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Former KGB chief kills himself in Moscow

The body of 77-year-old Leonid Shebarshin, former head of the Soviet KGB foreign intelligence branch, was found in his Moscow flat on Friday, police say.

Leonid shebarshin kgb 2012 03 30Enlarge
People place candles near the Solovetsky stone in front of the FSB, formerly KGB, headquarters in Moscow on October 29, 2009. (ALEXEY SAZONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON, UK – The former head of the Soviet KGB foreign intelligence branch, Leonid Shebarshin, has killed himself a week after celebrating his 77th birthday, Russian prosecutors and police say.

The ex-spy chief was found dead with a gunshot wound at his central Moscow flat on Friday.

A ceremonial pistol lay near the body and a suicide note had been left at the scene, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reports.

“Preliminary examination showed that no one else was in the flat,” a police spokesman said.

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Born in 1935, Shebarshin became fluent in Urdu and was a veteran of Soviet intelligence in South Asia, serving in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India during the 1950s-1970s, Reuters reports.

He headed up KGB operations in post-revolutionary Iran, and was expelled with his fellow officers in 1983, according to the BBC. He later led the KGB’s First Chief Directorate from 1989-1991.

On August 22, 1991, he became acting head of the entire KGB for two days, replacing coup plotter Vladimir Kruchkov before resigning himself as the new post-Soviet authorities began dismantling the organization, the Associated Press reports.

He stood down from active service shortly after the coup. 

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