The Embassy of the United Kingdom in Tbilisi issued a statement regarding the death of a Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili in the custody of the Russian-backed Tskhinvali authorities following his detention on February 22.
“We are deeply concerned by the death of Georgian citizen, Mr Archil Tatunashvili, while under detention in South Ossetia and express our condolences to his family,” reads the UK statement.
The British Embassy said it expected Tskhinvali authorities “to ensure that there is a full, open and transparent investigation into the death, and to allow the two Georgian citizens detained with Mr Tatunashvili to travel to Tbilisi-Administered Territory without delay.”
The Embassy’s statement also says that the incident “illustrates the need for those in de facto control of South Ossetia to allow full and unhindered access for international human rights and humanitarian institutions,” and “underlines the need for additional measures to ensure transparency and improve confidence.”
“We take this opportunity to reaffirm our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders,” concludes the British Embassy’s statement.
Archil Tatunashvili, 35, was detained by the Russian-backed Tskhinvali authorities’ security force on February 22 in Akhalgori Municipality. He was then taken to Tskhinvali, where he died. Tskhinvali KGB claimed Tatunashvili resisted the guards and “rolled down the stairs.” It also claimed Tatunashvili died of heart failure.
On February 25, the spokesperson for EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said the incident was “a source of grave concern,” while Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius commented that what had taken place was “the ugly face of oppressive regime in Russia’s occupied South Ossetia” that highlighted the necessity “to establish international human rights and security mechanisms on the ground.”