Ex-KGB head Leonid Shebarshin dies at age 77

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Leonid Shebarshin, a retired senior spy who headed the former Soviet Union's KGB for a day, has apparently killed himself. He celebrated his 77th birthday earlier this week.

The KGB's logo. Shebarshin headed the service for a day.
Image: Jgaray.

Born in 1935, Shebarshin had experience as an agent in India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. He was made head of the KGB's foreign intelligence arm, the First Main Directorate, in 1989 and held the post until 1991.

That year saw a coup by figures including the KGB's leader Vladmir Kryuchkov against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. When the coup failed, Shebarshin was appointed Kryuchkov's interim replacement on August 22. The next day, he was replaced in that role and resigned soon after. The Soviet Union collapsed later that year.

Shebarshin is believed to have left a suicide note before killing himself with a shot to the head from the pistol he was gifted upon retirement, according to media and the local Investigative Committee. His body was found at his Moscow apartment Friday. The gun was nearby.

Shebarshin's wife has been dead for several years. He is thought to have lived alone in his city centre apartment.