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Renewed tension in South Ossetia. A Georgian who died in prison

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili visiting Archil Tatunashvili's parents in the Tsilkani IDP camp condemned what he considers the murder of an innocent man (credit: Georgian Presidency)

(B2) The death of a Georgian citizen, Archil Tatunashvili, aged 35, Friday February 23, in Tskhinvali in South Ossetia, causes renewed tension in this Caucasian republic. Ossetian authorities say he died of cardiac arrest. But his family maintains that he was killed by the regime.

Fell down the stairs and died of a heart attack

The official version of the state security committee » Ossetian (KGB) as reported by the online media civil.ge indeed lends itself to doubt. Arrested the day before in Akhalgori, Archil Tatunashvili has been " taken to Tskhinvali for questioning ". While being transferred to a holding cell after being interrogated, Tatunashvili “ resisted ". He " was injured, fell to the ground and rolled down the stairs. Taken to Tskhinvali hospital, he died “ Two hours later ". NB: An incident which occurs just when the Danish Foreign Minister, Anders Samuelsen, was visiting Georgia, in particular to the EUMM Georgia mission now led by a Dane.

A member of the Georgian Armed Forces

The Ossetian KGB who arrested him “ during one of his visits to South Ossetia ", suspects him of being a member of the Georgian armed forces. A point that Tbilisi has not denied. Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili wanted to pay tribute to the one who has been " kidnapped and killed » in the occupied region. He acknowledged that Tatunashvili was a military who has served world peace and security in international missions » . " He didn't fire a single bullet in Georgia (contrary to what the Ossetian authorities claim). The « served his own country and after his military service, lived a life as a peaceful citizen he clarified. « This is a murder of an innocent person. I can't call this incident anything else. It is crucial that this evidence is supported by evidence » visiting the family of the deceased in the Tsilkani IDP camp (see here)

Two other Georgians arrested

His father, himself a soldier, and veteran of the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, does not believe the version of the Ossetian authorities, just like the version of his death reports the television channel 1 TV. " My son was healthy » he said. Archil's body Tatunashvili should be repatriated this week, according to Georgian authorities via the village of Ergneti. Two other Georgians, Levan Kutashvili and Ioseb Pavliashvili, had also been imprisoned since February 22. They were released but remain held in South Ossetia, officially for the purposes of the investigation.

The EUMM Georgia mission offers its good offices

The European Demarcation Line Observation Mission (EUMM Georgia) offered its good offices. In a press release, she said: ready to " support ongoing investigations and facilitate discussions through the Ergneti Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (1). It considers it to be a “ paramount importance of establishing cooperation so that all necessary information is exchanged to determine the cause of death of the deceased " and says look forward to full, thorough and transparent reviews of Mr. Tatunashvili's death ».

Additional confidence-building measures needed

The European Union reacted through the spokesperson for the High Representative of the Union, Federica Mogherini. Without expressly condemning the incident, it demands that the two Georgian citizens regain their complete freedom of movement and be able to “ travel to the territory administered by Tbilisi (NB: Georgia in diplomatic language). This incident shows the need for additional measures to ensure transparency and improve trust » she insists (download the communicated).

The question put on the agenda of the Council of Foreign Ministers?

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius condemned “ The persecution of Georgian citizens ". " I demand that international human rights and security mechanisms be put in place on site » he added, indicating that he was counting “raise this subject at the meeting of foreign ministers » of the European Union meeting this Monday (February 26) in Brussels.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1) NB: Umeeting of the Ergneti mechanism is scheduled for March 1.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).