Russian President Putin | German Chancellor Olaf Scholz Photograph:( AFP )
A German court last week had sentenced a Russian operative Vadim Krasikov for murdering an ex-Chechen commander Tornike Khangoshvili in Berlin.
In a tit-for-tat move, Russia on Monday expelled two German diplomats after Berlin ordered two Russian diplomats to leave the country over the German court verdict last week which said Russian authorities were involved in the assassination of an ex-Chechen commander in a Berlin park two years ago.
A German court had sentenced a Russian operative Vadim Krasikov for murdering an ex-Chechen commander Tornike Khangoshvili in Berlin. German authorities had summoned the Russian ambassador after the court verdict and announced two of its diplomatic staff employees would be expelled.
The German court said it was an act of "state terrorism" by Russia since Khangoshvili had given up his fight against Russia several years ago.
Russia had called the verdict "not objective and politically motivated". Russian President Putin had reportedly called Khangashvili a "bloody terrorist".
Watch: Germany expels two Russian diplomats over killing of former Chechen militant
Russia however maintained the German court's view was "completely divorced from reality" even as German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said the murder of the Georgian national was carried out on "state orders" asserting that it was a violation of German law.
Khangoshvili was reportedly killed in broad daylight as the judge after examining the evidence declared that Russia had decided to "liquidate Khangoshvili in Berlin".
"Four children lost their father, two siblings their brother," the judge said.
The German court spokesperson later said that Russia's actions were "illegal" while adding that "another state can't just send a contract killer to eliminate regime critics on German soil."
The spokesperson added that the assassin had entered Germany disguised as a tourist and carried out the murder with aides stationed in Berlin.
"Russian government offices were responsible for the contract killing," Berlin court spokesperson Lisa Jani had said.
(With inputs from Agencies)