Russian ‘spy’ found dead after falling from window in Berlin embassy

Kirill Zhalo was the son of a high ranking Russian intelligence officer

Oliver Carroll
Moscow Correspondent
Friday 05 November 2021 16:43
<p>The Russian embassy in Berlin</p>

The Russian embassy in Berlin

Leer en Español

A Russian diplomat has been found dead after falling from a third-floor window of Moscow’s embassy in Berlin.

Der Spiegel, which broke the news, identified the victim as Kirill Zhalo, 35, the son of a top Russian intelligence officer. German authorities believe Mr Zhalo was in fact a spy working under the cover of second secretary, the website reported.

He was found lifeless in a pool of blood shortly after 7am on 19 October.

It is unclear if he died before or after the fall. In line with standard protocol, there was no local police investigation or autopsy and the body was taken away to Moscow the next day.

Bellingcat, an investigative journalism website, has corroborated family ties to General Alexei Zhalo, the deputy head of the Second Directorate of Russia’s security agency. Data from leaked car registration databases show the two men shared addresses – first in a family home in Rostov-on-Don, in southern Russia, and later in Moscow.

The FSB’s infamous Second Directorate has a mandate of protecting “constitutional order”. In practice, this has extended to hardline operations controlling dissidents, opposition politicians and journalists.

Bellingcat allege the Directorate was also responsible for the brazen daytime assassination of former Chechen rebel commander Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in Berlin’s Tiergarten in August 2019.

Writing on Twitter, Christo Grozev, the publication’s main investigator, noted that the younger Zhalo was moved from Vienna to Berlin just two months before that assassination. “That may just be a coincidence,” he said, “But German authorities believe the killer received support on the ground in Berlin.”

German authorities, not impressed by what they described as a “contract killing” in their backyard, later ordered the expulsion of two Russian diplomats. Moscow has denied any involvement in the assassination.

Whatever the truth of the latest incident, suspicions and conspiracy theories about state involvement are bound to linger. “Falling from windows” has become a loaded term in Russia – serving as it does as a frequent explanation for dozens of unexplained deaths of politicians, muckraking journalists and state officials.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in