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Russia – USA – Germany. Vladimir Putin wants to exchange prisoners and release Vadim Krasikov

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Vladimir Putin wants the release of Vadim Krasikov, sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany. To this end, he is pushing for an exchange of prisoners, writes the BBC. This would be a chance for freedom for the American journalist Evan Gershkovich, accused of alleged espionage and detained in Russia. However, the final decision on this matter would rest with the German government, and – according to the BBC – there is no clear consent to this.

Vadim Krasikov is a former FSB agent who, in 2019, ordered by the services, murdered Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a former Chechen commander and Georgian citizen, in Tiergarten Park in Berlin. The Russian was sentenced to life in prison and is serving his sentence in Germany.

Putin granted it in February interview with Tucker Carlson – an American commentator, known for his pro-Russian and pro-Putin views. As the BBC writes, Putin's words from this interview confirm that Russia wants to make an exchange and, in exchange for Krasikov's release from a German prison, it is offering to release Evan Gershkovich – an American journalist of “The Wall Street Journal”, who has been imprisoned in Russia for a year on charges of alleged espionage.

READ ALSO: “Here should be his report.” A year has passed since “WSJ” journalist Evan Gershkovich was imprisoned in Russia

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This is not the first time that Russia wants to exchange and release Krasikov. The last time the Kremlin made a similar demand was in July 2022.

This means – as the BBC writes – that the most realistic way to free Gershkovich will be a complicated prisoner exchange, requiring the cooperation of Germany, the USA and Russia. German politician Roderich Kiesewetter said the deal would force Berlin to engage in “hostage diplomacy.”

German court: Russian state authorities ordered the accused to eliminate the victim

As the BBC writes, when sentencing Krasikov, the German court indicated that his murder was inspired and ordered by the Kremlin.

This was evidenced, among other things, by the documents with which the murderer got to Germany. A German court concluded that the documentation could only have been approved by the Kremlin, demonstrating state support for the murder. – The Russian state authorities ordered the accused to eliminate the victim – concluded the judge in the justification for the verdict.

The Kremlin rejected these allegations and said the verdict was “politically motivated.” Despite this, Putin, in an interview with Carlson, stated that negotiations were already underway to release the Russian “patriot” who “eliminated the bandit” on a Berlin street.


Ulrich Lechte, a member of the German government's foreign affairs committee, told the BBC that Putin's determination to release Krasikov was a “clear admission of guilt and shows how unscrupulously Russia was able to act” in Germany.

“There is no legal mechanism that would be adequate to this situation”

The final decision on whether Krasikov will be released and exchanged will rest with the German government. The BBC spoke to three members of the government's foreign affairs committee. They say “no”.

– This type of amnesty sends a political signal that Russia can continue to commit murders on our territory, and the perpetrators will ultimately be released and remain unpunished, Lechte said.

Juergen Hardt from the German Christian Democrats said that in Germany he “does not see any political support” for such an exchange because the legal mechanisms that would lead to it are unclear.

Nicola Bier, a lawyer specializing in extradition law, told the BBC that in Germany “there is no legal mechanism that is adequate to this situation.” This – she pointed out – means that any move in this matter will be very controversial and will certainly take on a political character.

Main photo source: MIKHAIL METZEL/EPA/PAP

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