Russian journalist faked own death with help of Ukrainian police

Published on Wednesday, 30 May 2018 20:39
Written by The Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - A Russian journalist who was reportedly gunned down in Ukraine’s capital strolled into a news conference that authorities called Wednesday to discuss the investigation of his death, revealing that the slaying had been staged to foil an alleged Kremlin hit plot.

“I’m still alive,” Arkady Babchenko, 41, told startled fellow reporters at the news conference held less than a day after police reported he had been shot and killed at his Kiev apartment building. Ukrainian police said Tuesday that Babchenko, a strong critic of the Kremlin, was shot multiple times in the back Tuesday, found bleeding there by his wife and died on the way to the hospital. Kiev’s police chief said he suspected the journalist was killed because of his work.

Details of the sting operation were not clear, including why authorities decided to go to such lengths to make it look as if Babchenko was dead. The head of the Ukrainian Security Service said the suspected organizer of the alleged hit plot was detained Wednesday, suggesting the bogus killing was aimed at flushing him out.

Babchenko apologized to his wife, who he said was not briefed on the scheme in advance, “for the hell she had to go through in the past two days. There was no choice there, either.”

The astonishing turn of events brought harsh criticism from Russia and the international media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders.

The journalist group’s director, Christophe Deloire, expressed on Twitter his “deepest indignation at the discovery of the manipulation of the Ukrainian secret services. It is always deeply dangerous for states to play with the facts.”

Konstantin Kosachev, head of the international affairs committee of the upper house of the Russian parliament, compared Ukraine’s allegations to Britain’s claims that Moscow was behind the nerve gas poisonings of a Russian former spy and his daughter in England. Russia vehemently denies poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal.

“The logic is the same - to defame Russia,” Kosachev told the state news agency Tass.

Neither Babchenko nor Ukrainian Security Service chief Vasyl Gritsak provided details of how they staged Babchenko’s injuries or made his wife believe he was dead.

The movie-like twist came as Gritsak convened the news conference to announce the security agency and the police had solved Babchenko’s reported slaying.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Nation-World on Wednesday, 30 May 2018 20:39. Updated: Wednesday, 30 May 2018 20:41.