Russia Expels Two German Embassy Staff in Berlin Murder Dispute

(Bloomberg) -- Russia said it expelled two German embassy staffers in a tit-for-tat response to Berlin’s decision to kick out a pair of Russian diplomats over a dispute following an assassination in the German capital that authorities there suspect could be linked to Moscow.

Germany decided last week to send home the Russians in response to what it says is a lack of cooperation in the investigation of the killing. A Russian man is being held as a suspect in the case.

The two German embassy staff have been given seven days to leave Russia, the Foreign Ministry said in a website statement on Thursday.

“This is an obligatory matter of reciprocity,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “We expect and hope that this won’t become a negative factor in the development and expansion of our quite constructive dialogue with the Federal Republic of Germany.”

‘Wrong Signal’

Germany’s Foreign Ministry said the move “sends the wrong signal. ” In a statement, it renewed calls for Russian help in the probe and warned that the government “reserves the right to take further measures in this matter in light of the investigation.”

The Kremlin has denounced suggestions the Russian government may have been involved in the murder of the Georgian citizen as “absolutely baseless.” President Vladimir Putin said this week that man was suspected in terrorist attacks in Russia. The killing took place in broad daylight on Aug. 23, a short walk from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office.

Peskov said Moscow repeatedly had asked German authorities to hand over the victim before the murder, disputing accounts from Berlin, which said no such requests had been received.

The victim, an ethnic Chechen, was gunned down by an assailant who approached him from behind on a bicycle in a public park in the German capital. The gunman, a Russian citizen, was apprehended soon after and has refused to talk to investigators, according to multiple press reports.

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