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Media reveals details of murder of Russian pilot who cooperated with Ukraine

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The VilaWeb Catalan media outlet does not exclude that Russian secret services were involved in the murder of Russian pilot Maxim Kuzminov, who handed a helicopter over to Ukraine, in the Spanish municipality Vila Joiosa. El Espanol also wrote that he was killed by professionals.

Source: VilaWeb; El Espanol

Details: The court ruled that the proceeding must be classified, and “as the hours pass, Russia’s involvement in the crime seems more likely”.

VilaWeb states that it has not been officially confirmed that it was Kuzminov who was murdered in Vila Joiosa, but Director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin claimed that “this traitor and criminal became morally dead when he was planning his dirty and terrible crime.”

The spokesperson for the Civil Guard command in Alacant, who has taken over the investigation, said: “We don’t have data, we can’t confirm or deny anything, not even how many bullet impacts the corpse had. We tell this to all media outlets.”

The spokesperson for the Spanish government invoked the secrecy of the investigation and dodged the question of whether this murder was an execution committed by Russia.

Vila Joiosa is a municipality with a population of about 35,000 residents and the capital of the Marina Baixa region. The latest reports indicate that 1,200 Russian citizens and 800 Ukrainians are registered there.

La Cala, the place where the Russian pilot was murdered, is a residential and tourist neighbourhood. It is about five minutes by car from the town centre towards Finestrat. The apartment complex in which Kuzminov was murdered is on Marinada Street and consists of five towers with 40 apartments each, common services, gardens, swimming pools, and underground garages. It is therefore an area that guarantees a certain level of security and anonymity.

The building model is not similar, for example, to that of Altea, a few kilometres away, where there has been a colony of Russian citizens with high purchasing power, mainly oligarchs, for a few years.

VilaWeb notes that all these municipalities on the Costa Blanca are connected, so it cannot be ruled out that Maxim Kuzminov, whose image was widely disseminated when he deserted, was recognised by Russians residing there.

The pilot, 28, defected to Ukraine in August 2023 with the combat helicopter he was operating and various strategic documentation. The two soldiers accompanying him were killed in the operation.

This was a high-profile case since it was planned jointly with the Ukrainian army, which, according to Russian propagandists, paid US$500 000 to Kuzminov and supplied him with false documents stating that he was 33 years old.

Kuzminov took refuge in Ukraine for a few months but, in December 2023, moved to the La Cala urbanisation in Vila, where he was found dead on Tuesday, 13 February.

He had at least five gunshot wounds and was shot in the second basement of an apartment block garage. He tried to flee but fell dead on the ramp leading to the first basement.

A gardener working on the premises did not hear any shots, so investigators suspect they were silenced.

The estate agency’s surveillance cameras recorded the entry and exit of the murderers’ car. The car was found burnt in the Solana ravine, between Vila and Campello.

According to El Espanol, Kuzminov was killed by a “professional group” that had been monitoring his life in Alacant and all the surveillance cameras.

From the beginning, the Civil Guard investigated the incident in Vila Joiosa as a score-settling incident, as Kuzminov was shot half a dozen times on the garage ramp of the residential area, and later the car in which the killers fled ran over the body. Shortly afterwards, the car was found burnt a few kilometres from the crime scene in the town of El Campello.

Although the documents found on the dead man in Vila Joiosa allegedly belonged to a 33-year-old Ukrainian citizen, sources in the police and Ukrainian military intelligence confirmed that it was Russian pilot Kuzminov, who deserted last summer. His identity was confirmed by fingerprints, and his documents were fake.

Earlier, a source in the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine told Ukrainska Pravda that Maxim Kuzminov decided to leave and live in Spain instead of staying in Ukraine, which would have guaranteed him protection.

Maxim’s friends say that he was “afraid of dying in the war” and wanted to resign from the army before the war in Ukraine began, but “he was not allowed to”. In addition, the pilot was afraid of being captured in Ukraine.

In Russia, a case of “high treason” was opened against Kuzminov, and the relatives of his two dead brothers-in-arms demanded that he pay with his life for what he had done.

Background:

  • On 23 August 2023, it was revealed that a Mi-8 helicopter of the Russian Armed Forces ended up in Ukraine as a result of a long-term special operation of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. 28-year-old Maxim Kuzminov was the pilot. He received a US$500,000 reward in the UAH equivalent.

  • On 19 February 2024, Defence Intelligence of Ukraine confirmed that Maxim Kuzminov had been found dead in Spain.

  • Director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin stated that Russian pilot Maxim Kuzminov, who was found dead in Spain, was already “morally dead when he was planning his dirty and terrible crime.”

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