Germany is expelling two Russian diplomats over what a German court said was a Russian-ordered killing of a German citizen of Chechen origin in Berlin in 2019.
In the high-profile incident, Zelimkhan “Tornike” Khangoshvili was gunned down in a Berlin park.
On Wednesday, a German court found Russian Vadim Krasikov guilty of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment, saying he was working for Russian authorities who had provided him with a false identity and other resources.
Calling the murder a “grave breach of German law and the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Germany,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock summoned the Russian ambassador to discuss the case and expel the two diplomats.
In 2004, Khangoshvili was involved in an attack on a Russian police station that left police and civilians dead.
“There is no doubt that Khangoshvili bears responsibility for people’s deaths,” Judge Olaf Arnoldi said, adding that Russian authorities wanted “revenge and retribution” for the attack.
“Khangoshvili had given up the fight against the Russian Federation years before. He had not held a weapon in his hands since 2008,” Arnoldi said. “This was not an act of self-defense by Russia. This was and is nothing other than state terrorism.”
In December 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Khangoshvili a “terrorist and murderer.”
While living in Georgia in 2015, Khangoshvili survived an assassination attempt. He later moved to Ukraine and then to Berlin.
Russia’s ambassador in Berlin denied Russian involvement in Khangoshvili’s murder.
“We consider the verdict an unobjective, politically motivated decision that seriously aggravates already complicated Russian-German relations,” Russian Ambassador Sergei Nechayev said, adding it was “an unfriendly act that won’t go unanswered.”
“The absurd notion about Russia’s involvement in the wrongdoing during the entire course of the trial was being methodically imposed on the public, was being weaved into the general anti-Russian background, but wasn’t in the end proved with convincing evidence,” he said.
Some information in this report comes from Reuters and The Associated Press.