A Russian was sentenced, Wednesday, December 15, in Berlin to life imprisonment for the murder of a Chechen opponent on alleged orders from Moscow, in a context of diplomatic tensions between Germany and Russia.
The Berlin Court, which had tried him since October 2020, found this man, known as Vadim Krasikov, guilty of killing three bullets a Georgian from the Chechen minority, in a park in the German capital, the 23 August 2019. The judges also deprived him of the possibility of applying for parole after fifteen years.
This affair has poisoned the already strained relations between Germany and Russia. Moscow has always denied any involvement, but German justice has clearly designated the Russian authorities. “The accused was the commander of a special unit of the Russian FSB secret service”, said prosecutor Lars Malkies during his indictment on December 7. “He liquidated a political opponent by retaliation”, he added, evoking “An attack obviously prepared for a long time” and executed ” in cold blood “.
The Kremlin has always denied
Former Chechen separatist leader, Georgian Tornike Kavtarashvili, 40, had fought against Russian forces between 2000 and 2004. He had lived since 2016, with his family, in Germany where he had applied for asylum.
The facts took place at lunchtime: the murderer, riding a bicycle, approached his victim from behind and fired twice, using a silencer, before killing him with a bullet in the body. head, point blank, according to the prosecutor. He was arrested shortly after the incident near the scene of the package, an extension of the large Tiergarten park.
Throughout his trial, the accused denied the identity attributed to him by the prosecution, saying that he “Know nobody” responding to the name of Krasikov. Through the voice of his lawyer, Robert Unger, he claimed to be called Vadim Sokolov, to be “Russian, single and construction engineer”, 50 years old.
During the trial, several clues came to strengthen the conviction of the prosecution as to the identity of the accused, for example a private photo of Krasikov showing two tattoos identical to those of the suspect.
If the Kremlin has always denied being behind this assassination, President Vladimir Putin had called the victim “Very cruel and bloodthirsty fighter”. He claimed to have requested his extradition, which Berlin denied.
At the end of 2019, Germany expelled two Russian diplomats to protest their lack of cooperation, a measure to which Moscow responded by in turn sacking two German diplomats.
This murder, the poisoning of Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny, treated in the summer of 2020 in the German capital before his imprisonment in Russia, as well as that of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom in 2018 have raises serious suspicions about the role of Russian security services in violent operations.
But Moscow’s involvement has so far never been proven in these matters, and the Kremlin has consistently denied any responsibility. These cases have added to a series of diplomatic tensions between Berlin and Moscow, since the Bundestag cyberattack in 2015, attributed to Russia.
Two weeks before the German legislative elections of September 26, the justice system also opened an investigation for cyberespionage of deputies, of which Berlin suspects the Kremlin to be at the origin.
Differences in geopolitics
There are also many geopolitical differences, such as the situation in Syria, the annexation of Crimea and the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. Pragmatic, the former chancellor, Angela Merkel, however, had taken care not to break off the dialogue with Moscow, an important economic partner.
The first statements of his successor, Olaf Scholz, are thus particularly scrutinized. Since arriving at the Chancellery last week, the Social Democratic leader has warned that Moscow will face harsh ” consequences “ in case of escalation in Ukraine.
Its foreign minister, environmentalist Annalena Baerbock, clarified the nature of the threats, saying the controversial new German-Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 would not be allowed to operate if tensions with Kiev worsened. Washington, the Europeans and Kiev have accused Moscow for a few weeks of preparing the invasion of Ukraine, which the Kremlin denies.