Former KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov, one of the orchestrators of the failed coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, has died aged 83.
The Federal Security Service, the FSB, said Mr Kryuchkov had died in a Moscow hospital of an unspecified illness.
Mr Kryuchkov signed the takeover decree after a group of hardline communists ousted Mr Gorbachev to try to halt his reform plans.
The coup lasted three days. The men were jailed, and then pardoned in 1994.
Mr Gorbachev appointed Mr Kryuchkov as head of the KGB in 1988.
In recent years, Mr Kryuchkov raised his public profile, publishing his memoirs and giving numerous interviews in which he accused the West of plotting against Russia.
He was frequently invited to Kremlin events by Russian President Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB official. ( BBC )