Gudrun Mosler-Törnström, President of the Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, expressed her concern over the death of Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili, who died at the hands of the Russian-backed Tskhinvali authorities following his detention on February 22.
“I would like to join with the entire international community in expressing my outrage and sorrow at this tragic event,” Mosler-Törnström wrote in her statement on February 27.
“A transparent investigation is urgently needed to establish the circumstances behind his death and the responsibility for this act,” she said, adding that the two other persons detained together with Tatunashvili “should immediately be released and placed under the authority of the legitimate government in Tbilisi.”
The Congress President also underlined the Congress’ “long-standing support for Georgia’s territorial integrity,” and expressed condolences to the family of the deceased.
Archil Tatunashvili’s death was also condemned by Kerstin Lundgren (Sweden-ALDE) and Titus Corlatean (Romania-SOC), monitoring co-rapporteurs for Georgia from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), who expressed their “deep concern” regarding the development.
“We call upon the separatist authorities, as well as the authorities of the Russian Federation, as the de facto power in control, to conduct a full and transparent investigation into the death of Archil Tatunashvili, and to prosecute those responsible,” the co-rapporteurs wrote in their statement on February 26.
They also called for “the immediate release, and transfer to the Tbilisi-administered territory, of the two other Georgian citizens that were detained together with Tatunashvili,” and reiterated “their strong support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and the inviolability of its international borders.”
PACE Georgia monitors @KerstinLundgren and Titus Corlățean express their deep concern at the death of Georgian citizen Archil #Tatunashvili in South Ossetia https://t.co/atUGxKe1H4 pic.twitter.com/aDTIEjygJh— PACE (@PACE_News) February 26, 2018
Archil Tatunashvili, a thirty-five-year old native of Akhalgori Municipality in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, was detained in Akhalgori by the region’s Russian-backed authorities on February 22. He was then taken to Tskhinvali, where he died, with local authorities claiming he had resisted the guards and “rolled down the stairs.” Tatunashvili’s family denies the version, saying he was tortured and killed by the Tskhinvali security forces.
Archil Tatunashvili’s family members, who live in Tsilkani settlement of internally displaced persons from Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, have been requesting the transfer of his body to the Tbilisi-administered territory, but Tskhinvali representatives have rejected the request, saying the body would not be released to the family until an “independent examination” of Tskhinvali autopsy’s materials was conducted in Russia.
Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria, who claims Tatunashvili was already dead when he was taken to hospital, said the delay was intentional “so that examination [in Georgia proper] is unable to determine cause of death.”
Archil Tatunashvili’s death was condemned by Tbilisi and the international community, including the European Union, Lithuania, the United States, the United Kingdom, Latvia, Estonia, Germany, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the human rights committee chair at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.