The messenger logo

Russia Says Tatunashvili’s Case is ‘Beyond Their Competence’

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, March 14
(MOSCOW)--The Foreign Ministry of Russia has responded to the Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who urged Russia to settle the “complicated issue” of Archil Tatunashvili together.

Russia claims that the case of Tatunashvili, a 35-year-old Georgian soldier who died in unclear circumstances in the occupied Tskhinvali region on February 23, “is far out of the framework of the Russian-Georgian agenda.”

Moreover, Russia “welcomed a direct dialogue” between Georgia and its occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali.

“We welcome Georgian Prime Minister’s offer on a direct dialogue with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 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 stated.

The majority members admitted the response from Russia was “cynical” and the country “interpreted” Kvirikashvili’s statement as it was beneficial to them.

The opposition accused Kvirikashvili of taking a “wrong step” and encouraging Russia to speak about the direct dialogue between Georgia and its occupied territories, which meant recognition of the areas as independent states.

In his statement released on March 9, Kvirikashvili wrote that the upcoming August marks the 10th anniversary since the Russia-Georgia war of 2008, which according to the PM "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 or 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 Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, 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.

The Georgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze said that the Russian response “was not constructive.”

“Regrettably, Russia does not respond to our pragmatic approach with a pragmatic attitude. We hope that this approach will change in the future, we need to find ways to solve the problem, and we are doing everything for peaceful resolution of Russian-Georgian conflict,” Kobakhidze said.

The Georgian Minister of Reconciliation Ketevan Tsikhelashvili underscored that Russia “interpreted” Giorgi Kvirikashvili’s appeal as it was in the occupant country’s interest.

Giga Bokeria, leader of the European Georgia opposition, stated that by making the unadvised, irresponsible and credulous statement, Kvirikashvili gave Russia yet another argument and a quotation to be used against Georgia.

Twenty 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 territory late on Sunday.

Russia recognized Abkhazia and Tskhinvali as independent countries after a war with Georgia in 2008.

Only four countries recognise Georgia’s breakaway regions as independent republics: Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru.