Russian Journalist Shot Dead In Ukraine (UPDATED)

Arkady Babchenko, 41, was shot near his home in Kiev on Tuesday.  He had left to purchase some bread, only to be murdered with a series of three gunshots to the back.

From the Guardian:

The killing appeared to be targeted. The gunman had apparently lain in wait for him outside his apartment. The head of Ukraine’s police force said that two motives were being considered: his “professional work and civil position”. Police on Wednesday evening had not named a suspect, but did post a sketch of a bearded man in a baseball hat.

Babchenko’s wife discovered his bleeding body and sought aid, but he died in the ambulance on the way to the nearest hospital.

The journalist was a known critic of Putin and the Russian government, and had fled his native Russia after receiving credible death threats following his expose on a crashed Russian flight carrying military members to Syria.  He eventually settled in the Ukraine, where he took a job with their ATV news network.

Babchenko had escaped death at other times throughout his life, most prominently in 2014 when he had been scheduled to fly with a General for an interview aboard a helicopter.  He had to be denied the flight at the last minute because of space considerations.  That helicopter was shot down two hours after he took this photo.

His international prominence for his insightful criticism of Putin and the Russian government makes them an obvious subject of investigation for the assassination.  This is especially true after the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal in the UK on March 29.  Russia has a long history of murders and assassination attempts of critics, both domestically and on foreign soil.

Ukraine is the nation where the most foreign assassinations have taken place. (Business Insider)  The local authorities are aware of that fact, and it is demonstrated in their comments about this murder.

From BBC:

Kiev police chief Andriy Kryshchenko told local media they suspected Mr Babchenko was killed because of his “professional activities”.

Time will tell if those suspicions are determined to be accurate.  In the meantime, the Russian government has issued a statement which, if they are demonstrated to have been the culprits in the assassination, is the height of hubris.  They have demanded the Ukranian authorities immediately investigate Babchenko’s death.

UPDATE:

Ukranian officials, with the unwitting aid of Babchenko’s wife and the international press, arranged the assassination story as part of a sting operation designed to flush out the Russian assassination network operating within their country.

From CNN:

According to a statement released by the SBU, Russian special services recruited a Ukrainian citizen — identified only as “G” — who was tasked with finding, for a payment, perpetrators for a number of high-impact terrorist acts, including the assassination of Babchenko.
“He proposed to his friend, a former member of the ATO in the east of Ukraine, to execute, for $30,000, the contract kill on a Russian journalist, Arkady Babchenko. He has already transferred a deposit of $15,000,” said Vasyl Hrytsak.
Vasyl Hrytsak is the head of the SBU, Ukranian’s national intelligence & security service.  As noted by Beth, in the comment section below, the USB has released video of the payoff to “G”, who is under arrest.  Also see, in the comments, the video of Arkady’s surprise reveal at the press conference.
Maria Zakharova, he Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, released a Facebook post:
То, что Бабченко жив, – лучшая новость. Всегда бы так. Жаль, в других случаях маскарада не получилось.

То, что в историю был заложен пропагандисткский эффект, очевидно.

That translates to “It’s fantastic news that Babchenko is alive.  Too bad this masquerade hasn’t worked in other cases.  This has obvious propaganda aspects.”

Arkady Babchenko seems to be lucky where assassination attempts are concerned.  Hopefully this will have been the final one he has to deal with.

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About AlienMotives 1992 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.