Russia replies to Germany by expelling two German diplomats into the Berlin murder case

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Russia has warned that it will act in this way following the decision taken on December 4 by Angela Merkel’s government to expel two members of the Russian Embassy. The two German diplomats have seven days to leave the country.

Berlin said on Thursday that this decision “sends a bad signal and is unjustified”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday downplayed the importance of these mutual expulsions, saying they do not constitute a “crisis”.

Moscow will “do everything” to help Germany elucidate the crime, he said.

On August 23, the day, in a park in the center of the German capital, a Georgian from the Chechen minority was killed by three bullets, with a shock absorber. The matrons evoked a true “execution”.

The victim, 42 years old – identified as Tomike Hangoşvili, but also known by the name Zelimhan – fought alongside separatists in Chechnya against Russian troops.

The German federal prosecutor’s office, charged with espionage files, announced in December that it had taken over the investigation. The German court considers that the crime was committed “either on behalf of state entities of the Russian Federation or of the autonomous republic of Chechnya”, led by authoritarian Ramzan Kadyrov, whose people were accused in the past of extrajudicial executions and murdered on command.

Berlin also reveals that the main suspect is a 54-year-old Russian citizen arrested under false identity after the facts.

“There is no connection between this event, this assassination, and official Russia,” a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, quoted by Russian news agencies as saying on Thursday.

Many former Chechen separatist fighters were killed after they went into exile, and Russian secret services or Ramzan Kadyrov’s people were often considered the number one suspects.

The best-known case is of separatist president Zelimhan Ianderbiev, killed in a car by a bomb in 2004 in Qatar, a murder in which two Russian agents were found guilty.

Tomike Hangoşvili was a well-known figure of the Chechen separatist movement. According to the Russian press, he fought alongside rebels in the 2000s and then served in the Georgian army.

In a press conference on the sidelines of the Ukraine summit in Paris on Monday, Vladimir Putin said that Hangoşvili was “actively participating in separatist activities” and was looking for Russian services to “organize explosions on the subway”. from Moscow ”.

The Russian capital was targeted in several subway attacks, in 2004 and 2010, committed by Islamist or separatist guerrillas, who were very active at that time in several republics in the North Caucasus.

The Russian media revealed, one day after Putin’s statement, that the name Hangoşvili had never been publicly mentioned before, in investigations into these attacks.

The Kremlin spokesman reaffirmed on Thursday that the victim “participated in extremely bloody, mass-murdered terrorist attacks,” according to RIA news agency Novosti.

According to Peskov, “many people involved in attacks or organizing attacks or assassinations, at the time of the bloody events in the North Caucasus (…), are still hiding in Europe.”

And as many of them are targeted by extradition investigations, their names are not, “as a rule, ever made public.”

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