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Germany expels two Russian diplomats

Months after a man was shot dead in a Berlin park, Germany is throwing out two Russian diplomats because it suspects the murder was ordered by Russia or Russia's Chechen republic. The expulsions came shortly after Germany's chief prosecutor decided to take over the case.

Germany has accused Russia of failing to assist in the investigation. A Russian official condemned the move as "Russophobic hysteria" and did not rule out a reciprocal move. Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a 40-year-old former Chechen rebel commander, was shot in the head from behind in August.

A man was quickly arrested but has given little information to police. In its statement on Wednesday (in German), the German federal prosecutor identified the victim as "Tornike K".

The former Chechen rebel commander is said to have spent several years living in Georgia under the name of Tornike Kavtarashvili. There are sufficient factual grounds to suggest that the killing... was carried out either on behalf of state agencies of the Russian Federation or those of the Autonomous Chechen Republic, as part of the Russian Federation.

The suspect was detained shortly after the killing when he was allegedly seen dumping a bike, pistol and a wig into the nearby River Spree. The prosecutor says the suspect flew from Moscow to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris six days before the killing under the alias of Vadim S.

The head of the Russian Duma (parliament) foreign affairs committee told Interfax news agency that the expulsion of two diplomats was an unfriendly step.


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