Geneva int’l discussion co-chairs say all is being done to return Tatunashvili’s body to family

People gathered at the Freedom Square in the centre of Tbilisi on Sunday to condemn death of Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili. Photo by Mzia Saganelidze/RFERL, 07 Mar 2018 - 11:25, Tbilisi,Georgia

The co-chairs of the Geneva International Discussions have expressed their concern over the death of Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili under unclear circumstances in Georgia’s Russian occupied region of Tskhinvali.

Representatives of the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said everything is being done to return Tatunashvili’s body to his family.

Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani said foreign officials will be visiting Tskhinvali today over the case.

Thirteen days after Tatunashvili’s death, his body has not been handed over to his family for burial and two other Georgian citizens Levan Kutashvili and Ioseb Pavliashvili, detained with Tatunashvili on February 22, still remain in the occupied region.

Georgian officials worry that Tatunashvili’s case is not an exception as several other Georgians have died in unclear circumstances in the occupied regions in previous years, including Davit Basharuli and Giga Otkhozoria.

They call for the international community to ensure the immediate investigation of the cases and the punishment of those responsible to prevent further crimes.

Since the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008, the Geneva International Discussions have been the only format of dialogue between Georgia and Russia. Photo by Mzia Saganelidze/RFERL

It is chaired by the OSCE, the EU and the UN. Representatives from Tbilisi, Tskhinvali and Sukhumi, Moscow and Washington also take part in the discussions.

The Patriarchate of Georgia has announced that through the request of the Georgian Patriarch Ilia II Russian Patriarch Kirill has become involved in the body-transfer process.

The Georgian patriarchate has also announced that Tatunashvili’s body is supposed to be returned to his family either today or tomorrow.

  • Tatunashvili and two other Georgian citizens were detained by occupation forces on February 22 in Akhalgori area, on territory currently controlled by Russians, allegedly for Tatunashvili’s 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 refuses to hand over the body until Russian experts provide the outcome of an autopsy.
  • Two others detained with Tatunashvili have been released from detention but they cannot leave the occupied territory due to the fact that their identification documents have been confiscated.