Former KGB Chief “Kills Himself”

The wonderfully wry British media strikes again with the BBC headline “Soviet ex-KGB chief Leonid Shebarshin ‘kills himself’

A former head of the Soviet KGB foreign intelligence branch, Leonid Shebarshin, has apparently shot himself dead aged 77, Russian prosecutors and police say.

Shebarshin was found dead with a gunshot wound at his flat in central Moscow, a ceremonial pistol by his side, police told news agencies.

A suicide note was reportedly also found at the scene.

A veteran of Soviet intelligence in South Asia and Iran, he led the KGB’s First Chief Directorate from 1989-91.

In 1991, he replaced coup plotter Vladimir Kryuchkov for two days as overall head of the KGB before he resigned himself, as the new post-Communist authorities set about dismantling the organisation.

Not a single word in the story casts doubt on the official story. But the scare quotes in the headline sends the signal that more than a wee bit of skepticism is warranted. Well played.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.


  1. jd says:

    Let me just say that I find this story “interesting”.


  2. Idiot says:

    Do you trust the Soviet… er Russian authorities about this sort of thing?


  3. Jed says:

    One is reminded of Terry Pratchett’s City Watch version of suicide.

    Saying “Shorty” in a Dwarf bar, calling a troll “Rocky”, being in the wrong place at the wrong time or general acts of inattention that don’t warrant me actually caring about.

    That headline writer has a future, though.