Kirill Zhalo, 35, was found lifeless on the pavement outside the Russian embassy in Berlin on October 19

Kirill Zhalo, 35, was found lifeless on the pavement outside the Russian embassy in Berlin on October 19

Kirill Zhalo, 35, was found lifeless on the pavement outside the Russian embassy in Berlin on October 19

A suspected spy with family ties to Russia’s shadowy FSB has been found dead outside the country’s embassy in Berlin. 

Kirill Zhalo, 35, was found lifeless outside the building in central Berlin at 7.20am on October 19 by German guards assigned to protect it. Medics were called but were unable to revive him. 

Zhalo appears to have fallen to his death from the upper floor of the building, German newspaper Der Spiegel said, as it broke news of the death today.

But no official cause of death has been given because the embassy refused an autopsy and German prosecutors have no powers to investigate because of Zhalo’s diplomatic status.  

Zhalo’s body was repatriated to Russia the following day. 

The Russian embassy has acknowledged Zhalo’s death since the news became public, describing it as a ‘tragic accident’ and saying it will not comment further for ‘ethical reasons.’

‘All the procedures related to repatriating the diplomat’s body back to the homeland were promptly settled with responsible German law-enforcement and medical authorities in accordance with current practices,’ the embassy said in a statement.

It added that ‘speculations which have appeared in a number of Western media’ over the diplomat’s death are ‘absolutely incorrect’. 

Guards found Zhalo's body outside the building (file image) at 7.20am and called medics, who were unable to revive him

Guards found Zhalo's body outside the building (file image) at 7.20am and called medics, who were unable to revive him

Guards found Zhalo’s body outside the building (file image) at 7.20am and called medics, who were unable to revive him 

Germany’s foreign ministry also confirmed the death today, but said it cannot give more information due to ‘privacy reasons’.

Zhalo was identified by investigative websites Bellingcat and The Insider, which said he is the son of prominent FSB officer Lieutenant General Alexei Zhalo.

Zhalo Sr is head of the FSB’s Office for the Protection of the Constitutional System, the sites said, which has been implicated in numerous assassination plots including the failed poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Lieutenant General Alexei Zhalo, a senior member of the FSB (pictured), is believed to be Kirill's father

Lieutenant General Alexei Zhalo, a senior member of the FSB (pictured), is believed to be Kirill's father

Lieutenant General Alexei Zhalo, a senior member of the FSB (pictured), is believed to be Kirill’s father

The office was also linked to the failed poisoning of writer Dmitry Bykov in Russia 2019, and two failed poisonings of politician and writer Vladimir Kara-Murza in 2015 and 2017, also in Russia.

Zhalo Sr is also deputy director of the FSB’s Second Service, Bellingcat reported, which was linked to the 2019 assassination of Georgian asylum seeker and former Chechen rebel commander Zelimkhan Khangoshvili.

Khangoshvili was shot twice in the head in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten park as he went for a run down a wooded track on 23 August.

Zhao Jr had served as Third Secretary to Russia’s permanent representation to the United Nations in Vienna, and was based there from at least 2013 until 2019.

He then moved to Berlin in June 2019, two months before Khangoshvili was killed.

Zhalo Jr was officially working in Berlin as a diplomat, but German security services suspect he was actually an undercover spy.

Public records show the two Zhalos were previously registered at the same address in Moscow, and before that in Rostov-on-Don where the family hails from.  

Google’s data shows that Zhalo Jr was removed from the diplomatic list of the German Foreign Ministry between November 1 and 4, two weeks after he died. 

There is no evidence that Zhalo Jr was involved in the planning or execution of Khangoshvili’s murder. 

No official cause of death has been given because the embassy, in central Berlin, refused an autopsy and German prosecutors have no authority to investigate

No official cause of death has been given because the embassy, in central Berlin, refused an autopsy and German prosecutors have no authority to investigate

No official cause of death has been given because the embassy, in central Berlin, refused an autopsy and German prosecutors have no authority to investigate

Another man, Vadim Krasikov, is currently in jail in Berlin accused of state-mandated murder over the shooting.

Evidence suggests Krasikov was in contact with FSB operatives in the run-up to Khangoshvili’s death and may have received weapons training from them.

Among the FSB operatives that Krasikov is alleged to have met are agents with links to Zhalo Sr, though there is no evidence the two men met directly. 

It is not the first time someone has fallen to their deaths from the Berlin embassy. 

In 2003, a porter was found dead having apparently fallen from the window of his apartment building within the grounds.  

It is also just the latest in a spate of deaths of Russians who have mysteriously fallen from buildings after criticising the government or local officials.

At least four doctors have mysteriously plunged from hospital windows during the Covid pandemic, some of them after criticising authorities for failing to provide enough support for patients.

The latest to die was dentist Darya Khorovskaya, 35, who fell to her death from the ninth floor of a Covid ward in St Petersburg last month.

It came four days after her mother – Professor Lina Khorovskaya, an expert in diagnostics – had died from Covid. 

Father Oleg Khorovsky, 58, the head of a leading private dental hospital, had also died of the virus in September.

Russian ‘window plunge’ deaths: Medics who have fallen in mysterious circumstances 

A series of high-profile medical figures have died in Russia after allegedly falling from windows amid the Covid pandemic.

Shortly before their unfortunate falls, many of them had criticised local officials or the government over its response to the pandemic. 

The latest to die was dentist Darya Khorovskaya, 35, who fell to her death from the ninth floor of a Covid ward in St Petersburg last month.

Darya Khorovskaya, 35, a highly respected Russian orthodontist, fell to her death from a hospital Covid ward window

Darya Khorovskaya, 35, a highly respected Russian orthodontist, fell to her death from a hospital Covid ward window

Darya Khorovskaya, 35, a highly respected Russian orthodontist, fell to her death from a hospital Covid ward window 

It came four days after her mother – Professor Lina Khorovskaya, an expert in diagnostics – had died from Covid. 

Father Oleg Khorovsky, 58, the head of a leading private dental hospital, had also died of the virus in September.  

In June 2020, police forensic expert Lt Col Natalya Shcherbakova, 45, was fatally injured after she fell from a fifth floor hospital window in Moscow.

She was put on a life support machine but later died, say police sources.

Dr Natalya Lebedeva, 48, plunged 60ft to her death from the sixth floor of a Moscow hospital after colleagues said she was unfairly blamed for the spread of coronavirus at her clinic in Star City, near Moscow, the training centre for cosmonauts.

She had become infected from Covid-19.

Dr Yelena Nepomnyashchaya, 47, a mother of two from a medical family, sustained fatal injuries after falling 60ft from a window at her Krasnoyarsk hospital in Siberia.

Colleagues said she had complained about an ‘acute shortage’ of personal protection equipment for doctors and nurses.

Star City doctor Natalya Lebedeva died after falling from a window at the end of April

Star City doctor Natalya Lebedeva died after falling from a window at the end of April

Doctor Yelena Nepomnyashchaya, 47, died after falling out of the 5th floor office window

Doctor Yelena Nepomnyashchaya, 47, died after falling out of the 5th floor office window

Dr Khorovskaya’s fall brings back concerns from earlier in the pandemic about a number of Covid-19 patients and doctors who had jumped to their deaths from hospitals. Last year, Dr Natalya Lebedeva, 48, (left) plunged 60ft to her death from the sixth floor of a Moscow hospital. Dr Yelena Nepomnyashchaya, 47, (right) a mother of two from a medical family, sustained fatal injuries after falling 60ft from a window at her Krasnoyarsk hospital

 

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