Chief of Russia’s military intelligence agency dies

Igor Korobov died at the age of 62. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service/AP)
Updated 22 November 2018
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Chief of Russia’s military intelligence agency dies

  • Under his tenure the GRU has become a byword for Russian meddling in Western affairs
  • The ministry said he died on Wednesday after a “long and serious illness”

Moscow: Russia’s military intelligence chief who oversaw a series of notorious operations abroad has died after a long illness, with Moscow praising him Thursday as a “great man” and a patriot.
Igor Korobov, 62, had headed the defense ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) since 2016 and was the target of US sanctions.
Under his tenure the GRU has become a byword for Russian meddling in Western affairs.
The ministry said he died on Wednesday after a “long and serious illness,” with analysts suggesting it was a code word for cancer.
Korobov’s 57-year-old first deputy, Vice Admiral Igor Kostyukov, has been appointed acting GRU chief and is likely become his successor, state news agency TASS said, citing a military source.
President Vladimir Putin has expressed condolences, said his spokesman Dmitry Peskov, adding the two “had been in constant dialogue.”
“The dear memory of this great man, a faithful Russian son and a patriot of the Motherland... will remain forever in our hearts,” the defense ministry said.
Sergei Naryshkin, the head of the SVR foreign intelligence agency, a GRU rival, praised Korobov as a “true comrade-in-arms.”
The West has accused the ultra-secretive agency of carrying out attacks on foreign soil, including the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a Soviet-designed nerve agent in Britain in March.
Washington has said the GRU was directly involved in interfering in the 2016 US election through “cyber-enabled activities,” while the Netherlands has said they had thwarted a GRU cyberattack on the global chemical weapons watchdog.
Russia has denied the charges.
Korobov did not participate in a gala marking the centenary of the service in early November when Putin heaped praise on the GRU.
Korobov’s first deputy Kostyukov, who is thought to be in charge of Russia’s Syria operations at the GRU, reportedly presided over the ceremony.
“If he is appointed, then he will be the first naval seaman in the history of the GRU to become a military intelligence chief,” TASS quoted its source as saying.
Korobov, who joined military intelligence in 1985, received the Hero of Russia decoration for his service.


Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

Handout photo released by the Mexican presidency showing Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador answering questions during a press conference at the Palacio Nacional, in Mexico City on March 25, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 45 min 46 sec ago
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Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

  • “The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement

MEXICO CITY: The 500-year-old wounds of the Spanish conquest were ripped open afresh on Monday when Mexico’s president urged Spain and the Vatican to apologize for their “abuses” — a request Madrid said it “firmly rejects.”
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist, reopened the debate over Spain’s centuries of dominance in the New World with a video posted to social media, urging Spanish King Felipe VI and Pope Francis to apologize for the conquest and the rights violations committed in its aftermath.
“I have sent a letter to the king of Spain and another to the pope calling for a full account of the abuses and urging them to apologize to the indigenous peoples (of Mexico) for the violations of what we now call their human rights,” Lopez Obrador, 65, said in the video, filmed at the ruins of the indigenous city of Comalcalco.
“There were massacres and oppression. The so-called conquest was waged with the sword and the cross. They built their churches on top of the (indigenous) temples,” he said.
“The time has come to reconcile. But let us ask forgiveness first.”
Spain’s reaction was swift and unequivocal.
“The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement.
“The arrival, 500 years ago, of Spaniards to present Mexican territory cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations,” it said.
“Our two brother nations have always known how to read our shared past without anger and with a constructive perspective, as free peoples with a shared history and extraordinary influence.”

Lopez Obrador took office in December after a landslide election win that represented a firm break with Mexico’s traditional political parties.
A folksy populist, he pulls no punches in going after traditional elites — but had so far cultivated cordial relations with Spain, including during a visit to Mexico City by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez earlier this year.
Lopez Obrador made the remarks during a visit to his native Tabasco state, in southern Mexico.
He was later due to visit the nearby city of Centla. On March 14, 1519, the site was the scene of one of the first battles between Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and the indigenous peoples of the land now known as Mexico.
With the help of horses, swords, guns and smallpox — all unknown in the New World at the time — Cortes led an army of less than 1,000 men to defeat the Aztec empire, the start of 300 years of Spanish rule over Mexico.