After the murder of a Georgian citizen in Berlin, the German government expelled two employees of the Russian embassy. The Attorney General is investigating. Russia announced retaliatory measures.
Germany has expelled two Russian diplomats from the country. They had been declared persona non-grata with immediate effect, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said. The background is the murder of a Georgian in the centre of Berlin a few weeks ago. Despite “repeated high-ranking and emphatic demands”, Russian authorities would “not sufficiently participate in the investigation of the murder”, it was said.
The federal prosecutor’s office took over the investigation. It is investigating suspicions that the man was killed on behalf of Russian or Chechen state authorities. The authorities in Karlsruhe announced that there were “sufficient actual indications” of this. It therefore treated the case as an “act of special importance specific to state protection”. The state authorities could be, for example, a Russian secret service, the Russian Ministry of Defence or Chechen authorities.
Expelled ‘diplomats’ GRU employees
According to information from NDR, WDR and “Süddeutscher Zeitung”, the deported embassy employees are two employees of the military secret service GRU. The federal government is talking about a “warning shot” because the Russian government did not comply with the requests for cooperation in the investigations.
In the course of the day, NATO and EU partners will be informed about the German decision and its background. The German government currently does not want to press for the coordinated expulsion of Russian diplomats in other countries – this was the case after the assassination of the Russian defector Sergej Skripal and his daughter in Great Britain. According to government circles, everything now depends on Moscow’s reaction and the further results of the Federal Prosecutor General.
Russia threatens retaliation
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that they would respond accordingly. Moscow would be forced to “take a series of retaliatory measures,” it announced, according to the state agency Tass. Germany’s action was unfriendly and unfounded.
Russia rejects any involvement in the murder. At a telephone conference, Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov said it was “absolutely groundless speculation”. The topic is “somehow exaggerated by the German media. But that doesn’t mean that things went that way.” He did not believe that there are serious suspicions of involvement of the Russian authorities, Peskov added.
Shot in the back
On August 23, a 40-year-old Chechen with Georgian citizenship was shot from behind in a small park in Berlin-Moabit. His murderer had approached him on a bicycle during the day and shot him in his back and head. The alleged perpetrator, a 49-year-old man with a Russian passport, had been arrested shortly after the crime. He has remained silent since his arrest. The victim is said to have fought against Russia in the second Chechen war.