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Russian diplomat found dead in Berlin was 'spy'

November 5, 2021

The Foreign Ministry has said it is aware a diplomat was found dead outside the Russian embassy last month. The news magazine Der Spiegel said the 35-year-old had fallen from a window before he was found October 19.

The Russian Embassy in Berlin
German security services believe a man found dead in a street outside the Russian embassy in Berlin last month was an undercover agent Image: Getty Images/S. Gallup

Germany's Foreign Ministry on Friday confirmed the death of a diplomat outside the Russian Embassy in Berlin last month, but did not offer any further details.

News magazine Der Spiegel reported the 35-year-old was found early on October 19 after having fallen from an upper floor of the embassy.

Police in Berlin declined to comment and referred questions to the public prosecutors.

The Russian Embassy had not agreed to an autopsy, according to sources in the security services cited by Der Spiegel. It was therefore unclear how the reported agent died.

The man was officially serving at the Russian Embassy in the capacity of second secretary. Der Spiegel reports the embassy would only call it "a tragic accident" and said it would refrain from further comment "for ethical reasons."

Bellingcat reports that the diplomat is the son of Gen. Alexey Zhalo, the deputy director of the FSB's Second Directorate and head of the FSB's Directorate for Protection of Constitutional Order, which handles terrorism cases. Officers from the latter directorate shadowed Alexei Navalny prior to his poisoning and are linked to the poisoning of another opposition figure, Vladimir Kara-Murza.

Christo Grozev of Bellingcat told DW the diplomat's death created "some confusion within the German security apparatus as to what this meant," whether it was an accident or due to some internal power struggle or purge.

"It took the German authorities some time to figure out whether it was something to even talk about," Grozev said.

ar/rt (AFP, Reuters)