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Georgia: Tbilisi to reopen opera house that has survived tsars, Soviets, and civil war
27 January 2016 - With funding from the nation's richest man, former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, a new era beckons for the 165-year-old home of Georgian opera and ballet. 'We hope it's a moment of cultural rebirth for Georgia,' says Nina Ananiashvili, the director of Georgia's State Ballet. 'Culture is our face.' Georgia has a rich tradition of performance art dating back centuries, long before it was swallowed up by the Russian empire and then the Soviet Union. (more)

The country of Georgia eyes 5 per cent growth with 2014 budget
11 December 2013 - The Georgian government said on Wednesday it expected the economy to grow by 5 per cent next year, rebounding from an economic slowdown in 2013. The government hopes that its plans to deepen ties with the European Union will stimulate investment and help economic growth in the Caucasus nation of 4.5 million. (more)

Georgian leader vows integration with EU, better ties with Russia
17 November 2013 - Georgian President Georgy Margvelashvili said he was ready to mend ties with Russia strained under his predecessor by a brief war and by trade disputes, but stood by the ex-Soviet state's pro-Western course at his inauguration on Sunday. The former Soviet republic hopes eventually to sign an association agreement, mapping out a closer relationship with the EU. (more)

Wind gets underway in the country of Georgia
23 July 2013 - Georgia's minister of energy and natural resources, Kakha Kaladze, has announced that work has begun on the nation's first wind energy project, planned as a 20-MW pilot installation. Georgia's wind energy initiative was announced in May, at which time Kaladze said plant operations will begin in 2014. 'We have already started to prepare for using the wind farms' power,' he said. (more)

In Georgia, where guest is God, tourism thrives
16 October 2012 - Georgia's Black Sea resort of Batumi was once a bleak site: Roads were dotted with potholes, the city was pitch dark at night, running water was scarce, and the city's best hotel was infested with rats. Today Batumi glitters with neon lights and luxury high-rise hotels dot its skyline. The transformation of the ancient city of 180,000 near the border with Turkey is a vivid example of Georgia's drive to capitalize on its tourism potential, boosting the economy of an ex-Soviet nation where roughly one person in five lives in poverty. The government has attracted top foreign investors to build hotels and develop and renovate tourist sites. And it has aggressively marketed Georgia as a tourism hot spot. (more)

Former Soviet Republic of Georgia to abolish visas for Russians
28 February 2012 - Georgia will abolish visas for Russians as it tries to attract bigger investment, President Mikheil Saakashvili said on Tuesday in a rare gesture of goodwill between the former Soviet republics, which fought a war in 2008. Saakashvili, who came to power in 2003, said Tbilisi wanted to abolish visas to send a signal to Russian businessmen and tourists that Georgia would welcome them. (more)

Georgian National Ballet a family dance with history
9 February 2012 - Founded nearly 70 years ago by the husband and wife team of Iliko Sukhishvili and Nino Ramishvili and initially named the Georgian State Dance Company, the troupe from the Georgian National Ballet has travelled from the back offices of suspicious state and party officials in 1945 to some of the greatest stages in the world. Georgian dance history goes back many centuries and reflects the national character and ancient history of Georgia, a tiny Caucasus country sandwiched between Russia and Turkey. (more)

South Ossetia picking first President since war
13 November 2011 - Voters in Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia were choosing a new President on Sunday for the first time since Georgia and Russia fought a brief war over control of the territory in 2008. Russia and a handful of other countries have recognized South Ossetia's independence, but the international community still considers it part of Georgia. Preliminary results are expected on Monday. (more)

Breakaway Georgian region elects President
27 August 2011 - Alexander Ankvab, the Vice President of the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia, was preliminarily declared the winner of the Presidential election Saturday. The Presidential election is the first in Abkhazia -- sandwiched geographically between the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains -- since Russia recognized its independence in 2008. (more)

Georgian church leader calls for peace with Russia
28 July 2011 - The religious leader of Georgia has asked the Russian Orthodox Patriarch to reconcile the two countries that fought a brief war in 2008. On a visit to Kiev on Thursday, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church Catholicos Ilya II asked Russian Patriarch Kirill to 'restore friendship and brotherhood between our people'. Kirill vowed to pray 'to restore peace between people, nations, and countries'. (more)


Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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Georgia: Learning about Consciousness-Based Education and Stress-Free Schools
3 January 2015 - The country of Georgia was represented at an international training course in Consciousness-Based Education at Maharishi European Research University (MERU) in the Netherlands this past year. Participants learned about Consciousness-Based Education and how to bring the benefits of this award-winning system of education, the goal of which is to systematically develop students' full creative potential, to their schools at home. Several experts in this field also visited Georgia, in person or via Skype, the latter including legendary filmmaker David Lynch. Mr Lynch addressed a class of university students and faculty in Theatre and Cinema about his recently released documentary film, Meditation, Creativity, Peace. (more)

Georgia: Film school students, faculty enthusiastic for Consciousness-Based Education
31 May 2014 - During a recent visit to Georgia, Dr Ashley Deans, Executive Director of Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in the USA, who also serves as Global Ambassador for Consciousness-Based Education, met with top filmmakers, explained the principles of Consciousness-Based Education to news media, and hosted a Skype call with filmmaker David Lynch, founder of the David Lynch Foundation, with students and faculty at the national film school. (more)

Ukraine and Georgia: Business leaders, educators, students enthusiastic for Transcendental Meditation
12 July 2013 - While touring Eastern Europe and the Caucasus region this year, Dr Bevan Morris, President of Maharishi University of Management in the USA, met with students in Georgia who were enthusiastic to learn more about the benefits of Consciousness-Based Education, an essential element of the MUM educational programme. He also met with educators, as well as business leaders in Ukraine who are working to make Transcendental Meditation available to many more people in the country. (more)


Flops
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Zoo animals roam free in Georgia's capital after flooding (with AP video)
14 June 2015 - Tigers, lions, a hippopotamus, and other animals escaped from the zoo in Georgia's capital after heavy flooding destroyed their enclosures, prompting authorities to warn residents in Tbilisi to stay inside Sunday. At least 12 people have been killed in the disaster, including three zoo workers. Heavy rains and wind hit Tbilisi during the night, turning a normally small stream that runs through the hilly city into a surging river. The flooding also damaged dozens of houses. (more)

Nuclear black market active in the former Soviet Union
10 December 2012 - Despite years of effort and hundreds of millions of dollars spent in the fight against the illicit sale of nuclear contraband, the black market remains active in the countries around the former Soviet Union. Radioactive materials, mostly left over from the Cold War, include nuclear bomb-grade uranium and plutonium, and dirty-bomb isotopes like cesium and iridium. The extent of the black market is unknown, but a steady stream of attempted sales of radioactive materials in recent years suggests smugglers have sometimes crossed borders undetected. Georgia in particular has become a transit point for nuclear material. Since the formation of a special nuclear police unit in 2005 with US help and funding, 15 investigations have been launched in Georgia and dozens of people arrested. The smuggling cases suggest that the trade in radioactive materials is driven at least in part by poverty and the lingering legacy of Soviet corruption in a hardscrabble region. (more)

Georgia: Nuke black market smuggling
9 December 2012 - Georgia's proximity to the large stockpiles of Cold War-era nuclear material, its position along trade routes to Asia and Europe, the roughly 225 miles (360 kilometers) of unsecured borders of its two breakaway republics, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and the poverty of the region may explain why the nation of 4.5 million has become a transit point for nuclear material. Georgian officials say the radioactive material in the five new cases this year all transited through Abkhazia, which borders on Russia and has Russian troops stationed on its territory. The extent of the black market is unknown, but a steady stream of attempted sales of radioactive materials in recent years suggests smugglers have sometimes crossed borders European undetected. Georgian officials see links between cases involving highly enriched uranium, which in sufficient quantity can be used to make a nuclear bomb. Porous borders and the poverty of the region contribute to the problem. (more)

Georgia continuing forced refugee evictions
5 August 2011 - Rights watchdog Amnesty International urged Georgia on Friday to halt the forced eviction of refugees from the capital, warning that for many the policy amounted to fresh displacement. The evictions, which began in mid-2010, are the latest attempt to tackle a massive refugee problem stemming from conflicts in the early 1990s in the rebel Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and again in 2008 when Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war. 'The authorities have added to their sense of insecurity by evicting them without adequate consultation, notice or access to legal remedies,' Amnesty International said. The watchdog's report warned the evictions were in violation of Georgia's obligations under international human rights law. (more)

