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15 Dec, 2021 15:43

Germany expels two Russian diplomats

Germany expels two Russian diplomats

Two Russian diplomats working at the country's embassy in Berlin have been declared persona non grata, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has announced. The move is linked to a high-profile murder case blamed on Moscow.

The German Foreign Ministry has summoned Russia’s ambassador to Berlin and informed him that two of the embassy’s diplomatic staff have been declared personae non gratae, Baerbock told a news conference on Wednesday.

The move was linked to the high-profile murder of Chechen separatist Zelimkhan Khangoshvili dating back to 2019. The case sparked a row between Moscow and Berlin, after the German authorities accused Russia of being behind the killing, which Moscow has denied.

According to Baerbock, the murder amounted to a “grave violation” of Germany’s “law and sovereignty.” She added that Berlin still seeks an “open and honest” dialogue with Moscow – something she also told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a phone call on Tuesday.

“That is in our mutual interest,” Baerbock said.

Incidents such as the Berlin park murder “heavily burden” the relations between the two nations, the minister said, placing the blame squarely on Moscow.

Earlier on Wednesday, a German court sentenced a Russian citizen, Vadim Krasikov, to life in prison for Khangoshvili’s murder. According to the German prosecutors, the Russian security services had sent Krasikov to carry out the murder.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any links to the case, and Russia’s ambassador to Berlin, Sergey Nechaev, called Wednesday’s verdict “biased” and “politically motivated.”