Levan Dotiashvili, an eyewitness to the killing of Tamaz Ginturi by Russian soldiers in Kirbali village of Gori district, opens up with the media about the details of the incident. 

‘‘6 of us have been drinking at the cemetery – me, Valiko Dotiashvili, Tamaz Ginturi, Vasiko Tsiotashvili, Papitashvili, and Merab Datiashvili. After that, we broke up into two cars. Three took one car to the village, and the three of us went to Lomisa church to light candles. 

When we reached the churchyard, as you saw in the footage, we unlocked the sealed door. As we were leaving, a single Russian soldier approached and fired a warning shot. I called out to him that he didn’t need to shoot and that we can settle this. The Russian soldier calmed down and we talked, he said he had a camera on, and then Tamaz started to talk to him. We talked normally, there was no agitation or conflict, nothing, just a calm exchange. 

After this, Tamaz told me to go sit in the car and I did, while Tamaz and the border guard kept talking. Tamaz then came and sat in the car normally. As soon as we started the engine and drove a few meters, he started shooting at the tires. We were not expecting shots. 

He was chasing and firing at us. After we traveled 15-20 meters, Tamaz said he was hit. 

I jumped out and took Tamaz out of the car. He lost consciousness. I told the Russian soldier I would call the ambulance. I called the ambulance, then the police called me back, and I told them where we were. I saw who shot him, but I cannot identify him, I saw the photos but couldn’t recognize him. 

After 5-6 more minutes, other Russian soldiers arrived. One of them hit me mercilessly and threw me to the ground. I was handcuffed and taken towards the forest. I didn’t see Tamaz after that. They insulted and beat me along the way. They were all armed, some were butting me with a rifle, others punching, I really couldn’t feel the difference anymore,’’ Dotiashvili told journalists.

Tamaz Ginturi's car with bulletholes / photo by Davit Katsarava

58-year-old Tamaz Ginturi was killed 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 for four days. On November 7, a Tskhinvali TV channel released a video showing Tamaz Ginturi and Levan Dotiashvili prying open the sealed church door. 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. Locals think that that is why Russian soldiers killed him. Kidnapped Levan Dotiashvili was released by the de facto authorities of the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali region on November 9.

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