Germany expelled two Russian diplomats Wednesday over the brazen killing of a Georgian on the streets of Berlin in August as prosecutors said evidence suggested the slaying was ordered either by Moscow or authorities in Russia's republic of Chechnya.
Germany's federal prosecution service has taken over responsibility for the probe into the shooting, which occurred in broad daylight on August 23 in a small park in the inner-city neighbourhood of Moabit.
German media have compared the attack on Khangoshvili to the attempted murder of Russian former intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom past year.
Russian Federation has denied any involvement and said on Wednesday it would retaliate for what it called Germany's "unfriendly" move.
Tornike K., who has widely been identified in reports on the killing by his alias Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, was a Georgian citizen of Chechen ethnicity who fought against Russian troops in Chechnya.
Speaking at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Britain, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday she would raise the issue with Russia's President Vladimir Putin at a planned meeting next week.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the accusation of Russian involvement as "absolutely groundless".
Outlining how they made that connection, German authorities say they were able to match a photograph of the suspect with a photograph from a "wanted" bulletin that was spread on police databases after the Moscow killing.
Tsatieva said Khangoshvili escaped to Germany in 2016 after multiple attempts against his life in Georgia, but was denied asylum here. However, the company is apparently under "reorganisation" and the fax number listed for it is also assigned to companies belonging to the Russian defence ministry. Although they only refer to him as Vadim K, investigative website Bellingcat has named the man in custody as Vadim Krasikov, born in August 1965 in Soviet Kazakhstan.
German media said the suspicion was that Russian intelligence agencies had recruited him after the 2013 killing.
Khangoshvili fought against the Russians during the Second Chechen War from 1999 to 2009, and worked thereafter in both Georgia and Ukraine against Russian interests, according to Deutsche Welle.
In response to the expulsion orders, Russian Federation says it will retaliate in kind, with officials saying German diplomats may now be expelled from Russian Federation, as the Interfax news agency reports.
The killing has been compared with the poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal in Britain a year ago with a nerve agent, widely blamed on Russian intelligence.
After that attack, Western nations banded together to expel more than 100 Russian diplomats they accused of being spies, including 60 from the U.S.
Russia's top diplomat, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, said the country was preparing its official response.