Lomisi Church located in village Kirbali, where Tamaz Ginturi was shot dead by Russian soldiers / Photo courtesy of Davit Katsarava

The brother of Tamaz Ginturi, who was gunned down in the village of Kirbali, named two Russian soldiers who he claims are responsible for the killing – Vasil Demidov and Nikolai Ishenko. The family of the victim is asking Georgia’s Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri to arrange a police guard post in Kirbali to avoid similar tragedies in the future.

 ‘‘We received information from a trusted source that these two soldiers are the killers. They are criminals and I demand they be punished. They should be handed over to Georgia and put on trial here. Since I called them out by name, nobody from law enforcement has approached me and asked me anything. How many heroes have they killed – Otkhozoria, Tatunashvili, their killers roam free. They know who are responsible for killing my brother, but they won’t punish them either,’’ says Tamaz Ginturi’s brother.

According to him, it is necessary to open a police guard post in the village.

‘‘This situation will only get worse from here. The security must be strengthened so our fellow villagers don’t cross over to their side. Russian occupiers are crossing the border and kidnapping locals,’’ said Givi (Nikoloz) Ginturi.

58-year-old Tamaz Ginturi was shot dead by Russian soldiers on November 6. He was shot twice in the back. 33-year-old Levan Dotiashvili from the same village, who was with him at the time, was kidnapped. He is being held at Tskhinvali detention center.

On November 7, a TV channel in the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali released footage showing Tamaz Ginturi and Levan Dotiashvili prying open a walled-up door to the church. Russian soldiers killed Ginturi shortly after.

According to the statement by the so-called security service of Tskhinvali, Ginturi and Dotiashvili resisted arrest by the border guards, which threatened the life and health of the border guards. ‘‘The trespassers used an axe. They later tried to ram the border guard with a car and leave for Georgia,’’ says the statement.

A third person can also be seen in the footage, one Tamaz Papitashvili, another Kirbali local. According to his account, he, Levan Dotiashvili, and Tamaz Ginturi were at the village cemetery, after which they decided to go up to Lomisi church and light candles. They found the door of the church sealed. He saw how Dotiashvili and Ginturi broke in but decided to leave the area.

Tamaz Papiashvili, Kirbali local

‘‘They said come, what are you afraid of, to which I said have some respect, don’t break into a temple. I then turned around and left. I didn’t see anything after that, I didn’t even look back.

I didn’t encounter anybody else. If a Russian had seen me he would also kill me or take me away. When I arrived in the village, that’s when I heard gunshots. Then the people went up, and the police and ambulance also arrived,’’ recalls Papitashvili.

As a result of the creeping occupation, the Lomisi church ended up beyond the occupation line. In August, the occupiers walled up the door to the church with a tin plate.

Tamaz Ginturi fought in the 2008 Russo-Georgian war and was a major. That is why the locals think that Russian soldiers ambushed and killed him on purpose.

After the murder, Tamaz Gintur was called a war criminal by the former president of the occupied Tskhinvali region, Eduard Kokoity.

‘‘As we know, the personal information of the Border Service employees fell into the hands of Tbilisi provocateurs. How and from whom they got this information is a separate matter. Let that rest on the conscience of those who cooperate with the special services of the enemy state and betray their people. We will not be intimidated by such despicable acts. Let those who collect and distribute this data know that we will not allow anyone to oppress our or Russian border guards or their family members,’’ Kokoity writes.

The central government of Georgia is demanding Russian occupant forces hand over kidnapped Levan Dotiashvili and punish those responsible for the murder of Tamaz Ginturi.

‘‘The actions by the opposition are despicable and unacceptable’’, states Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili on November 8,

‘‘I remember the killing of several of our fellow citizens by the occupying forces during their rule, but I can’t recall the same kind of uproar that was raised today.

Unfortunately, the late Tamaz Ginturi was not the first, and we have had cases during the previous government, in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, of kidnapping, illegal detention, torture, and killing of our fellow citizens. For some reason, the opposition does not remember that all these facts happened during their rule and that the heavy burden we have to deal with, of occupation, borderization, is the result of their rule and their legacy.’’

Catholic Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II also addressed the killing of Tamaz Ginturi by the Russian occupation forces.

‘‘Tamaz Ginturi’s life was sacrificed for his love of the country and desire to visit his holy temple. The two bullets fired into his back by the occupiers are their great crime and shame,’’ reads the patriarch’s letter of condolence.

Georgian News
Georgian News
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