Ukraine under fire after faking journalist's murder

Hugh Fox
June 2, 2018

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko turned up at a news conference in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday less than 24 hours after police reported he had been shot and killed at his Kiev apartment building.

The former Russian spy Sergei Skripal was poisoned in the United Kingdom where he lived after leaving Russia in a spy swap. "I have buried acquaintances, I have buried colleagues, I have buried friends, I am exhausted of burying them", he said, adding he wanted to create a new life for himself. Britain asserts that Russian Federation poisoned him, Russian Federation rejects the allegation.

Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian lawmaker who also moved to Ukraine, said Babchenko continued being threatened after he settled last fall in Kiev, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station.

His reported murder kindled a war of words between Ukraine and Russia, which have been at loggerheads since a popular revolt in Ukraine in 2014 toppled a Russian-backed government in favour of a pro-Western one.

"Once the gates of the morgue closed behind me, I was resurrected", Babchenko said, saying he had then washed off the fake blood and dressed himself in a sheet.

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Babchenko said he was anxious the entire time the operation would fall through, but was relieved after it was completed.

Ukraine's National Security Agency claims Boris German tried to hire someone to murder Arkady Babchenko.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said in a social media posting late on Tuesday he was convinced what he called "the Russian totalitarian machine" had not forgiven Mr Babchenko for what Mr Groysman called his honesty.

Asked about his next steps now, he said: "I plan to get some decent sleep, maybe get drunk, and then wake up in two or three days".

Kiev itself sought to justify the fake death that provoked an outpouring of grief and a diplomatic spat with Moscow. He claimed the Ukrainian secret service faked his death as part of a special intelligence operation to catch those plotting his assassination.

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The man charged with trying to organize the murder of the Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko announced in court on Thursday that he was acting as a Ukrainian counterintelligence agent.

"I don't care whether you believe it next time.as when I'm dead it won't matter to me anymore", said Babchenko.

RT, the Russian state-funded media outlet, quickly jumped at the chance to compare Babchenko's faked murder with the poisoning of defected Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

"Relieved that Arkadiy #Babchenko is alive!" the office of the OSCE's media representative Harlem Desir tweeted.

There are concerns about how the Babchenko saga plays into the ongoing tensions between Russian Federation and Ukraine, both over territory and control of information-and what a journalist was doing in the middle of an argument between two states.

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