In the Georgian village of Ergneti, many still look at the South Ossetian peace process down the barrel of a gun. But villagers and the Georgian government hope that, one day, progress will be measured by growing trade at the local market.
Hundreds of spectators drop their jaws and look up to watch a man suspended from the ceiling by his arms. His wife, suspended above him, steps on his head, then his back, and twirls him like a pinwheel as they slowly float down to the center of the ring.
Grappling with widespread poverty and the need for cash to finance multi-faceted reforms, President Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration in Georgia is pumping up gambling as a revenue solution. For now, though, foreign investors don’t like the odds of success.
Twenty-year-old Issac Nyengue, a defender from Cameroon, a football hotbed in Africa, was looking for a little payday and a chance to gain valuable experience in what he thought was a professional European league. So he seized on an opportunity to go the South Caucasus country of Georgia, which aspires to host the 2020 European Football Championships.
The tug-of-war over Forbes billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian citizenship may now be approaching a dénouement, but a national probe into the financing of his Georgian Dream opposition coalition still raises concerns among watchdog groups about how far Georgia’s commitment to competitive parliamentary elections this fall actually goes.
During the Soviet era, international athletic competition was often seen as an extension of politics. Fans exuded a similar vibe during a recent rugby contest between the Georgian and Russian national teams in Tbilisi.
It might not be Tbilisi’s oldest legitimate profession, but, arguably, it is its most idiosyncratic. And there are signs it may be dying out, for few people are interested in becoming masseurs in Abanotubani, Tbilisi’s legendary bathhouse district.
Tbilisi resident Maya Sartania was already in the third stage of breast cancer when, some 14 years ago, she went to a doctor to see about a lump in her chest. An immediate mastectomy saved her life, but not all Georgian women are as lucky.