Russian pilot who defected to Ukraine found shot dead near Benidorm

He was found with a dozen gunshot wounds inside a garage.

Russian pilot who defected to Ukraine found shot dead near Benidorm
pilot dead benidorm
Maxim Kuzminov’s dead body was found shot in a garage near Benidorm (Picture: AP/Rafa Arjones/Reuters)

A Russian helicopter pilot who defected to Ukraine last year has reportedly been found dead near Benidorm in Spain.

Maxim Kuzminov’s body was found with a dozen gunshot wounds inside a garage in Villajoyosa, at 5pm, on February 13.

A burnt-out car which was believed to be involved in the shooting was found shortly afterwards in El Campello, and police are looking for two suspects.

Mr Kuzminov landed a Mi-8 helicopter in Kharkiv, Ukraine, last August, while flying between two Russian bases.

He shot dead two crew members on board who were unhappy about landing in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence said at the time it lured him into defecting.

Sergei Naryshkin, Russia’s foreign intelligence chief, said: ‘In Russia it is customary to speak either good of the dead or nothing at all.

‘This traitor and criminal became a moral corpse at the very moment when he planned his dirty and terrible crime.’

A burned car allegedly used by the perpetrators of the murder of the Russian pilot Maxim Kuzminov to escape the scene is parked outside the Spanish Civil Guard barracks, in El Campello, Spain, February 14, 2024. Alex Dominguez/Informacion.es/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS
A burned car allegedly used by the perpetrators of the murder of Mr Kuzminov (Picture: Reuters)
In this photo taken Sept. 5, 2023 Russian defector Maksim Kuzminov attends a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine. Spanish police say they suspect the bullet-riddled body of a man found in an eastern town is that of Russian defector Maksim Kuzminov, who flew a Russian army helicopter on his escape across the Ukrainian front lines last year. (AP Photo/Vladyslav Musiienko)
In this photo taken September 5 2023 Russian defector Mr Kuzminov attends a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine (Picture: AP)
Spanish Civil Guard officers investigate the garage where the body of Russian pilot Maxim Kuzminov was found after he was shot dead, in Villajoyosa, Spain, February 13, 2024. Rafa Arjones/Informacion.es via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY
Spanish Civil Guard officers investigate the garage where Mr Kuzminov’s body was found (Picture: Reuters)

Civil Guard Investigators are looking into the possibility Mr Kuzminov was using a fake identity in Spain.

A spokesperson said: ‘On Tuesday last week a man appeared dead in Villajoyosa with several gunshot wounds.

‘In the course of the investigation that is being carried out, it has been learned that the identity that person was using could be false and belong to another person.

‘The Civil Guard is still trying to confirm this.’

A local at the scene said they believed the man did not live at the address and may have been a labourer doing building work.

Another said the area is popular with Eastern Europeans and Russians around the five tower blocks near to where he was found.

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Mr Kuzminov’s death comes just days after Putin’s main opponent Alexei Navalny was found dead in an Arctic penal colony.

The 47-year-old was one of Vladimir Putin’s most persistent critics and was seen as the person the Russian president feared the most.

He became a thorn in the leader’s eyes in his crusade against corruption, calling him a ‘madman’, his ruling party ‘crooks and thieves’ and publishing documents showing their crimes.

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