Russia Expels Two German Diplomats In Growing Spat Over Murder Verdict
By RFE/RL's Russian Service December 20, 2021
Russia says it is expelling two German diplomats from Moscow in a tit-for-tat move following Germany's expulsion of two Russian diplomats after a court in Berlin convicted a Russian man last week of fatally shooting a former Chechen militant in Berlin on the Kremlin's orders in 2019. Berlin had expelled two Russian diplomats in response.
"The German Ambassador was informed about the declaration of two diplomatic employees from the German Embassy in Russia as 'personae non gratae' as a symmetrical response to the aforementioned unfriendly decision of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on December 20.
It gave no date for when the German diplomats needed to leave Russia.
The Russian move "does not come as a surprise, but, in the view of the federal government, it is completely unjustified," the German Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"Today's decision by Russia's Foreign Ministry puts renewed strain on the relationship," the ministry added.
On December 15, the second criminal division of the Higher Regional Court in Berlin sentenced a Russian national named as Vadim Krasikov, aka Vadim Sokolov, to life in prison over the murder of Tornike Kavtarashvili in a Berlin park in August 2019.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Olaf Arnoldi ruled that the murder was an act of "retaliation" against the 40-year-old victim, an ethnic Chechen of Georgian nationality, for being a Kremlin opponent.
Prosecutors had alleged that the gunman was an officer in Russia's FSB secret service.
Hours after the verdict, Germany declared two Russian diplomats personae non gratae, with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock saying that Russian involvement in the murder was a "serious violation of German law and the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Germany."
The Russian Foreign Ministry at the time denounced the "unfriendly" action by Berlin, and said Moscow would respond with "retaliatory measures."
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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