Saturday, September 28, 2013

PHOTO ESSAY: Georgia: Two Decades Later, Still Searching for the Missing. By Paul Rimple, Molly Corso, and Justyna Mielnikiewicz (eurasianet.org)

(photogallery: eurasianet.org) The last time 76-year-old Venera Oshoridze saw her son, Kakha, was September 15, 1993.

A pensive 20-year-old who loved his friends, his mother’s fried potatoes, and dreamed of going to college, Kakha volunteered to fight in the Abkhaz war just days before Tbilisi lost the battle for Sokhumi on September 27, 1993.
“He wasn’t like the others. He was a quiet boy, always thinking about something,” Oshoridze said, pointing to photo of a serious young man with solemn brown eyes. 

Both of Oshoridze’s sons went to war, but while her elder son returned, Kakha vanished without a trace. Like nearly 2,000 other men and women (most of them Georgian) from the 1992-1993 war between Tbilisi and separatist forces in Abkhazia, he has been missing for the past two decades. 

Immediately after the conflict, Oshoridze started looking for her son, as scores of Abkhaz and Georgian parents joined forces to locate, identify and, when possible, rebury their children. 

The grassroots effort, eventually led by the Georgian non-governmental organization Molodini (Expectations) and the Abkhaz NGO Mothers of Abkhazia for Peace & Social Justice, used personal connections and references from government officials to find answers. 

Georgian parents like Oshoridze traveled to Abkhazia to search, learning firsthand of their children’s deaths through scraps of clothing and body remains. Working together with the Abkhaz, they unearthed and identified bodies based on fragments -- a bandaged arm, dollars folded in a pocket, the remains of a synthetic jacket.

Eventually, the bilateral search helped return 314 bodies to Abkhaz and Georgian families, according to historian Vladimir Dobordjginidze, who, together with the current Georgian state minister for reintegration, Paata Zakareishvili, was involved in the initial project. 

Finding the missing and returning the dead, noted Dobordjginidze, whose son, Zura, disappeared during the fight for Sokhumi, is a non-political issue that provided a connection between Abkhaz and Georgians. “We had great contacts [with the Abkhaz],” he said. “My son died, but that does not mean I am mad at them. We met as ordinary people.”

The Abkhaz also emphasize the “humanitarian” nature of the initiative. “In the Caucasus, it’s important to go to your loved one’s grave. [It’s] like a birthday,” said Asida Lomaia, a project associate for the Mothers of Abkhazia for Peace & Social Justice. Her cousin, Arzamet Tarba, is among those missing. 

“It doesn't matter what nationality -- you keep hope that they may be alive.”
The 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, which resulted in Moscow formally acknowledging breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, has complicated the search for the missing.


The last exchange, in 2006, involved the return of 62 bodies from a mass grave of 95 Georgians at Sokhumi’s Babushera Airport. (And the return of the living as well -- two young women, said Dobordjginidze).

Another two bodies from Sokhumi were sent to Georgian families “via independent channels” this spring, according to Leonid Lakerbaia, Abkhazia’s de-facto prime minister.


The 2008 war heightened the sensitivity of these joint searches for both sides, but also provided a new urgency for finding the missing. Inspired by the success of an ICRC-organized mission in breakaway South Ossetia, the Abkhaz and Georgians agreed to a Red-Cross proposal for a similar format for identifying the missing from the 1992-1993 war.

Kakhaber Kemoklidze, head of the analytical department at the Ministry of Interior Affairs in Tbilisi, said the ministry, which keeps records on missing individuals from the Abkhaz war, is willing to help efforts to locate and identify the missing. But, Kemoklidze added, it is as much an issue of trust as it is of political will.

Cooperation with de-facto Abkhaz authorities has not always been easy, Kemoklidze noted, adding that the ICRC’s role as mediators is “really important and invaluable.”

Lakerbaia agreed that the present operation would not be possible without the Red Cross’ help. “I don’t see any straight cooperation with Georgia possible,” he said, “but we have a common goal -- to find unknown remains, identify them and return them to their relatives. That’s the main task for all of us.”

Under the ICRC’s oversight, two official representatives from each side meet once a year in neutral locations, such as Istanbul, Kyiv and Yerevan, to compare and exchange lists of names and information on gravesites. The information includes how bodies were buried, their condition, and the names of any witnesses of the death or burial. 

Agreement now has been reached to continue the search at Sokhumi’s Glory Park, where the bodies and remains of 63 unknown individuals are buried. The ICRC recently sent DNA samples from this first batch of remains, exhumed by Argentine forensic scientists, to Zagreb, Croatia for comparison with DNA from families of the missing. Russia, which has troops stationed in Abkhazia, is not involved in the process.

Meanwhile, the families wait. “The exhumation process for many mothers is a starting process of non-acceptance to acceptance. The families need some sense of closure,” said Khatuna Logua, a psychologist at the ICRC office in Sokhumi.
Psychological counselling for these families, whether in Sokhumi or Georgian-controlled territory, has not been an official priority. “Some people don’t want to believe their relatives are dead,” said Logua. “You hear people talk of fantasies of secret prisons [containing the missing] on both sides.”

So far, noted Oshonidze and other Georgian parents, time has worked against identification efforts. Surviving family members of the missing have died or moved, taking with them vital information that could help identify bodies.
For Georgian pensioner Tristin Andriadze, whose son, Konstantin, went missing in October 1993, the only hope is that families on both sides will be given another chance to find their loved ones. “After so many years, it is likely they are dead, but, in my heart, I still have hope that something will be found; at least, where they were buried,” he said. 

Editor's Note: 
Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of Investor.ge, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia. Paul Rimple is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi. Justyna Mielnikiewicz is a freelance photojournalist also based in Tbilisi.

GEORGIEN: Täglich grüßt der Diktator. Von Friedrich Zimmermann (zeit.de)

(zeit.de) In Stalins Geburtsort Gori soll ein Denkmal des Sowjetherrschers wieder aufgerichtet werden. Auf Spurensuche in einer seltsamen Stadt. Ein Leserartikel


Das Stalin-Museum in Gori, dem Geburtsort des Sowjetherrschers in Georgien
Das Stalin-Museum in Gori, dem Geburtsort des Sowjetherrschers in Georgien  |  ©Friedrich Zimmermann
Im Zug von Tiflis Richtung Schwarzmeerküste. In Gori bin ich der einzige, der aussteigt. Bin nur ich so verrückt, mir den hiesigen Stalin-Kult anzuschauen? Oder sind die Verrückten einfach schon hier? Schließlich will die Stadt die monumentale Statue des Diktators wieder aufstellen, die der georgische Präsident Saakaschwili erst 2010 abreißen ließ. Was ist los mit dieser Stadt?

Der Taxifahrer bringt mich vom Bahnhof in die Innenstadt. Ich frage ihn, wo denn das Denkmal vor drei Jahren gestanden habe. "Genau vor dem Rathaus." Er scheint die Frage zu kennen. Ich steige aus und laufe auf der Stalin-Allee zum Stalin-Museum. Die Gartenanlage des Museums mit Springbrunnen, kleinen Brücken und Kandelabern ist das eigentliche Zentrum von Gori.

Erst einmal frühstücken. In dem neuen Gebäudekomplex hinter dem Museum gibt es ein modernes Restaurant. Kein Stalin-Bild an der Wand. Durchs Fenster sehe ich den Parkplatz. Reisebusse fahren vor, ein paar geländegängige Motorräder mit deutschen Nummernschildern und ein Unimog-Reisewohnmobil aus der Schweiz. Ich fühle mich als Teil dieser Gesellschaft neugieriger Globetrotter.

