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Germany Makes Move Against Russia After August Murder

Chechen separatist Zelimkhan Khangoshvili shot in the back of the head in Berlin park
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2019 12:00 PM CST
In this Aug. 29, 2019 file photo people carry the body of the victim who has been identified as Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a Georgian Muslim during the funeral in Duisi village, the Pankisi Gorge valley,...   (AP Photo/Zurab Tsertsvadze)

(Newser) – In a case likened to the attempted murder of former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal, a former Chechen rebel commander was shot from behind in the head at a Berlin park in August and died. Now two Russian diplomats are being expelled from Germany. The country believes the murder of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, 40, was ordered by either Russia or Russia's Chechen republic and has accused Russia of failing to help with the probe, the BBC reports. A man who was seen dumping a bicycle, gun, and wig into a nearby river was arrested shortly after the murder, but has not been cooperating with police. Police say the suspect had flown from Moscow to Paris six days before the killing, then flew to Warsaw the day before the murder, all while using an alias.

His visa claimed he was a civil engineer for a St. Petersburg company, but the fax number listed for said company is also assigned to companies under the purview of the Russian defense ministry. In taking over the case, the country's chief prosecutor referenced "sufficient factual grounds" to suggest Russia had a hand in the murder. Russia called the allegations "absolutely groundless" and says it will retaliate. Khangoshvili fought against the Russians for a 4-year period beginning in 2001 and was close with the Chechen president who led the guerrilla resistance against them. Khangoshvili had already survived one assassination attempt in Georgia in 2015. As the Guardian notes, similar hits have taken out other Chechen separatists who fought Russian forces. (Read more Russia stories.)

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