Russian Defector Who Fled to Ukraine Shot Dead

( – Ukrainian media reports that the body of a pilot who made headlines last year by defecting to Ukraine with his Cold War-era helicopter was discovered in a parking garage in Villajoyosa, Alicante, Spain. The man, identified as Captain Maksim Kuzminov, was reportedly shot and run over by his attackers.

Although the Spanish authorities hadn’t confirmed Kuzminov’s identity as of this writing, Ukrainian sources – Pravda, citing the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, have corroborated the reports. They suggest he relocated to Spain after defecting, possibly using reward money from the Ukrainian government.

According to reports from Spanish newspaper El Pais, Kuzminov’s body bore multiple gunshot wounds and showed evidence of being run over by his assailants. Additionally, a burnt-out getaway car was found at the scene, indicating a targeted attack. Kuzminov was reportedly using false identification, hinting at concerns for his safety due to previous threats on his life. The neighborhood where he resided in Alicante was known to have a significant population of Ukrainian and Russian expatriates.

The Russian government had previously labeled Kuzminov a “traitor” and had allegedly ordered his “liquidation” following his defection. In response to his reported death, Russian authorities have condemned his actions and suggested the possibility that Ukraine itself may have been involved in his killing.

Kuzminov’s decision to defect was motivated, according to his statements last year, by his opposition to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, which he characterized as genocide. He expressed a desire to stand against the atrocities that he witnessed. Tragically, two members of his crew were also killed during the defection attempt, unaware of Kuzminov’s plans, as they attempted to flee back to the Russian border after landing in Ukrainian territory.

While Kuzminov’s case stands out as one of the most high-profile instances of military desertion during the Ukraine conflict, it reflects a broader concern for Russia, which has reportedly taken measures to prevent similar defections. Reports indicate that Russian officials and state employees have been subject to passport confiscation to deter them from leaving the country indefinitely, either through coercion or by choice, under the pretext of safeguarding sensitive information.

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