Journalist Babchenko alive: His "assassination" was SBU's special operation

01 June, 2018, 16:30 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Russian journalist who criticised Vladimir Putin shot dead at home in Ukraine

A prominent Russian war correspondent, Babchenko, 41, was murdered on Tuesday evening in a contract-style killing in the stairwell of his building in the Ukrainian capital Kiev where he moved a year ago.

Reporting on the high profile case on Wednesday, the head of the SBU, Ukraine's national security service, Sergey Gritsak said Babchenko was alive and unhurt. This person, Hrytsak said, has accepted a $30,000 payment from Russian security agents to arrange for the assassination of Babchenko, according to an account of the press conference by Radio Free Europe.

Ukraine's prime minister volodymyr groysman has accused russia of being behind the killing in kiev of the russian journalist arkady babchenko.

"I would like to apologise for what you have all had to go through", said Babchenko, who looked on the verge of tears.

Ukraine's Security Service said the operation foiled a real attempt against Babchenko's life.

Detectives have been unable to speak to Mr Babchenko's wife because she is in a state of shock, Mr Kryshchenko added.

Grytsak announced authorities had arrested the alleged mastermind of the plot, saying a Ukrainian citizen named only by the initial G. had offered to pay a hitman to carry out the killing after being recruited by Russian special forces and paid $40,000.

But Russian journalists speaking to HuffPost UK have expressed doubts about the operation.

It is not immediately clear whether Babchenko's wife and friend were aware of the security operation.

Babchenko left Russian Federation in February 2017 after receiving threats, living first in the Czech Republic, then in Israel, before moving to Kiev.

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Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday finding out Babchenko was still alive came as the "best news".

Earlier today the Kremlin had described the allegation by Ukraine that it was behind the murder of Mr Babchenko as an anti-Russian smear.

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

Reporters Without Borders condemned Wednesday the staging of a murder of an anti-Kremlin journalist in Ukraine as a "pathetic stunt".

Babchenko said he was not allowed to go into the details of his false death.

"I did my job and I'm still alive".

The country's security services said Mr Babchenko's death was faked in order to foil a plot to take his life. The Ukrainian man also was supposed to procure large quantities of weapons and explosives, including 300 AK-47 rifles and "hundreds of kilos of explosives", to perpetrate acts of terror in Ukraine, he said. Several Ukrainian politicians blamed the Kremlin for the killing.

Babchenko, 41, was scathingly critical of the Kremlin's policies, assailing Moscow's annexation of Crimea, its support for separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine and the Russian campaign in Syria.

He faced backlash after commenting on the crash of a Russian plane transporting the world-famous military choir Alexandrov Ensemble en route to Syria.

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