Georgia expresses its deep sorrow over the death of its citizen Archil Tatunashvili in the region of Tskhinvali, also known as South Ossetia, who was killed while under detention by occupying Russian forces on Feb. 22, said the Georgian Embassy in Seoul.
The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also condemned those responsible for his death and urged Russia to return his body for a medical examination and burial, it added. Two more Georgian citizens had previously been detained in the region, one of two breakaway provinces, alongside Abkhazia, to be occupied by Russia since the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.
According to Georgian Ambassador to Korea Otar Berdzenishvili, the situation in the two provinces bordering Russia has been deteriorating since, as Russian troops have stealthily expanded abrasive demarcations into Georgian territories, as part of Moscow’s decadeslong policy to annex them into its sphere of influence.
The late Archil Tatunashvili, a Georgian citizen who died under Russian custody in South Ossetia on Feb. 22 (Georgian Embassy)
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia appeals to the co-chairs of the Geneva International Discussions (an international platform launched in October 2008 to address the consequences of the 2008 conflict, co-chaired by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union and the United Nations) to make a due and timely response to determine the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Tatunashvili,” the embassy told The Korea Herald.
“Such illegal actions by the occupying regime, the victims of which are Georgian citizens, reveal the necessity for immediately creating international security and human rights-enforcing mechanisms on the ground. We urge the immediate release of detainees and resolution of ongoing issues, for which the Russian Federation is directly responsible as a force exercising full control on the ground.”
Moscow has intensified in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali what Georgia deems “illegal, provocative steps,” including the erection of barbed-wire fences and barriers along the illegitimate borders, restricting the free movement of people, detaining Georgian citizens without due process, violating their human rights and enforcing discriminatory practices against them, the diplomatic mission said.
Such actions hinder the prospect of a peaceful resolution while exacerbating instabilities and heightening threats to the whole region, it added.
Tatunashvili’s death under Russia’s custody was condemned by Tbilisi and the international community, including the US State Department, European Union, UK, US Embassy in Georgia, Germany, Japan, Spain, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Poland, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, among others.
A map of Georgia’s occupied territories Abkhazia and South Ossetia (Georgian Embassy)
“This coming August marks the 10th anniversary of the war in 2008. This dramatic event has left a tremendous mark on the Georgian people’s minds and Georgia-Russia relations. Diplomatic ties have been severed. Moscow’s recognition of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali as independent states has quashed all prospects of normalizing relations between our countries,” according to a statement by Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili.
“I urge the leadership of the Russian Federation to take joint steps and resolve the complicated situation, while fully embracing our responsibilities to our present and future generations.”
In an interview earlier, Berdzenishvili said that Georgia was doing its utmost to resolve the conflict peacefully and urged Russia to fulfill the six-point cease-fire agreement of Aug. 12, 2008 signed between the two countries and mediated by the EU.
Although Georgia and Russia have restored their economic relationships and reopened their mutual border, there has been no progress in the two regions as stipulated by the agreement, according to the embassy.
By Joel Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org