The body of the 35-year-old Georgian soldier, Archil Tatunashvili, who died in unclear circumstances in the occupied Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) region on February 23, has been handed over to representatives of the government of Georgia several minutes ago, 26 days after his death.
The body was taken out of occupied Tskhinvali by the International Committee of the Red Cross and is being transported to Tbilisi for an autopsy, the Georgian Interior Ministry representative has stated.
After several hours the body will be handed over to the Tatunashvili family in the Tsilkani village,” an Interior Ministry representative told the media.
Tatunashvili and two other Georgian citizens were detained in the occupied Akhalgori area by Russia-controlled border guards on February 22, allegedly for participation in the Russia-Georgia 2008 war.
- Tskhinvali media announced the death of Tatunashvili on February 23, and stated that the latter had an incident with detention facility staff and fell down a flight of stairs.
However, the de facto security service of Tskhinvali claims the man died due to heart failure.
Tskhinvali refused to hand over the body to his family and said that they needed time to conduct a "comprehensive autopsy."
- Levan Kutashvili and Ioseb Pavliashvili, who were detained with Tatunashvili, were only able to leave the occupied region on March 11 because their documents had been confiscated.
- The United States, NATO, the European Union, a number of other countries and almost all international organisations had urged Russia and the de-facto leadership to hand over Tatunashvili’s body to his family and allow Kutashvili and Papunashvili to return freely across the occupation line.
- Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has urged the leadership of the Russian Federation to take joint steps and resolve this "complicated situation”.
- Expressing their sadness over Tatunashvili’s death, the Russian Federation said this issue is far out of the framework of the Russian-Georgian agenda.
- The Patriarchate of Georgia has announced that on the request of the Georgian Patriarch Ilia II Russian Patriarch Kirill has become involved in the body-transfer process.
- On March 19 Parliamentary majority and minority agreed on joint resolution over Archil Tatunashvili’s death