German prosecutors accuse Moscow over contract killing of Georgian man

An archive photo of German policemen | John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

A Russian citizen was charged with murder.

Germany’s federal prosecutor on Thursday charged a Russian citizen over the killing of a Georgian rebel fighter in Berlin last year and accused Moscow of having ordered the assassination.

The prosecutor’s office said in a press release that it was charging “Vadim K. alias Vadim S.” with murder for shooting Tornike K., a Georgian citizen of Chechen descent, with several bullets in a Berlin park in broad daylight last August.

The office also said that “state authorities of the Central Government of the Russian Federation” had ordered the killing “at an unknown date prior to July 18, 2019,” and added: “The background of the killing order was the opposition of the later victim to the Russian central state.”

The development is likely to add further strain to Berlin’s relations with Moscow.

Last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had hard evidence that Russia had been behind a 2015 cyberattack on the German parliament, describing the hacking as “outrageous.” The German foreign ministry subsequently summoned the Russian ambassador and said that Berlin would press for sanctions against those responsible for the hack.

The German government also expelled two Russian diplomats last year over the murder case, saying that despite “repeated high-ranking and insistent calls,” Russian authorities would “not sufficiently cooperate in the investigation of the murder.” Moscow retaliated by expelling two German diplomats from Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed in December last year that Tornike K. had been a “bloodthirsty and brutal man” who had been involved in a bomb attack on the Moscow metro in 2010. But Russia has denied responsibility for his assassination: “I don’t know what happened to him,” Putin said.

The prosecutor’s office said Tornike K. fought against Russian forces in the Second Chechen War from 2000 to 2004 as the leader of a Chechen militia and in 2008 assembled a unit of volunteers to fight against Russian troops in the Georgian-Russian war.

Vadim K., the Russian man charged with murder, has been held in custody since being arrested by German police shortly after the killing on August 23, 2019.

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