Als Stalin 1953 starb, war ich 13 Jahre alt. Die Erwachsenen um mich herum meinten damals, eine neue, bessere Zeit würde nun beginnen. Endlich könnten auch die deutschen Kriegsgefangenen zurückgeholt werden. Über die Verbrechen Stalins sprach man nur im Vergleich mit Hitler – wenn überhaupt.

Wo ist denn nun die Stalin-Statue?

Das Schild am Eingang zur Touristeninformation bringt mich zurück ins Heute. Ein kühler, praktisch eingerichteter Raum mit Ladentheke und Regalen. Auch hier kein Stalin an der Wand. Drei junge Frauen lächeln mich an, und ich habe das Gefühl, etwas sagen zu müssen. "Wo wird denn die Stalin-Statue im Moment gelagert?", frage ich. "Gut verschlossen, in einem Tresor!", antwortet eine der Frauen. Ich lache, deute auf den Stadtplan von Gori und frage, wo das Denkmal wieder aufgestellt werden soll. Sie zeigt mir den Standort: in der Parkanlage, direkt vor dem Museum. Nicht vor dem Rathaus, wo sie früher stand. Die Antwort klingt ganz selbstverständlich und ich verabschiede mich einigermaßen verblüfft.

Im Andenken-Laden, gleich hinter dem Museum, gibt es von allem etwas. Kunsthandwerk, Kitsch, Postkarten, Typisches aus der Region. Und wo ist Stalin? Da muss man schon genau hinschauen. Eine Kaffeetasse mit seinem Konterfei wird verkauft und ein T-Shirt mit Stalin neben Ché Guevara. Aber Gipsbüsten, Wandteppiche, Ikonen für den Hausaltar? Fehlanzeige.

Jetzt auf ins Museum. Drinnen ein bombastischer Treppenaufgang. Die Räume sind in sanftes Licht getaucht. Schön chronologisch werden die Stationen aus Stalins Leben vorgeführt, von der Geburtsurkunde bis zur Totenmaske. Man lernt einen sympathischen, außergewöhnlich intelligenten Georgier kennen, der die Welt verändert hat. Von den Opfern des Stalinismus kein Wort.

Zu einem Besuch in Gori gehört selbstverständlich auch die Besichtigung des Geburtshauses. Das gemauerte Häuschen steht unter einem großen Baldachin aus Beton und Glas, wetterfest konserviert für alle Ewigkeit. Stalins Eltern wohnten hier als junges Paar, erklärt die Museumsführerin, drei Jahre lang und zur Miete. So wie hier haben offenbar viele Bewohner des Städtchens im 19. Jahrhundert gewohnt: bescheiden und schlicht, aber nicht elend.

Wären da nicht die Insignien der Sowjetunion in der Glaskuppel, das Haus könnte in jedem beliebigen Freilichtmuseum stehen. So bleibt viel Raum für die Fantasie – und reichlich Gelegenheit für die Identifikation mit dem berühmtesten Georgier der Neuzeit.

Mehr zum Thema:
 

CULTURE: The Artist "Pasto" Vazha Mikaberdize

Pasto (Vazha Mikaberdize) - Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, 1967. Studied at the Tbilisi Academy of Arts from 1984-1992. In 1993 he moved to Italy and continued his studies in Riaci Academy in Florence from 1993 to 1995. Currently he lives and works in Pietrasanta, Italy. 

WORKS: Prasto works with materials like plaster, wood, bronze, stainless steel, ceramic. In his works he often refers to the balanced shapes to create the mobile sculptures. His works are part of many private art collections in Italy and abroad.

SELECTED SOLO SHOWS: 2012: Private art space, Parma. Italy. 2000: Galleria La Subbia, Pietrasanta, Italy. 1996: Le Colombier, Ville d' Avrey, France.

SELECTED GROUP SHOWS: 2011: Galerie "Laurianazirkel" Zurich, Switzerland 2008: Artisterium (International exhibition of contemporary art), Tbilisi, Georgia 1997: Galleria Piuma, Milano, Italy

COMMISIONS AND PUBLIC PROJECTS: 2007: International sculpture project Monument to George Balanchine, Tbilisi, St. Petersburg, New York Sponsored by DLA PIPER, ERNST & YOUNG, GEORGIAN CHARITY FOUNDATION "KARTU" AND MADNEULI. 2006: Sculpture installation DLA PIPER, Moscow 2005: Sculptor installation ERNST & YOUNG, Moscow 2004: Monument to Sergey Parajanov Tbilisi 1996: Monument to Niko Pirosmani, Mirzaani, Georgia Commissioned by Ministry of Culture of Georgia.

Friday, September 27, 2013

GEORGIEN: Osmanische Georgier. Eine edle Geschichte von Großwesiren und Sultansmüttern. Von Mesut Cevika (islamische-zeitung.de)

(islamische-zeitung.de) (Zaman). Wussten Sie, dass 17 der osmanischen Großwesire Georgier waren? Kennen Sie die vielen georgischen Wesire und die hunderte georgischer Paschas, die dem osmanischen Reich dienten? Haben Sie schon einmal die Namen von Cevri Kalla oder Dindine ­Hanim gehört? Der erstere rettete Sultan Selim III. vor dem Zugriff eines tödlichen Aufstandes und letzterer führte die Osmanen zu einem Sieg über das russische Militär während des Krimkriegs.

Bekannt als das „Kavm-i Necib (das ehrenvol­le Volk)“ wurden die osmanischen Georgier für ihren Mut und ihre Liebe zum Gemeinwesen (Devlet) respektiert. In unseren Tagen schreiben diese Menschen, die jahrhundertelang in so vielen Positionen dienten, im sprichwörtlichen Sinne erneut ihren Namen in die Seiten der Geschichte. Das Leben von historischen Figuren wie Großwesir Mehmet Sait Pascha, Schaikh Al-Islam Mirza ­Mustafa Efendi, Prinz Sabahattin und dem Gelehrten Ali Haydar Efendi wird heute für alle wiederbelebt, die mehr über ihre Biographien erfahren wollen. Sieben Jahrhunderte lang dienten sie treu dem Osmanischen Reich. Man fand sie auf allen Ebenen der osmanischen Verwaltung – vom Sadrazamlik (einer Ordon­nanz für den Sultan oder den Großwesir), über den Schaikh Al-Islam bis zum Nazirlik (dem Staatsminister).

Der Historiker Murat Kasap streicht in seinem Buch „Osmanli Gürcüler (Osmanische Georgier)“ die Leistungen von 1.200 Georgi­ern heraus, die im Verlauf der Jahrhunderte unterschiedliche Posten im osmanischen Devlet innehatten. Zu den vorgestellten Personen in dem Buch gehören die Mütter der regierenden Sultane (Sultan Valide), ­darunter Mihr-i-Schah Valide Sultan. Dies waren Frauen, die jene Männer erzogen, die Sultane werden sollten. Murat Kasap berührt auch das Leben von Georgiern wie dem Dichter-Pionier und talentierten Musiker Hüseyin Saded­din Arel. Das 480-seitige Buch wurde von der Friends of Georgia International Founda­tion veröffentlicht. Die erste Ausgabe ist bereits vergriffen. Eine neue sowie eine georgische Übersetzung sind in Arbeit.

Der Geschichtswissenschaftler Murat Kasap widmete diesem Buch drei Jahre seines Lebens. Seine detaillierte und gewissenhafte Forschung führte ihn nicht nur in die osmanischen Archive des [türkischen] Ministerpräsi­denten, sondern auch in die Archive des Istan­buler Muftis. In diesem Vorgang ging Kasap durch beinahe jede Chronik und Biogra­fie, die er finden konnten. Am Ende waren rund 50.000 Dokumente gesammelt, die meisten davon in osmanischem Türkisch geschrieben. Außer den vielen Biografien in dem Buch erhalten seine Leser Zugang zu Kasaps Schriften über georgische ­Geschichte, den Prozess des Übertritts von Georgiern zum Islam und eine umfassende Perspektive über die türkisch-georgischen Beziehungen.

