Killed by Russian border guards, 58-year-old Georgian citizen Tamaz Ginturi and detained 35-year-old Levan Dotiashvili “just wanted to light candles and pray” at the Lomis Church, said Levan Dotiashvili’s father Yuri. His words are quoted by Echo of the Caucasus.
The incident occurred on November 6 in the village of Kirbali, Gori municipality, near the dividing line between Georgia and the unrecognized South Ossetia. Yuri Dotiashvili said that Tamaz Ginturi, together with his fellow villagers, among whom was Levan, were supposed to visit the church and the rural cemetery where Tamaz’s father was buried. Local residents told Novaya Gazeta Europe that the shooting opened just as the men were lighting candles near the temple.
Dotiashvili’s son was next to Ginturi at that moment. “The Russian border guards themselves let him (Levan) call the rescue service, 112. My son said that he was feeling well, but Tamaz was wounded, he needed help. And then they took him to Tskhinvali. They just wanted to light candles and pray. Of course , we all know that you can’t cross there, but we can’t always obey. Several times I had to chase cattle into the forest. We don’t know where they (Russian border guards) are hiding,” said Yuri Dotiashvili. He noted that he fears for the life of his son, who witnessed the incident. Levan Dotiashvili is probably in a pre-trial detention center in Tskhinvali.
The Russian military, as Ekho Kavkaza notes, boarded up the doors of the church and tightened patrols in this area. This happened after local residents planted the Georgian flag at the Lomisa Church.
58-year-old local resident Tamaz Ginturi is a veteran of the 2008 Russian-Georgian war. According to the Georgian service of Radio Liberty, Ginturi is the brother of Nikoloz Ginturi, a member of the City Council of the Gori Municipality from the National Movement.
Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili and President Salome Zurabivshili previously called on the international community to respond to the murder of Ginturi. Garibashvili called the incident “a grave fact,” and Zurabishvili called it “a blatant attack on Georgian statehood.” The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs opened a criminal case in connection with the murder and abduction. The case was initiated under Articles 109 (premeditated murder with aggravating circumstances) and 143 (unlawful imprisonment) of the Criminal Code of Georgia, the department said in a statement.
Tbilisi insists on the transfer of the Russian military man who killed a resident of Kirbali, said Nikoloz Samkharadze, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Georgian Parliament. He believes that the culprit should be brought to justice in accordance with Georgian legislation.
The Current Time TV channel also made a film for the anniversary of the Russian-Georgian war – it can be watched on our YouTube channel:
The village of Kirbali is located in territory that Russia captured during the 2008 Russian-Georgian war. In total, it effectively annexed South Ossetia and occupied, according to Tbilisi, 20 percent of Georgian territory. The most famous consequence of the war is borderization. Russian and South Ossetian security forces are erecting artificial barriers along the so-called occupation line, increasing the territory of the occupied region. Also, the Russian military is engaged in guarding the “border” between Georgia and South Ossetia, despite the fact that this border is not recognized by almost any other country, as is the independence of South Ossetia.
As part of “border security,” the Russian military regularly detains Georgian residents: they are accused of illegally crossing the border and are arrested. Present Tense talked about one such case: a Georgian doctor who went to see a patient who had broken her legs was sentenced in South Ossetia to 1 year and 9 months in prison for illegally crossing the “border.”