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Inventing ‘2nd Skripal case’? Moscow rejects any link to asylum-seeker assassination in Germany

Inventing ‘2nd Skripal case’? Moscow rejects any link to asylum-seeker assassination in Germany
Russia denies “any links” to the death of a Chechen man who was gunned down in Berlin last week. The German press, meanwhile, said the incident may end up being a “second Skripal case.”

“This case has nothing to do with the Russian state, the [Russian] authorities,” the Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said on Wednesday.

I categorically reject any links between… this murder and official Russia.

His comments came in response to speculation that Moscow may have been somehow involved in the assassination of a man in the Kleiner Tiergarten park in central Berlin on Friday. German media identified the victim as 40-year-old Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a Georgian national of Chechen origin who had fought against the Russian troops during the war in Chechnya. Public broadcaster Deutsche Welle cited a 2017 letter by a local NGO to the migration services, saying that Khangoshvili served under infamous warlords Shamil Basayev and Abu al-Walid, who coordinated terrorist attacks on Russian soil and were killed by Russian security forces.

Khangoshvili is said to have fled Georgia in 2016 after surviving an assassination attempt. He sought asylum in Germany but this was rejected. The German authorities had also reportedly considered him an Islamist threat at some point. Other reports said that Khangoshvili had ties with the Georgian security services and assisted in anti-terrorism operations.

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The suspect in Khangoshvili’s murder was quickly apprehended by police. He was identified as 49-year-old Vadim S., a Russian national who recently traveled to Berlin from Moscow via Paris.

The story has caused a stir in the German press. The victim’s brother, Zurab Khangoshvili, claimed that Russian agents committed the crime but provided no evidence. Security sources told Der Spiegel the investigation could potentially be a “second Skripal case” in terms of its “consequences,” if the alleged involvement of Russia is proven.

Last year, former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by a nerve agent in Salisbury, UK. The British authorities quickly pinned the blame on Moscow. This led to London and its allies expelling a number of Russian diplomats and imposing new sanctions on Russia. Moscow has strongly denied any involvement in the incident.

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