Man Who Defected From Russia Reportedly Found Dead

Man Who Defected From Russia Reportedly Found Dead

( – A former Russian military pilot, who defected and joined Ukraine, has reportedly been found dead in Spain. Spanish officials say Maxim Kuzminov’s body was discovered in an underground garage in Villajoyosa, near Alicante, and was riddled with bullets. The pilot had reportedly been living in Spain under a false identity.

Sergei Naryshkin, director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, said, “This traitor and criminal became a moral corpse at the very moment when he planned his dirty and terrible crime,” according to Tass news agency.

A Spanish court in Villajoyosa opened an investigation into Kuzminov’s death, and law enforcement reports suggest police did not initially realize who he was, as he was found with identity papers indicating he was a 33-year-old Ukrainian.

Mr. Kuzminov defected to Ukraine last August when he flew his helicopter across the border and surrendered to Ukrainian troops. Two co-pilots, who were with him at the time, reportedly fled on foot and were shot. Russian officials blamed their deaths on Kuzminov, but precisely who killed them remains unclear.

Shortly after the dramatic defection, Russian TV ran a documentary suggesting that Kuzminov deserved to pay the ultimate price. Contained in the documentary was testimony from a Russian intelligence operative who said his organization had received its orders and it was “only a matter of time” before these were fulfilled. He added, “I don’t think he’ll live long enough to face trial.”

Mr. Kuzminov had previously expressed dismay at his country’s decision to invade Ukraine and was accused of “betraying his brothers.” Investigations by Spanish police indicate that he died soon after contacting an ex-girlfriend and asking her to join him in Spain.

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