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Spain Believes Moscow Is Behind Murder Of Russian Defector: Report

22.02.2024 13:57

Spain is planning 'forceful response' if theory is confirmed, according to Spanish daily El Pais.

Spanish intelligence services believe that the Kremlin is responsible for the murder of a Russian defector on Spanish soil, El Pais reported on Thursday.

Quoting unnamed intelligence sources, the daily said Spain is preparing a "forceful response" if the theory is confirmed.

In February, a young man was gunned down in the Alicante resort town of Villajoyosa. Spanish police originally theorized it was gang-related, as he was carrying false identification.

However, this week it emerged that the corpse belonged to Maksim Kuzminov, a 28-year-old Russian helicopter pilot who made a high-profile defection from Russia to Ukraine last summer.

If the Kremlin is responsible for his death, which was celebrated in Russia, it would be the first time that Russia has been known to kill a dissident on Spanish soil.

Unlike other suspicious attacks on Russian dissidents in Europe, such as the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in the UK, Moscow is doing little to deny the attack, according to El Pais.

"This traitor and criminal became a moral corpse at the very moment when he planned his dirty and terrible crime," Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia's foreign intelligence service, told Russian media when asked about the pilot.

El Pais also reports that Russian media outlets were the first to report on Kuzminov's death, even before his identity had been confirmed.

Spanish intelligence sources told El Pais that they believed the Russian government has publicized his death to scare other soldiers from defecting.

In August, Kuzminov collaborated with the Ukraine military to fly a Russian armored combat Mi-8 helicopter to a Ukrainian airbase.

Two of the other crew members on the helicopter refused to surrender and "lost their lives upon landing," according to a documentary released by Ukraine's intelligence service. Russia later decorated the dead soldiers with military honors.

In the documentary, according to Kyiv Post, Kuzminov called the Russian invasion "a genocide of the Ukraine people," and said he "did not want to be an accomplice to Russian crimes."

In exchange for the dramatic defection, he was also offered security guarantees, new documents, and a payment.

Officially, the Spanish government is still waiting for the results of the police investigation to make any moves.

"We have to let the police do their jobs and investigate first," said government spokesperson Pilar Alegria on Tuesday when asked about the murder. -

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