The German government expelled two Russian diplomats Wednesday after officials said they found “real indications” that authorities in Moscow were responsible for the killing of a Chechen exile several weeks ago.
The expatriate, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, was shot dead at point-blank range at a Berlin park on Aug. 23. A suspect, who entered the country using what was believed to be a phony Russian passport, was eventually captured.
A joint investigation by German news outlet Der Spiegel and Internet investigative group Bellingcat found the passport’s serial number corresponded to a series of numbers commonly used by Russian intelligence officers.
The German foreign ministry said Russia declined to assist in the investigation.
“In the federal government’s view, credible and immediate cooperation on the part of the Russian authorities remains necessary,” Germany’s foreign office said in a statement Wednesday.
“This is required all the more urgently given the fact that the Federal Public Prosecutor General has taken over the investigations in this case as there are sufficient grounds to believe that the killing was carried out either on behalf of state authorities of the Russian Federation or of those of the autonomous Chechen Republic as part of the Russian Federation.”
Khangoshvili, who’d fought Russian forces as a separatist in the Second Chechen War, sought asylum in Germany.
“We have received no active help from Russia in solving this case,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the NATO summit in London.
The government in Moscow has been accused in similar assassination plots before. Most Western nations hold the Kremlin responsible for the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his adult daughter in Britain last year.