Who is Vadim Krasikov, the cold-blooded killer Putin wants out of prison in Germany?

Vadim Krasikov / Photo collage of SP / Profimedia

Vadim Krasikov's name has come up several times in recent weeks in connection with a potential prisoner exchange between Russia and Western countries. The associates of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny announced yesterday that shortly before Alexey's death, negotiations were underway to exchange him for a Russian imprisoned in Germany.

That Russian prisoner is Krasikov. According to Maria Pevchik, one of Navalny's closest aides, he and the two American citizens detained in Russia were to be exchanged for Krasikov. Her claims have not yet been independently verified and she has offered no evidence to support the claims.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin implied in an interview with former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson that Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, detained in Russia on espionage charges, could be a replacement for Krasikov.

Although Putin did not identify him by name, it is generally understood that the Russian "patriot" he said is serving a life sentence for "liquidating bandits" in "one of the European capitals" is Krasikov. Associated Press.

Krasikov is serving a life sentence in Germany for the 2019 Berlin killing of Zelimkhan "Tornike" Kangoshvili, a Georgian citizen of Chechen origin who fought against Russian troops in Chechnya and later sought asylum in Germany.

Krasikov was sentenced in 2021. German judges said he acted at the behest of Russian authorities, who provided him with a false identity, passport and funds to carry out the murder. The murder and subsequent conviction sparked a major diplomatic row between Russia and Germany, including diplomatic expulsions.

Evidence reviewed by the court, including material uncovered by investigative website Bellingket, showed that Krasikov was employed by a Russian security agency and was likely asked to carry out the killing in 2019, Judge Olaf Arnoldi said.

Krasikov and his legal representatives contested his guilt in the murder and even questioned his identity. Krasikov said at the start of the trial that he was misidentified and that he was born in Russia in 1970, not in Kazakhstan in 1965.

Arnoldi said that a month before the murder, Russian authorities issued Krasikov a false passport under the alias Vadim Sokolov, which he used to travel to Berlin, where he shot the victim several times in the back with a handgun near Berlin's Kleiner Tiergarten park.

Witnesses saw the suspect throw a bicycle, a gun and a long, dark wig into a river and alerted police, who quickly arrested him before fleeing on an electric scooter. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called allegations of Russian involvement in the Berlin killing "absolutely unfounded."

According to Bellingkett, Krasikov was born in 1965 in present-day Kazakhstan, then part of the Soviet Union. Bellingkett claims that Krasikov worked for the FSB, Russia's state security service. Arnoldi noted that Krasikov was married twice and was the father of three children.

Arnoldi added that Krasikov had no previous convictions, but official records show he was wanted by Russian authorities for the 2013 murder of a businessman in Moscow. The case was dismissed in 2015.

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