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20 Feb, 2024 15:02

Russian spy chief comments on death of defector pilot in Spain

The serviceman became a “moral corpse” the moment he betrayed his country, the Russian foreign intelligence boss said
Russian spy chief comments on death of defector pilot in Spain

A Russian military helicopter pilot, who was reportedly killed in Spain last week having defected to Ukraine six months previously, was a “traitor” who committed a “heinous crime,” Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service chief Sergey Naryshkin has said.

Maksim Kuzminov hijacked a Mi-8 helicopter last August and flew it to Ukraine. After landing, his two fellow crew members were killed in unclear circumstances – with Ukrainian intelligence stating that they had been “liquidated.”

Asked to comment on the reported death of the defector, Naryshkin did not give any view on the incident in Spain, only condemning Kuzminov’s actions.

“As is customary in Russia, one says only good things or nothing about the deceased. This traitor and criminal had already become a moral corpse from the moment when he plotted his dirty and heinous crime,” Naryshkin told reporters.

Kuzminov’s death was reported by multiple media outlets on Monday and swiftly confirmed by Ukrainian military intelligence. The pilot was fatally shot in the Spanish coastal town of Villajoyosa last week, Spanish news agency EFE reported, citing people close to the investigation.

The Villajoyosa shooting has been widely covered by Spanish media, with the victim originally identified as a 33-year-old Ukrainian national. He reportedly received multiple gunshot wounds and was run over by a car. The vehicle believed to have been used in the hit was later on found torched, at some distance from the crime scene.

The 28-year-old is rumoured to have been granted Ukrainian citizenship, and it is unclear whether he was living in Spain under an assumed name. So far, the Spanish authorities have not officially confirmed the identity of the individual killed in Villajoyosa.

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