Wir fragten Kasap, was ihn zu dieser scheinbar selbst-aufopferungsvollen Aufgabe angetrieben hatte. Die Antwort war ein ­einziges Wort: Neugier. Kasap schloss sein Geschichts­studium ab und widmete dann seine Zeit – mehr als Hobby – der Geschichte seiner eigenen Familie. „Aber dann ging es weiter, denn meine Neugier wurde weiter geweckt. Als die Untersuchung meiner Familienwurzeln endete, wurde ich immer neugieriger über das Leben von Georgiern, die während der osmanischen Ära hier lebten. Im ­Grunde ging es mir darum, den Beitrag meiner Vorfahren zur Schaffung der osmanischen Zivilisation offenzulegen. Was als Hobby begann, entwickelte sich zu einem echten Job. Das Buch ist die Frucht einer Periode der Arbeit.“

Kasap, dessen Mutter türkisch und Vater georgisch ist, hatte einen weiteren Antrieb zum Schreiben dieses Buches: Die Leute an die vergessene Freundschaft zwischen Türken und Georgiern zu erinnern. Wenn wir beden­ken, dass diese Beziehungen zwischen den beiden Völkern bis in die Seldschukenzeit zurückreichen, wird noch deutlicher, wie wichtig die Leistung des Autors war. „Georgier wurden in sehr wichtige Ämter des osmanischen Reiches vom 16. Jahrhundert an erho­ben. Dies waren Positionen wie der Großwe­sir, und manchmal auch Schaikh Al-Islam. Und da die Osmanen die Koexistenz verschiedener Völker, mit unterschiedlichen Identitäten in der gleichen Gemeinschaft förderten, unterstützen die Georgier das Reich mit voller Kraft“, sagte Murat Kasap.

So erklärt der Autor warum die Georgier im osmanischen Türkisch als „Kavm-i Nevib (das ehrenvolle Volk)“ bezeichnet wurden und warum ihnen nachgesagt wurde, große Patrioten zu sein. „In seiner Arbeit ‘Tarih-Cevdet’ (das Geschichtswerk von Cevdet) beschrieb Ahmet Cevdet Pascha einen bestimm­ten georgischen Kommandeur mit den Worten: „Er wurde in den Rang des Paschas erho­ben, wobei seine georgische Herkunft als ­Beweis für die Liebe zur Nation galt.“ Während der osmanischen Zeit sei „Georgier“ gleichbedeutend mit „Patriot“ gewesen. Sie galten als Menschen mit einem reinen Herzen. Evliya Celebi bereiste ganz Georgien und beschrieb, war er dort sah. In seinen Schriften benutzte er ebenfalls den Begriff des ‘Kavm-i Necib’.

Zu den größten religiösen Gestalten, die in dem Buch behandelt werden, zählt Ali Haydar Efendi. Geboren 1870 im Dorf Ahiska nahe Batumi, war Ali Haydar Efendi einer der wichtigsten Gelehrten seiner Zeit. Nach dem Beginn seiner Ausbildung in Ankara ging er nach Erzurum, wo er in der Bakircilar-Madrasssa studierte. 1902 begann er, Unterricht in der Fatih-Moschee zu erteilen und widme­te der muslimischen Gemeinschaft diesen Dienst bis zu seinem Tod im Jahre 1960. In diesem Vorgang bildete er tausende Schüler aus. Murat Kasap traf einen der Enkel des Gelehrten: „Sie wussten, dass Ali Haydar Bey aus Ahiska kam und sich selbst als Georgier betrachtete. Seine Ehefrau sprach ebenfalls Georgisch. Mammut Ustaosmanoglu ­Efendi, einer seiner Schüler, sagte: ‘Ich liebe Georgier. Mein Lehrer war ein Georgier.’“

Der Historiker widerlegt auch die Unterstel­lung, wonach die Osmanen den Georgiern den Islam aufgezwungen hätten. Er schreibt: „Die Russen verbreiteten absichtlich die Idee, dass ‘die Osmanen die Georgier zwangen, Muslime zu werden’. Aber das war nicht wahr. Tatsächlich fiel es den Georgiern sehr einfach, den Islam anzunehmen. Natürlich half dabei auch die Ähnlichkeit beider Kultu­ren. In kurzer Zeit hatten sie mehr Kontakt zu anderen ethnischen Gruppen und dann brachten sie eine erstaunliche Anzahl Gelehr­ter hervor, bauten aber auch alle Arten von Moscheen und Madrassen. Es ­entstanden sogar georgische Schaikh Al-Islams. Die Behauptung, dass die Georgier in den Islam gezwungen wurden, ist also falsch. Wenn die georgische Version des Buches schließlich erscheint, wird dies der russischen ­Propaganda in dieser Angelegenheit einen Schlag ­versetzen.“

Kasap glaubt, dass seine Bücher einen erheblichen Beitrag zur türkisch-georgischen Freundschaft leisten. Der Autor erwähnt die jüngsten Verbesserungen in den Beziehungen zwischen der Türkei und Georgien. Auch die Aufhebung bestimmter Beschränkungen im Grenzverkehr stelle eine Stärkung dieser Freundschaft dar. Murat Kasap sagt: „Ich bin durch ganz Georgien gereist. Immer noch finden sich türkische Traditionen und kultu­relle Bräuche in georgischen Dörfern. Die kleiner werdende Lücke in der Beziehung beider Länder, die sich öffnenden Grenzen und die gegenseitigen Besuche haben alle einen Einfluss auf die Brechung des russischen Einflusses.“

VIDEO: Chermen - Karlo Kelekhsashvili


Karlo Kelekhsashvili from Pichkhovan - Georgia, sing an traditional Ossetian song, which is nearly 80 years old. This song is a very famous song in Ossetia.

PODCAST: Tamuna Latsabidze - Fremdenführerin in Georgien (srf.ch)

(srf.ch) Tamuna Latsabidze ist Fremdenführerin in Georgien. Sie erzählt, was sie an ihrer Arbeit fasziniert, wie sie den Zusammenbruch der Sowjetunion erlebte und wie sie den engen Zusammenhalt georgischer Familien schätzt.

Eigentlich ist die 33-jährige Georgierin Diplom-Übersetzerin. Deutsch lernte sie zuerst in Georgien, und ihre Kenntnisse vertiefte sie in Deutschland an der Universität in deutscher Literatur. Wo sie aber nicht leben möchte, da ihr die Menschen zu kalt und distanziert vorkommen.

Nach ihrer Ausbildung als Fremdenführerin führt sie seit vielen Jahren Gruppen durch Georgien. Ihre Kenntnisse in Kunst und Geschichte vermittelt sie dann ebenso engagiert wie die Besonderheiten der georgischen Mentalität.


