Who is next? Road to Berlin that turned out to be the last one for Zelimkhan Khangoshvili

On 23rd of August in Berlin, a man was walking slowly down the path in park. He was walking towards the mosque where prayer was starting on Friday. All of a sudden, he was attacked and murdered on spot.

The man was 40 year-old Zelimkhan Khangoshvili. He was taken away from his wife and five children.

German police soon arrested the suspect of this crime. The suspect had a passport in his pocket issued to Vadim Andreevich Sokolov. However, the determination of the real identity of the suspect puzzle the police up to this day. Andreevich does not talk, he established connection only with the representatives of the Russian council and has not said any word since. Of course Kremlin denies any connection to this murder, however is refusing to help the German law enforcers with the investigation.    

Soon after the incident in western media and on the internet, a reasonable suspicion arose that Russian special services were behind the murder of Khangoshvili. It is a known fact that Khangoshvili fought in Chechnya alongside Aslan Maskhadov against Russia and his authority was quite high.   It is noteworthy that the murderer had a non-biometric passport on the name of Sokolov, which was issued 2 weeks before the murder. It was also established, that after the murder, killer threw his bicycle, a ,,Glock’’ pistol model and wig into the nearest river and tried to flee the place on a moped he got ready in advance. Two teenagers noticed his suspicious behavior and reported to the police immediately. The Russian could not manage to escape.   

In an interview given to the ,,BBC’’s Russian publication, Khangoshvili’s wife says that Zelimkhan addressed the German police and requested their protection, however, as it seems, they did not believe a threat was real towards former Chechen militant. Moreover, it should be mentioned that a hunt for Khangoshvili has been declared open for a very long time. His elimination attempts took place in Georgia as well in 2006 and 2015.  


After that, Khangoshvili decided to leave Georgia and for some time stayed in Ukraine but soon he left for Germany, a safer country in his opinion.  

Of course, a murder that happened in Europe triggered a huge resonance. Chechen diaspora is requesting to identify and punish those who ordered the murder even on protests. Foreign investigator journalists form a version, that Sokolov’s passport is fake. ,,Bellingcat’’, ,,Der Spiegel’’ and ,,The Insider’’ this opinion with different facts. After they checked the Russian state bases, it is established, that in St. Petersburg in the place indicated in the Visa application form of Sokolov as his address, no one lives with that name. Russian passport system was also checked and it turned out that there is no one registered there with such record. Journalists think that phantom ,,Vadim Sokolov’’ was created only for the specific Berlin special operation.

Except that, according to the western media, German law enforcers received an anonymous letter that says, that Sokolov in reality is a former Police Major Vladimer Stepanov, who should be serving a 24-year sentence in one of Russian colonies. In the beginning of the millennium he helped a Russian gang in assassination of a undesirable Businessman, because of that he was imprisoned. The letter says that the mentioned prisoner was promised freedom in exchange for elimination of Khangoshvili.

Except that, a few days ago „New York Times” published an extensive article, saying that for the last decade a Russian division „29155“ is working in Europe. The division was exposed recently and the main goal of it is to conduct a hybrid war with the west with all the means necessary. The weaponry of this war consists of propaganda production, hacker attacks and armed confrontations. The officers of this division move around Europe and some of them are veterans of Afghanistan, Chechnya and Ukraine wars. Their operations are so encrypted, that even other divisions of GRU do not know the existence of them. The Europe Intelligence Society in Montenegro first exposed them in 2016 after an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the government, the intention of this operation was to kill Prime-Minister and take over the Parliament building. People see their trace in the Skripal poisoning case.

It is not excluded that the secret division „29155“ conducted the assassination of Khangoshvili. However, who is the real killer, a GRU officer or a ,,Freelancer’’ should be determined by the European law enforcers. At the same time, it is obvious, that only a year passed since the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and the fact of violent and brutal termination of a person who is recognized as an enemy of Russia still takes place. Moreover, Skripal was not the first one, because we cannot forget the tragic and hazy stories of Anna Politkovskaya, Sergei Magnitsky, Aleksandr Litvinenko, Boris Nemtsov and others.  In addition, the fact that such assassinations are still continuing till this day, gives us a reason to believe that they shall continue in the future as well.

1 year ago the West directly impositioned responsibility for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter on Moscow. The government of the Great Britain accused two of GRU officers without their presence. Kremlin is outraged by the ,,false allegations’’ and sighs about the sanctions led by the allegations.   However, on the other hand, their special services continue to act with the same malign strategies – they do not care in which sovereign country the victim is; they do not care that the human fundamental rights are violated, that their lives are infringed.  

The fact that an ambitious and loud statement was made recently – International Discussion Club ,,Valdai’s’’ annual assembly, ,,Weather creator’’ and influential Russian politic Sergei Karaganov stated, that one of the most important idea of Russian foreign politic should be the formation of the fact, that Russia is the main supplier of the international security to the whole world and to itself. We can freely consider this absurd statement as a great strategic cover and main narrative, which Kremlin possesses now. This is not surprising, as the ambitions of the Russian empire have never been any lower – Russia always tried to show itself as a savior and protector of the world. However the reality is very different – and the world sees it more obviously now. What kind of a fool would believe that it is possible to protect the world by using „Polonium“, „Novichoks“ and „Glocks“.


Tristan Nebieridze


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