Co-chairs of the Geneva Discussions discussed this and other issues during the visit to South Ossetia
“Tatunashvili’s relatives should be given his body so that they can bury him. This incident has a negative impact on the Geneva Discussions [on settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian and Georgian-Abkhazian conflicts],” South Ossetia’s RES news agency cited Toivo Klaar, Co-chair and designated EU Special Representative while visiting South Ossetia on 7 March 2018.
Archil Tatunashvili and two other Georgian nationals were detained by South Ossetian law-enforcers in Leningori/Akhalgori on 22 February. KGB officials of the de-facto Republic of South Ossetia claimed the next day that Tatunashvili had resisted arrest while being transferred to the detention facility and that KGB officers had to use force against him. According to the officers he lost his balance as a result and fell down some stairs. He later died in a Tskhinval hospital supposedly of cardiac failure. However, Tatunashvili’s relatives do not believe this version. Tskhinval still refuses to hand over his body to his family, which according to Tbilisi officials once again proves that Tatunashvili’s death was not an accident.
The President of South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov pointed out at a meeting with the Co-chairs of the Geneva Discussions that the issue of releasing Tatunashvili’s body was ‘overly politicized’. He said that Tatunashvili’s body could be handed over to his family only after forensic examination has been performed.
“In Georgia … it takes as least a month to conduct such a forensic examination. We aren’t saying that Tatunashvili’s body shouldn’t be released to his family, though a certain part of our society holds to this stance. After all, 150 people are regarded as missing in our country, and their relatives are unaware of their fate. However, we aren’t politicizing this issue,” President Bibilov stated at the meeting.
“We fear that if the body is released without any forensic examination, it will have more negative implications,” the President stressed. “Let us do everything as prescribed by the law.”
Co-chairs from the UN, OSCE and the EU arrived in South Ossetia on 7 March to discuss preparations for the next round of Geneva International Discussions on Security and Stability in the South Caucasus with South Ossetia.