Moscow requested recording of a man convicted of murdering a former Chechen commander in Berlin, CNN reports
Moscow wants Vadim Krasikov, a Russian citizen convicted of murder in Germany last year, to be involved in a possible prisoner exchange with the US, CNN reported Friday, citing multiple people familiar with the case.
The station previously reported that the US was willing to exchange Viktor Bout, who was convicted ten years ago for arms trafficking in the US, for former US Marine Paul Whelan and basketball player Brittney Griner, who is currently in Russia on charges of espionage and drug possession. respectively.
Krasikov was convicted by a German court in December of the 2019 murder of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili – a former Chechen commander who fought against Moscow – in a Berlin park and sentenced to life in prison. The court ruled that Krasikov was acting on behalf of the Russian government, but the Kremlin denied that the state was involved.
According to CNN, Moscow last month made the request to trade Krasikov “an informal back channel” used by the country’s main internal security agency, the FSB. The sources told the channel that the request was seen as: “problematic” because Krasikov is in German custody and is not seen as “a legitimate counter” to Washington’s reported offer to trade Bout for Griner and Whelan.
Nevertheless, a high-ranking German government source was quoted as saying that the US was checking with the Germans whether they might be willing to give up Krasikov for a trade, but the “It hasn’t been seriously thought through.” One US official described the move as: “a status check.”
Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the US National Security Council, told CNN that: “Holding two wrongfully held Americans hostage for the release of a Russian murderer in the custody of a third country is not a serious counter-offer.” She added that a request to trade Krasikov would be: “a bad faith attempt to avoid the deal on the table that Russia should be taking.”
Russia has not responded to the reported request regarding Krasikov.
CNN reported Wednesday that the White House has made Moscow an offer to trade Bout for Whelan and Griner. The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that negotiations were underway for a possible exchange, but did not provide any details. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he discussed the issue by telephone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday.
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