On May 29, Ukrainian media reported that Arkadiy Babchenko, a Russian citizen and journalist living in Ukraine, had been killed in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.
Babchenko was allegedly found in his own apartment by his wife after suffering gunshot wounds that resulted in his death.
Immediately (in about 20 minutes) after the first reports on the issue, Ukrainian officials claimed that Babchenko’s journalistic activities are the main motive behind the murder and accused Russia of being an instigator of the crime.
The coverage of the incident was extremely pathetic. Multiple supporters of the Kiev regime and Ukrainian media had a filed day discussing and covering the crime and its details: how Babchenko was killed, how many wounds, feelings of his wife, friends and other issues.
Babchenko was a colourless person. However, his death expectedly triggered not only the Ukrainian and Russian liberal audience, but also the entire international journalistic community. International organizations, including Reporters Without Borders, joined the story condemning the killing.
Russian journalist and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko shot dead in front of his flat in Kiev. The investigation will have to establish if he is the direct or indirect victim of a governmental war on information #pressfreedom https://t.co/8Dd1UdIXHX pic.twitter.com/vLxsKojaIU
— Christophe Deloire (@chrisdeloire) 29 May 2018
The media hysteria continued raging the following day.
However, on May 30 afternoon, the cheery decedent showed up at a press conference along with Chief of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) Sergey Gritsak and Prosecutor General Yury Lutsenko.
The SBU chief claimed that the fake murder of Babchenko had been staged in order to counter an alleged Russian plot to kill him and so the hitman could be traced to the person who had given him the contract. This person, according to Ukrainian special services, was a local man who had been recruited by Russian intelligence.
Here’s the video of a very much alive Babchenko: https://t.co/jQgN2GXymq
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) 30 May 2018
The methods of operation implemented by the Kiev regime during the first stage of this fake story was similar to those used by the UK over the Skripals case. At the same time, the “revive” of Babchenko less than 24 hours after his “death” (it should be noted that Yulia Skripal appeared public more than a month after the alleged poisoning) and the following explanations of the story by the SBU clearly show that the Kiev regime has no ethical and moral limitations.
The faked death of Babchenko looks especially cynical because it was timed with his so-called “second birthday” as the journalist describes May 29. At this day four years ago when he narrowly avoided death reporting the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
By lying to the media, Babchenko and the Ukrainian authorities have made fools of everyone who reported yesterday’s “murder.” I apologize to all my followers for circulating what turns out to be total baloney. The lesson here is to distrust reports from Ukraine.
— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) 30 May 2018
The entire story was orchestrated to achieve a maximum propaganda effect.
The SBU announced that security forces had detained a Ukrainian citizen tasked by Russian intelligence to find a hitman within Ukraine. According to the SBU chief, the citizen received $40,000 to organize the crime. He allegedly approached several acquaintances, including war veterans, offering $30,000 for the contract killing, one of whom revealed the plot to the security services.
The SBU revealed no identity or details about the detained person. It’s highly likely that this person will soon make statements accusing Russian intelligence or President Putin of plotting “terrorist acts” and “killings” in Ukraine.
Ukrainian special services have many options to employ such a scenario as they’ve shown that the Kiev regime does not limit their activities by international law or human rights principles. Thus, the detained person can be a victim of torture and blackmailing or another fake crated for propaganda purposes.
The SBU-staged death of journalist has faced strong criticism from the audience, international organizations and even mainstream media outlets.
BREAKING: Putin staged the staging of Babchenko’s murder in order to undermine truth and promote fake news. https://t.co/zkFppYEcWn
— Yasha Levine (@yashalevine) 30 May 2018
The Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, has condemnted the fake news story describing its as a “new step of a war of information”.
RSF expresses its deepest indignation after discovering the manipulation of the Ukrainian secret services, this new step of a war of information. It is always very dangerous for a government to play with the facts, especially using journalists for their fake stories. https://t.co/XwwbepYsjc
— Christophe Deloire (@chrisdeloire) 30 May 2018
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir slammed Ukraine’s decision to disseminate fake news about the murder of Babchenko.
Relieved that Arkadiy #Babchenko is alive! I deplore the decision to spread false information on the life of a journalist. It is the duty of the state to provide correct information to the public.
— OSCE media freedom (@OSCE_RFoM) 30 May 2018
Frank Gardner, BBC Security Correspondent, described the event as a glaring example of fake news:
“There can be few more glaring examples of ‘fake news’ than the deliberate misreporting by a sovereign government of a prominent journalist’s death.
Relations between Russia and Ukraine are at an all-time low, following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, and Russia has been accused of several recent deaths of Kremlin critics in Ukraine.
But this staged non-death will inevitably muddy the waters. Russia already denies any involvement in the attempted assassination of its former spy Sergei Skripal in the UK city of Salisbury in March, calling it fake news.
It will now likely seize on this deception in Kiev to strengthen its claim in that case, and in others.”
This was theatre. Mr Babchenko had helped stage his own killing to help expose – said Hrytsak – Russian agencies who wanted the reporter dead.
The Babchenko killing was just another act in an slow-burning half-forgotten war between Russia and Ukraine, a war, as in all others, where the first casualty was truth.
“Sorry for making you all to go through this,” the journalist told gathered colleagues. “There was no other way.” And then he added: “Separately, I would like to apologise to my wife for the hell she has had to endure these last two days. Olechka, sorry, there were no other options.”
Had Olga Babchenko known her husband was alive? His colleagues certainly did not. Somebody filmed the gathered staff of his news outlet watching the press conference. Journalists leaped and whooped. One man rushed forward to a wide-screen TV and caressed Mr Babchenko’s image.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was happy Babchenko was still alive. However, accused Kiev of using his story as propaganda.
Konstantin Kosachev, the Russian Parliament’s foreign affairs spokesman, compared Kiev’s allegations to the British claims that Russia was behind the poisonings of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.
“The logic is the same — to defame Russia,” Kosachev said.
Currently, The Independent’s comment section looks like this:
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