20 Feb, 2024 @ 12:01
1 min read

Kremlin brands Maxim Kuzminov, the Russian pilot shot dead in Spain, a ‘criminal traitor’ 

THE Russian pilot Maxim Kuzminov who was found shot dead last week in Villajoyosa in Spain’s Alicante province has been branded a ‘criminal traitor’ by the Kremlin. Sergey Naryshkin, the director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service also described the 28-year-old as a ‘moral corpse’. 

“This traitor and criminal became a moral corpse the moment he planned his dirty and terrible crime,” said Naryshkin via the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

“In Russia it is often said that you either speak well about the dead or you don’t speak at all,” the spy chief added. 

Foreign news reports claimed on Monday that a body found shot dead six times in a parking garage in an apartment building on February 13 was that of Kuzminov. While the Spanish authorities did not officially confirm this claim, sources close to the ongoing investigation into the death told news agency Efe yesterday that the victim was indeed the Russian national.

Officially, the Guardia Civil would only confirm that it was trying to determine the identity of the man found dead last week. He was reported as being 33 years old and a Ukrainian national but the authorities explained yesterday that he had been carrying a fake ID.

Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence service confirmed on Monday that the pilot had died in Spain, but did not give any further information. 

Media reports suggest that the pilot was also run over by the assassins’ car. A burnt-out vehicle was located nearby after the shooting, and is thought to have been linked to the assassins. 

Captain Kuzminov defected from Russia’s armed forces last August in a combat helicopter, and handed himself over to the Ukrainian authorities. Two crew members in his aircraft were unaware of his plans to defect, and were shot and killed when they tried to escape Ukrainian forces.  

Kuzminov’s actions were championed by the Ukrainian government for propaganda purposes given the ongoing war against Russia after it invaded Ukraine in early 2022. 

According to the Kyiv Post, Kuzminov said his motive for helping Ukraine was his opposition to the Russian invasion, adding that he didn’t want to be a part of it.

After the defection, special forces officers from the Russian Intelligence Service appeared on state television making clear that an ‘order’ had been given for the assassination of Kuzminov. 

Read more:

Russian pilot, 28, who defected to Ukraine is named as the victim of a gangland-style assassination

Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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