Waiting again, promises again, but a year has passed, no one can say how long this wait will last. Zaza Gakheladze’s family members are looking forward to each meeting and the end of the negotiations. They are trying to find out something new about Zaza’s release, but the news is sometimes more vague. After a meeting in Ergneti on July 13, Irakli Antadze, deputy head of the State Security Service’s analytical department, said that there were some opportunities for Gakheladze to be released, but did not specify.
“There are some opportunities for the release of Zaza Gakheladze, there was an intense discussion about it, but I will refrain from talking about other details, so as not to damage the processes. As for the family, we have intensive communication with them and this communication will be maintained.” – said Irakli Antadze.
Andria Jagmaidze, the head of the public relations department of the Patriarchate, also spoke about the opportunities and positive dynamics in the case of Zaza’s release. The specifics were not in his speech either, although it is not difficult to understand that the optimism of the church and the state is now based on the letter of the Russian Patriarch, Kirill.
Gakheladze’s family is also waiting for an answer to the letter of the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia. More than two weeks have passed and the Russian Patriarch will neither respond to the Georgian Patriarch nor send a letter to Tskhinvali requesting the release of Zaza Gakheladze. The Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch appealed to the Russian Patriarch Zaza Gakheladze to release him on June 22, on the eve of Zaza’s birthday, while the family threatened to hold a radical rally and move to the occupied territories. The family is now waiting for July 23rd. They think that one month will be enough to find out everything. Zaza’s wife, Irma Butkhuzi, says the family does not want to go to the street rally, but will be forced to do so if nothing changes.
Zaza Gakheladze’s mother, Nana Buntur, did not have tears in her eyes after the Ergneti meeting. He also had little hope, but he wants to hear more specifics.
For years, the Georgian government has been unable to resolve the issue of isolating Akhalgori or halt the creeping occupation process – it has limited itself to protests in Geneva discussions and “incident prevention” meetings, and the occupation forces continue to seize new territories. Irakli Antadze says that these are the issues that are constantly on the agenda of the meetings.
The Gakheladze family is now preparing another parcel to be sent to the Tskhinvali prison, which will be brought there by the International Committee of the Red Cross. July 11 marks one year since Zaza Gakheladze was illegally taken prisoner by the de facto Tskhinvali regime. His family members were able to visit Tskhinvali prison only once through the Red Cross.
The de facto Supreme Court of the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali region sentenced Zaza Gakheladze to 12 years and 6 months in prison.
Gakheladze, who was detained by the occupation forces last summer, was charged by the de facto authorities with two articles of the Russian Criminal Code – “attempted violation of life” and “illegal crossing of the state border.”
Zaza Gakheladze, a resident of the village of Kvemo Chala, Kaspi Municipality, was shot and wounded by the occupation forces on July 11, 2020 in the vicinity of Skhvilo Prison.