West condemns Georgia's divisive war spoof
15 March 2010 - Western envoys on Monday condemned a fake news report in Georgia that Russian tanks had entered the capital, wading into a row that has exposed deep divisions over opposition attempts to mend ties with Moscow. Saturday's 20-minute primetime report on pro-government Imedi TV caused panic 18 months after the ex-Soviet neighbours fought a five-day war. Shock has given way to accusation over the politics behind the broadcast. EU special envoy to the South Caucasus Peter Semneby said the stunt did not help stability in Georgia and the region. 'It seems to have created further internal political divisions. It may even have been intended to do so,' he told Reuters. (more)

Television 'war' hoax sparks panic in Georgia
14 March 2010 - Georgia's opposition accused the government on Sunday of being behind a fake primetime news report that Russian tanks had entered the capital at the call of the opposition, causing widespread panic. For many Saturday night viewers, the 20-minute report on pro-government Imedi TV thrust the country back to its five-day war with Russia in August 2008. The report laid out a scenario in which opposition leaders called on Russian forces now stationed in South Ossetia to intervene in political unrest following mayoral elections in Tbilisi, which are due by the end of May. Imedi, which is run by a close ally of President Mikheil Saakashvili, did not hide the fact the report was in response to two opposition leaders meeting separately with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin late last year and this month. The aim, it said, was to demonstrate how events might unfold. Introduced as a simulation of 'the worst day in Georgian history', the report then ran without a banner making clear it was not real. Mobile phone networks crashed and the emergency services reported a spike in calls. Many Georgians rushed home, and some Russian media interrupted their regular programming. (more)

Georgia accuses Russia of Black Sea detentions
11 November 2009 - Georgia said Wednesday Russian forces had detained five Georgian citizens off the Black Sea coast near the breakaway Russian-backed region of Abkhazia, and accused Moscow of trying to escalate tensions. South Ossetian authorities are holding four Georgian teenagers arrested last week in the breakaway capital Tskhinvali and accused of carrying grenades and other explosive material. The Georgian Foreign Ministry said Russian forces had 'kidnapped' the fishing teenagers. 'The Kremlin employs such methods in order to escalate the situation in the territories adjacent to Georgia's occupied regions and provide all preconditions to push the conflict into a 'hot' stage,' the Foreign Ministry said. Some 21 Georgian villagers were detained in South Ossetia last month and accused of illegally crossing the border to search for wood. The poorly-defined boundary line runs through agricultural land. (more)

Factbox - Facts about the 2008 war in Georgia
30 September 2009 - An unjustified Georgian assault on breakaway South Ossetia started last year's five-day war with Russia, a report sponsored by the European Union said on Wednesday. It also criticized Russia, saying its response to the Georgian military strike went 'beyond reasonable limits'. Following are some key facts about the conflict. (more)

Georgia blamed for starting war with Russia
30 September 2009 - An independent report blamed Georgia on Wednesday for starting last year's five-day war with Russia, but said Moscow's military response went beyond reasonable limits and violated international law. The report commissioned by the European Union said both sides had broken international humanitarian laws and found evidence of ethnic cleansing against ethnic Georgians during Russia's intervention in the rebel province of South Ossetia. Each side said the report backed up its interpretation of the war. But the findings were particularly critical of US ally Georgia's conduct under President Mikheil Saakashvili and are likely to further damage his political standing. (more)

Georgia the main loser from EU war report - Analysis
30 September 2009 - The findings of a long-awaited EU report on last year's Georgia-Russia war are likely to hurt Tbilisi more than Moscow. Both sides were quick to claim the report justified their own interpretations of the five-day war. Moscow focussed on the finding that Georgia began hostilities while Tbilisi preferred the finding that months of provocation preceded the war. But the phrase most likely to resonate is the comment by Heidi Tagliavini, head of the fact-finding mission, that 'it was Georgia which triggered off the war when it attacked Tskhinvali with heavy artillery on the night of 7 to 8 August 2008.' With Russia feeling bolder, Georgia short of friends, and tension running high along the South Ossetia-Georgia border, the risk of fresh conflict remains high -- a point the report emphasises. (more)

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