“The latest developments in South Ossetia, Georgia, in particular the tragic death of a Georgian citizen, Mr. Archil Tatunashvili, and detention of two others, are a source of grave concern,” Maja Kocijančič, the spokesperson for EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, said in a statement on February 25.
“The European Union is ready, through its Monitoring Mission (EUMM), to support ongoing investigations and to facilitate discussions through the Incident Prevention and Support Mechanism and the Mission Hotline,” reads the EU statement.
The Spokesperson added that the European Union expects “the de facto authorities in Tskhinvali to urgently ensure” that the two other citizens of Georgia - Levan Kutashvili and Ioseb Pavliashvili, who were detained together with Tatunashvili but released from custody later, “are allowed to travel to Tbilisi Administered Territory.”
“These latest developments underline the need for additional measures to ensure transparency and improve confidence,” the Spokesperson also noted, adding that the European Union “continues to firmly support peace building and conflict resolution in Georgia,” including through the Geneva International Discussions and the EUMM.
“We support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders,” the statement concludes.
Concerns over the incident were voiced by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius as well. “The ugly face of oppressive regime in Russia’s occupied South Ossetia. [I] condemn persecutions against Georgian citizens and echo the call to establish international human rights and security mechanisms on the ground. I will raise this issue during tomorrow’s meetings in Foreign Affairs Council,” he wrote in his twitter post on February 25.
Archil Tatunashvili, a thirty-five-year old native of Akhalgori Municipality in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, died at the hands of the Russian-backed Tskhinvali authorities following his detention on February 22.
Tskhinvali authorities claim that during his transfer to a detention cell after being questioned, Tatunashvili fought back and “sustained injuries, was knocked down and rolled down the stairs,” after which he was taken to hospital, where he died of heart failure.
Tatunashvili’s family denies the version, saying he was tortured and killed by the Tskhinvali security forces. Public Defender Nino Lomjaria claimed Tatunashvili was already dead when he was taken to hospital and had signs of being beaten.
Tatunashvili’s body has not been transferred to the Tbilisi-administered territory yet, despite multiple requests.