Russian Defector Found Shot to Death in Spain

Maksim Kuzminov flew his Russian army helicopter into Ukraine last summer
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2024 2:54 PM CST
High-Profile Russian Defector Is Murdered in Spain
In this photo taken Sept. 5, 2023, Russian defector Maksim Kuzminov attends a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine.   (AP Photo/Vladyslav Musiienko)

A Russian soldier who defected to Ukraine in a dramatic fashion last summer has been murdered in Spain, reports the BBC. Authorities there identified a bullet-ridden body found in the port city of Alicante as that of Maksim Kuzminov, per the AP. In August, Kuzminov flew his Russian military helicopter into Ukrainian territory and turned himself in, saying he opposed Vladimir Putin's invasion. Kuzminov then decided to leave Ukraine for Spain and may have been living under a new identity. He was shot multiple times and run over by a car, say police.

After Kuzminov defected, a Russian television station aired an ominous threat, notes the Washington Post. "We will find the man and punish him to the full extent of the law of our state for treason," said one of three masked men identified as members of Russia's military intelligence. "We have long arms." Another added that Kuzminov "will not live to see the trial." On Tuesday, the head of Russia's foreign intelligence service did not take responsibility for the murder but suggested it was justified.

"This traitor and criminal already became a moral corpse at the moment when he was planning his dirty and terrible crime," said Sergei Naryshkin. Ukraine officials said they had offered Kuzminov protection to remain in Ukraine, but he apparently thought he was safer elsewhere. "What we know is that he invited his ex-spouse to join him and then he was found shot to death," said a spokesperson for Ukraine intelligence. (His death comes on the heels of that of Alexei Navalny.)

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