German prosecutors said Friday they are investigating a Russian man on suspicion that he helped to plan the murder of a Chechen dissident living in Germany on orders of the Chechen regime.
Named as Valid D., the suspect is accused of “making a declaration of readiness to commit murder, preparing a serious act of violence endangering the state and violating the weapons act,” prosecutors said.
He was arrested in January and is in pre-trial detention.
Valid D. is alleged to have been instructed to bring the murder weapon and the contract killer to Germany, spy on the intended victim and act as a driver during the assassination.
He had managed to smuggle the intended hitman into Germany and obtain a firearm with a silencer, prosecutors said.
Another Russian man went on trial in October over the murder of a former Chechen commander in a Berlin park, allegedly on Moscow’s orders.
The 55-year-old named by prosecutors as Vadim Krasikov, alias Vadim Sokolov, stands accused of gunning down Georgian national 40-year-old Tornike Kavtarashvili, in Kleiner Tiergarten park on Aug. 23 last year.
The new investigation comes at a time of increasing tensions between Germany and Russia over Ukraine, the poisoning and imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has always stressed the importance of keeping dialogue open with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but she has sharpened her tone in recent months.
Russia has for years drawn the ire of Western powers, from annexing Ukraine’s Crimea to meddling in elections and backing President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria.
Merkel last year also revealed that she was the target of “outrageous” hacking attempts by Russia.
Germany Says Answered Russia Call for Aid in Navalny Probe
Germany has transmitted to Russia transcripts of interviews with Alexei Navalny as part of its response to Moscow’s request for assistance in its investigation into the poisoning of the Kremlin critic, Berlin said Saturday.
Navalny was evacuated to Berlin in late August for treatment after he fell violently ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow.
Tests carried out by Western countries including Germany have concluded that he was poisoned by the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.
He has said he will return to Russia on Sunday, flying with Pobeda — Aeroflot’s low-cost subsidiary whose name means “Victory” in Russian.
Germany’s justice ministry said it “responded yesterday to the four requests for legal assistance from the prosecution office of Russia in connection to the murder attempt on Alexei Navalny in Russia.”
Police investigators had questioned Navalny, who “provided extensive answers to questions sent through by the Russian prosecutor,” said a spokesman for the German justice ministry.
The transcripts were transmitted to Moscow, he added.
“The government assumes that the Russian government will now take all necessary steps to clear up this crime against Mr Navalny,” said the spokesman.
“All the information necessary in criminal investigations like blood and tissue samples, clothing pieces, are in, are available in Russia,” he said.
Navalny has accused Russia’s main security agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), of poisoning him on the orders of President Vladimir Putin.
Russian authorities have repeatedly denied any involvement and refused to investigate the case.