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Parliament Speaker: Russia’s Approval of Violations Cause deaths of Georgians

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, March 5
(CHISINAU) - The Georgian Parliament Speaker has stated at an international conference in Moldova that Russia’s explicit and implicit approval of human rights violations caused tragic deaths of Georgian citizens, referring to the most recent death of Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili in the occupied Tskhinvali region.

“Despite real dangers posed by Russia’s continued aggression against Georgia, we have not sacrificed any part of our national sovereignty, and we are daily resisting Russia’s attacks against Georgia’s independence and territorial integrity, outside and inside our borders,” Kobakhidze stated at the international conference Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine: Eastern Partnership and Current Security Challenges held in the capital of Moldova, Chisinau.

Kobakhidze stated that the policy of hidden, creeping annexation of Georgian territories in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali is continuing daily, and the barbed wires that Russian soldiers install in these occupied lands of Georgia are dividing not only Georgians, Ossetians and Abkhazians from one other, but also separate villages and families.

“The Georgian Government is not only concerned with the question of sovereignty and security, but also of humanitarian and human rights situation on the ground,” he stated.

Kobakhidze told the international community that Russia and the de facto leadership of Tskhinvali refused to hand over Tatunashvili’s body after he died in unclear circumstances on the occupied territory.

Shortly after the speech the Deputy Head of the Analytical Department of Georgia’s State Security Service left the emergency meeting with the representatives of the occupied Tskhinvali region with protest, as occupants and the breakaway regime leadership refused to hand over the body.

The breakaway region’s representatives also failed to meet the Georgian government’s demand to allow two other Georgians detained with Tatunashvili to leave the occupied territory.

“It was a very complicated meeting. We raised two issues: the handing over of Tatunashvili’s body and allowing Levan Kutashvili and Ioseb Pavliashvili to leave the occupied territory. I could not receive any clear answer on either question in the course of a three and a half hour meeting.

“Consequently, I left the meeting in protest,” Deputy Head of the Analytical Department of Georgia’s State Security Service Kakhaber Kemoklidze said.

Murat Jioev, a representative of de facto South Ossetian president, says the Georgian authorities spread “groundless versions” about Tutunashvili's death.

"We explained the Georgian government members and the people from diplomatic corps why Tutunashvili was detained and what happened with him later. However, Georgian authorities and NGOs are making situation complicated and spreading groundless information,” Jioev said.

He said as the issue caused stir all the materials have been sent to Russia for autopsy and the body would not be transferred to the family until the outcomes of the autopsy are announced.

The Georgian Patriarch Ilia II has addressed Russian Patriarch Kirill regarding the transfer of Tatunashvili's body.

The Patriarch writes in the letter posted on the Patriarchate’s website that the deceased person’s family is not allowed to bury Tatunashvili under Christian rules, which causes concern in public.

“We know that this is not a competence of your holiness, but please use your high authority to address the relevant officials in order to ensure timely transfer of Tatunashvili’s body to the family. It would be a huge assistance from you to the relatives of the deceased and for us," reads the letter of Ilia II.

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.

Two others detained with Tatunashvili have been released from detention but they cannot leave the occupied territory since their identification documents have been confiscated.