The Russian authorities are still attempting to secure the release of Vadim Krasikov, convicted of assassinating Georgian citizen Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in Germany.

The President of Russia addressed this issue in an interview with American journalist Tucker Carlson, during which he was asked about the Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich, who has been held in a Russian prison on accusations of espionage. Putin did not directly mention Khangoshvili’s name. However, his response indicates that the Russian special services are prepared to hand over Gershkovich to the USA in exchange for the release of Khangoshvili’s killer.

“In one of the countries, a partner country of the United States, there is an individual [in prison] who, out of patriotic sentiments, eliminated a criminal in one of the European capitals. Do you know what this criminal was doing during the events in the Caucasus? I prefer not to discuss it, but I will say this: he was leading our captured soldiers on the road, and then proceeded to run over their heads with a car. What kind of person is he, and is he even deserving of the title person? However, a patriot emerged who took action in one of the European capitals. The question remains whether he acted on his initiative or not,” Putin said.

Tucker Carlson noted that 32-year-old Evan Gershkovich has done nothing of the sort and is simply a journalist.

“He is not just a journalist. He is a journalist who obtained classified information on a clandestine basis. Yes, that's a different story. I'm merely referring to individuals who are currently under the supervision of US authorities, wherever they may be imprisoned, and there is an ongoing dialogue between intelligence services. This should be resolved calmly, quietly, and professionally. There are channels of communication. Let them do their work,” said Vladimir Putin.

Earlier, the media reported that Russia was attempting to secure the release of Khangoshvili’s killer in exchange for American basketball player Brittney Griner, who had been detained on charges of drug smuggling. Griner returned to the USA at the end of 2022 after a 10-month imprisonment. She was subsequently traded to arms dealer Victor Booth.

Russian citizen Vadim Krasikov, who is known to be guilty of the murder of Zelimkhan (Tornike) Khangoshvili, was sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany. The verdict was delivered in December 2021 by the Berlin High Court.

Zelimkhan Khangoshvili

The Federal Prosecutor's Office of Germany asserted that Zelimkhan Khangoshvili was assassinated on the orders of the Russian authorities. Consequently, two Russian diplomats were expelled from the country. The Russian government denied any involvement in the murder and deemed the life imprisonment of its citizens as a politicized decision.

Ethnically Chechen, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili hailed from the Pankisi Valley. He fought against Russia in the Second Chechen War.

Khangoshvili left Georgia for Germany in 2015 following another attack on him and applied for asylum. On August 23, 2019, he was en route to Friday prayers in the Moabit district of Berlin when he was shot in the head by a passerby on a bicycle. Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, aged 40, died on the spot. The perpetrator, identified by a fake Russian passport as Vadim Sokolov, was apprehended on the same day.

In 2020, a journalistic investigation was published, alleging that the murder of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili was orchestrated by the Special Purpose Center of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). The killer, Vadim Krasikov, reportedly underwent training at the facilities of this center and was provided with a foreign passport by the special services under a false identity. According to the investigation, only one person did not participate in the operation to kill Khangoshvili, suggesting that a group of at least 5 individuals may have been involved in planning the crime.

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