In Slaying of Russian Defector, a Brutally 'Clear Message'

Maksim Kuzminov was shot to death in Spain earlier this year, with the Kremlin suspected
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2024 10:00 AM CDT
Russian Defector's 'Grave Mistake': Calling an Ex
In this photo taken Sept. 5, Russian defector Maksim Kuzminov attends a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine.   (AP Photo/Vladyslav Musiienko)

The New York Times has followed up on the high-profile murder of a Russian helicopter pilot who defected to Ukraine, finding that the slaying of Maksim Kuzminov has renewed fears that the Kremlin's overseas hit teams are alive and well. Among the points:

  • The two men who killed him in Spain were "clearly professionals," per the story. As captured in surveillance video, they waited for several hours in a parking garage, shot Kuzminov six times when he appeared, ran over his body, and fled. They remain at large.

  • The gunmen left behind what investigators see as an "important clue," per the Times: "shell casings from 9-millimeter Makarov rounds, a standard ammunition of the former Communist bloc." As one investigator in Spain puts it: "It was a clear message. I will find you, I will kill you, I will run you over and humiliate you."
  • Kuzminov's big mistake was apparently choosing to live an "indiscreet life" after his defection. He chose not to fight with Ukraine but to move to Spain near the ocean, where he was quickly spending the money he'd received for his defection. He also reached out to an old girlfriend to visit him. "Grave mistake," says a Ukrainian official.
Read the full story. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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