Mehr zum Thema: Tbilisi Tourist Center: Tamuna Latsabidze

KONZERT: Georgian Stars in Berlin - ქართველი ვარსკვლავები ბერლინში - 6. Oktober 2013

Giya Kancheli-Extracts from Liturgy for Viola-Giorgi Tsagareli
listen: Giorgi Tsagareli

Herr Gigi Gigiadze
Geschäftsträger a.i von Georgien
gibt sich die Ehre

zum Konzert der georgischen Musiker
am Sonntag, den 6. Oktober 2013 um 19:30 Uhr einzuladen

ins
Piano Salon Christophori
Uferstrasse 8, 13357 Berlin

Gespielt werden Werke von georgischen und europäischen Komponisten
 
IndianapolisChamberOrchestra_DudanaMazmanishvili
listen: Dudana Mazmanishvili


PHOTO BY SALVATORE SPORTATO
listen: Anita Rachvelishvili
Foto Marko GRACIN
listen: Nikoloz Rachveli

CINEDOC TBILISI: 1st International Documentary Film Festival In The Caucasus, 15 - 20. October 2013 (cinedoc-tbilisi.com)


(cinedoc-tbilisi.com) Ciné-DOC Tbilisi Documentary Film Festival – is the first international documentary festival in the South of Caucasus that focuses on creative documentary. The festival will take place from 15 – 20 October 2013 in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. The general audience will have the chance to view a variety of documentary films with a unique directing vision, an original visual style, sympathetic protagonists and powerful stories. Ciné-DOC means creative documentary at its best.
The festival will present award winning films from outside of Georgia as well as local and regional productions.
The festival contains different sections:
-       The International Documentary Competition
-       Focus Caucasus
-       Georgian Panorama
-       CinéDOC Young 
The film screenings will be followed by open discussions and debates, master classes with renowned film directors, open sessions with invited international guests.
For more information on submitting your film, please click here
If you want to apply for an accreditation to attend the screenings please click here
© Ciné-DOC Tbilisi Documentary Film Festival is a project of the NOOSFERA Foundation.
  
INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION 
We are glad to announce you, that the selection commission has completed its selection for the first edition of CinéDOC-Tbilisi. The choice was very difficult, but eleven documentaries have been selected for the international competition. All films are artistic, inspiring, daring in form and storytelling. Documentaries from France, Germany, Chile, Morocco, Russia, Jamaica, Poland, Lithuania and other countries will compete for the main award of the festival.
This is the Line-up for the International Competition:

1. Beyond Wriezen – Daniel Abma (Germany)
2. El otrodía / The other day – Ignacio Agüero (Chile)
3. Songs of Redemption – Amanda Sans & Miquel Galofre (Jamaica)
4. Linar – Nastia Tarasova (Russia)
5. Camera Woman – Karima Zoubir (Morocco)
6. Outro – Julia Panasenko (Russia)
7. Pnomh Penh Lullaby – Pawel Kloc (Poland)
8. Igrushki – Lina Luzyte (Lithuania)
9. PUSSY vs. Putin – Taisiya Krugovikh, Vasily Bogatov (Russia)
10. Taxiway – Alicia Harrison (France)
11. The Shebabs of Yarmouk – Axel Salvatori-Sinz (France)


FOCUS CAUCASUS
The best recent documentaries from the Caucasus region (including neighboring countries: Russia and Turkey) will be presented in the “Focus Caucasus” competition of CinéDOC Tbilisi. Films made by experienced filmmakers, but also films directed by talented first-time directors are part of this section:

FOCUS CAUCASUS
Competition 2013:
1. My Kith and Kin – directed by: Rodion Ismailov (Russia / Azerbaijan)
2. The English Teacher – directed by: Nino Orjonikidze & Vano Arsenishvili (Georgia)
3. Two sides of one horse – directed by: Tatyana Soboleva (Russia)
4. The Last Tightrope Dancer in Armenia – directed by: Arman Yeritsyan & Inna Sahakyan (Armenia)
5. Once upon another time – directed by: Alexandr Baev (Georgia)
6. Oilman – directed by: Seyran Mahmudoglu (Azerbaijan)
7. Overtime – directed by: Gürcan Keltek (Turkey)
8. Then they say he’s crazy – directed by: Amiran Dolidze (Georgia)


GEORGIAN PANORAMA
The Georgian Panorama is dedicated to Georgian documentaries produced during the last 25 years in Georgia.

From the independence of Georgia to the first steps as a young democracy, every single period will be reflected through films: from the early nineties until today. Filmmakers of different generations will present their work and will discuss with the audience after the screenings.


This is the section that will connect film professionals, civil society, decision makers and the general audience.


In the format of round table meetings and post-screening discussions, this section will frontline strong and weak points of Georgian film industry. Georgian directors, in turn, will get the feedback from internationally renowned invited experts.


CINÉ DOC YOUNG
At CinéDOC Young we will screen films dealing with topics important for the development youngsters: from films about children to films on ecology issues, democracy, human rights, gender issues, etc.

Before the festival, the CinéDoc team will run a campaign in schools, where they will present the topics of the films screened in the framework of CinéDoc Young. As an ‘assignment’ pupils will do an artwork or write an essay about specific issues. Their materials will be exhibited at the festival venue.


For CinéDOC Young we intend to cooperate with schools and school teachers. Each morning two different school classes will attend the screenings together with their teachers. The discussions after the screenings will be moderated by children psychologists, teachers and young civil society activists. 


A project of Noosfera FoundationGUEST SERVICE


Noosfera Foundation
Brothers Kakabadzeebi Street no. 2, IV Floor
Zip Code: 0108
Tbilisi, Georgia
Contact Person: Nikoloz Nadirashvili
Tel.: +995 555 105 049
info@noosfera-foundation.com
  
CONTACT INFO



Noosfera Foundation
Brothers Kakabadzeebi Street no. 2, IV Floor
Zip Code: 0108
Tbilisi, Georgia

Contact Person:
Mariam Akhalkatsi
Tel.: +995 598 101 508

cinedoctbilisi@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

STALINISM: The Worst of the Madness November 11, 2010. By Anne Applebaum (nybooks.com)

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin
by Timothy Snyder
Basic Books, 524 pages, $29.95 

                                                
Stalin’s Genocides
by Norman M. Naimark
Princeton University Press, 163 pp., $26.95       


(nybooks.com) Once, in an attempt to explain the history of his country to outsiders, the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz described the impact of war, occupation, and the Holocaust on ordinary morality. Mass violence, he explained, could shatter a man’s sense of natural justice. In normal times,
had he stumbled upon a corpse on the street, he would have called the police. A crowd would have gathered, and much talk and comment would have ensued. Now he knows he must avoid the dark body lying in the gutter, and refrain from asking unnecessary questions….
Murder became ordinary during wartime, wrote Miłosz, and was even regarded as legitimate if it was carried out on behalf of the resistance. In the name of patriotism, young boys from law-abiding, middle-class families became hardened criminals, thugs for whom “the killing of a man presents no great moral problem.” Theft became ordinary too, as did falsehood and fabrication. People learned to sleep through sounds that would once have roused the whole neighborhood: the rattle of machine-gun fire, the cries of men in agony, the cursing of the policeman dragging the neighbors away. 

For all of these reasons, Miłosz explained, “the man of the East cannot take Americans [or other Westerners] seriously.” Because they hadn’t undergone such experiences, they couldn’t seem to fathom what they meant, and couldn’t seem to imagine how they had happened either. “Their resultant lack of imagination,” he concluded, “is appalling.”1
 
But Miłosz’s bitter analysis did not go far enough. Almost sixty years after the poet wrote those words, it is no longer enough to say that we Westerners lack imagination. Timothy Snyder, a Yale historian whose past work has ranged from Habsburg Vienna to Stalinist Kiev, takes the point one step further. In Bloodlands, a brave and original history of mass killing in the twentieth century, he argues that we still lack any real knowledge of what happened in the eastern half of Europe in the twentieth century. And he is right: if we are American, we think “the war” was something that started with Pearl Harbor in 1941 and ended with the atomic bomb in 1945. If we are British, we remember the Blitz of 1940 (and indeed are commemorating it energetically this year) and the liberation of Belsen. If we are French, we remember Vichy and the Resistance. If we are Dutch we think of Anne Frank. Even if we are German we know only a part of the story.

