Russia's spy chief on Tuesday said a pilot who defected to Ukraine with a military helicopter and was reportedly shot dead in Spain last week was a "moral corpse".

Maxim Kuzminov flew his Mi-8 helicopter into Ukraine in August in a brazen operation, saying he opposed Russia's military offensive.

Reports in Spanish media said Kuzminov was found shot dead in the southern town of Villajoyosa last week, where he had moved after receiving Ukrainian citizenship for switching sides.

A spokesperson for Ukraine's main intelligence directorate later confirmed that Kuzminov had died without providing further details, Ukrainian media reported.

"This traitor and criminal became a moral corpse at the very moment when he planned his dirty and terrible crime," Russian state news agencies quoted Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia's SVR foreign intelligence service, as saying on Tuesday.


He did not confirm or deny any Russian involvement in the former pilot's death.

In October, Russian state TV reported that Russia's GRU intelligence agency had "been given the order" to eliminate Kuzminov.

"It's just a matter of time," a journalist for Russia's Perviy Kanal said in a TV report after talking to Russian special forces, who claimed to be on the hunt for the "traitor."

The Kremlin said on Tuesday it did not have any information on Kuzminov's death.

Kuzminov served in the 319th separate helicopter regiment based in Russia's Far Eastern Primorye region.

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Two fellow servicemen on the helicopter were not aware of his plans and were killed when they tried to flee after it landed in Ukraine.

Kyiv's intelligence agency said it had been planning the original mission for more than six months.

Authorities in Spain said they were investigating the death of a person found with multiple gunshot wounds last week but could not confirm their identity.

"Last Tuesday, a person was found dead with several gunshot wounds in Villajoyosa (Alicante)," a spokeswoman from Spain's interior ministry told AFP.


"In the course of the investigation, it was found that the identity that this person was using could be false. The Guardia Civil is trying to confirm his identity."

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