The German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on 4 December, that the Federal Foreign Office today declared two employees of the Russian Embassy in Berlin to be personae non-gratae, reacting to the fact that the Russian authorities, despite repeated high-level and repeated requests, did not sufficiently participate in the investigation of the murder of Tornike Kavtarashvili (Zelimkhan Khangoshvili) in the Berlin Tiergarten on 23 August.
The official release says “from the point of view of the Federal Government, serious and prompt cooperation by the Russian authorities remains imperative, given that today the Federal Public Prosecutor General has taken over the investigation in this case on the grounds that there are sufficient real indications that the killing was either commissioned by state agencies of the Russian Federation or such agencies of the Autonomous Chechen Republic as part of the Russian Federation.”
He has survived an assassination attempt in Tbilisi, Georgia in 2015, after which he first fled to Ukraine and later to Germany, where he requested asylum. His application was under review at the time of assassination.
Independent investigation revealed that the purported hitman traveled to Germany with a Russian passport in the name of Vadim Sokolov, but the authenticity of his identity was soon put into question. Western media reported that Sokolov’s passport had been issued by a department of the Russian interior ministry, which has been in charge of issuing passports for agents of the GRU, the Russian military secret service. The Belligcat Investigation Team identified the hitman as Vadim Nikolaevich Krasikov. Bellingcat suggested that “Krasikov was also the key suspect in the murder a Russian businessman” in June 2013.
Reports said earlier in December that the case of Khangoshvili’s murder was taken over by the chief German Prosecutor, since a possible Russian intelligence operation was suspected. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied involvement.