ask if they are sure in their food’s safety.

Finally I’d ask a comment to shawarma sellers. I’d like them to show the whole process of shawarma’s making. From roasting a meat to wrapping it in bread. I’d also find their opinion about bad quality shawarmas and know their opinion where they are being sold.

And after finishing a story, I’m sure I’ll have known at least one place where the real shawarma is made and I’d eat a big one! 😛

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evropagunGeorgian group of women chess players got the second place in European Individual Chess Championship 2009 which was held in Novi Sad, Serbia.  

Georgian players succeeded in championship with 16 points, _ official site of Georgian Chess Federation reports. Georgian group succeeded in 9 tours and got 7 points, they also had 2 draw-games. Georgia could not manage to outrun Russian group in individual points score. Players got silver medals. According to chess players Georgian group faced with Russian and took over them. In spite of this, while counting total points, it turned out that Georgia comes after Russia.

Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava met Georgian chess player women and rewarded them with 1500 GEL. The president of Georgian Chess Federation also attended the meeting.

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P1210588Tbilisi has a renewed Philharmonic Concert Hall. It was being repaired nearly for a year. On October 20 The Three Tenors charity concert was held by Paata Burchuladze’s fund Iavnana.

While searching a booking-office in a renewed building, I found that it has not changed at all: I was looking for at list a bit more light there. But… the same old wooden walls, casher, even windows were the same. So, the variants of leaving an old booking-office are:

  1. It was such a relic that couldn’t have been even touched
  2. Repair works organizers forgot existence of booking-office
  3. They saved money and used for repairing something else, that is more visible from Melikishvili Ave.
  4. Nobody had thought of booking-office… because it isn’t round-shaped and has no glass walls

Besides this, the whole construction of Philharmonic hasn’t been finished yet. On the picture above it is can bee seen that the right and left sides from the entrance not finished yet. As I found out from the workers soon there will be Café. As for the hall itself, the balcony is as narrow as before. Moreover, the same old and dusty wooden desks cover the internal side of it.

According to this information I would investigate the reconstruction of Philharmonic. I’d interview the chief of the process. I’d like also to show the map of reconstruction. I’d interview the workers and ask about quality of materials. I’d call in the Tbilisi City Hall to find out which company sponsored the reconstruction and what sum was spent for it.

It would be a feature story with the chief constructor as the main figure. I suppose that good focus would be to walk through the building and ask for some details that seem to be not repaired.

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