Germany accuses Russia of ordering 2019 assassination of former Chechen rebel commander

Germany accuses Russia of ordering 2019 assassination of former Chechen rebel commander

German prosecutors on Thursday charged a Russian man over the killing of a Georgian rebel fighter in Berlin last year and accused Moscow of having ordered the assassination.

The 40-year-old Georgian citizen of Chechen ethnicity, identified in reports on the killing as Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, fought against Russian troops in Chechnya. He had previously survived multiple assassination attempts and fleed to Germany in 2016.

He was shot in a Berlin park last August as he headed to a mosque. His killer, which had been on a bicycle, was arrested near the scene shortly afterwards and has been in custody ever since.

In December, Germany’s foreign ministry expelled two Russian diplomats, citing a lack of cooperation with the investigation of the murder.

“Vadim K. alias Vadim S.” was charged 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 prosecutors said in a statement.

“The circumstances behind the contract killing was the opposition of the victim to the Russian state, to the governments of its autonomous republics Chechnya and Ingushetia and to the pro-Russian government of Georgia”, they added.

“The accused accepted the order from state authorities to kill. He either hoped for a financial reward or shared the motive of the order-givers to kill a political opponent and thereby retaliate for participating in previous conflicts with Russia”, the statement reads.

Russia’s ambassador to Berlin Sergei Nechayev rejected the accusations as groundless, Russian media reported.

The victim led an anti-Russian militia in the second Chechen war of 2000-2004. He was classified by Russian authorities as a terrorist and was accused of being a member of the “Caucasus Emirate” extremist organization, prosecutors said.

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