Wednesday 12/8/21
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Body of Russian diplomat suspected of being a spy found in Berlin

According to Der Spiegel, he was known to German security as an undercover member of Russia's FSB
05 November 2021, Berlin: A Russian flag waves at the Russian Embassy in Berlin. Under unexplained circumstances, an employee of the Russian embassy has died. Security guards of the Berlin police are said to have found the man on the sidewalk at the back of the embassy complex as early as 19 October 2021. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/dpa.
Under unexplained circumstances, an employee of the Russian embassy has died. Security guards of the Berlin police are said to have found the man on the sidewalk at the back of the embassy complex as early as 19 October 2021. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/dpa.

A Russian diplomat was found dead outside the country's Berlin embassy last month, a news report said on Friday, noting that the circumstances of the death remain unclear.

Berlin police officers on security duty found the 35-year-old man's body at around dawn on October 19 on a path at the rear of the embassy complex, the German news weekly Spiegel reported.

The man is said to have been linked to the FSB, Russia's domestic intelligence agency.

The German Foreign Office confirmed on Friday that it was aware of the case. It would not comment further out of respect for the privacy of the individual involved.

A spokesman for the Berlin public prosecutor also declined to comment.

"The Embassy of Russia in Germany will not comment on this tragic event on ethical grounds," Moscow's diplomatic mission in Berlin said.

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

But according to Spiegel, he was known to German security as an undercover member of the FSB, which is responsible for combating terrorism.

Investigative reporters at the websites theins.ru and Bellingcat wrote that the diplomat was the son of a high-ranking FSB officer who led the agency's "Directorate for Protection of Constitutional Order" back in Moscow.

The department is responsible among other things for combatting terrorism. According to theins.ru, it oversees extrajudicial executions of activists and journalists in Russia.

Linked to murder

It has been linked by Western intelligence agencies to the 2019 murder of a Georgian man living in exile in Berlin. The victim, who had fought against Russia in the Chechen war and was considered an enemy of the state by the Kremlin, was shot dead in broad daylight in a park near the city centre.

Germany's attorney general has said that the killing was committed at the behest of the Russian state.

The case has weighed heavily on diplomatic ties between Moscow and Berlin.

A Russian suspect is currently on trial in Berlin for the murder. The 56-year-old was detained shortly after the killing and is being held in custody.

The man, who is thought to have travelled to Germany under an alias before carrying out the contract killing, has not yet commented on the charges against him.

Windows 'not high enough' for suicide

Russian opposition activist Leonid Volkov, who has repeatedly visited the Russian embassy in Berlin, responded to the news of the dead diplomat on the encrypted messaging service Telegram.

He said the building's windows were not high enough for suicide and suggested that the FSB officer's son had been "thrown out of the window."

The case was "pretty serious," he added.

Volkov is a close ally of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. Both men have accused the FSB of committing political crimes.

In August 2020, Navalny was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok and nearly died. He was flown to Berlin from Russia to be treated in the German capital's Charite hospital.

Navalny has accused an FSB killer commando of plotting to assassinate him.

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