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Russian secret service played ‘central role’ in Berlin murder, say media reports

Jill Petzinger
·Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
This photo taken on August 23, 2019 shows forensic experts of the police securing evidences at the site of a crime scene in a park of Berlin's Moabit district, where a man of Georgian origin was shot dead. - Russia said Thursday, December 12, 2019 it was expelling two German diplomats, in a tit-for-tat move after Berlin ejected two Russians over the killing of a former Chechen commander in a Berlin park. (Photo by Christoph Soeder / dpa / AFP) / Germany OUT (Photo by CHRISTOPH SOEDER/dpa/AFP via Getty Images)
Forensic experts at the site of the murder of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in a park in Berlin's Moabit district on 23 August 2019. (Christoph Soeder/DPA/AFP via Gett)

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) – a successor of the former Soviet Union’s famed intelligence agency the KGB – allegedly played a central role in the shooting of a Georgian exile in a Berlin park last August, according to an investigation published on Monday in Germany’s Der Spiegel, Bellingcat, and The Insider.

Spiegel and Bellingcat research shows that in the months before he killed Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a former Chechen rebel commander with Georgian nationality, the suspected assassin Vadim Krasikov was in close contact with representatives of the "Vympel team," made of former FSB spetsnaz (special) forces.

The suspected assassin also stayed in FSB properties several times, including in a secret training centre for special forces, according to Spiegel and Bellingcat.

Bellingcat writes that “essential support” for the operation “was provided directly by the FSB and on the grounds of the FSB’s so-called Centre of Special Operations.”

Earlier research by Bellingcat and Der Spiegel in December said that the alleged murderer entered Germany under the passport name Vadim Sokolov, but that his real name is Vadim Krasikov and he is a suspect in the 2013 contract killing of a Russian businessman in Moscow.

Read more: Russia expels German diplomats as tensions rise over Berlin murder

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the murder, but the incident has soured relations between Moscow and Berlin.

The German prosecutor’s office said in December that there was "sufficient factual evidence" that the man had been shot dead "on behalf of state agencies of the Russian Federation.” Germany then expelled two Russian diplomats, and Moscow retaliated by kicking out two German diplomats.

German investigators are reportedly looking to indict Krasikov in the coming weeks.