Germany expels two Russians over killing of Georgian in Berlin

Cheryl Sanders
December 4, 2019

German Foreign Ministry has declared as personae non gratae two staffers of the Russian embassy in Germany in connection with the killing of a Georgian citizen in Berlin at the end of last summer.

German federal prosecutors announced on Wednesday that they are taking over investigations into the murder of a Georgian asylum-seeker in Berlin, confirming earlier reports.

"With this step, the German government is reacting to [the fact that] Russian authorities have not cooperated sufficiently in the investigations surrounding the murder of Tornike K in a park in Berlin", said the German foreign ministry on Wednesday.

The case threatens to inflame tensions between Russian Federation and Germany, and prosecutors' spokesman Markus Schmitt told The Associated Press his office made a decision to take over the investigation from Berlin state prosecutors after the political nature of the case that has come to light.

In a statement, prosecutors said there is "sufficient evidence" to indicate that the man's murder was carried out on the behalf of the Russian state or by Chechnya.

Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a 40-year-old former Chechen rebel commander, was shot in the head from behind in the Kleiner Tiergarten park in August.

The killing drew suspicion of Russian involvement from the beginning, although Moscow had denied any involvement.

Khangoshvili fought against the Russians during the Second Chechen War from 1999 to 2009, and worked thereafter in both Georgia and Ukraine against Russian interests, according to Deutsche Welle.

In their statement, German prosecutors said he was "classified as a terrorist by Russian authorities and persecuted as such".

Manana Tsatieva, Khangoshvili's ex-wife, told German global broadcaster Deutsche Welle that she believes her late husband's history likely motivated the attack.

German media have compared the attack on Khangoshvili to the attempted murder of Russian former intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom a year ago. He had previously survived multiple assassination attempts and continued to receive threats after fleeing to Germany. The attempted murder on British soil led to a breakdown in diplomatic relations between London and Moscow.

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