Germany says Russian Federation behind refugee's killing, expels 2 diplomats

Georgian man was shot dead in a park in Berlin last August

Georgian man was shot dead in a park in Berlin last August

The Russian ambassador in Berlin said on Wednesday there has been no evidence of government involvement in the August incident in Berlin in which a Georgian citizen was allegedly killed by a Russian citizen.

Russia's foreign ministry says the expulsion of two Russian diplomats from Germany over the August slaying of a Georgian man in Berlin is "groundless" and "unfriendly".

Russia's foreign ministry responded angrily.

"What do Russian authorities have to do with it?" he asked, calling the allegations "absolutely groundless suggestions".

Putin is set to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel for Ukraine summit talks in Paris on December 9. Germany also needs Russia's help to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran, which has been unraveling since President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of it unilaterally past year.

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Now two Russian diplomats are being expelled from Germany. The victim in that attack was also approached by a man on a bicycle who shot him in the back of the head.

Prosecutors' spokesperson Markus Schmitt told The Associated Press his office made a decision to take over the investigation from Berlin state prosecutors after the political nature of the case that has come to light. The espionage department of the Federal Prosecutor's Office in the western city of Karlsruhe will work on the case.

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 victim was a veteran of the Second Chechen War, which lasted from 1999-2009, and fought against Russian Federation as a separatist, before moving to Germany in 2016, German media reported.

The Berlin killing echoes the Skripal case in the United Kingdom past year, when two Russian agents attempted to murder former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury. The suspect, also implicated in the murder of a Russian businessman in 2013, has maintained his right to keep silent. Russian Federation denies any involvement in his killing.

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Khangoshvili survived an earlier assassination attempt in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, in 2015, after which he fled to Ukraine where he is believed to have worked closely with the authorities against Russian interests. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied involvement.

"Such German action will have a strong negative impact on the Russian-German relations and naturally will not be left unanswered", Nechaev said in a statement.

"This topic is somehow exalted by the German media, but that does not mean this is the case", Peskov said.

After the murder in August, a Russian spokesman said it had nothing to do with Russia or its authorities. It did not mention the murder case.

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