A Russian official condemned the move as "Russophobic hysteria" and did not rule out a reciprocal move.
In August this year, Chechen exile Zelimkhan Khangoshvili was shot dead in a central Berlin park in broad daylight by a man on a bicycle, who was identified by eyewitnesses and picked up by the police shortly afterwards. Khangoshvili is said to have spent several years living in Georgia under the name of Tornike Kavtarashvili.
"There is sufficient factual evidence to suggest that the killing. was carried out either on behalf of state agencies of the Russian Federation or those of the Autonomous Chechen Republic", the prosecutors said. Prosecutors said he also went by the alias Vadim S., and German and global news outlets have reported he had links to organized crime in Russian Federation.
He has been named by police only as Vadim S.More news: The Rock opens up on painful divorce
In a verbal protest note given to Russian Ambassador Sergei J. Netschajew after he was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday morning, Russia is strongly urged to cooperate with German authorities on the case.
Dmitry Novikov, a senior Russian lawmaker, said he thought Moscow would respond in kind to the German expulsions, the Interfax news agency reported.
According to an investigation by Bellingcat and Der Spiegel, the alleged murderer travelled to Germany on a passport under the name Vadim Sokolov, but his real name is Vadim Krasikov and is a suspect in the 2013 murder of a Russian businessman in Moscow. The victim in that attack was also approached by a man on a bicycle who shot him in the back of the head.
Russian Federation issued an Interpol worldwide arrest warrant for Mr Krasikov in 2014, but withdrew it a year later without explanation.More news: Khloe Kardashian not on speaking terms with Caitlyn Jenner
Khangoshvili survived an earlier assassination attempt in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, in 2015, after which he fled to Ukraine where he is believed to have worked closely with the authorities against Russian interests.
The killing has been compared with the poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal in Britain past year with a nerve agent, widely blamed on Russian intelligence.
He applied for asylum in Germany in 2017, claiming his life was in danger.More news: Doctors bring dead heart 'back to life' for groundbreaking transplant