Snyder’s ambition is to persuade the West—and the rest of the world—to see the war in a broader perspective. He does so by disputing popular assumptions about victims, death tolls, and killing methods—of which more in a moment—but above all about dates and geography. The title of this book, Bloodlands, is not a metaphor. Snyder’s “bloodlands,” which others have called “borderlands,” run from Poznan in the West to Smolensk in the East, encompassing modern Poland, the Baltic states, Ukraine, Belarus, and the edge of western Russia (see map on page 10). This is the region that experienced not one but two—and sometimes three—wartime occupations. This is also the region that suffered the most casualties and endured the worst physical destruction.
 
More to the point, this is the region that experienced the worst of both Stalin’s and Hitler’s ideological madness. During the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s, the lethal armies and vicious secret policemen of two totalitarian states marched back and forth across these territories, each time bringing about profound ethnic and political changes. In this period, the city of Lwów was occupied twice by the Red Army and once by the Wehrmacht. After the war ended it was called L’viv, not Lwów, it was no longer in eastern Poland but in western Ukraine, and its Polish and Jewish pre-war population had been murdered or deported and replaced by ethnic Ukrainians from the surrounding countryside. In this same period, the Ukrainian city of Odessa was occupied first by the Romanian army and then by the Wehrmacht before being reoccupied by the Soviet Union. Each time power changed hands there were battles and sieges, and each time an army retreated from the city it blew up the harbor or massacred Jews. Similar stories can be told about almost any place in the region. 

This region was also the site of most of the politically motivated killing in Europe—killing that began not in 1939 with the invasion of Poland, but in 1933, with the famine in Ukraine. Between 1933 and 1945, fourteen million people died there, not in combat but because someone made a deliberate decision to murder them. These deaths took place in the bloodlands, and not accidentally so: “Hitler and Stalin rose to power in Berlin and Moscow,” writes Snyder, “but their visions of transformation concerned above all the lands between.” 
 
Beginning in the 1930s, Stalin conducted his first utopian agricultural experiment in Ukraine, where he collectivized the land and conducted a “war” for grain with the kulaks, the “wealthy” peasants (whose wealth sometimes consisted of a single cow). His campaign rapidly evolved into a war against Ukrainian peasant culture itself, culminating in a mass famine in 1933. In that same year, Hitler came to power and began dreaming of creating Lebensraum, living space, for German colonists in Poland and Ukraine, a project that could only be realized by eliminating the people who lived there.2 In 1941, the Nazis also devised the Hunger Plan, a scheme to feed German soldiers and civilians by starving Polish and Soviet citizens. Once again, the Nazis decided, the produce of Ukraine’s collective farms would be confiscated and redistributed: “Socialism in one country would be supplanted by socialism for the German race.” 

Not accidentally, the fourteen million victims of these ethnic and political schemes were mostly not Russians or Germans, but the peoples who inhabited the lands in between. Stalin and Hitler shared a contempt for the very notions of Polish, Ukrainian, and Baltic independence, and jointly strove to eliminate the elites of those countries. Following their invasion of western Poland in 1939, the Germans arrested and murdered Polish professors, priests, intellectuals, and politicians. Following their invasion of eastern Poland in 1939, the Soviet secret police arrested and murdered Polish professors, priests, intellectuals, and politicians. A few months later, Stalin ordered the murder of some 20,000 Polish officers at Katyn and in other forests nearby as well.

Stalin and Hitler also shared a hatred for the Jews who had long flourished in this region, and who were far more numerous there than in Germany or anywhere else in Western Europe. Snyder points out that Jews were fewer than one percent of the German population when Hitler came to power in 1933, and many did manage to flee. Hitler’s vision of a “Jew-free” Europe could thus only be realized when the Wehrmacht invaded the bloodlands, which is where most of the Jews of Europe actually lived. Of the 5.4 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, four million were from the bloodlands. The vast majority of the rest—including the 165,000 German Jews who did not escape—were taken to the bloodlands to be murdered. After the war, Stalin became paranoid about those Soviet Jews who remained, in part because they wanted to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust. At the end of his life he purged and arrested many thousands of them, though he died too soon to carry out another mass murder.
 
Above all, this was the region where Nazism and Soviet communism clashed. Although they had signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact in 1939, agreeing to divide the bloodlands between them, Stalin and Hitler also came to hate each other. This hatred proved fatal to both German and Soviet soldiers who had the bad luck to become prisoners of war. Both dictators treated captured enemies with deadly utilitarianism. For the Germans, Soviet POWs were expendable: they consumed calories needed by others and, unlike Western POWs, were considered to be subhuman. And so they were deliberately starved to death in hideous “camps” in Poland, Russia, and Belarus that were not camps but death zones. Penned behind barbed wire, often in open fields without food, medicine, shelter, or bedding, they died in extraordinary numbers and with great rapidity. On any given day in the autumn of 1941, as many Soviet POWs died as did British and American POWs during the entire war. In total more than three million perished, mostly within a period of a few months. 

In essence the Soviet attitude toward German POWs was no different. When, following the Battle of Stalingrad, the Red Army suddenly found itself with 90,000 prisoners, it also put them in open fields without any food or shelter. Over the next few months, at least half a million German and Axis soldiers would die in Soviet captivity. But as the Red Army began to win the war, it tried harder to keep captives alive, the better to deploy them as forced laborers. According to Soviet statistics, 2.3 million German soldiers and about a million of their allies (from Romania, Italy, Hungary, and Austria, but also France and Holland) eventually wound up in the labor camps of the Gulag, along with some 600,000 Japanese whose fate has been almost forgotten in their native land.3
  
Some were released after the war and others were released in the 1950s. There wasn’t necessarily any political logic to these decisions. At one point in 1947, at the height of the postwar famine, the NKVD unexpectedly released several hundred thousand war prisoners. There was no political explanation: the Soviet leadership simply hadn’t enough food to keep them all alive. And in the postwar world there were pressures—most of all from the USSR’s new East German client state—to keep them alive. The Nazis had operated without such constraints. 

Though some of the anecdotes and statistics may be surprising to those who don’t know this part of the world, scholars will find nothing in Bloodlands that is startlingly new. Historians of the region certainly know that three million Soviet soldiers starved to death in Nazi camps, that most of the Holocaust took place in the East, and that Hitler’s plans for Ukraine were no different from Stalin’s. Snyder’s original contribution is to treat all of these episodes—the Ukrainian famine, the Holocaust, Stalin’s mass executions, the planned starvation of Soviet POWs, postwar ethnic cleansing—as different facets of the same phenomenon. Instead of studying Nazi atrocities or Soviet atrocities separately, as many others have done, he looks at them together. Yet Snyder does not exactly compare the two systems either. His intention, rather, is to show that the two systems committed the same kinds of crimes at the same times and in the same places, that they aided and abetted one another, and above all that their interaction with one another led to more mass killing than either might have carried out alone.

He also wants to show that this interaction had consequences for the inhabitants of the region. From a great distance in time and space, we in the West have the luxury of discussing the two systems in isolation, comparing and contrasting, judging and analyzing, engaging in theoretical arguments about which was worse. But people who lived under both of them, in Poland or in Ukraine, experienced them as part of a single historical moment. Snyder explains:
The Nazi and Soviet regimes were sometimes allies, as in the joint occupation of Poland [from 1939–1941]. They sometimes held compatible goals as foes: as when Stalin chose not to aid the rebels in Warsaw in 1944 [during the Warsaw uprising], thereby allowing the Germans to kill people who would later have resisted communist rule…. Often the Germans and the Soviets goaded each other into escalations that cost more lives than the policies of either state by itself would have.
In some cases, the atrocities carried out by one power eased the way for the other. When the Nazis marched into western Belarus, Ukraine, and the Baltic states in 1941, they entered a region from which the Soviet secret police had deported hundreds of thousands of people in the previous few months, and shot thousands of prisoners in the previous few days. The conquering Germans were thus welcomed by some as “liberators” who might save the population from a genuinely murderous regime. They were also able to mobilize popular anger at these recent atrocities, and in some places to direct some of that anger at local Jews who had, in the public imagination—and sometimes in reality—collaborated with the Soviet Union. It is no accident that the acceleration of the Holocaust occurred at precisely this moment. 

