The remains of Georgia’s first president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, arrived in Georgia in the early hours of Tuesday morning, March 28. They will be re-interred in the pantheon at Mtatsminda in Tbilisi on Sunday - instead of March 31 as it was announced earlier - alongside many other prominent Georgian public figures.
The final resting place was a source of controversy, with his family proposing the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. The State, however, insisted on Mtatsminda Pantheon.
Controversy also surrounded the autopsy which had been carried out in Rostov, Russia on the former president’s remains. Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, the late president’s son from his first wife, who is now a leader of the opposition Freedom Party, had been calling for an outside, namely U.S., forensic examination. Only then, he had said, would the true cause of death be known.
Gamsakhurdia’s death still remains a focus of speculation. Some say he committed suicide, but others claim he was murdered in the western Georgian region of Samegrelo on New Year's Eve in 1993. He had just returned from exile in a failed attempt to regain power which he had lost the previous year in a coup.
Despite the controversy, however, no additional forensic examination will be carried out in Tbilisi, Tsotne Gamsakhurdia, the late President’s son, said on March 28.
“A forensic examination was already carried out in [the Russia’s town of] Rostov. The Rostov lab has an international certificate. The relevant agencies in Georgia can request and receive the results of the examination from [the Russian side]. So, no additional examination is needed,” Tsotne Gamsakhurdia said.
“Time will show what the findings are,” he said.
The only result of the autopsy that has been made public so far is that the remains are actually those of the former president. The examination was carried out in Rostov after Gamsakhurdia’s remains were unearthed in the Chechen capital, Grozny, on March 3.
A public memorial service is planned in the Svetitskhoveli cathedral in Mtskheta near Tbilisi on Saturday.