Russian President Vladimir Putin said the ethnic Chechen Georgian national murdered in Berlin this summer had been behind a Moscow metro blast.
Speaking at a news conference in Paris on December 9 following peace talks with the leaders of Ukraine, France, and Germany, Putin described Zelimkhan Khangoshvili as “a hardened and murderous fighter” wanted in Russia.
Putin said Khangoshvili was one of the organizers of a Moscow metro blast that resulted in the deaths of 98 people. He gave no further details. Moscow’s metro has experienced several deadly explosions over the past 20 years.
Khangoshvili, 40, who had previously fought alongside separatists in Russia’s Chechnya region, was shot twice in the head in Kleiner Tiergarten park on August 23.
A Russian national suspected of carrying out the killing was arrested shortly afterward. German media have reported that the Federal Prosecutor’s Office suspects Russian state agencies of having commissioned the murder.
Putin denied any Russian state participation in the slaying and said Russia was ready to assist Germany investigate the murder.
“I don’t know what happened to him. [He lives in] a criminal underworld and anything could have happened,” Putin said in response to a question from a German reporter.
“We need to find the guilty ones and along with the Chancellor (Angela Merkel) do everything to help our German colleagues,” he said, while denying there was a “crisis” between the countries.
Germany last week expelled two Russian diplomats after prosecutors blamed Russian authorities for not “sufficiently” participating in the investigation of the murder.
When asked how the Kremlin would react, Putin said Russia would follow the “unwritten law” in diplomacy of tit-for-tat.