To look at the history of mid-twentieth-century Europe in this way also has consequences for Westerners. Among other things, Snyder asks his readers to think again about the most famous films and photographs taken at Belsen and Buchenwald by the British and American soldiers who liberated those camps. These pictures, which show starving, emaciated people, walking skeletons in striped uniforms, stacks of corpses piled up like wood, have become the most enduring images of the Holocaust. Yet the people in these photographs were mostly not Jews: they were forced laborers who had been kept alive because the German war machine needed them to produce weapons and uniforms. Only when the German state began to collapse in early 1945 did they begin to starve to death in large numbers.

The vast majority of Hitler’s victims, Jewish and otherwise, never saw a concentration camp. Although about a million people died because they were sent to do forced labor in German concentration camps, some ten million died in killing fields in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia—that means they were taken to the woods, sometimes with the assistance of their neighbors, and shot—as well as in German starvation zones and German gas chambers. These gas chambers were not “camps,” Snyder argues, though they were sometimes adjacent to camps, as at Auschwitz:
Under German rule, the concentration camps and the death factories operated under different principles. A sentence to the concentration camp Belsen was one thing, a transport to the death factory Bełz·ec something else. The first meant hunger and labor, but also the likelihood of survival; the second meant immediate and certain death by asphyxiation. This, ironically, is why people remember Belsen and forget Bełz·ec.
He makes a similar point about Stalin’s victims, arguing that although a million died in the Soviet Gulag between 1933 and 1945, an additional six million died from politically induced Soviet famines and in Soviet killing fields. I happen to think Snyder’s numbers are a little low—the figure for Gulag deaths is certainly higher than a million—but the proportions are probably correct. In the period between 1930 and 1953, the number of people who died in labor camps—from hunger, overwork, and cold, while living in wooden barracks behind barbed wire—is far lower than the number who died violently from machine-gun fire combined with the number who starved to death because their village was deprived of food. 

The image we have of the prisoner in wooden shoes, dragging himself to work every morning, losing his humanity day by day—the image also created in the brilliant writings of Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn—is in this sense somewhat misleading. In fact, prisoners who could work had at least a chance of staying alive. Prisoners who were too weak to work, or for whom work could not be organized because of war and chaos, were far more likely to die. The 5.4 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust mostly died instantly, in gas chambers or mobile vans or in silent forests. We have no photographs of them, or of their corpses. 

The chronological and geographical arguments presented in Bloodlands also complicate the debate over the proper use of the word “genocide.” As not everybody now remembers, this word (from the Greek genos, tribe, and the French -cide) was coined in 1943 by a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent, Raphael Lemkin, who had long been trying to draw the attention of the international community to what he at first called “the crime of barbarity.” In 1933, inspired by news of the Armenian massacre, he had proposed that the League of Nations treat mass murder committed “out of hatred towards a racial, religious or social collectivity” as an international crime. After he fled Nazi-occupied Poland in 1940, Lemkin intensified his efforts. He persuaded the Nuremburg prosecutors to use the word “genocide” during the trials, though not in the verdict. He also got the new United Nations to draft a Convention on Genocide. Finally, after much debate, the General Assembly passed this convention in 1948.

As the Stanford historian Norman Naimark explains in Stalin’s Genocides, the UN’s definition of genocide was deliberately narrow: “Acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” This was because Soviet diplomats had demanded the exclusion of any reference to social, economic, and political groups. Had they left these categories in, prosecution of the USSR for the murder of aristocrats (a social group), kulaks (an economic group), or Trotskyites (a political group) would have been possible. 

Although Lemkin himself continued to advocate a broader definition of the term, the idea that the word “genocide” can refer only to the mass murder of an ethnic group has stuck. In fact, until recently the term was used almost exclusively to refer to the Holocaust, the one “genocide” that is recognized as such by almost everybody: the international community, the former Allies, even the former perpetrators. 

Perhaps because of that unusually universal recognition, the word has more recently acquired almost magical qualities. Nations nowadays campaign for their historical tragedies to be recognized as “genocide,” and the term has become a political weapon both between and within countries. The disagreement between Armenians and Turks over whether the massacre of Armenians after World War I was “genocide” has been the subject of a resolution introduced in the US Congress. The leaders of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine campaigned to have the Ukrainian famine recognized as “genocide” in international courts (and in January 2010, a court in Kiev did convict Stalin and other high officials of “genocide” against the Ukrainian nation). But the campaign was deliberately dropped when their more pro-Russian (or post-Soviet) opponents came to power. They have since deleted a link to the genocide campaign from the presidential website. 

As the story of Lemkin’s genocide campaign well illustrates, this discussion of the proper use of the word has also been dogged by politics from the beginning. The reluctance of intellectuals on the left to condemn communism; the fact that Stalin was allied with Roosevelt and Churchill; the existence of German historians who tried to downplay the significance of the Holocaust by comparing it to Soviet crimes; all of that meant that, until recently, it was politically incorrect in the West to admit that we defeated one genocidal dictator with the help of another. Only now, with the publication of so much material from Soviet and Central European archives, has the extent of the Soviet Union’s mass murders become better known in the West. In recent years, some in the former Soviet sphere of influence—most notably in the Baltic states and Ukraine—have begun to use the word “genocide” in legal documents to describe the Soviet Union’s mass killings too. 

Naimark’s short book is a polemical contribution to this debate. Though he acknowledges the dubious political history of the UN convention, he goes on to argue that even under the current definition, Stalin’s attack on the kulaks and on the Ukrainian peasants should count as genocide. So should Stalin’s targeted campaigns against particular ethnic groups. At different times the Soviet secret police hunted down, arrested, and murdered ethnic Poles, Germans, and Koreans who happened to be living in the USSR, and of course they murdered 20,000 Polish officers within a few weeks. A number of small nations, notably the Chechens, were also arrested and deported en masse during the war: men, women, children, and grandparents were put on trains, and sent to live in Central Asia, where they were meant to die and eventually disappear as a nation. A similar fate met the Crimean Tatars.

Like Snyder’s, Naimark’s work has also ranged widely, from his groundbreaking book on the Soviet occupation of East Germany to studies of ethnic cleansing. As a result his argument is authoritative, clear, and hard to dispute. Yet if we take the perspective offered in Bloodlands seriously, we also have to ask whether the whole genocide debate itself—and in particular the long-standing argument over whether Stalin’s murders “qualify”—is not a red herring. If Stalin’s and Hitler’s mass murders were different but not separate, and if neither would have happened in quite the same way without the other, then how can we talk about whether one is genocide and the other is not? 

To the people who actually experienced both tyrannies, such definitions hardly mattered. Did the Polish merchant care whether he died because he was a Jew or because he was a capitalist? Did the starving Ukrainian child care whether she had been deprived of food in order to create a Communist paradise or in order to provide calories for the soldiers of the German Reich? Perhaps we need a new word, one that is broader than the current definition of genocide and means, simply, “mass murder carried out for political reasons.” Or perhaps we should simply agree that the word “genocide” includes within its definition the notions of deliberate starvation as well as gas chambers and concentration camps, that it includes the mass murder of social groups as well as ethnic groups and be done with it. 

