Russian diplomat found dead in Berlin was intelligence officer

A Russian diplomat found dead near the country’s embassy in Berlin last month was an undercover intelligence agent, German media have reported.

The news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Friday that police had recovered the body of a Russian diplomat who apparently fell from an embassy window, and that the man had been identified as a member of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s main intelligence and law enforcement agency.

The death has not previously been reported. Der Spiegel said police had discovered the body near the embassy on 19 October and that emergency services were unable to resuscitate. The news outlet reported that German security sources were not sure of the cause of death and that the Russian embassy had not authorised an autopsy.

The embassy has declined to comment on the death of any of its staff. The German foreign ministry has confirmed the death of a Russian diplomat but said it cannot give more information.

The investigative news outlet Bellingcat, citing leaked databases, identified the intelligence agent as the son of a high-ranking FSB officer, a deputy director of the intelligence agency’s Second Service, which has been accused of plotting overseas assassinations.

Those include the 2019 murder of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili. The former Chechen rebel commander, who was a Georgian citizen, was killed in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten. Other targets of the Second Service have included the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who almost died after a poisoning attack in 2020. Russia has denied it was behind both attacks.

According to Bellingcat, the diplomat arrived in Berlin two months before Khangoshvili’s murder. There is no evidence linking the two events, the outlet reported. Before that posting, the diplomat was posted to Russia’s mission to the United Nations in Vienna.

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