TBILISI, DFWatch–The Prosecutor’s Office in Russia has asked Georgia to extradite a man suspected of murdering a Russian diplomat in Abkhazia two months ago.
Russian media write that the Russian Prosecutor’s Office has sent an official request to Georgia asking to extradite 25-year-old Yusuf Lakaev.
He is suspected of having murdered the diplomat Dmitry Vishernev and wounding his wife September 9. Vishernev was First Secretary at the de facto Russian embassy to Abkhazia in Sukhumi.
It was after his being detained for shooting at police in Batumi September 13 that Lakaev appeared in the news as the prime suspect in the diplomat’s killing.
The murder was investigated by a Russian investigative committee, who pointed at Lakaev and asked for his extradition. This request, Russian media reported, originated with the de facto chief prosecutor of Abkhazia and was conveyed to Georgia through Swiss diplomats.
Media in Russia now say also the Prosecutor’s Office of Russia has asked for Lakaev’s extradition, but the corresponding office in Georgia says it has not received any such request yet, according to spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office, Khatuna Paichadze.
That Lakaev was responsible for the murder is being met with skepticism in Tbilisi, with commentator Mamuka Areshidze earlier hinting in an interview with DF Watch that Lakaev could be a convenient patsy, simultaneously implicating the North Caucasus emirate through his roots as a Chechen, and Georgia, where he was in hiding.
Lakaev’s detention took place on September 13 after he opened fire at police who had asked him to show identification papers. Three people were injured, including himself. Russian media claimed he was planning to go to Turkey, and two friends in Batumi were helping him. They were also detained.
The City Court in Batumi placed him in pre-trial detention. Also, the court in Sukhumi placed him in pre-trial detention – in absentia – for murdering the Russian diplomat.
Lakaev was later reported to be on a list of possible threats to the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics, and Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said Russia’s latest activities at the de facto border installing barbed wire and fences could be related to the Vishernev murder and Lakaev.