On October 19 at about 7:20 a.m., Berlin police found the lifeless body of a diplomat in the street under the windows of the Russian embassy, according to Der Spiegel sources. According to the newspaper, the emergency services arriving on the scene were unable to resuscitate him. Because of the diplomatic status, neither investigation nor autopsy was possible on the German territory, and the Russian embassy repatriated the body the next day.
It is unclear whether the fall was the cause of death or whether the diplomat was already dead before he fell, but since the embassy building has only four floors, the suicide theory seems implausible. The Russian embassy told Der Spiegel that it was an accident and declined further comment on ethical grounds. German intelligence sources told Der Spiegel they suspected the diplomat, who worked as the embassy's second secretary, was actually an FSB officer and was linked to a high-ranking FSB general.
Based on open sources, The Insider and Bellingcat were able to identify the dead man. He was Kirill Zhalo, the son of Lieutenant General Alexey Zhalo, chief of the FSB's Directorate for Constitutional Order Protection. This directorate was responsible for extrajudicial executions of activists and journalists in Russia, including the poisoning of Navalny, Dmitry Bykov and Vladimir Kara-Murza. The car registration database confirms that Kirill Alexeyevich Zhalo was registered at the same address with his father in Moscow and previously in Rostov-on-Don. Google cached data shows that the Russian Embassy's second secretary, Kirill Zhalo, was removed from the diplomatic list of the German Foreign Ministry between November 1 to 4, 2021.
Curiously, Kirill Zhalo had previously served as third secretary of the Russian Permanent Mission to the Ministry of Defense in Vienna, and was transferred to Berlin on June 19, 2019, just two months before Zelimkhan Khangoshvili was killed. As The Insider and Bellingcat previously stated in their investigation, killer Vadim Krasikov, while preparing for the assassination of Khangoshvili, repeatedly visited the office of the FSB anti-terrorist center, which is a part of the Second Service, whose deputy chief is Zhalo Sr. Also, while preparing for the assassination, Krasikov actively communicated with the Vympel officer Eduard Bendersky, who repeatedly took the same flights with the FSB's Second Service director General Alexei Sedov, the immediate superior officer of Alexei Zhalo. Kirill Zhalo's transfer to the embassy in Berlin may have been a mere coincidence, but German prosecutors argued that Krasikov could not have acted without local support, since he had arrived from Warsaw to Berlin only hours before the murder and had no time to organize detailed planning of the evacuation route or procure an electric bicycle and electric scooter that had played a crucial role in the murder plan.
The Russian embassy in Germany called media reports about the diplomat's death «absolutely incorrect speculation,» RIA Novosti reported. «The tragic accident with the Russian diplomat occurred on October 19, 2021,» the diplomatic mission's press service says in a statement. «All formalities connected with transporting the diplomat's body back home were promptly settled with the competent German law enforcement and medical authorities in accordance with current practice. We consider the speculations that appeared in a number of Western media in the context of this tragic incident to be absolutely incorrect».