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.
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.