PM Kvirikashvili urges Russia to take joint steps to resolve “complicated situation“ over Tatunashvili’s death in occupied Tskhinvali

PM Kvirikashvili beliaves the August War “has left a tremendous mark on the Georgian people’s minds and Georgia-Russia relations”. Photo by the PM's press office, 09 Mar 2018 - 14:27, Tbilisi,Georgia

"I urge the leadership of the Russian Federation to take joint steps and resolve this complicated situation”, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has said.

Fifteen days after the death of Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili in Georgia’s Russian occupied region of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) in unclear circumstances, his body has still not been handed over to his family for burial, while Levan Kutashvili and Ioseb Pavliashvili still remain in occupied Tskhinvali and unable to travel.

Although we have restored bilateral trade and economic relations, a chain of tragic events continues. This undermines the prospects of regulating Georgia-Russia relations", Kvirikashvili said in a statement released today.

This August marks the 10th anniversary since the war of 2008, which according to PM Kvirikashvili "has left a tremendous mark on the Georgian people’s minds and Georgia-Russia relations”.

Moscow’s recognition of independence of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region has brought to a dead end all prospects of normal relations between our states”, he said.

According to Kvirikashvili, the two sides can meet this anniversary with either accusations and harsh statements - of which there certainly has been no lack throughout the past years - or to take sensible steps, even small, to lead relations out of this vicious cycle.

We are also ready for a direct dialogue with the Abkhazians and the Ossetians, and a genuinely constructive approach from the Russian side would be welcome in this context. With political will in place, we believe it feasible to take other sensible steps as well", PM Kvirikashvili said.

He further reaffirmed his commitment to personal involvement in the Geneva International Discussions to reach tangible progress, which since the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008 has been the only format of dialogue between Georgia and Russia.

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

  • 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • The United States, NATO, the European Union, a number of other countries and almost all international organisations have stated they are deeply concerned over the case and have urged Russia and the de-facto leadership to hand over the body and to not hinder a transparent investigation into the death.

Russia recognised Abkhazia and the other Georgian breakaway region of Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia) as independent countries after a military armed conflict with Georgia in 2008.

As of today, only four countries recognise Georgia’s breakaway regions as independent republics; these are Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru.