The Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation has responded to Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili’s recent appeal to act jointly to resolve the complicated situation concerning Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili’s death in occupied Tskhinvali (South Ossetia).
Expressing their sadness over Tatunashvili’s death, the Russian Federation said this issue is far out of the framework of the Russian-Georgian agenda.
Welcoming Georgian PM’s readiness for a direct dialogue with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Russian ministry said this is the only real way to solve pressing issues.
No one should doubt that Russia is still interested in improving relations with neighboring Georgia and is ready to go as far as Tbilisi is ready [to go]”, the Russian foreign ministry said.
On March 9 the Georgian PM urged Russia to take joint steps to resolve the case of Tatunashvili’s death in the occupied Tskhinvali region that took place on February 23.
Kvirikashvili further reaffirmed his commitment to becoming personally involved in the Geneva International Discussions to achieve real progress, which since the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008 has been the only format of dialogue between Georgia and Russia.
Urging Russia to ensure the handing over of Tatunashvili’s body, the Georgian Foreign Ministry has also issued a statement.
We hope that on the next round of Geneva [discussions] we will manage to take specific steps to solve this long-lasting deadlock and the peaceful regulation of conflict”, the ministry said.
Tatunashvili and two other Georgian citizens were detained by occupation forces on February 22 in the Akhalgori area, on territory currently controlled by Russians, allegedly for Tatunashvili’s participation in the Russia-Georgia 2008 war.
People gathered at the Freedom Square in the centre of Tbilisi last Sunday to condemn death of Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili. Photo by Mzia Saganelidze/RFERL
Nineteen days after Tatunashvili’s death in unclear circumstances, the de facto Tskhinvali leadership has still not handed over his body to his family, claiming that they need time for a "comprehensive autopsy.”
Levan Kutashvili and Ioseb Pavliashvili, who were detained with Tatunashvili, were only able to leave the occupied region late on Sunday.
The United States, NATO, the European Union, a number of other countries and almost all international organisations have 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.