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Revealed: Hero pilot who defected to Ukraine may have given away location in phone call inviting an ex to Alicante before he was gunned down near Benidorm ‘by same Kremlin hit squad that slayed Russian family in Spain’


The defecting Russian military helicopter pilot violently gunned down in Spain earlier this week may have given away his location to hitmen with a phonecall inviting his ex-girlfriend to visit him in Alicante, it has been revealed. 

Captain Maksim Kuzminov was found riddled with bullets in an underground car park in Villajoyosa near Alicante earlier this month following what is widely believed to have been a Kremlin-orchestrated hit. 

The 28-year-old had made himself a target of Russian death squads by fleeing his homeland last August in a stolen Mi-8 helicopter and landing it in a Ukrainian military airfield. 

Living under a new identity in Spain – and enriched by the Ukrainians after his defection – he had set about building a new life for himself free from the horrors of war.

But he is believed to have made a fatal mistake in contacting a former flame and inviting her to his new address. 

‘We know he had invited an ex-girlfriend to Spain and afterwards he was found dead. That call could have been intercepted by Russian secret services,’ Spanish media reported.

Meanwhile, sources close to the investigation claimed Russian ammunition was used in the attack to signal to other deserters the reach and murderous intention of the Kremlin’s security apparatus. 

Maksim Kuzminov who flew his helicopter over the frontline to defect to Ukraine has been gunned to death in Spain while living under a new identity

Maksim Kuzminov who flew his helicopter over the frontline to defect to Ukraine has been gunned to death in Spain while living under a new identity

Spanish Civil Guard officers investigate the garage where the body of Russian pilot Kuzminov

Spanish Civil Guard officers investigate the garage where the body of Russian pilot Kuzminov

A burned car allegedly used by the perpetrators of the murder of the Russian pilot Maksim Kuzminov to escape the scene is parked outside the Spanish Civil Guard barracks, in El Campello, Spain

A burned car allegedly used by the perpetrators of the murder of the Russian pilot Maksim Kuzminov to escape the scene is parked outside the Spanish Civil Guard barracks, in El Campello, Spain

Captain Kuzminov, 28, (pictured) fled Russia with the help of Ukrainian intelligence services

Captain Kuzminov, 28, (pictured) fled Russia with the help of Ukrainian intelligence services

Anonymous Spetsnaz special forces officers from Russia's GRU were last year shown on Moscow state TV making clear an 'order' had been given to liquidate Kuzminov

Anonymous Spetsnaz special forces officers from Russia’s GRU were last year shown on Moscow state TV making clear an ‘order’ had been given to liquidate Kuzminov

Respected Alicante paper Informacion reported today: ‘Although the exact calibre or brand has not been revealed, the fact that the ammunition is Russian-made confirms the suspicion that the dead man is not the 33-year-old Ukrainian man that the documentation he was carrying said, but 28-year-old Captain Kuzminov.

‘Sources close to the investigation consider the assassins used Russian ammunition so there would be no doubt the execution, with its exemplary overtones, came from Russia and was the direct and announced consequence of the high-profile desertion.’

Kuzminov was shot six times on February 13 after being chased from the second floor of a basement car park underneath a large residential estate in Villajoyosa near Benidorm.

A car linked to the crime and thought to have been driven by a getaway driver working with the gunman was later found burnt out in nearby El Campello.

Spanish investigators are working on the theory the assassins were hired hitmen who have likely since left the country.

They are analysing CCTV footage and are expected to officially confirm Kuzminov was the victim when they have the results of fingerprint and DNA tests and have submitted a full report to an investigating judge.

Although it was initially reported Kuzminov was working at the residential estate where he was shot dead, it later emerged he had been staying at a flat he was doing up. 

He was operating under an alias that saw him assume the profile of a 33-year-old Ukrainian man and had used his new wealth – rumoured to be £400,000 – to buy property at an estate agency with Russian links.

This, along with the ill-advised call to his ex-girlfriend, is thought to have alerted Russian security services to his whereabouts. 

Last year, anonymous Spetsnaz special forces officers from Russia’s GRU military intelligence service were shown on Russian state TV making clear an ‘order’ had been given to liquidate Kuzminov.

State-run Rossiya 1 channel’s Vesti Nedeli channel told viewers in a chilling broadcast: ‘The order [to kill Captain Kuzminov] was received, its execution is a matter of time.’

One Spetsnaz officer said: ‘We’ll find the man and punish him for betraying his brothers to the fullest extent of our country’s law.’

A second officer said simply: ‘ He will not live…’

It comes as independent Telegram channel Volya – which monitors both sides in the war – drew a link between the case of the slain pilot and the murky circumstances surrounding the demise of multimillionaire Sergey Protosenya, 55.

The former oligarch, a deputy chairman of Russian gas company Novatek, was found hanged in spring 2022 after allegedly murdering his wife Natalia, 53, and their teenage daughter, Maria, as they slept in a Catalan resort town. 

But the gruesome crime scene smacked of a setup, and Protosenya is just one of dozens of Russian energy oligarchs to have met a sticky end since the war in Ukraine broke out. 

Pictured: Ukraine intelligence officers inspect a Russian helicopter which they say was handed over to Ukraine by Russian pilot Maksim Kuzminov

Pictured: Ukraine intelligence officers inspect a Russian helicopter which they say was handed over to Ukraine by Russian pilot Maksim Kuzminov

Spanish Civil Guard officers stand outside the garage where the body of the Russian pilot Maksim Kuzminov was found after he was shot dead

Spanish Civil Guard officers stand outside the garage where the body of the Russian pilot Maksim Kuzminov was found after he was shot dead

Spanish detectives have launched a probe into the pilot's death. Pictured: Spanish Civil Guard officers at the garage where Kuzminov's body was found

Spanish detectives have launched a probe into the pilot’s death. Pictured: Spanish Civil Guard officers at the garage where Kuzminov’s body was found

Russian gas tycoon Sergei Protosenya, his wife Natalya, 53, and teenage daughter Maria were found dead in their Spanish mansion, in Lloret de Mar, on April 19, 2022

Russian gas tycoon Sergei Protosenya, his wife Natalya, 53, and teenage daughter Maria were found dead in their Spanish mansion, in Lloret de Mar, on April 19, 2022

Former oligarch Protosenya, a deputy chairman of Russian gas company Novatek, was found hanged in spring 2022

Former oligarch Protosenya, a deputy chairman of Russian gas company Novatek, was found hanged in spring 2022

Volya claims both the Russian secret services and long established mafia clans are active in Spain, giving the Russian state a terrifying reach. 

‘The Russians have been living in Alicante, Altea, Benidorm and neighbouring small towns for two years now [since the start of the war], providing security for cargo and ships, security of cash used for settlements, and escort of ‘export-import’ specialists coming from the Russian Federation, some of whom wear FSB shoulder straps, and some [GRU military intelligence],’ said the Volya report.

‘Among these people there are professional killers or saboteurs. It was they who killed the former top manager of Novatek Sergei Protosenya in the spring of 2022 in Lloret de Mar.

‘The murder of Protosenya was associated with the purge of personnel who knew a lot about the withdrawal of money to the EU and its legalisation there.

‘They tried to cover up that death as an alleged domestic murder… But they did not disguise themselves with Kuzminov,’ reported Volya.

‘They promised to punish him – they punished.’

It warned: ‘While European politicians are expressing concern about Navalny’s murder, Russian assassins and intelligence agencies are active and, unfortunately, successfully operating throughout Europe and other parts of the world.’



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