Ein exchange for Vladimir Putin's most important domestic political opponent, Alexei Navalnyj, who is widely recognized as a political prisoner, for a contract killer for the FSB secret service imprisoned in Germany: This seemed difficult to imagine until Monday. Since the summer of 2022, press reports have been circulating that Moscow was pressing for this killer to be released in negotiations with the United States; His name is Vadim Krassikov and he was sentenced to life imprisonment in Berlin that spring for shooting a Chechen in the Tiergarten in 2019. But there was always talk of a possible exchange for Americans held in Russia, not of German citizens in Russian custody. It seemed as if Moscow wanted to use this demand to get the Americans to put pressure on their German allies, who officially “cannot be blackmailed” when it comes to the exchange of prisoners or hostages.

After American journalist Evan Gershkovich was arrested in Russia in the spring of 2023 on espionage charges, Putin's, as the Russian phrase is, “exchange fund” expanded to include a prominent prisoner. Last September, the Wall Street Journal, Gershkovich's employer, wrote, citing a senior Western official, that Putin was “only interested in an exchange for Krasikov.” At the beginning of February, Putin himself made this clear for the first time when he praised the “Tiergarten murderer” to American television personality Tucker Carlson as someone “who, for patriotic reasons, liquidated a bandit in a European capital” and is now imprisoned in a country allied with the USA . It is “more or less pointless” to keep Gershkovich in Russian custody, they are ready to come to an agreement, and their American “colleagues” should “consider how these problems can be solved.”

30776 74941 49251 62275 31674 28186 29145 92304 79815 34762 06989 35270 13255 09477 79011 01932 68983 16713 21647 47519