Death of a traitor to the Kremlin. The Russian pilot who defected was shot dead in the garage and run over

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Former Russian pilot Maxim Kuzminov, who defected to protest the invasion of Ukraine and brought secret documents to Kiev, was killed to send a clear message: I will find you and kill you. This was stated by representatives of the Spanish police, which is investigating Kuzmin’s murder. Over the weekend, the New York Times published details about the murder of Kuzminov on February 13 this year in the Spanish province of Alicante. At least six bullets were fired at Kuzminov, who was kidnapped by a Russian military helicopter in 2023, in the garages. 9mm cartridges from a Makarov pistol were found at the scene of the murder. The Russian state agency TASS also paid attention to the report.

Ukrainian media, citing secret service sources, reported last August that military intelligence forced Kuzminov to fly to Ukraine with the latest version of the Mi-8AMTSh military transport helicopter. This happened during a special operation that reportedly lasted more than half a year.

In a statement released to the Ukrainian military intelligence (HUR), the pilot stated that his motive was opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to him, in exchange for defection, he was offered security guarantees, including new documents. At the time, Ukrainian intelligence also announced that the pilot would receive half a million dollars (11.3 million crowns) for his act. However, his body was found in Spain this February. The killer shot the man six times and then ran him over with a car.

According to investigators, they also left behind an important clue: a cartridge from a 9mm Makarov pistol, which is a standard Soviet weapon. “It was a clear message. I will find you, kill you, run you over and humiliate you,” said a senior representative of the Spanish police (Guardia Civil).

His killing in the seaside resort of Villajoyosa, according to the New York Times, has raised concerns among authorities that Russian European spy networks are still operating and increasingly targeting Kremlin enemies, despite allied efforts to eliminate them after Putin invaded Ukraine in 2022 .

According to Andrei Soldatov, an expert on the Russian military and security services, the country’s intelligence services began to operate with an aggressiveness reminiscent of the Stalin era. “This is no longer ordinary espionage. These are military operations – and these operations can also include assassinations,” Soldatov said. The truth, however, according to the NYT, is that Kuzminov lived a very “indiscreet life” in Spain. He went to bars popular with Russian and Ukrainian clientele, where he spent the money he received from the Ukrainian state, after Villajoyosa he drove in a black Mercedes S-class.

Senior police officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the killing bore the hallmarks of similar Kremlin-linked attacks, including the 2019 killing of a former Chechen rebel commander in Berlin and the 2018 Novichok poisoning of former Russian military intelligence agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England However, Skripal survived this attack.

“Here in Spain, it’s not common for someone to be shot with a lot of ammunition. These are indications that point to organized crime, to a criminal organization, to professionals,” said Chief Pepe Álvarez of the Villajoyosa Police Department.

Although no evidence of direct Kremlin involvement has emerged, Russia has made no secret of its desire to see Kuzmin dead. A few weeks after his defection, a segment appeared on the Kremlin’s traditional Sunday evening news program in which fellow pilots and members of Russian military intelligence commandos were quoted as vowing revenge.

“We will find that man and punish him with all the severity of the laws of our land for treason and for betraying his brothers. Eventually we will find everyone, we have long fingers,” said one of the commandos, who was not identified.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Death traitor Kremlin Russian pilot defected shot dead garage run

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