Germany expels Russian diplomats amid 'link' to violent daylight killing

Zelimkhan Khangoshvili was shot twice in the head from behind by a cyclist in a Berlin park

Germany has expelled two Russian diplomats amid suspicions that Moscow was involved in the daylight killing of a Georgian national in Berlin.

Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, 40, was shot twice in the head from behind by a cyclist in a park in the summer.

Russia's foreign ministry has described the expulsions as "unfriendly and unfounded".

Germany has opened a formal investigation into suspicions Russia was responsible - allegations that Moscow has firmly denied.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "I don't think there are serious suspicions (of involvement by the Russian authorities) and there cannot be any. What relation to the Russian authorities (does this have)?

"This is absolutely groundless speculation. This topic is being somehow whipped up by German media, but this does not mean that this is how things are."

A German legal source told the Reuters news agency: "We have evidence that a foreign intelligence agency was behind it and therefore the case is going to be taken over by the federal prosecutor this week."

Officials at Germany's foreign ministry said the diplomatic expulsions were in response to Russia's lack of co-operation during its investigation.

"Russian authorities, despite repeated, high-level and insistent demands, did not participate enough in the investigation," it said in a statement.

The suspected assassin was caught as he tried to dispose of the murder weapon in the nearby Spree River, along with a bike he had been riding.

According to a report by Der Spiegel, he entered the country on a Russian passport issued in the name of Vadim Sokolov, but that is not his real identity.

The German news magazine reported that his passport number links him to Russian security services.

Investigative website Bellingcat reports that Mr Sokolov does not exist, and the suspect could not have been issued with a valid passport without the direct involvement of the Russian state.

The victim had previously fought alongside anti-Moscow separatists in Russia's autonomous region of Chechnya.

German media have compared the attack to the attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who were poisoned by novichok in March 2018.