Suspect remanded for allegedly plotting Russian journalist's murder

Arkady Babchenko

But the next day, Babchenko appeared at a press conference where Ukrainian of cials said they had faked his death to thwart a plot to assassinate him.

To make the staged murder look genuine, Babchenko said, security officers took his sweatshirt and shot holes in it. Babchenko said he put on the shirt and got smeared with pig's blood.

Ukraine on Thursday defended the action of its state security services in faking the death of a Russian dissident journalist after worldwide criticism, saying the freaky ruse had been essential for protecting him.

Babchenko on Wednesday recounted how the SBU had approached him a month ago to say someone had been paid $40,000 to carry out a hit job on him. Let's paint Babchenko's back with blood, make his face a giant bloodclot, take him to the morgue and say that it was like that from the beginning?' And all these guys were like, 'Hell yeah, let's do it!

"We are happy that he is alive", she said.

"Friends, I couldn't care less".

Herman said he had been contacted by someone close to the Kremlin about plans to kill Babchenko.

The way the murder was staged has attracted much criticism, particularly from organisations representing journalists, which questioned the need for such extreme tactics.

Kyiv-based journalist Matvei Ganapolsky, who works for Ekho Moskvy radio, told the station that he and another prominent journalist Yevgeny Kiselev had both been summoned by the Ukrainian security service and warned of potential risk to their safety.

Russian Federation is ranked 148 out of 180 counties on the World Press Freedom Index 2018, compiled by press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders.

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

A number of Kremlin critics have been killed in Ukraine in recent years, with one gunned down on a Kiev street in broad daylight and another whose vehicle exploded.

Several Western commentators and reporters said it would also be hard to trust official statements from the Ukrainian state again.

Artyom Kozhin, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Moscow on Friday that Kyiv's actions "have definitively undermined trust in Ukrainian sources of information, including official ones".

"I wish all these moralisers could be in the same situation - let them show their adherence to the principles of their high morals and die proudly holding their heads high without misleading the media", he wrote on Facebook.

Other commentators urged the media to focus on the fact that Babchenko is alive.

Kiev sought to justify Babchenko's "murder" that provoked an outpouring of grief and a diplomatic spat with its former masters in Moscow.

Ukraine revealed on Wednesday that it had stage-managed the fake murder of Arkady Babchenko, a critic of the Kremlin who they said had been targeted by hit-men hired by Russian Federation, in order to trace a trail back to Russian Federation and expose plans for his, and other, state-sponsored assassinations. German told the court he had been working with Ukrainian counter-intelligence because a friend living in Russian Federation who planned to cause disorder in Ukraine had approached him.

But on Wednesday there were gasps at a Kiev press conference when Babchenko entered the room.

"This person is responsible for several wars, this person is responsible for thousands of deaths".

Babchenko, an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin, fled Russian Federation in February 2017 saying he was receiving threats and was concerned he might be jailed.

How imminent and credible was the alleged threat to Babchenko's life?

In 2017 the opposition to the Russian authorities Babchenko left Russia and moved first to Prague and then to Ukraine.



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