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Company is supporting sacked theatre boss

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, February 16
Merab Berekashvili was appointed the new Head of the Sokhumi Konstantine Gamsakhurdia Theatre of Tbilisi on February 15. Dali Khomeriki, Minister of Education and Culture of the legal Abkhazian Government, appointed him after dismissing former head Dimitri Jaiani on February 12 following an Abkhazia Chamber of Control report which revealed serious financial machinations in the management of the theatre.

“Dimitri Jaiani can rightly say that all the violations outlined in the report are not serious. But as the Minister responsible for the theatre I have to react and demand transparency in the budget,” Khomeriki explained. “The Ministry checked the theatre's finances for a month to avoid making any precipitate conclusions. We postponed taking action three times, but unfortunately the report's contents forced us to dismiss Jaiani. I express my gratitude for Jaiani’s good work in running the theatre for so long and hope he will remain the one of the leading actors of the Sokhumi Theatre. Meanwhile I am absolutely sure that the new head of the theatre will fulfill his obligations and enhance the prestige the theatre has achieved during these years,” she added.

The newly appointed Berekashvili, who has acted in the Sokhumi Theatre for 25 years, discussed the challenges of the theatre with his staff. He said they will negotiate long term cooperation with several important producers and change the situation in the theatre and achieve success together. “I already have several candidates for the post of Senior Producer, whose merits I will discuss with the company before making further decisions. I understand Dimitri Jaiani’s attitude towards my appointment, but I hope he will finally support my tenure. He may feel that my appointment was incorrect, but we should all care about the theatre’s success together,” Berekashvili stated. Jaiani said that he himself would have appointed a Senior Producer if needed. “I would definitely have chosen one but then I wouldn’t have been able to invite such great producers as Robert Sturua, Temur Chkheidze, etc who have brought so many plays to our stage,” explained Jaiani.

Jaiani's notice of dismissal said that he was being removed due to the results of an inspection of the theatre conducted from 2006-2008. Jaiani has said that he called the former head of the Abkhazian Control Chamber Zviad Chkadua who told him that the Chamber of Control board had not discussed the issue of the theatre at all while Dali Khomeriki said Jainai was fired for administrative reasons. “The results presented by the Control Chamber reflect the situation during 2006-2008. The Chamber gave us recommendations about them as they considered the violations very trivial. If the Government thinks I am guilty of something important why didn’t it dismiss me in 2008 when this report was actually published?” Jaiani asked. “This is political persecution against me as I am an opponent of the Government,” he added.

Producers, writers, and other prominent public figures support the former Head of the Sokhumi Theatre. They all regret that the Government has finally managed to split it. Dimitri Jaiani has said that the most painful thing about it was that Merab Berekashvili, a friend who had opposed his dismissal, betrayed him at the very last moment. “It’s beyond my understanding how they have managed to change Berekashvili’s mind so much in just a month and a half. The threatre will now split as most of the company will not obey him,” Jaiani regretted.

Producer Gogi Kavtaradze has said that more violations take place in other theatres in Tbilisi but their managers are not prosecuted because they are obedient to the Government of Georgia. “The Government doesn’t need Abkhazia and Samachablo any more. They seem to be more bothered by this issue, and have decided to abolish the theatre,” Sandro Mrevlishvili, another producer added. Nukri Kantaria from the Georgian Academy suggested that the company should negotiate with Merab Berekashvili in the hope that he will change his decision.

The company of the Sokhumi Konstantine Gamsakhurdia Theatre says that they will support Dimitri Jaiani and refuse to cooperate with the new head of the theatre. Berekashvili will only have three or four artists to call on, they say, who have only ever played a few small roles.