Finally, the arguments of Bloodlands also complicate the modern notion of memory—memory, that is, as opposed to history. It is true, for example, that the modern German state “remembers” the Holocaust—in official documents, in public debates, in monuments, in school textbooks—and is often rightly lauded for doing so. But how comprehensive is this memory? How many Germans “remember” the deaths of three million Soviet POWs? How many know or care that the secret treaty signed between Hitler and Stalin not only condemned the inhabitants of western Poland to deportation, hunger, and often death in slave labor camps, but also condemned the inhabitants of eastern Poland to deportation, hunger, and often death in Soviet exile? The Katyn massacre really is, in this sense, partially Germany’s responsibility: without Germany’s collusion with the Soviet Union, it would not have happened. Yet modern Germany’s very real sense of guilt about the Holocaust does not often extend to Soviet soldiers or even to Poles.

If we remember the twentieth century for what it actually was, and not for what we imagine it to have been, the misuse of history for national political purposes also becomes more difficult. The modern Russian state often talks about the “twenty million Soviet dead” during World War II as a way of emphasizing its victimhood and martyrdom. But even if we accept that suspiciously large round number, it is still important to acknowledge that the majority of those were not Russians, did not live in modern Russia, and did not necessarily die because of German aggression. It is also important to acknowledge that Soviet citizens were just as likely to die during the war years because of decisions made by Stalin, or because of the interaction between Stalin and Hitler, as they were from the commands of Hitler alone. 

For different reasons, the American popular memory of World War II is also due for some revision. In the past, we have sometimes described this as the “good war,” at least when contrasted to the morally ambiguous wars that followed. At some level this is understandable: we did fight for human rights in Germany and Japan, we did leave democratic German and Japanese regimes in our wake, and we should be proud of having done so. But it is also true that while we were fighting for democracy and human rights in the lands of Western Europe, we ignored and then forgot what happened further east. 

As a result, we liberated one half of Europe at the cost of enslaving the other half for fifty years. We really did win the war against one genocidal dictator with the help of another. There was a happy end for us, but not for everybody. This does not make us bad—there were limitations, reasons, legitimate explanations for what happened. But it does make us less exceptional. And it does make World War II less exceptional, more morally ambiguous, and thus more similar to the wars that followed. 

If nothing else, a reassessment of what we know about Europe in the years between 1933 and 1953 could finally cure us of that “lack of imagination” that so appalled Czesław Miłosz almost sixty years ago. When considered in isolation, Auschwitz can be easily compartmentalized, characterized as belonging to a specific place and time, or explained away as the result of Germany’s unique history or particular culture. But if Auschwitz was not the only mass atrocity, if mass murder was simultaneously taking place across a multinational landscape and with the support of many different kinds of people, then it is not so easy to compartmentalize or explain away. The more we learn about the twentieth century, the harder it will be to draw easy lessons or make simple judgments about the people who lived through it—and the easier it will be to empathize with and understand them.

Letters
'The Worst of the Madness' December 23, 2010

1 Czesław Miłosz, The Captive Mind (1953; Penguin, 2001), pp. 26–29. 
2 Typical is the story of a house I own in northwest Poland: intending to "Germanize" the region, the Nazis evicted the Polish owners in 1939 and installed a German family from Lithuania in their place. These Germans were evicted again in 1944, and the house became state property.  
3 These figures come from Richard Overy, Russia's War (Penguin, 1997), p. 297, and from Voennoplennye v SSSR, 1939–1956: dokumenty i materialy, edited by M.M. Zagorul'ko (Moscow: Logos, 2000), pp. 331–333. 

ART: Painting by the Georgian Levan Chelidze




Levan Chelidze, from the series "Gossip", 2013, oil on canvas, 200 x 200 cm

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

PHOTOGRAPHY: Justyna Mielnikiewicz from Georgia in Paris for the "La Quatrième Image" Show.

©Justyna MIELNIKIWICZ-Georgia
For the "La Quatrième Image" show.
Paris, November 2013


Justyna MIELNIKIWICZ:
Lives in Georgia, mainly focuses the countries of the former Soviet Union. Regularly cooperates with The New York Times, Newsweek Poland and Eurasianet.org. Her works have been published in various international publications such as Monocle, Newsweek International, Marie Claire , GEO France, Russian Reporter, Le Monde ,German Yearbook of Reporters without Borders - among others.

Between 2001-2010 worked on a project about the South Caucasus and its conflicts to be published as a book in 2013 and titled : Woman With a Monkey.

Since 2010, started to explore a new topic dedicated to women, sexuality and gender issues in the former Soviet space in a series of storied under the working title: “What Would People Say?”

more: laquatriemeimage.com

Monday, September 23, 2013

PALÄONTOLOGIE: Das Ei des Brontosaurus. Von Diana Laarz (zeit.de)

(zeit.de) Tschetschenische Forscher glauben, Dinosaurier-Eier entdeckt zu haben. Der Fund ist zu groß, um wahr zu sein.

Entdecker: Ramsan Wogapow (rechts) und Said-Emin Dschabrailow
© Diana Laarz
Das Abenteuer beginnt in Grosny. Es hat nicht viel Mühe gekostet, die Männer ausfindig zu machen, die im Frühjahr 2012 mit der Meldung Aufsehen erregten, sie hätten im Kaukasus versteinerte Dinosaurier-Eier gefunden, die größten je entdeckten Exemplare. Das russische Fernsehen zeigte ein paar aufgeregte Männer, die um einen Haufen Steine standen und wild gestikulierten. Das größte Ei: 102 Zentimeter. Es sah alles nach einer Sensation aus.

Ein Anruf bei einem Freund, der ab und zu an der tschetschenischen Staatsuni eine Vorlesung hält. Ja, die Herren Entdecker sind wohlbekannt. Der Freund fährt mit dem Auto vor. Wir lesen den Geologen Said-Emin Dschabrailow am Straßenrand auf. Der schüttelt einem so schwungvoll die Hand, dass man meint, die Erschütterungen im Körper noch Sekunden später zu spüren. Das Auto ist zu klein für das tosende Lachen dieses Mannes.

Im geografischen Institut, in einem Büro mit zusammengeklaubten Sowjet-Möbeln, wartet sein Kollege Ramsan Wogapow auf uns. Die beiden Männer fallen einander in die Arme, zwei mächtige Brustkörbe krachen aufeinander. "A salam alaikum, mein Bruder." Ruck, zuck stehen Waffeln, Tee, Apfelschnitze und Konfekt auf dem Tisch. Jetzt sollen die beiden mal erzählen, wie das ist mit den Dinosaurier-Eiern in Tschetschenien.

Mit dem Erzählen wird es dann erst einmal doch nichts. Jedenfalls reden wir nicht über fossile Funde, sondern bewundern stattdessen die alpinen Leistungen von Said-Emin Dschabrailow. Er ist der erste Tschetschene, der mit über 50 Jahren den Kaukasusgipfel Kasbek bestiegen hat, wofür ihn die größte Schautafel auf dem Flur des Instituts in allen Einzelheiten feiert. Und die Dino-Eier? "Besser ist, wir zeigen sie dir", sagt Ramsan Wogapow. Bald darauf sitzen wir in seinem Lada Niva, dessen ursprüngliche Farbe kaum zu identifizieren ist, vermutlich Weiß, jetzt schlammfarben. Grosny verabschiedet uns mit einem letzten Lichtflackern aus den Fenstern der Wolkenkratzer. Vor uns liegt eine braune Landschaft, der ein heißer Sommer schon alle anderen Farben ausgebrannt hat. Wir rumpeln mitten hindurch.

Um es gleich vorweg zu sagen: Es handelt sich bei den 46 kugelförmigen Versteinerungen, die im April in einer Felswand im Kaukasus entdeckt wurden, mit an Sicherheit grenzender Wahrscheinlichkeit nicht um Dinosaurier-Eier. Martin Sander, Paläontologe am Steinmann-Institut der Universität Bonn, genügt ein Blick auf eines der Bilder aus Tschetschenien, um festzustellen: Keine Eier. Er erkenne vielmehr eine sogenannte Konkretion, ein Mineralaggregat, das sich manchmal um einen organischen Stoff, also zum Beispiel ein modriges Stück Holz, bildet.

