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Suspected Russian FSB Agent Found Dead In Front Of Berlin Embassy

Updated

German police found the diplomat's lifeless body on the sidewalk in front of the Russian Embassy in Berlin last month. (file photo)

A Russian diplomat suspected of being an undercover agent of the Federal Security Service (FSB) was found dead in front of the Russian Embassy in Berlin last month, German media have reported.

Berlin police discovered the lifeless body on the sidewalk in front of the embassy building on the morning of October 19, Der Spiegel reported on November 5.

Following the report, a German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said they were aware of the diplomat's death but could not provide further details.

The Russian Embassy provided no details, saying only that there was a "tragic incident."

"We regard the speculations appearing in certain Western media outlets in the context of this tragic incident as absolutely inappropriate," the embassy said.

Der Spiegel said the 35-year-old man is believed to have fallen from the upper floor of the embassy building onto Behrenstrasse in central Berlin, just steps away from the Brandenburg Gate.

The Russian Embassy did not agree to an autopsy of the body and German prosecutors could not carry out an investigation due to his diplomatic status, Der Spiegel reported.

According to an official list of diplomats, the man had been accredited as the embassy's second secretary since the summer of 2019.

However, German security officials suspect he was an agent for the FSB using diplomatic cover, Der Spiegel reported.

The man was believed to be a high-ranking officer in the FSB's Second Service linked by Western intelligence services to the so-called Tiergarten murder, in which a Georgian asylum seeker and former Chechen rebel commander, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, was shot dead in broad daylight in Berlin in the summer of 2019.

Investigative outlet Bellingcat said that open-source data showed that the deceased was Kirill Zhalo, the son of Lieutenant General Aleksei Zhalo, head of the FSB's Second Service, or the Office for the Protection of the Constitutional System.

After examining a vehicle-registration database, the investigators said they found that Kirill Zhalo was registered at the same address as his father in Moscow and previously in Rostov-on-Don.

German prosecutors say the accused in the Tiergarten assassin case, Vadim Krasikov, did not act alone and likely received some support on the ground.

Bellingcat said Kirill Zhalo arrived in Berlin two months before the Tiergarten murder, although "there is no evidence that he was involved in the planning or logistical support for the assassination."

According to research by Der Spiegel, the investigative platforms Bellingcat and The Insider, and CNN, officials from the FSB's Second Service were also involved in the poison attack on Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in the summer of 2020.

With reporting by Der Spiegel and Reuters
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