Arkady Babchenko: Ukraine condemned for faking journalist's murder

Charlene Craig
June 2, 2018

Babchenko, 41, said at a news conference in Kiev that he could have refused when Ukrainian security service officials approached him with the idea for the ruse about a month ago, but readily agreed.

"Everyone who says this undermines trusts in journalists: what would you do in my place, if they came to you and said there is a hit out on you?" he said at a press conference in Kiev on Thursday.

However, he decided against fleeing Ukraine after hearing of the threat against his life, referencing the Russian former spy Sergei Skripal who was recently poisoned with a nerve agent in the UK.

"The important thing is my life has been saved and other, bigger terrorist attacks have been thwarted", he said. Britain asserts that Russian Federation poisoned him, Russian Federation rejects the allegation.

An editorial in Russian daily Vedomosti said that the Babchenko operation "blurred the border between truth and fiction", and would lead to more distrust in the media.

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His reported murder sparked a war of words between Ukraine and Russian Federation.

"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. SBU chief Vasily Gritsak said at a briefing that the reporter was safe, after which Babchenko was trotted out in front of his fellow reporters.

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

Ukraine revealed on Wednesday that it had stage-managed the fake murder of Babchenko, a critic of the Kremlin who they said had been targeted by hitmen hired by Russian Federation, to trace a trail back to Russian Federation and expose plans for his, and other, state-sponsored assassinations.

The security service declined to say who the other 29 people were but said it had detained a Ukrainian citizen recruited by Russian Federation to find someone to kill Babchenko.

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The man allegedly paid to organize Banchenko's killing was detained Wednesday, he said, showing a video of the arrest.

Ukraine on Thursday defended the action of its state security services in faking the death of a Russian dissident journalist after global criticism.

"I would like to apologise for what you have all had to go through", said Babchenko, who looked on the verge of tears. SBU claimed that Russian operatives plotted Babchenko's assassination, and that they have a suspect in custody.

Babchenko also responded to a number of British media outlets that criticized his move.

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

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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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