Category Archives: Shameless Self-Promotion

Random things unrelated to the blog that I want to highlight in order to promote my myself.

Tbilisi Hangout 013 … and 012

Hey everyone,

So if you can’t wait to listen to the Tbilisi Hangout tonight at 8 p.m. on Radio GIPA 94.3, you can watch it now on YouTube. This week we talked about Georgian wine returning to Russia, cameras returning to the courtrooms, but Akhalaia doesn’t want a jury in there and much, much more.

Also, in case you missed last week, well, I forgot to post it, so here it is!

Tbilisi Hangout 011 with Mathias Huter

So this week on the Tbilisi Hangout we were had the great opportunity to have Mathias Huter on the show of Transparency International Georgia and TBLPOD fame.

In this episode, we discuss in detail the National Library incident and the poor state of the Georgian government’s “cohabitation” as well as Mathias’ own research into the murky ownership structures of the country’s media and internet service providers. He knows more about that than probably anyone else outside of Georgia’s shadow elite and he tells us why that’s a problem.

Check it out!

Also if you prefer to hear us in better quality or if you’d just as soon not see my face while tuning into the show, we’ll be on GIPA radio 94.3 at 8 p.m. tonight.

‘With the First Pick in the NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs Select: Not Luke Joeckel’

So, if you know me, you know that I am a unrepentant Chiefs fan unswayed by years of poor management and inept play. As a way of keeping a link a back to that conversation alive, I write a weekly column for Chiefs fan site Arrowhead Addict. This was my latest piece on draft talk and what the Chiefs should do with their 1st overall pick in the 2013 Draft.

Last week, I laid out why I think it would be a mistake for the Chiefs to select DT Star Lotulelei with their first pick. This week, it’s Joeckel’s turn.

There’s probably no player more frequently mocked to the Chiefs than LT Luke Joeckel, but there are a lot of problems with that pick.

Still, let’s start with the good:

He’s a blue chip player at a blue chip position and if the Chiefs don’t re-sign Brandon Albert, it’s a need position for the Chiefs as well.

By almost all accounts he is one of the top three prospects in this draft. Left tackles with the natural ability and prototypical size that he has do not grow on trees. In a year of iffy quarterback prospects, tackles also tend to be safer picks and he’ll be cheaper than retaining Albert’s services most likely.

He has no injury concerns and held his own against some of college football’s best pass rushers in the SEC. All around, he is a low-risk pick and could be the best LT in all of football with some development.

So why not take him?

First off, while there is an overall lower bust rate for tackles in the top of the draft, they’re not a sure bet either. Of the eight tackles taken in the top ten since 2008, all but two are currently rated by Scouts Inc. as just “good starters,” which they describe as a “Solid starter who is close to being an outstanding player … Has few weaknesses and will usually win his individual matchup but does not dominate in every game, especially when matched up against the top players in the league.”

That’s not exactly an inspiring result for a 1st overall pick. If you pick in the top five, you should be landing a guy that is a star in the league for years, not a guy who is merely better than average.

To continue reading, click here.

Tbilisi Hangout 010

In case you’re not already watching, Georgian journalist, blogger and professor extraordinaire Mirian Jugheli and I have been hosting a weekly show on Google Hangouts that streams live to YouTube every Wednesday at 20:00 Tbilisi time (GMT +4).

If you’re into Georgian and Caucasus news, I strongly recommend you check it out and comment on the page live while we’re going to get involved.

The show is also now broadcast on radio GIPA FM 94.3 in Georgia Thursday nights at the same time. If you miss both times, it’s no big deal, you can watch the show anytime on YouTube. Check it out!

Also, like us on Facebook for reminders when to tune in and for extra links and materials about what we’re talking about each week at this link.

Three Kings is Back!

TKlogoIt has been nearly a year and a half since you’ve heard from me on these pages, and boy have those been a journey.

In those eighteen or so months, my former employer, Kanal PIK, has risen and fallen, I’ve gotten legally married and Georgia has a new government, just to name a few.

