Russia Defector Found Dead, Putin Critic Killed

( – A pilot from Russia who defected to Ukraine was discovered dead in Spain this month and was described as a “moral corpse” by Russia’s director of foreign intelligence for turning his back on his country.

The Defense Intelligence of Ukraine (GUR) confirmed on Tuesday, Feb. 20, that Maxim Kuzminov had been found dead in Spain. Last August, Kuzminov flew a Mi-8 helicopter from Russia into Ukraine, defecting from his homeland. GUR did not provide a cause of death.

According to Spanish officials, Kuzminov’s body was discovered in southern Spain, near Alicante, in the town of Villajoyosa. They said his body was located on Feb. 13 in an underground garage and riddled with bullets.

One of the first Russian officials to comment on Kuzminov’s death was the director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Sergei Naryshkin, who was asked about Kuzminov after the news broke. Naryshkin told the Russian News Agency TASS that although it is customary in Russia to either speak well of the dead or not at all, the defected pilot is a “traitor and criminal” who “became a moral corpse” when he fled his native land, which Naryshkin called a “dirty and terrible crime.”

Western leaders claim the Russian government is known to assassinate individuals deemed traitors, even abroad. According to the Kremlin, such assertions aren’t supported by any evidence.

The Villajoyosa court has opened an investigation into Kuzminov’s death. Discovered on the body were documents that identified the man as 33 years old and a Ukrainian national, but the judicial source said the man’s identity is still under investigation.

When news of Kuzminov’s defection broke last year, Kyiv tried to spin the story as a coup. The pilot spoke at a press conference and said he didn’t understand why Russia, which he called his “beloved motherland,” decided to invade Ukraine. The pilot’s crew members reportedly died during his escape. Moscow accused Kuzminov of killing them, but he says they actually panicked and ran away when they realized his defection.

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