The Kremlin on Wednesday denied any involvement in the assassination of a former Georgian special forces officer and a veteran of Russian troops fighting the Chechen war in a Berlin park.
The victim, Zlimkhan Khanjoshvili, 40, was shot dead on Friday in Tergarten after another failed attempt on his life four years ago that led to his escape from Georgia.
The police arrested a 49 year old man from Chechnya, where Russia launched two bloody wars until 2009, on suspicion of involvement in the assassination.
“This issue has nothing to do with the Russian state or official agencies”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“I categorically deny any link between the killing and Russian officials”, he said, adding that his country’s foreign ministry was more interested in commenting on the arrest of a Russian man in connection with the case.
German media reported a widespread belief that the killing was linked to the victim’s military past.
The website of the German magazine Spiegel that Berlin is investigating the case closely for evidence that foreign intelligence agencies were involved in the assassination.
A security official told the magazine they were “100 percent sure” that Russia was behind the incident.
“If a country like Russia turns out to be working, we’ll be on the Scribal issue again with all its consequences”.
The West has repeatedly accused Russia of masterminding killings and assassinations abroad, including ex-spies Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Scribal in Britain.
On Friday, the killer approached from the back of Khanfushevili, who was on his way to the mosque and was shot twice before fleeing on a bicycle, according to a witness describing the operation as “execution”.
The victim was reportedly a veteran of the second Chechen war between 1999 and 2009, serving as a field commander from 2001 to 2005 before joining the Georgian counter-terrorism unit.
In 2012, his counter-terrorism unit participated in an operation against militants who took hostages in the Lobota Gorge region on the border with the Russian Republic of Dagestan.
Spiegel, citing Georgian and Ukrainian sources, wrote that the victim had infiltrated Islamic organizations and passed on information to the authorities.
But the Russian authorities have designated him a member of the jihadist Emirate of the Caucasus, according to the German Magazine.