For me, I’ve gone from editing endless news bulletins in the shared offices of PIK and Mze TV, to working from home — a spacious former komunalka — freelancing for various places, but primarily chasing financial news for Mergermarket, a newswire owned by the Financial Times Group.

Oh, and my hair has grown much, much longer.

Part of what took me so long to get Three Kings up and running again was that I wanted to make sure I had a good slate of content coming your way and I wouldn’t be merely faking you out with an “I’m back!” post followed mostly by silence.

The other reason is that it has been so long that I’ve grown unfamiliar with all this web hosting stuff and am having to teach myself how to run a site again. Once I do, expect Three Kings’ look and layout to change, because change is good.

For now, I have some good stuff coming up for you — a testimonial from a young Iranian on the impact of sanctions on the economy and youth, an analysis of Georgia’s sacrifices in Afghanistan and a full inside look at the fall of Kanal PIK, my former employer.

Keep up by following me on Twitter @ClaytonNicholas and on Facebook here, there’s a lot on the docket!

The circle of trust improves between business and government in Georgia

In addition to writing about Poti’s port upgrades in the summer issue of, I also took a look at the government’s attempts to regain the business community’s trust after a period of aggressive raids by tax authorities left Georgia’s big businesses feeling besieged.

While the Georgian government has tried to get back in business’ good graces, the perceptions of the general public has also gradually become more positive towards the economic elite. But why?

Despite a rocky relationship with business in the past, the government is working hard to create better ties with the private sector.

New state intiatives – including a business ombudsman to advocate for tax-payer rights and a business council in parliament – are easing tensions between the government and business.

Last December, President Mikheil Saakashvili said in a speech that there were “many deficiencies” in the relationship between the government and the private sector, admitting that business leaders felt that “the State does not listen to them appropriately and treats them unfairly”.

The speech marked a step in the president’s year-long campaign to repair the frayed relations – damaged, in large part, by a period of increasingly aggressive raids and hefty punishments for tax crimes at the hands of Georgia’s Financial Police.

Giorgi Pertaia

Lawrence Sheets, International Crisis Group’s Caucasus project manager, said in an interview with that the government’s ballooning foreign debt, which is projected to reach 43.2 percent of GDP in 2011, put pressure on the authorities to increase tax collections, resulting in a soar in both the frequency of tax raids and amounts of the eventual fines. Georgia’s economy also contracted by 3.9 percent in 2009 following its 2008 war with Russia, further straining tax revenues.

The government responded to the growing gulf of distrust between the public and private sectors by first hiring former AmCham customs specialist Giorgi Pertaia to advise the prime minister’s office and serve as a “bridge” between business interests and government authorities.

To continue reading, click here.

Renovations begin under the Poti port’s new owner

courtesy of wikicommons

In this month’s issue of I reported on a couple of bits of news — first, the transfer in owner ship of Georgia’s main cargo port, Poti.

Flipping the Poti port has been one of the government’s major development goals, and is a key to increasing Georgia’s potential as a logistics and transit hub for East-West goods trade. APM Terminals, a subsidiary of the Maersk Group bought the port earlier this year and it says it has already begun to assess its renovation plans aimed at increasing its safety, efficiency and cargo capacity.

All good news, but they have a long way go to. Read more below.

Since acquiring an 80 percent share of the Poti port earlier this year, APM Terminals now plans to invest $100 million on upgrading the port facilities, and is eyeing additional investment projects in the region, company officials said.

APM Terminals, part of the Moller-Maersk Group, announced that it had acquired an 80 percent share of the Poti Sea Port in April, and officially took over from UAE-based RAKIA, in May.

APM Terminals’ Senior Vice President and Head of New Terminals, Peder Sondergaard, said APM intends to “add value” to the port, meeting the demand for a “high-quality port infrastructure in the Black Sea.” In the same press release, he also said APM would be investing $100 million in the port facilities over the next five years.

