Traitor Russian pilot was living under ‘protection plan’ in Spain – Zelensky aide

Aprilia Rine

Traitor Russian pilot was living under ‘protection plan’ in Spain – Zelensky aide

Madrid must investigate how Maksim Kuzminov’s killers managed to reach him, Mikhail Podoliak told El Mundo

Russian helicopter pilot Maksim Kuzminov was given a “protection plan” by the Spanish government after he defected to Ukraine, Mikhail Podoliak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, has claimed. Kuzminov was shot dead earlier this month.

Kuzminov hijacked an Mi-8 cargo helicopter last August and flew it to Ukraine, reportedly taking a $500,000 reward from Kiev and dooming the craft’s two other crew members to being “liquidated.” From there, he was moved to Spain, where he lived in the resort town of Villajoyosa until his body was found riddled with bullets and run over by a car on February 13.

“If a pilot who enjoys a protection plan has to avoid contacts, change his life to stay alive, and this still happens to him, Spain has to investigate,” Podoliak told El Mundo newspaper in an interview published on Monday. “This in-depth investigation has to demonstrate who should pay for that crime that Russia carried out on Spanish soil.” 

Podoliak did not reveal any further details about the alleged protection plan, stating that Ukraine’s military intelligence agency would be better placed to comment.

The Spanish government is investigating Kuzminov’s death, and has not commented on whether the Russian traitor was placed under any kind of police or military protection. According to a report last week by El Pais, Kuzminov was given a false identity by Spanish authorities, but was not offered protection.

Podoliak hinted to El Mundo that “the Russian mafia” may have played a role in the killing, claiming that Russian organized crime groups are “very well established in Spain.” According to El Pais, the Spanish government believes that a Russian intelligence agency was behind the hit.

Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service chief, Sergey Naryshkin, has declined to comment on the case. However, he told reporters last week that Kuzminov was a “traitor and criminal” who “had already become a moral corpse from the moment when he plotted his dirty and heinous crime.”

Villajoyosa is home to around 1,200 Ukrainians and 800 Russians, while more than 11,000 Ukrainians and 17,457 Russians live in the wider region of Alicante, according to census data.

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