The Defense Ministry said Thursday in a statement that Korobov, who led the GRU since 2016, died Wednesday of “a lengthy and grave illness,” a usual Russian euphemism for cancer. His predecessor had died two years earlier, at 58.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu offered condolences to Korobov’s family but did not immediately name his successor.
The United States and its allies have accused the GRU of hacking the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, orchestrating the March nerve agent attack on a Russian ex-spy in Britain, and disrupting anti-doping efforts in world sports. Russian authorities have rejected the accusations, calling them part of a Western smear campaign.
This has been a tough year for the GRU, which has faced a series of exposures that revealed its inner workings.
In September, British intelligence released surveillance images of GRU agents accused of the nerve agent attack on former GRU officer and British double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury. The investigative group Bellingcat and the Russian site The Insider quickly exposed the agents’ real names, and media outlets including The Associated Press were able to confirm their real identities.
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Dutch authorities also have recently identified four alleged GRU agents who tried to hack the world’s chemical weapons watchdog from a hotel parking lot.
Putin visited the GRU headquarters earlier this month to congratulate the agency on its centenary, praising the agency for its professionalism.
WATCH: Russia cracks down on data protection after leaks outed spies