April 16, 2024

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The Spanish Civil Guard confirmed the murder of Maxim Kuzminov. What is known (video)


Two Spanish Civil Guard officials familiar with the murder investigation confirmed publication The New York Times that the body found in La Villajoyosa belongs to Russian military pilot Maxim Kuzminov.

Deutsche Welle, citing the Spanish Civil Guard, tells about what the Spanish police know today. A representative of the investigation authorities explained the delay in information due to difficulties associated with the case, in particular, with establishing the identity of the murdered man, who lived in the country with Ukrainian documents “issued to a fictitious person.”

Investigation continues – what is known

Russian pilot Maxim Kuzminov, pilot of the 319th separate helicopter regiment of the Russian Army Aviation, who hijacked a Russian Mi-8 helicopter to Ukraine in 2023, killed in Spain February 13, 2024 by currently unknown persons. The information appeared in the Spanish media on the morning of February 19 and was only confirmed in the evening by the Civil Guard leading the investigation.

In September 2023, it became known that Maxim Kuzminov hijacked a Russian military helicopter Mi-8 to Ukraine from the Kursk region. He justified his action by his rejection of war – his reluctance to commit war crimes. As the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine later stated, his flight was a planned operation that had been prepared for several months.

The expert points out the ‘extremely brutal nature of the murder’

Pablo Costa, a Madrid forensic expert, in a conversation with DW, drew attention to the “extremely brutal nature of the murder” of the Russian: from 6 to 12 bullets were fired at him, and the already dead pilot was then driven by a car in which the killers fled with murder scenes. The expert notes that this led to the initial version put forward by the Civil Guard that the reason for the murder could have been settling scores on the part of some particularly dangerous criminal groups.

He recalled that the incident occurred on the east coast of Spain, in the seaside city of the province of Alicante, where many Russians and Ukrainians live. Kuzminov’s body was found at the exit of the underground garage of a residential complex in the Bukhta microdistrict. It is assumed that the killers – there were two of them – were waiting for him in the garage, where the first shots were heard. Kuzminov tried, but failed, to escape.

According to DW’s interlocutor, the murder was committed by ‘professionals’. To cover up the crime, they burned the getaway car 20 kilometers from Villajoyosa, in the village of Campello. The white SUV, according to investigators, belonged to Kuzminov. While tracking the victim, the criminals carefully avoided video cameras on the streets of Villajoyosa and any visual contact with the local population.

The expert notes that there were few people in the residential complex where the murder took place – the apartments were mainly used by the owners only for summer vacations. One of the few residents told investigators that he knew nothing about his Russian neighbor – he had seen him only a few times shortly before the murder and mistook him for a worker renovating apartments in the complex.

“A quiet and non-conflict person”

A representative of the investigation told a DW correspondent that he had no information about Kuzminov’s allegedly inappropriate behavior in Spain. On the contrary, he is seen as a ”quiet and non-conflict person”. The fact that the pilot was allegedly a brawler, abused drugs and alcohol, and pestered his Spanish neighbors describing the details of his desertion was reported in recent days by some Russian publications.

Spanish law enforcement officers also did not find any traces of the Ukrainian special services, which, according to the same publications, were allegedly involved in the death of the pilot. It is only known that Kyiv offered Kuzminov to stay in Ukraine, where, as Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Alexey Danilov said, he “would definitely be protected.”

Criminologist Pablo Costa expressed regret that, having arrived in Spain, Kuzminov did not seek political asylum and for help from the country’s law enforcement agencies capable of ensuring his safety. This fact not only helped the killers deal with him, but also complicates the investigation, the expert believes. Regarding the Ukrainian passport issued in someone else’s name and surname, which the Russian had, it, according to Costa, was most likely issued by the Ukrainian authorities at the request of the murdered man himself.

Reactions in Spain: “An act of state terrorism”

The murder of the Russian pilot, which was reported by almost all Spanish publications, caused a negative reaction from the public. Judging by the responses of several political scientists interviewed by DW, by the statements of Spaniards on social networks and in comments to information in the media, there is little doubt that Russian special services are behind the murder.

Political scientist professor Alejandro Gomez believes that the liquidation of Kuzminov can be characterized as an “act of state terrorism,” and if “the involvement of Russian intelligence services is proven, then this could have a sad effect on further Spanish-Russian relations.” He recalled that similar liquidations or attempted reprisals against Russians declared “enemies” have repeatedly taken place in recent years both in Russia itself and abroad.

The version of many Spaniards that Kuzminov was eliminated by the Russian special services is supported by local media references to threats against him made in Russia, in particular in October 2023 on the Rossiya 1 TV channel. Then a story was released about Kuzminov, where people who introduced themselves as special forces soldiers of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (formerly GRU) said that he “would not live to see the trial.”

Concerns of the Russian diaspora

Kuzminov’s death caused concern among representatives of the Russian diasporawho have received political asylum in Spain as persons persecuted in their homeland. The Español newspaper published an interview with Nikita Chibrin, who refused to participate in the war against Ukraine back in 2022 and deserted from the Russian army. Chibrin, who works in a restaurant on the Atlantic coast of Spain, told the publication that he fears for his life, despite the fact that he is under the protection of the Spanish authorities.



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