How Russian defector pilot ‘was handed new identity’ before being gunned down by ‘Putin hit-squad’ near Benidorm

How Russian defector pilot ‘was handed new identity’ before being gunned down by ‘Putin hit-squad’ near Benidorm

THE RUSSIAN defector thought to be murdered by a Kremlin hit squad in Spain had been living under the secret identity of a Ukrainian man.

Cops think the pilot, dubbed a traitor and found “riddled” with Russian bullets, was taken out by trained killers who have fled the country.

East2WestRussian defector Maxim Kuzminov, thought to be murdered by a Kremlin hit squad[/caption]

The passport Ukraine allegedly gave Kuzminov – enabling him to live as Igor Schevchenko in Spain

Maxim Kuzminov fled Russia in a stolen chopper last year and was living in Spain under the name of Igor Schevchenko – an identity thought to be given to him by Ukraine.

The 28-year-old’s body was found in an underground parking garage near Benidorm on February 13 – sparking confusion for investigators about his true identity.

He was shot six times with Russian-made bullets and run over, with Spanish intelligence services all but confirming their assassination theory, El Pais reported.

Kuzminov stole a £15million armoured Russian chopper in August and flew it to a military airbase in Kharkiv – apparently with a promise of £400,000 for the valuable kit.

Ukrainian authorities are thought to have also thrown in a convincing passport which shows Kuzminov’s face under the name Igor Schevchenko, El Periodico reports.

It was issued just weeks after he defected from Russia – on September 22 and listed his place of birth as Donetsk in 1990, making him five years older.

Moscow raged that the chopper pilot was a “traitor to the motherland” and state TV reports openly broadcast the planned hit.

Today Putin’s lap dog Dmitry Medvedev said “A dog dies a dog’s death”, when asked about Kuzminov’s alleged murder.

Informacion said sources close to the investigation thinks the Russian ammunition was used to make it cruelly clear that he had been executed on Kremlin orders as punishment.

And on Wednesday Russia’s foreign intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin claimed Kuzminov became a “moral corpse” as soon as he planned his trip to Ukraine.

He raged: “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.”

Cops also think the “professionals” who killed him watched his daily routine closely and had cameras installed in the garage where he was murdered, El Espanol reported.

Ukrainian military intelligence confirmed reports that Kuzimov had defected there with a Russian chopper – and that they hoped he could persuade other pilots to follow his lead.

The brave pilot had dubbed Putin’s brutal war in Ukraine a “genocide of the Ukrainian people, both Ukrainian and Russian”.

And warped Russian state media hit back with claims that he had shot and killed two members of crew onboard the chopper before landing in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s spy chief Kyrylo Budanov said they were killed trying to escape after landing.

Russian special forces officers were also seen on state TV broadcasts giving grim reports about orders to kill him.

“The order (to kill Captain Kuzminov) was received, its execution is a matter of time,” one warned.

And another said:  “He will not live until the court hearings. We cannot let this go. We’ll punish him no matter what.”

While Spanish officials are still pushing for fingerprints, DNA or dental records to officially confirm his identity, they have promised a “strong response” to Russia if the assassination theory is upheld.

It is not yet clear whether Spanish intelligence and government officials knew the defector had entered the country.

A getaway car used by the killers was stolen from a nearby Spanish province after the murder and was later set on fire as cops pursue theories that the hit squad have already fled.

Government spokesperson Pilar Alegria said on Tuesday: “We must let the Civil Guard do their job and the investigation progress”.

Russian tyrant Putin has a long and well documented history of having “traitors” killed, even on foreign soil.

And state media reported on Kuzminov’s death immediately, describing problems with alcohol and drugs and calling him an “uncomfortable and dangerous witness”.

Defected Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was murdered in the UK in 2006 with plutonium and in 2018 double agent Sergei Skripal was almost taken out in a Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok hit.

The unsettling news of Kuzminov’s death came just days after Putin’s number one enemy Alexei Navalny was reportedly murdered with a KGB-style punch to the heart.

ReutersUkraine intelligence officers inspect the Russian chopper which they say was stolen by Maxim Kuzminov[/caption]

ReutersSpanish Civil Guard officers investigate the garage Kuzminov’s bullet-riddled body was found[/caption]

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