The UK accused Russian Federation of attempting to poison former spy and double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent in Salisbury.
The Defense Ministry said Thursday in a statement that Igor Korobov, who led the GRU since 2016, died Wednesday of "a lengthy and grave illness", a usual Russian euphemism for cancer.
Britain and other Western powers have also accused the agency of committing cyberattacks, including attempts to influence the U.S. electoral process.
Russian Federation has denied all such accusations.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu offered condolences to Korobov's family, but did not immediately name his successor.
Britain has accused the GRU of attempting to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent in the city of Salisbury, the Netherlands has accused it of trying to hack the global chemical weapons watchdog, and USA intelligence agencies say it tried to hack the 2016 presidential election.
According to a report by Sergey Kanev published at Dossier Center in October, Korobov reportedly started feeling unwell after a severe reprimand from President Putin in mid-September, following the exposure of an apparently bungled GRU operation to assassinate Sergey Skripal in Salisbury, England.
Russian spy chief dies after 'long illness'
General Korobov, who took up the post in 2016, is said to have died after "a serious and long illness" on Wednesday. The Kremlin-backed news wire Tass said it had been told of his death by a source in the Russian Defence Ministry.
The Netherlands believes the agency has tried to hack the global chemical weapons watchdog, and US intelligence agencies said GRU was behind attempts to hack the 2016 USA presidential election.
Korobov's deputy, Vice Admiral Igor Kostyukov, 57, has been appointed as acting GRU chief.
The GRU was founded in 1918 after the Bolshevik Revolution and is one of Russia's three main intelligence agencies, alongside the domestic Federal Security Service and the SVR Foreign Intelligence Service.
Korobov took over as GRU head in 2016 following the death of his predecessor Igor Sergun.
A clean-out in the military spy agency was expected after the disastrous operations, with Korobov facing the axe, it was claimed.
The agency's structure, staff number and finances are a state secret.
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