Head of Russian spy agency accused of Salisbury novichok attack dies

Head of Russian spy agency accused of Salisbury novichok attack dies

Head of Russian spy agency accused of Salisbury novichok attack dies

Russian Federation treats the GRU's structure, financing and staff numbers as state secrets, but multiple reports say the agency has an extensive spy network overseas, including its highly trained "Spetsnaz" special forces used in Afghanistan and Chechnya.

His predecessor, Igor Segun, died unexpectedly in January 2016, aged 58.

The West has blamed GRU for a string of brazen attacks.

Britain believes the GRU orchestrated the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, England, earlier this year against former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. The investigative group Bellingcat and the Russian site The Insider quickly exposed the agents' real names, and media outlets including The Associated Press were able to confirm their real identities.

The Netherlands had also accused the agency of trying to hack the global weapons watchdog, headquartered in The Hague.

The ministry did not disclose further details about his death.

On the same day, Britain, backed by close intelligence allies Australia and New Zealand, pointed the finger at the GRU for carrying out a worldwide campaign of "malicious" cyberattacks, including the hacking of the US Democratic National Committee in 2016.

Russian Federation dismissed the allegations of GRU involvement.

Sergei Naryshkin, the head of the SVR foreign intelligence agency, a GRU rival, praised Korobov as a "true comrade-in-arms".

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President Vladimir Putin has expressed condolences, said his spokesman Dmitry Peskov, adding the two "had been in constant dialogue".

Though Korobov was hardly a household name even in Russian Federation, in 2016, the U.S. Treasury put him on a sanctions list for "significant malicious cyber-enabled activities".

In 2016 Korobov was added to the list of USA sanctions.

Korobov, who joined military intelligence in 1985, received the Hero of Russian Federation decoration for his service.

The agency's structure, staff number and finances are a state secret. According to the American geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor, however, Sergun died on New Year's Day in Lebanon.

It has allegedly been involved in undercover operations in Ukraine - after Russia's annexation of Ukraine's southern Crimea peninsula in 2014 - and is accused of direct involvement in the hacking of the 2016 United States presidential election.

Russian male life expectancy was 67 as of 2016, according to the World Bank.

The Vice Admiral replaces General Igor Korobov, whose death MINDEF announced on Thursday.

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