Senior Soviet KGB ex-official found dead in Moscow apartment
April 2, 2012 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Leonid Shebarshin, a retired General of the KGB, who was often referred to as “the last Soviet spy” was found dead in his downtown Moscow apartment over the weekend. Police said a pistol and an apparent suicide note were found next to his body. In a separate statement on Saturday, law enforcement investigators said Shebarshin had shot himself. Born in 1935, Shebarshin was posted as an interpreter at the Soviet embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, shortly after graduating from the Moscow Institute of International Relations. He eventually became personal assistant to the Soviet Ambassador to Pakistan, who recommended him to the KGB. Shebarshin returned to Moscow in 1962 to attend the KGB’s training school, before being sent back to Pakistan in 1964, this time as an intelligence officer. In 1975, he moved to India, where he became rezident (station chief) of the KGB’s field station in New Delhi. Two years later he was transferred to the KGB’s field station in Tehran, Iran, which he headed through the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In 1982, however, his meteoric rise within the ranks of the KGB was temporarily halted by the defection of Soviet Vladimir Kuzichkin, a Major in the KGB, who escaped to Turkey with the help of the British Secret Intelligence Service —also known as MI6. The British brought Kuzichkin in contact with the CIA, which in turn passed along the defector’s debriefing notes to the government of Iran. This information led to the summary expulsion from Tehran of nearly 20 Soviet KGB field officers, including Shebarshin himself. After a brief period in Moscow, Shebarshin returned to the field, this time to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, where he traveled at least 20 times. He was in Russia on August 19, 1991, during the so-called ‘August coup’, when a group of hardline communist officials took power in Moscow and temporarily arrested Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. But, even though he headed the KGB’s First Chief Directorate (now renamed to Foreign Intelligence Service), Shebarshin persisted in remaining neutral during the coup, and spent all of August 19 playing tennis at his summer residence. He returned to Moscow on August 22, following the failure of the coup, to assume interim leadership of the KGB, which lasted until the following day. Even though he did not support the hardline communist coup, Shebarshin disagreed with the dismantling of the KGB and, in September of 1991, resigned and largely withdrew from public life. According to Russian media reports, Shebarshin had been living alone following the death of his wife and had been complaining about his ailing health. His 77th birthday was on March 24. Moscow police have refused to disclose the contents of his alleged suicide note.