Reports suggest that Tengiz Togonidze, 58, was struck down by an asthma attack. Doctors on the scene gave Togonidze first aid but were unable to bring him out of a coma.
Georgians who shared a cell with Togonidze in detention in St. Petersburg said he had asked to be permitted to have fresh air. Togonidze had subsequently been brought from Saint Petersburg to Moscow by bus.
Since the start of a crisis in Russian-Georgian relations sparked by Georgia's arrest of alleged Russian spies last month, Russia has deported a large number of Georgians from the country who it claims are illegal immigrants. The exact number of Georgians deported is not known.
Russian military hardware being withdrawn from a Russian base in Batumi, Georgia, in August 2005 (TASS)
WHAT COMES NEXT? Although Russia is unlikely to push an aggressive military response to the current tensions with Georgia, it has a number of economic, political, and diplomatic options at its disposal. Already on October 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin summoned his inner circle to weigh Moscow's options... (more)