Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko faked his own death, Ukraine's security chief says

31 May, 2018, 20:30 | Author: Kristine Mills
  • Police guard the front door of the multi-storey building where Russian opposition journalist Arkady Babchenko lived in Kiev Ukraine Tuesday

In an elaborate scheme, Babchenko, a Russian exile, worked with Security Service of Ukraine in an attempt to see if Kremlin agents were looking to assassinate him - a very real for Russian journalists whose reporting undermines the government that has killed reporters in the past. "I'm sorry you had to go through this but there was no other way", he said.

According to the SBU, the Russian special services ordered the murder of Babchenko and paid an unnamed Ukrainian citizen, $40,000 to organize the murder.

Reports had earlier said that Babchenko's wife found him covered in blood at their home, and that he had died in an ambulance.

Babchenko is a well-known war correspondent in Russian Federation.

A well-known Kremlin critic, Mr Babchenko stood in unofficial elections organised by the opposition in 2012 and denounced Russia's actions in Syria and eastern Ukraine.

Speaking today, he said: "Apologies to my wife, Olechka".

"Babchenko is a journalist not a policeman, for Christ sake, and part of our job is trust, whatever Trump and Putin say about fake news".

Babchenko, one of Russia's best-known war correspondents, left his country in February 2017, saying he was receiving threats and he was concerned he might be jailed.

More news: U.S. sends naval warships near China-claimed SCS islands

To the applause and gasps of the press, Babchenko took the floor and apologized to the friends and family who mourned for him and were unaware of the plan. The Chief of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Vasyl Hrytsak, said the operation had been planned for two months.

Ukraine and Russian Federation traded accusations after Babchenko was reported to have been shot dead in Kiev, in a killing that sent shivers through the journalistic communities in both countries.

"It is anti-Russian bluster instead of talking about the need to conduct a thorough, objective investigation", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters before it was revealed that Babchenko was alive and well.

He served in the Russian army during the first separatist war in Chechnya during the 1990s and later became a journalist.

Writing past year in The Guardian, Babchenko described how a Facebook post he had written about the Russian bombing of civilians in Aleppo, Syria, was deemed insufficiently patriotic and led to a systematic campaign against him.

Russia's foreign ministry expressed relief at Babchenko being alive. Babchenko had to leave Russian Federation due to threats in February 2017.

What some are calling Ukraine's fake news operation comes just months after heightened tensions between Russia and the United Kingdom over allegations Moscow used a nerve agent to poison Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, and his daughter.

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