‘Murdered' Reporter Appears Alive with Ukrainian Officials

Hannah Rogers
May 31, 2018

Police said the Kremlin critic had died of multiple gunshots wounds to his back, with Kiev's police chief claiming Babchencko's "professional activities" as a journalist were a factor in his apparent murder. He in turn had hired a gunman. "I had to bury my friends and colleagues many times", Babchenko said, also apologizing to his wife and friends, who were unaware of the secret operation.

Russia's foreign ministry has soundly denied any involvement in a plan to kill Babchenko, saying the entire spectacle is merely "fanning anti-Russian hysteria". He apologized to her "for the hell she had to go through in the past two days". Prominent Russians to have been murdered in Kiev include journalist Pavel Sheremet, who was killed in a vehicle bomb in 2016, and ex-Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov, who was shot dead in 2017.

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

"I'm glad he is alive, but he undermined even further the credibility of journalists and the media", he added. He explained the operation was successful after Ukraine's security services arrested the suspect.

Before ushering Mr Babchenko into the room, Mr Gritsak said investigators had identified a Ukrainian citizen who had been recruited and paid $US40,000 (£30,137) by the Russian security service to organise and carry out the killing.

For much of the night after reports of Babchenko's death were announced, and into the following day, people gathered in the apartment building's courtyard to place flowers and photographs and to mourn the reporter. "Law enforcement couldn't fail to understand that news of Arkady Babchenko's murder would bring pain to thousands of hearts around the world".

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said it was "great news" that Babchenko was alive but on Twitter she slammed the "propagandistic effect" of the set-up.

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Weinman, 20, of Philadelphia, was charged with assaulting officers by kicking and spitting on them during the encounter. The officers involved were identified as Class II patrolmen Thomas Cannon, John Hillman, and Robert Jordan.

All 14 people on board were killed.

"We think this should attract very tough worldwide reaction which will move the Ukrainian authorities towards active measures to resolve the situation", said Mr Peskov.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said in a social media posting late on Tuesday he was convinced that what he called "the Russian totalitarian machine" had not forgiven Babchenko for what Mr Groysman called his honesty. Russian Federation had demanded on Tuesday that Ukraine conduct a full investigation into his death, though many suspected that Moscow was behind the attack.

No stranger to death, Babchenko served in the Russian army during Chechnya's two wars for independence, after which he wrote a powerful memoir about the everyday brutality of conflict before turning to journalism, writing about war for a range of Russian publications.

He first moved to Prague, then in the fall moved to Kiev, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station, ATR.

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.

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