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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