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Soviet Spymaster Yuri Drozdov Dies at 91

Russian military Mi-35 helicopter takes off from the building of the Federal Security Service (FSB, Soviet KGB successor) in Lubyanskaya Square in Moscow, Russia.

Russia's foreign intelligence agency says that Yuri Drozdov, the Soviet spymaster who oversaw a sprawling network of KGB agents abroad, has died. He was 91.

The Foreign Intelligence Service, a KGB successor agency known under its Russian acronym SVR, said Drozdov died Wednesday. It didn't give the cause of his death or any other specifics.

In 1979, Drozdov came to head a KGB department overseeing a network of undercover agents abroad, the job he held until resigning in 1991. The agents who lived abroad under false identity were called ``illegals'' and considered the elite of Soviet intelligence.

In December 1979, Drozdov led an operation to storm the palace of Afghan President Hafizullah Amin that paved the way to Soviet invasion.

Drozdov also founded the KGB's Vympel special forces unit.