Sunday, 24 June, 2018

Arkady Babchenko: The Russian reporter who came back from the dead

Arkady Babchenko's wife reportedly told authorities she believed he was shot because of his professional work Arkady Babchenko's wife reportedly told authorities she believed he was shot because of his professional work
Gerardo Duncan | 02 June, 2018, 03:45

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko has died after being shot near his home in Kiev, Ukrainian police say.

Ukraine Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko wrote on Facebook the Security Service went to great lengths to fake Babchenko's death.

Vasily Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, told a news conference on Wednesday the agency faked Babchenko's death to catch those who were trying to kill him.

Although Babchenko was not killed, Ukrainian Security Chief Vasyl Hrytsak said that Moscow had ordered his murder, Radio Free Europe reported.

In February 2017, writing for Britain's The Guardian newspaper, Babchenko said: "I can tell you what political harassment feels like in [President Vladimir] Putin's Russian Federation".

"Olechka, I am sorry, but there were no options here", Babchenko declared. "Separately, I want to apologize to my wife for the hell that she has been through".

The Russian Foreign ministry said on Wednesday it was happy Mr Babchenko had turned out to be alive after all, but said Ukraine has used his story as propaganda.

Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Kremlin human rights council and head of the Russian Union of Journalists, said Babchenko had his "own special vision of the world, with his very critical view of Russian politics".

It said it had detained a Ukrainian citizen recruited by Russian Federation to find someone to kill Mr Babchenko. "I'm still alive and not going anywhere".

While studying law in Moscow aged 18, Mr Babchenko was conscripted into the Russian army and served during the Chechen wars from 1994-2000.

The 41-year-old's death stunned colleagues and added to tension between Moscow and Kyiv, whose ties have been badly damaged by Russia's seizure of Crimea and backing for separatist militants in a devastating war in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman wrote on Facebook that he was "sure the Russian totalitarian machine had not forgiven" Babchenko "his honesty and principles".

Babchenko is a well-known critic of Russia's policies toward Ukraine.

Poroshenko welcomed Babchenko with a hug at the presidential administration and said the journalist and his family would be given protection. Russia's high commissioner for human rights, Tatiana Moskalkova, promised to address Ukrainian authorities, urging them to pay special attention to the investigation of the journalist's murder.

He had been denounced by pro-Government politicians in Russia over comments on social media about the Russian bombing of Aleppo in Syria's war, and over his characterisation of Russia as an aggressor towards Ukraine.

Another renowned journalist, Pavel Sheremet, a native of Belarus who had worked for Russian media outlets in the past, was killed in a vehicle bombing in central Kiev in July 2016.

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