Russian boss of spy agency blamed for Skripal attack dies

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Igor Korobov, the head of Russia’s Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU), died “after a long and serious illness”, a Defense Ministry spokesperson told the news agency RIA Novosti early on November 22.

Colonel-General Igor Korobov, 62, who has run Russian spy agency the GRU since 2016, died on Wednesday, the Russian defence ministry said today.

The United States and its allies have accused the GRU of hacking the 2016 USA presidential campaign, orchestrating the March nerve agent attack on a Russian ex-spy in Britain, and disrupting anti-doping efforts in world sports.

The Netherlands blamed the GRU for attempting to hack into the global chemicals watchdog in the Hague earlier this year, while the United States has said the GRU tried to hack the 2016 USA presidential election.

Russian Federation has denied the charges.

According to a brief profile published by TASS, Korobov joined the military in 1973 and began working in military intelligence in 1985. Some reports said he was killed in Lebanon while on a mission.

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

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Military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer described him as an “intellectual” who spoke several foreign languages.

The investigative website Bellingcat, which claimed to have uncovered the real identity of the two Russian men suspected of involvement in the Salisbury poisonings, said they were GRU officers, contradicting official Russian claims that the two were ordinary citizens.

The same month an apparently ailing Korobov was reportedly summoned by Putin for a dressing down and felt unwell afterwards.

It has an extensive spy network overseas and its highly trained “spetsnaz” special forces have fought in various conflicts, including in Afghanistan and Chechnya.

Source close to the Directorate’s administration pointed out that Kostyukov had represented GRU at the gala event dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Russia’s Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, when Vladimir Putin had suggested to return the military intelligence service its initial name – GRU.

Its structure, staff numbers and finances are a state secret.