A senior Russian diplomat found dead in Berlin on Monday morning was a decorated WWII veteran turned Soviet ambassador, and apparently refused to undergo an autopsy even after police found his body inside his embassy’s apartment, the building’s manager said Tuesday.
Igor Ustinov was a presidential aide from the end of the 1980s through 2011, when he was appointed ambassador to Germany, the Foreign Ministry said. It was unclear when he died. The embassy has been closed since Ustinov’s body was found.
Ustinov’s girlfriend last spoke to him by phone early on Feb. 19, her brother Michael told Wuppertal daily Rheinische Post Tuesday.
A day later, he called again and told her he would be visiting his daughter in Berlin the following day.
The Russian Foreign Ministry refused to issue an official cause of death on Tuesday.
Michael Ustinov told Rheinische Post his sister believed Ustinov was not suffering from cancer and had hinted he was gay.
“Ustinov was old and old-fashioned,” Michael Ustinov said. “He would tell anyone who would listen ‘you must prove that you have AIDS so that we know.’”
The German Foreign Ministry declined to comment, though Spokesman Martin Schaefer tweeted a picture of the Russian flag in the embassy compound on Monday. “Our embassy bears a legendary label,” he said.
The Russians maintained that their diplomat was found dead of natural causes.
But the public prosecutor’s office in Berlin said Tuesday afternoon that there had been no postmortem examination in connection with the case.
A report in Welt am Sonntag said that embassy management insisted on a private service before initial results of the autopsy, which were to have been carried out at the hospital, could be revealed. The paper cited someone in the police force as saying the result of the autopsy may not be possible for a few days.
The Russian Embassy said earlier that Ustinov had been well-regarded at the embassy.
“He was extremely good and very well-regarded as a consul,” Alexander Kuznetsov, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Berlin, told The Associated Press.
The Russian government in 1990 named Ustinov honorary consul in the United States, and he then served as a close Kremlin aide to then-President Mikhail Gorbachev until his departure in the last weeks of the Soviet Union in 1991.
It was unclear if he continued to serve in his new position in Germany.