Russia rejects 'state terrorism' verdict in German murder trial

A German court on Wednesday found that Russia had ordered the 2019 killing of a Georgian citizen in Berlin, calling it an act of 'state terrorism' and sentencing the killer to life imprisonment.

eneral view shows a regional court in Berlin, Germany, March 26, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH)
eneral view shows a regional court in Berlin, Germany, March 26, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH)

Russia on Thursday rejected a German court ruling that it ordered the 2019 murder of a former Chechen militant in a Berlin park in 2019 as "completely divorced from reality" and said it would retaliate.

The Kremlin said, however, that the "unpleasant episode" should not affect ties between President Vladimir Putin and Germany's new Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

A German court on Wednesday found that Russia had ordered the killing and sentenced the agent who carried out what it called an act of "state terrorism" to life imprisonment.

German judge Olaf Arnoldi found that Georgian citizen Tornike Khangoshvili was killed with three shots in August 2019 in reprisal for his role fighting alongside separatists against Moscow in the 2000s.

Russia's foreign ministry said the verdict was politically ordered and that the Russian defendant was innocent.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov attends his annual news conference in Moscow (credit: SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS)Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov attends his annual news conference in Moscow (credit: SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS)

"We decisively reject as unfounded and completely divorced from reality the accusations of the involvement of Russian state structures," it said. Moscow would respond with "adequate measures" to Germany's decision to expel two of its diplomats in the wake of the ruling.

Asked whether the court's verdict could affect the approval of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, built under the Baltic Sea to connect Russia and Germany, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reiterated that the project served both the interests of Moscow and Berlin.

The pipeline has been in focus after Western countries led by the United States threatened to impose tough economic and political sanctions on Moscow should it invade Ukraine.