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Germany expels two Russian diplomats over Berlin murder probe

Germany expels two Russian diplomats over Berlin murder probe
Germany said it is expelling two Russian diplomats for not sufficiently cooperating with a probe into the high-profile assassination of a Chechen expat, with Georgian citizenship, in Berlin.

On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry declared two Russian diplomats personae non gratae for not sufficiently participating in the investigation, despite “repeated requests,” into the murder of a man, named in the statement as Tornike K., who was gunned down in Berlin’s Tiergarten Park in August.

The ministry stressed that immediate cooperation from Russia “remains crucial” because the investigation has been taken over by the Prosecutor General’s Office.

There are sufficient indicators that the killing may have been ordered by state authorities of the Russian Federation or the Autonomous Republic of Chechnya which is a part of Russian Federation.

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Tornike K. was named in German media as Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, 40, and described as a Georgian national of Chechen origin.

Reports suggested that he fought with the militants against Russian troops during the second Chechen campaign in the early 2000s. The operation was triggered in 1999 by an invasion of jihadist groups from Chechnya into neighboring Russia’s Dagestan region.

Citing Tornike K’s friends and associates, RFE/RL reported that the man led a company of a “few dozen fighters” and fought alongside notorious warlord Shamil Basayev, who masterminded numerous terrorist attacks on Russian soldiers and civilians. Basayev was killed by Russian security forces in 2006. Around that time Tornike K. reportedly returned to Georgia.

Tornike K. fled to Germany in 2015, after reportedly surviving an assassination attempt in Tbilisi, Georgia. He then applied for asylum but failed to receive it.

According to German media, the suspected assassin, who has been captured by police, entered Germany under the name Vadim Sokolov, 49, and used a Russian passport.

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