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Compiled by Messenger Staff
Friday, June 4
Georgian treasures being removed illegally

Rezonansi writes that illegal archaeology takes place all over the world and in Georgia as well. It is an especial problem in Kakheti, specifically in Sighnaghi, Lagodekhi and Akhmeta, where sculptures from the Mtkvar-Araksi culture from the 14-12 centuries BC are threatened with destruction. The Alazani valley has been completely dug up.

"Rich patrons are behind this illegal archaeology, among them diplomats. Exporting Georgia's ancient treasures is not very difficult for them. This is a large-scale, well-organised business. Different law enforcement structures are involved in the investigation of these activities but the problem is still unsolved. The criminals have not been found yet," Nikoloz Antadze, head of the Department of Cultural Heritage, says. "Ancient bronze artefacts are being continually exported from Georgia. I do not exclude that professional archaeologists are engaged in these activities. Ancient barrows are being mercilessly robbed," he adds.

"Alazani Valley, the site of an ancient town, is in an especially difficult situation. It has been dug up and ancient sculptures have been destroyed. Such illegal archaeology is a deliberate destruction of our cultural heritage and colossal sums seem to be circulating to pay for it. The people responsible buy off local residents, who protect their anonymity.

"The ancient things are sold cheaply. Bronze artefacts are not expensive but their theft seems to be tied to a collector. Some artefacts are being sold by street traders at the so-called Dry Bridge as well: I found one offering an ancient bronze roe and bell, and other things had already been sold. The roe turned out to be necklace costing 1,000Gel and the bell 500Gel… He did not have clay utensils but he promised to contact me about this in a couple of days," Antadze says.

Burjanadze-Okruashvili-Gachechiladze alliance?

Rezonansi writes that according to unofficial information a new alliance will soon be formed between Levan Gacheciladze, Irakli Okruashvili and Nino Burjanadze. Sozar Subari, who has just left the Alliance for Georgia may also join this alliance. Subari says that, “If there is any suggestion I will think about it, have some talks and then decide. I will meet anyone and talk to them,” adding that he does not exclude cooperation with former Minister of Defence Irakli Okruashvili.

Levan Gachechiladze says he is thinking of forming a new alliance. “Today the country needs a political movement with decent politicians and civil society representatives in it,” Gachechiladze says.

Nukri Kantaria: We should start again from the beginning

"The results of the elections were not unexpected but we had hoped to make changes via the elections. This is not the time to justify ourselves, but everything should be called by its proper name. The opposition could not compete fairly but if 70% of Tbilisi residents had participated in the elections the situation would have been radically different," Nukri Kantaria, one of the leaders of Georgian Academy, states in an interview with Kvela Siakhle.

"The members of Georgian Academy suggested that Irakli Alasania be the single opposition candidate. His is a prominent figure and would arouse greater public support if he were the single opposition candidate. Some people were offended by this and some chose not to have a position but that was not the time for such things. We all knew that the elections were not ordinary local government elections but had further political importance. Nevertheless, some politicians did not wish to share victory with the Alliance," Kantaria says.

"Radicalism and the battle to achieve concrete goals should have gone together. Boycotting the elections was unacceptable for me. Boycotting would be reasonable only if the National Movement had been left as the only competing party. The opposition parties can only continue their battle peacefully now," Kantaria continues.

"The political parties should be expanded. There is talk of dissolving the National Council, but which blocs should expand? The Alliance for Georgia should be supplemented by other politicians who share its ideology. Another alliance might also be formed, but I think all the parties should set up a National Salvation Committee in which the leaders put their own ambitions aside and bear responsibility.

"Time was wasted by holding primaries when the leading candidate had already been identified. Everything might have happened differently without them. In fact, we have long way to go before we can hold competitive, normal and calm elections. Today we should start fighting from the beginning again!" Kantaria says.