Martin Sander kennt sich aus. Seit Beginn der Dino-Manie, also seit etwa 20 Jahren, kommen Menschen in sein Institut, legen kugelige Steine auf seinen Schreibtisch und sagen: "Ich habe ein Dinosaurier-Ei gefunden." Sander sagt dann immer: "Keine Schale, kein Ei." Die äußerste Mineralienschicht müsste bei einem fossilen Ei deutlich zu erkennen sein. Und so sagt Martin Sander auch zu den Bildern aus Tschetschenien: "Keine Schalen, keine Eier."

Nach dem Sprengen der Wand lugten plötzlich Kugeln aus dem Fels

Was heißt das jetzt für die beiden tschetschenischen Geologen, die mit röhrendem Motor den Kaukasus erklimmen? Eine Wolke Staub hinter sich herziehend, auf dem Weg zu ihren berühmten Dinosaurier-Eiern. Es heißt vor allem, dass sie es leid sind, in einem Landstrich zu leben, bei dessen Erwähnung alle außerhalb der Grenzen an Krieg, Terroristen und den Präsidenten Ramsan Kadirow denken, in beliebiger Reihenfolge. Beide verziehen ihre buschigen Augenbrauen zu Weltschmerzbögen, wenn sie beklagen, dass kaum jemand weiß, wie viel mehr dieses Tschetschenien doch zu bieten habe. Wenn sich der Rest der Welt nur einmal dafür interessieren würde. 100 Millionen Jahre alte Eier eines Brontosaurus wären ein guter Anfang.

Ramsan Wogapow war mal Studentenmeister im Ringen. Seine Fingerknöchel sind von den vielen Kämpfen vernarbt. Von der Entdeckung der runden Steine im April 2012 berichtet er etwa so: Während einer Expedition zu den Wasserfällen des Kaukasus übernachteten eine Gruppe der Universität und ein Kamerateam des lokalen Fernsehens in einer Jägerhütte. Ein guter Bekannter aus der Verwaltung eines nahen Dorfes kam vorbei und berichtete von seltsamen Steinen in einer Felswand. Man hatte die Wand gesprengt, um Platz für eine breitere Straße zu machen. Nun lugten Kugeln aus dem Felsen. Kurze Zeit später stand der bekennende Dinosaurier-Fan Wogapow eine Weile vor der Wand, überlegte hin und her, erinnerte sich an die Fachbücher in seinem Regal, in denen steht, dass Dinosaurier erwiesenermaßen Eier gelegt haben, und sagte schließlich: "Mir fällt keine andere Erklärung ein, das sind wohl Dinosaurier-Eier." Und alle drumherum stimmten zu. Das Kamerateam hielt drauf.

Versuch eines Fachgesprächs über Dinosaurier-Eier

Auffällige Konkretionen: Die größten sind einen Meter groß
Auffällige Konkretionen: Die größten sind einen Meter groß
© Tino Künzel
Der Kaukasus ist erdig und schwer wie seine Menschen. Bis zum Horizont falten sich die Gebirgsketten in fast parallelen Linien. An den Hängen ringsherum kleben steinerne Dörfer, tausend Jahre alte Wehrtürme ragen daraus empor. "Als die Amis vor hundert Jahren anfingen, hohe Häuser zu bauen, haben wir schon seit tausend Jahren in unseren Türmen gewohnt", sagt Dschabrailow. Sein Haar ist so weiß wie die schneebedeckten Gipfel. Wogapow bremst. Wir sind auf 1.500 Meter Höhe angekommen, die Sonne hat sich hinter den Bergen verkrochen. Über den Pass und zu den Dino-Eiern schaffen wir es an diesem Tag nicht mehr, wir übernachten im Dorf.

"Ich habe nachgedacht. Große Dinos müssen sehr große Eier gelegt haben"

Vor dem Schlafengehen wirft Said-Emin Dschabrailow noch seine Angel in einen Gebirgsfluss. Als er nichts fängt, schärft er an einem Stein das Messer, das er am Gürtel trägt, so lange, bis er sich die Härchen vom Handrücken säbeln kann. Dschabrailow sammelt Messer. "Kennst du einen Tschetschenen, der keine Messer liebt?", fragt er. Soll heißen: So einen Tschetschenen gibt es nicht.

Die Tour am nächsten Tag führt uns immer tiefer hinein ins Gebirge. Wir stoßen auf Straßensperren, an denen große Männer in Uniformen ihre Maschinengewehre präsentieren. "Klappe halten und Fotoapparat runter", zischt Ramsan Wogapow vom Fahrersitz nach hinten. Dann sehen sie, dass die Männer Freunde eines Freundes eines Freundes sind, "tschetschenische Brüder". Wogapow umarmt alle reihum, Dschabrailow schnorrt ein paar Zigaretten, auf der Rückbank hält jemand trotzdem lieber die Klappe.

Auf den letzten Kilometern vor dem Ziel dann der Versuch eines Fachgesprächs über Dinosaurier-Eier mit – nun ja – den Ei-Experten:

"Wissenschaftler sagen, die theoretische Obergrenze für die Größe eines Eis liegt bei maximal 50 Zentimetern, wahrscheinlich drunter. Andernfalls müsste die Eierschale viel zu dick sein, um die Stabilität zu gewährleisten. Ihre Funde sind bis zu einem Meter groß. Macht Sie das nicht stutzig?"

Ramsan Wogapow: "Ich habe darüber nachgedacht. Große Dinosaurier müssen wohl sehr große Eier gelegt haben."

"Experten aus Moskau werden mit dem Satz zitiert, selbst Erstsemester eines beliebigen geologischen Instituts würden auf den ersten Blick erkennen, dass es sich um Konkretionen handelt. Kränkt Sie diese Meinung?"

Said-Emin Dschabrailow: "Die in Moskau haben Anweisung, unsere Entdeckung nicht anzuerkennen. Wenn wir recht hätten, müsste die gesamte Geschichte umgeschrieben werden.

"Warum?"

Wogapow: "Weil man bislang davon ausgeht, dass es im Kaukasus gar keine Dinosaurier gegeben hat."

"Wenn jetzt die Geschichte umgeschrieben werden müsste, das wäre gut?"

Wogapow: "Ja, das wäre toll."

Hinter einer Kurve zwischen den Dörfern Scharoj und Chimoj hält der Lada knirschend an. Wir steigen aus. "Unsere tschetschenische Regierung möchte doch auch so gerne, dass es Dinosaurier-Eier sind", raunt Said-Emin Dschabrailow, so leise, dass es sein alter Freund Ramsan nicht hören kann.

Zunächst sieht man die vermeintlichen Eier gar nicht. Sie liegen im Schatten der grellen Mittagssonne. Es sind Steine, die aus einer glatten Wand ragen. Sie sind perfekt oval geformt, ihre Oberfläche schimmert samtig. Said-Emin Dschabrailow und Ramsan Wogapow sind schon ein paar Meter in die Höhe geklettert. Sie wirken sehr stolz, sie tätscheln die Steine, ihre "Dinosaurier-Eier". Es ist ein beinahe zärtliches Bild. Und ein sehr schönes. Auf jeden Fall ist es eine Reise wert.

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Video: zeit.de
Vor eineinhalb Jahren haben Wissenschaftler im Kaukasus vermeintlich riesige Dinosaurier-Eier entdeckt. Experten aus dem Ausland zweifeln die Echtheit der Funde an. Doch die russischen Geologen halten daran fest.