Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lashed out at German authorities on Tuesday, accusing them of a cover-up in the alleged rape of a 13-year-old Russian-German girl.
Berlin prosecutors are now investigating two men in their early 20s in the case involving the teen, identified as Lisa F, who disappeared on January 11 for about 30 hours.
Since then, the case has provoked a storm of allegations across social media, Russian-language media and at public rallies organized by the Russian community in Berlin with claims that the girl was kidnapped and raped by a group of migrants.
Berlin police now believe that the alleged rape did not take place. Lisa F, who is from a Russian immigrant family, has allegedly made contradictory statements on what had happened during the time she disappeared. "We have been unable so far to clarify what happened during the period in question," said a spokesman for the prosecutor's office.
But at a press conference in Moscow, Lavrov attacked the German authorities' handling of the case.
"I hope that these migration problems do not lead to an attempt to cover up the reality for some domestic politically correct reason," Lavrov said.
"It is clear that the girl certainly did not voluntarily disappear for 30 hours," Lavrov said, adding that a lawyer was now in contact with both Lisa F's family and the Russian embassy in Berlin.
Russian state television's most watch network, Channel One, broke the story about the girl during prime time on January 16 with a report by Berlin correspondent Ivan Blagoy.
The report showed a video in which several purported attackers confess to a crime, though it is not clear they are referring to Lisa F. "There were seven men with her," one says. "Two men held her on the floor, three were on top of her, one under her. One turned off the light and started to rape her."
"She was a virgin. You know what I mean?" a man who appears to be of Middle Eastern descent is shown saying. The report said it got the video from the hacker group Anonymous.
Days later a German lawyer, Martin Luithle, told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle that the report might have been based on false information and, if so, was a violation of German law and a possible incitement of racial hatred.
Deutsche Welle quoted the lawyer as saying that the Russian correspondent could face up to five years in prison if he fabricated the story.