19-year old Temirlan Machalikashvilli burried in Georgia
19-year old Temirlan Machalikashvilli shot during the counter-terrorism operations in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge was burried yesterday. Eurasianet reports in its article Georgia: Security Forces' Killing of Teenager Runs Risk of Alienating Isolated Muslim Region that the incident sparked protest in one of the country’s most isolated regions.
The shooting took place on December 26 during a counter-terrorism operation when police opened fire after Machalikashvili allegedly attempted to throw a grenade. His family strongly deny that claim, saying the boy was asleep in his bed when officers stormed the building.
The Prosecutor’s Office is conducting an investigation into allegations that the security forces employing excessive force. Public defender Nino Lomjaria promised to do everything in her power to determine whether “timely medical assistance was rendered to Temirlan Machalikashvili and whether everything was done to save the young man’s life.”
Online debate has been heated. Neil Hauer, an analyst of North Caucasus security issues, wrote on Twitter that the incident will serve to further alienate the region. “What a disaster. Young Chechen/Kist man wounded by Georgian security forces in Pankisi dies in hospital” he wrote. “This is sure to further isolate Pankisi community from Tbilisi.”
The region’s reputation as an extremist hotbed is likely exaggerated, but it has nevertheless been a persistent headache for the Georgian government.
Gela Vasadze, a Georgian security analyst, appealed for the government to take greater care with its Kist population. “Despite the rather difficult situation in which they have been for more than a decade, Kists have always maintained loyalty to Georgia” he wrote in a Facebook post. “It’s time to demand from those involved not only to investigate in detail the whole chain that led to the tragedy, but also to stop using our citizens in the dirty political games of other countries.” “We need an open dialogue with the inhabitants of the gorge and the adoption of a set of measures to prevent such tragedies” he added. “If we do not realize this simple truth – that the security of the country is the security of all our citizens, including citizens of the Pankisi Gorge, we will be doomed to repeat such tragedies.”