Giorgi Antsukhelidze (Georgian: გიორგი ანწუხელიძე; 18 August 1984 – c. 9–10 August 2008) was a Georgian soldier who was killed during the hostilities in South Ossetia in the course of the Russia–Georgia war of August 2008. He is the subject of two Internet videos showing his interrogation and torture by the South Ossetian militants. He was posthumously awarded the Order of National Hero by the Georgian government in 2013.
Military service and death
Giorgi Antsukhelidze was born in 1984 in the village of Alvani in the highland Akhmeta district in northeast Georgia. He was conscripted in the Georgian Armed Forces in 2001. He then served in various units of the Georgian infantry headquartered at Senaki and then at Vaziani. Junior Sergeant Antsukhelidze took his service as an assistant gunner in the 41st Battalion of the 4th Infantry Brigade during the Russia–Georgia war of August 2008. He went missing in action on 9 August 2008 during the battle of Tskhinvali as the Georgian forces were advancing into the Shankhai district of Tskhinvali, and was considered as such until December 2008, when his body was identified using DNA testing among those retrieved from the South Ossetian military. He was buried at the fraternal cemetery of Georgian soldiers at Mukhatgverdi near Tbilisi. He was survived by his wife Maka Chikviladze and two children.
Allegations of torture
In January 2009 two video recordings emerged on the Internet showing soldiers in the South Ossetian uniforms torturing a captured Georgian soldier whom the relatives identified as Antsukhelidze. The video footage shows the militants, speaking in Ossetian and Georgian, interrogating the prisoner, forcing him to kneel and ordering him to kiss the earth. The captured soldier in a Georgian uniform is shown being repeatedly beaten and replying to each question: "I have no idea". One of the torturers is heard shouting in Ossetian: "Look, what a tough guy!". In April 2010, the Georgian non-governmental organization Georgian Young Lawyer's Association filed a claim to the European Court of Human Rights in favor of the Antsukhelidze family. The claim refers to facts of torture and murder by Russian and Ossetian militaries. A high-ranking South Ossetian officer, Soslan Pukhayev, claimed by the Georgian reports to have been associated with the murder of Antsukhelidze, was arrested by the Georgian police in July 2009.
Awards and memory
On 15 April 2013 President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili posthumously awarded Giorgi Antsukhelidze the Order of National Hero. Antsukhelidze had earlier been awarded the Order of Vakhtang Gorgasali, 1st Class. Antsukhelidze's name was given to a NCO school operated by the Ministry of Defense of Georgia in November 2013. He was also honored by President Giorgi Margvelashvili in his inaugural speech in November 2013.
- "The President of Georgia granted Sergeant Giorgi Antsukhelidze a title of a national hero". The Administration of the President of Georgia. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Tsuladze, Zaza (16 April 2013). "კაპრალი გიორგი ანწუხელიძე რუსებმა დაკითხეს, აწამეს და მოკლეს" (in Georgian). Voice of America. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "Georgian soldier's family sues Russia at ECtHR". Caucasian Knot. 14 April 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Chichua, Nino. "პრეზიდენტმა 2008 წლის ომის გმირი გიორგი ანწუხელიძე სიკვდილის შემდეგ ეროვნული გმირის ორდენით დააჯილდოვა" (in Georgian). Pirweli. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "GYLA Appeals European Court regarding the Torture of Giorgi Antsukhelidze". Interpressnews (Humanrights.ge). 13 April 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Berulava, Lasha (18 August 2011). "აგვისტოს ომის სამაგალითო ქართველი გმირი 18 აგვისტოს 26 წლის გახდებოდა (ვიდეო)" (in Georgian). Droni. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "Georgia Files Europe Suit Over Soldier's Alleged Torture, Killing". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 14 April 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "МВД Южной Осетии ведет переговоры с Грузией об освобождении Сослана Пухаева". Novyi Region (in Russian). 29 July 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Kirtzkhalia, N. (16 April 2013). "President of Georgia awarded Giorgi Antsukhelidze with Order of National Hero posthumously". Trend News Agency. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "NCO school named after Giorgi Antsukhelidze". PirWeli Information Agency. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
- "President Margvelashvili's Inaugural Speech". The Georgian Times. 18 November 2013. Archived from the original on 7 December 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013.