FT: After Navalnyʼs death, Germany lost interest in exchanging the FSB agent

Liza Brovko

After the death of politician Oleksiy Navalny, Germany lost interest in the exchange of Russian FSB officer Vadym Krasikov, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of former Chechen field commander Zelimkhan Khangoshvili.

This is reported by the Financial Times with reference to American and German officials.

The German government was positive about the possibility of exchanging FSB officer Vadym Krasikov for Oleksiy Navalny and possibly for American veteran Paul Whelan and The Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Hershkovich, who are being held in a Russian prison on espionage charges.

Navalnyʼs death significantly reduced the likelihood of such an exchange. Germany and other Western countries blamed Putin for the politicianʼs death.

Maria Pevchikh, an employee of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, stated that Putin had known about the proposal for such an exchange since the beginning of February. She allegedly received confirmation that exchange negotiations were indeed ongoing and were in the final stages on February 15. Navalny died the next day.

U.S. officials said the fact that Krasikov killed Khangoshvili on German soil at the behest of Russian authorities made it difficult to consider his release and exchange to Berlin. However, when Navalny was included in the exchange list, the issue of Krasikovʼs release became more acceptable for Germany.

Navalnyʼs death

On February 16, 2024, the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District reported that Oleksiy Navalny died in correctional colony No. 3. The service writes that allegedly during the walk, Navalny felt sick, he fainted. Medics arrived at the scene, but it was not possible to save him — 47-year-old Navalny died. The leaders of Western countries unanimously put the responsibility for Navalnyʼs death on Putinʼs regime.

On February 24, 2024 , Navalnyʼs body was given to his mother Lyudmila.

The head of Ukrainian intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, said that Navalny died due to a ruptured blood clot, as Russian propaganda and Kremlin representatives said.

Who is Vadim Krasikov?

On August 23, 2019, former Chechen field commander Zelimkhan Khangoshvili was shot dead in Berlin. A Russian with a passport named Vadym Sokolov, his real name is Vadym Mykolayovych Krasikov, was accused of his murder. He may be involved in a contract killing in Moscow in 2013 and is also connected to the FSB. Germanyʼs federal prosecutorʼs office charged the Russian government with the contract killing of Khangoshvili, but Russia (as usual) denied involvement.

In December 2021 , Vadym Krasikov was sentenced to life imprisonment. The court concluded that Vympel FSB special forces officer Vadym Krasikov shot Khangoshvili on the instructions of an unspecified Russian state body. The order came from the Russian authorities.