RAKIA continues to operate the Poti Free Trade Zone (FTZ), which occupies about 100 hectares adjacent to the port. RAKIA, which bought the zone in 2008, hopes to develop it into a major logistics and industrial center, pledging a $200 million investment.

APM Terminals’ Vice President for Business Development, Hans-Ole Madsen said in an interview with that the first stage of APM’s development plan has already begun, with engineers surveying the port’s existing equipment and determining which terminal cranes will be updated and which will be scrapped.

To continue reading, click here.

Kanal PIK, bringing the Caucasus to you, and you to the Caucasus

Hey all! So as you have clearly noticed, my deplorable neglect of Three Kings has continued. Launching the English edition of Kanal PIK, working out the inevitable bugs, and keeping it fresh with content and commentary have been not only a full-time job, but a full-life job. Luckily, sometime very soon, I’m getting myself a deputy. When that happens, you will finally see a return of content to this space.

Until then, check out the fabulous new site and tell your friends. While you’re there, register and start a blog. Already the posts by the two experts we’ve lined up have been the most popular content on the site, so you guys should join in too! You’ll get a heck of a lot more hits than Three Kings gets!

In case you missed it: Georgia’s Silver-Haired Rioters

Well,  it’s been busy.

Settling into a new job, starting new projects, still teaching, still freelancing and working through the most eventful week in Tbilisi all year has forced Three Kings to fall by the wayside. But if you’ve fallen behind, let me catch you up!

First off, I had what was perhaps my most high-profile piece in terms of publication in covering the Tbilisi protest that was violently dispersed in the early hours last Thursday morning. I saw it as a great opportunity to focus on some of the narratives of Georgian society and politics that rarely get covered, and it was clear by the way that this crisis rolled out that the real story would once again be lost in the trees.

A protester lies handcuffed on the sidewalk in the aftermath of the police dispersal. REUTERS

The protest had been written off as a (possibly Russia-backed)  futile, rambunctious effort to disrupt the peace by a marginal politician and her hooliganish followers. But the story that was lost amid all the absurdity of this past week’s politics was that it all represented a persistent and unaddressed problem in the new Georgia — that the revolution had left many behind.

TBILISI, Georgia — In the wee hours this morning, in heavy rain, Georgian riot police closed in on a crowd of protesters who had appropriated a bandstand in front of parliament — the spot where the president was to speak just hours later.

It was the deadly end to a five-day protest led by two Georgian opposition parties demanding the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili. At its peak, an estimated 10,000 people took part in the protests, which blocked a major thoroughfare in front of the headquarters for Georgian State TV in the capital, Tbilisi. On Wednesday, about 3,000 demonstrators marched on to the bandstand, where they hoped to disrupt the annual Georgian Independence Day parade.

The opposition parties claimed they were marching for democracy. The government said they were Russia-backed provocateurs bent on sewing disorder. Both positions miss the point.

As footage of the protest’s violent dispersal trickled out, it became clear that the majority of those who had taken to the streets were not young radicals, but middle-aged workers and retirees, huddled together gasping for air through the tear gas and rain, frantically avoiding the swinging billy clubs and rubber bullets. A protester was reportedly killed in the violence while 37 people were wounded.

To continue reading, click here.


Long hiatus, new job

Hey Three Kings fans! I hope you haven’t forgotten about me, despite my long absence on the world wide web. It has been an eventful month of work, play, vacation, illness, more work, and a new job that I will be beginning Monday.

I’ve had a lot of good work in the pipeline that just hasn’t made it out quite yet so keep tuning in, the backlog is about to rush forth.

But first, a quick explanation of my new job: Monday is my first official day in the position of Senior Editor of PIK Television’s English Service. I will be disseminating my own multimedia journalistic work as well as managing and supervising the content of the soon-to-be-launched English version of the website. I’ll no doubt have plenty of updates on PIK as I settle and will be sure you let you all in on some of the exciting new projects I know are on the horizon.