Germany-Russia murder row raises tensions for Merkel

The violent death of a former Chechen rebel commander at the hands of a man suspected to be a Russian-backed assassin in a Berlin park has shocked and outraged many Germans.

Zelimkhan Khangoshvili was shot in the head in broad daylight in August.

Germany’s most senior prosecutor believes the evidence points to a cold-blooded contract killing on German soil, ordered either by authorities in Russia or its Chechen republic.

In custody is a suspect who travelled from Russia shortly before the killing.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is not known for impassioned public outbursts. But, even as her government expelled two Russian diplomats over the murder, there were perhaps other reasons for her restraint, as she answered reporters’ questions at the end of Wednesday’s Nato summit in London.

She intended, she said, to bring up the case with Russian President Vladimir Putin when she met him in Paris next week. The expulsion of the diplomats was a response to Russia’s refusal to help with the ongoing investigation, she added.

Image caption

Khangoshvili (R) was a close associate of Aslan Maskhadov (L), the Chechen rebel leader killed in 2005

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