[GORI,Georgia]--The Family, relatives and ordinary citizens standing against the Russian occupation in Georgia have blocked the central highway that links east Georgia to the west on February 26 to receive the body of 35-year-old Archil Tatunashvili. Tatunashvili was killed in the occupied Tskhinvali region in uncertain circumstances on February 23.
Tatunashvili’s Family Blocks Highway to Transport the Body of the Killed
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, February 28
The family claims Tatunashvili was tortured and it is the main reason the de facto leadership refuses to hand over the body.
The protesters opened the highway only after Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia arrived at the scene and met with the family.
Gakharia told the reporters that he briefed the family about the details of the government’s actions about the case.
Giorgi Tatunashvili, father of the deceased, stated that he gave the government two days to ensure the transportation of the body; otherwise the highway would be blocked again.
Prior to the protest, an unofficial meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism took place in the occupied Ergneti village to address the death.
The meeting, which brings together the diplomatic corps’ representatives, members of the government of Georgia and the representatives of de facto regions, turned out to be fruitless as Tskhinvali refused to hand over the body.
The de facto authorities also refused to allow two individuals, detained with Tatunashvili on February 22 in the Akhalgori area, leave the region.
Representatives from Tskhinvali said that they were waiting for experts from Russia to carry out an expertise on the body and only after they would be able to hand over the body.
“All steps have been taken [by the government of Georgia], but when it comes to the occupied territories of Georgia, we all know what hardships we face,” Sozar Subari, Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia said.
The international community expresses its concern over the death.
The co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Georgia, Kerstin Lundgren and Titus Corlatean, have expressed their deep concern and condemned the death.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called upon the separatist authorities, as well as the authorities of the Russian Federation, as the de facto power in control to conduct a full and transparent investigation into the death of Tatunashvili.
Local media of the occupied Tskhinvali reported that Tatunashvili with two others was detained for his participation in the Russia-Georgia 2008 war on February 22.
Tatunashvili was a soldier but in 2008 he served in the Iraq peace mission.
The media claims that Tatunashvili had an incident with the detention facility staff and fell down from the staircase.
The de facto Security Service of Tskhinvali stated that Tatunashvili died from heart failure.
The government of Georgia does not believe in the version and demands the exact reason of Tatunashvili’s death is revealed.