The murder of Tamaz Ginturi: what happened, Tskhinvali's version, what Georgian politicians say
The murder of Tamaz Ginturi
The body of Tamaz Ginturi, a 58-year-old killed by the Russian military in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone, has been returned to his home in Kirbali. Meanwhile, Levan Dotiashvili, who was also apprehended by the same military, is believed to be held in an isolation center in Tskhinvali. During a meeting on November 7, Ossetian representatives asserted that “Ginturi and Dotiashvili attempted to drive a car across the border while intoxicated.”
Kirbali is situated along what is referred to as the occupation line in Georgia. Thus far, no government agency has provided an official account of the events that transpired on November 6 near the Lomisi church. The sequence of events can only be pieced together through the accounts of the victim’s family.
According to Tamaz Ginturi’s relative, Giorgi Doluashvili, he was shot three times in the back and died in his own car.
“He was killed as a righteous man. He went to his father’s grave, and they [the Russian military] forbade him from going there. That’s when they shot him. The car is still there, and he was shot from behind, found dead in the car, which was completely destroyed. He was a tough fighter who fought in August 2008,” Radio Liberty quoted Doluashvili as saying.
One account suggests that Tamaz Ginturi and Levan Dotiashvili visited the cemetery near Kirbali village and then proceeded to the Lomisi temple to light candles. The temple has been within the zone controlled by the Russian military for several years.
It is known that Ginturi and Dotiashvili were traveling in the same car. According to one version, the Russian military initially attempted to arrest Dotiashvili, and when Ginturi tried to escape, they opened fire on him.
The Georgian side learned of the incident through a call from Levan Dotiashvili. The Russian military, who had apprehended him, provided him with Tamaz Ginturi’s phone number and instructed him to call for an ambulance.
- “Statement about new Russian base in Ochamchire is alarming” – Georgian Foreign Ministry
- “Liza, Go On” – a movie about the war in Abkhazia and why it caused such a strong reaction
- “Russia is doing everything for China and India to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia” – Karasin
- “Saakashvili wanted to begin with Abkhazia” – Opinion on the August 2008 War
Yuri Dotiashvili, the father of Levan, recounted:
“They instructed my son to dial [the emergency service] 112 from the dead man’s phone. He told them that he was okay, but to attend to Tamaz, who was injured. That was the last they heard from him before they took him away. He was wearing a red jacket,” he said.
According to Yuri Dotiashvili, calls can still be made to Tamaz Ginturi’s phone, but there is no response.
Yuri Dotiashvili explained that his son and Tamaz Ginturi had gone to the church to light candles and offer prayers.
“We are aware that the church is currently under Russian control, but it’s not feasible to yield to everything. We have livestock, and I need to tend to the animals in the forest. How can we anticipate where they [the Russian military] are lurking, where they’re concealed, and how to guess their movements? There are no wires, only red ribbons tied to the posts,” he mentioned.
Tamaz Ginturi’s car remains parked near the Lomisi church, where investigative procedures are ongoing.
On November 7, President Salome Zurabishvili visited the village to extend condolences to the victim’s family.
Meeting with the Russian military and the Ossetian side
An extraordinary meeting took place in the village of Ergneti on November 7, following the Georgian government’s request, with representatives from the Russian and Ossetian sides in attendance. Tbilisi’s primary demands were the identification and punishment of those responsible for Tamaz Ginturi’s murder and the safe return of Levan Dotiashvili.
Russian and Ossetian delegates asserted that they are conducting their own investigation into the incident. According to their information, Levan is unharmed and is currently being detained in Tskhinvali.
As of now, the Georgian security service cannot confirm the precise state of Levan Dotiashvili’s health.
The Georgian interior ministry has initiated an investigation under Articles 109 and 143 of the Criminal Code, which pertain to premeditated murder and illegal deprivation of liberty.
“Drunk and with an axe” – the version of the South Ossetian leadership
South Ossetia’s security service has presented the following account of the incident, referring to the individuals involved as “drunk and with an axe”:
“Two intoxicated individuals attempted to drive a car through the border checkpoint. One of them was carrying an axe. Border service personnel initially fired warning shots into the air, followed by shooting at the car’s wheels. Consequently, one of the intruders sustained a severe injury and was transported to Georgia for urgent medical treatment,” the South Ossetian KGB stated in an official release.
In an official announcement, the South Ossetian government characterized Ginturi and Dotiashvili as “radical representatives of the party of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili” who “illegally crossed the state border of South Ossetia by car, penetrating deep into its territory.”
The South Ossetian foreign ministry has expressed its intention to “undertake all legal measures to safeguard its sovereign territory and borders” moving forward. Furthermore, it urged Tbilisi to “initiate collaborative efforts on the delimitation and demarcation of the state border to establish transparent and civilized procedures for border crossings.”
Georgia’s ruling party blames Saakashvili, president blames Russia
Members of the ruling Georgian Dream party have attributed the murder of Georgian citizen Tamaz Ginturi to the previous government, which they claim “allowed the occupation” during Mikhail Saakashvili’s presidency.
President Salome Zurabishvili, in response to the tragedy, has primarily emphasized Moscow’s role, stating, “It is astounding that anyone expects peace negotiations with Russia.”
The Georgian government has appealed to the international community to denounce the killing of a Georgian citizen by Russian occupation forces.
Assessments of Georgian politicians
One of the leaders of Georgian Dream, Mamuka Mdinaradze:
“Today, there are attempts to exploit this tragedy by those who left us with this burdensome legacy, those who led the Georgian military into war (referring to the period of Mikhail Saakashvili’s presidency).
We have rectified many of their actions. Despite their knowingly unfounded cases, we have prevailed in both The Hague and Strasbourg courts. Nonetheless, the paramount issue left unresolved by the previous government is the Russian occupation and its repercussions.
Georgia will employ all available and feasible means to ensure that those accountable face justice properly.”
Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairman of Georgian Dream:
“The Russian occupation of Georgian territories is the most burdensome consequence of the treacherous policies of the former government, which we encounter daily.
My heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Tamaz Ginturi. Every effort must be made to hold those accountable responsible.”
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili:
“Russia’s long-standing policies persist unabated, with incidents such as murders and abductions of our citizens occurring within our own borders. While Russia brands these actions as part of its peaceful agenda, we’ve witnessed its true behavior on our soil.
Believing in a future with Russia is a profound challenge. Our aspirations are in Europe.”
Irakli Kadagishvili, Georgian Dream MP:
“Up to this point, we’ve encountered isolated, tragic incidents. However, there are individuals advocating for heightened confrontation. Escalating the situation could trigger unmanageable developments. Can anyone from the present opposition take responsibility for this? The events in Kirbali are an outcome of their past actions [when they were in power].”