Moscow Dismisses German Court's Murder Verdict, Scholz Backs Expulsions
By RFE/RL December 16, 2021
Russia has rejected a Berlin court's ruling that Moscow was behind the shooting death of a former Chechen militant in Berlin more than two years ago, calling it "completely divorced from reality" and warned of retaliation over the issue, which Germany's new chancellor defended.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on December 16 that the court's comments a day earlier during the delivery of a guilty verdict and life sentence for Russian national Vadim Krasikov, aka Vadim Sokolov, were "an unpleasant episode" in ties between the two countries, though Moscow hopes the issue will not impede the development of relations between newly appointed Scholz and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Hours after Krasikov's sentence was announced, Germany expelled two Russian diplomats over the special services' involvement in the August 2019 murder of Tornike Kavtarashvili, aka Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, in the German capital.
Russia's Foreign Ministry issued its own statement on December 16 rejecting "the unfounded and completely divorced-from-reality accusations of the involvement of Russian state structures in the murder of terrorist Khangoshvili, who lived in Germany with the acquiescence of the German authorities."
"Berlin should have no doubt that Russia will retaliate with appropriate measures," the ministry said.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in Brussels on December 16 for a European Union summit, defended the verdict and the expulsions, saying the judgement was "a clear indication that bad things happened here, and that is why it is absolutely right that the foreign minister reacted to it with a clear response."
When issuing the ruling against Krasikov on December 15, the second criminal division of the Higher Regional Court in Berlin noted the gravity of the attack by the 56-year-old Krasikov.
German prosecutors during the trial said evidence showed the killing was also aimed at intimidating other Chechen asylum seekers by making them believe they are not safe from Russia's security apparatus.
With reporting by TASS, Interfax, Reuters, AFP, and dpa
Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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