A general view shows the Russian embassy. File photo: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch.
A general view shows the Russian embassy. File photo: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch.

Germany expels Russian diplomats over murder of Georgian man in Berlin

By By Peter Spinella Time of article published Dec 4, 2019

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Berlin - Suspicions of Russian state involvement in an apparent

contract killing of a Georgian man in central Berlin earlier this

year have led Germany to expel two Russian diplomats.

The diplomats have been designated as personae non gratae, the German

Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, adding that the government

suspects Russian intelligence agencies were involved in the shooting.

Russia's Foreign Ministry condemned Germany's move as "unfriendly"

and "baseless," according to comments carried by Russian news


Russia's top diplomat, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, said the

country was preparing its official response.

Senior Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky, an authority on foreign

policy, said Germany should expect to have two of its diplomats

expelled from Russia as a "symmetrical" measure.

The German authorities moved ahead of a summit on Ukraine to be

attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor

Angela Merkel, along with French President Emmanuel Macron, in Paris

on Monday.

Commenting about the case on the sidelines of a NATO summit in

Britain, Merkel criticized Russia for giving insufficient assistance

to German investigators.

"In bilateral relations, it is of course notable that we

unfortunately received no active help in clarifying this incident,"

Merkel said.

Germany's decision to expel the two Russian diplomats was taken

because of the lack of assistance, Merkel said, adding that the

measure was not expected to affect the Ukraine summit.

Germany's federal prosecution service has taken over responsibility

for the probe into the shooting, which occurred in broad daylight on

August 23 in a small park in the inner-city neighbourhood of Moabit.

The killer, riding a bicycle, approached the 40-year-old victim from

behind and aimed at his back and head.

German federal prosecutors investigate cases where there is firm

suspicion of involvement by a foreign power. The espionage department

of the Federal Prosecutor's Office in the western city of Karlsruhe

will work on the case.

The German investigation is also looking into a possible link to

officials in Chechnya, a republic within the Russian Federation that

has its own constitution but is still controlled by Moscow.

Russia has fought two wars to quell separatist rebellions in Chechnya

since the dissolution of the Soviet Union almost three decades ago.

A man with a Russian passport has been detained in connection with

the Berlin killing. The suspect, also implicated in the murder of a

Russian businessman in 2013, has maintained his right to keep silent.

The victim killed in August is said to have fought against Russia on

the side of Muslim Chechens in the early 2000s. He is also reported

to have survived a May 2015 attempt on his life in the Georgian

capital, Tbilisi.

Putin's spokesman on Wednesday adamantly denied Russian state

involvement in the murder.

"What does this have to do with the Russian authorities? These are

absolutely baseless assumptions," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

said in comments carried by Russian news agency Interfax.

"This topic is somehow exalted by the German media, but that does not

mean this is the case," Peskov said.

Over the past two days Russian and German law enforcement authorities

have met in Moscow to discuss collaboration, Russia's prosecutor

general's office said in a statement. It did not mention the murder



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