Russia’s Security Chief Celebrates the Murder of Russian Defector in Spain

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
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Russia’s security chief and former president has wasted no time in trash-talking a Russian pilot who was found murdered in Spain last week after he defected to Ukraine and publicly condemned Moscow’s war against the country.

Asked by reporters on Thursday to comment on the death of Maksim Kuzminov, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of the Security Council, switched on his best tough-guy voice and replied: “For a dog, a dog’s death.”

Asked who was responsible for Kuzminov’s murder, Medvedev declined to comment, saying he’d already said everything he wanted to say. His comments come after Sergei Naryshkin, Vladimir Putin’s spy chief, blasted Kuzminov as a “traitor” and “criminal” earlier this week, saying the slain military pilot had been a “moral corpse” ever since he decided to switch his allegiance to Ukraine and defect with a high-profile helicopter hijacking that humiliated the Kremlin.

In the wake of his shocking defection last September, Kuzminov famously revealed that he’d duped his own crew members to fly their Mi-8 chopper into Ukraine and switch sides, saying “nobody could put up any resistance” because he was the only one who knew how to fly the helicopter. He admitted that his two crew members had apparently been “liquidated” by Ukrainian forces after they refused to surrender, a fact that Ukrainian intelligence later confirmed.

Kuzminov went on to publicly urge other Russian troops to defect so as to not “enable” the Kremlin’s war crimes. After disappearing from public view for several months, he suddenly turned up dead in the Spanish beach town of Villajoyosa last week. Spanish media first broke the news that he’d been murdered, and Ukrainian military intelligence later confirmed it.

Law enforcement sources were quoted by Spanish media earlier this week describing Kuzminov’s killers as a “group of professionals,” though a new report out Wednesday from the Levante-EMV newspaper noted that the killers appeared to deliberately leave behind shell casings that showed the ammunition used was Russian-made.

Kremlin propagandists and pro-war military bloggers have already begun circulating unfounded claims that Ukraine was behind Kuzminov’s murder, seizing on a report from a local Spanish news outlet that the pilot had been using a fake identity provided by Ukrainian authorities to conceal his whereabouts.

In a telling sign, however, Russia’s state-run media on Thursday published a piece about the “traitor” Kuzminov serving as an “example” to others, helpfully reminding readers that masked special forces troops for Russian military intelligence literally went on state TV last October to report they’d already been given orders to assassinate Kuzminov.

“Of course we’ll find him. We can reach anyone, we have long arms,” one of the troops said, adding that it was just “a matter of time.”

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