Russian Foreign Ministry
© Sputnik / Natalya Seliverstova
FILE PHOTO. The building of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow.
Moscow has decided to expel two German diplomats working at the embassy in Russia, the Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday. The mirror action was anticipated after a similar move was made by Berlin last week.

Berlin declared two Russian diplomats serving in the Russian Embassy personae non gratae for "not sufficiently cooperating" with a German criminal investigation. The failure, Berlin believes, indicates that Moscow, or the authorities of Russia's Republic of Chechnya, may have had a hand in it.

A 40-year-old man was gunned down in Berlin in August. The German media identified the victim as Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a former militant commander who fought on the side of terrorists in Russia's southern republic of Chechnya.

Citing his friends and associates, RFE/RL reported that the man led a company of a "few dozen fighters" and fought alongside notorious warlord Shamil Basayev, who masterminded numerous terrorist attacks on Russian soldiers and civilians. Basayev was killed by Russian security forces in 2006. Around that time, Khangoshvili reportedly returned to Georgia. He fled to Germany in 2015, after reportedly surviving an assassination attempt in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Moscow denies any links to the crime. President Vladimir Putin said the man was a bandit and suspected of being the mastermind behind a Moscow Metro bombing attack.

"I don't know what happened to him. He was part of a bandit environment, anything can happen there," the Russian president said.

Earlier on Thursday, the German ambassador to Moscow, Geza Andreas von Geyr, was summoned by the Russian Foreign Ministry to be notified about the response to Berlin's move. He refrained from talking to journalists after the visit, telling them to wait for official statements.

The ministry's statement didn't identify the diplomats targeted in the tit-for-tat, but said they have one week to leave the country. "The German ambassador was issued a note to that effect," the Foreign Ministry said.

The German Foreign Ministry said it regretted Russia's move as it believes it was unwarranted and sends "a wrong signal".