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Arkady Babchenko; House of Trade Unions, Odessa (Wikipedia)

Ukraine has damaged its reputation beyond repair with hoax hit

Andrei Afanasyev examines the damage wrought by the hoax assassination of a journalist in Ukraine. As details of the strange plot emerge, the country's reputation is now at stake.

Published: June 1, 2018, 9:17 am

    If Arkady Babchenko, the reporter who faked his own murder in Ukraine to blame Russia, wanted to play dead to avoid a Russian assassin, the logical thing for him would have been to remain dead. Instead he appeared on television, a move suggesting that he has nothing to fear from the Russians.

    The very strange logic of the Ukrainian officials who staged an assassination, involves hiring one of their own soldiers fighting in Donbass to carry out the hit while blaming the Russians.

    The Ukrainian officials are confident that the murder that wasn’t, would have fingered Russian assassins had it been a real hit. And they claim to know this because the person in the sting who they hired to pretend to kill Babchenko was an anti-Russian militia-man. This argument truly makes no sense.

    The SBU, Ukraine’s special service controlled by the CIA, stated that it prevented an assassination attempt masterminded by the Kremlin. Babchenko’s statement was broadcast live on a major channel.

    In opening, Babchenko apologised for speaking Russian. After that he asked forgiveness from relatives and friends who did not know about the “special operation” and proceeded to give some details. He said that the hitman received 40 000 dollars. Babchenko says he is sure that Russia is behind this. As evidence, he cites the fact that the “assassin” had a copy of his passport photo.

    “When they showed the photo, which is only in my passport and only in the passport office, it became clear that the information comes from Russia, apparently from the state services. Because this information could be obtained only by special services and only in the passport office.”

    In Russia you need to make photocopy of your passport at every occasion: in banks, when buying a car, apartment, or buying a season ticket to the gym or getting a new job.

    So, Babchenko might as well blame the Novaya Gazeta newspaper for which he worked for many years for selling on his passport photo.

    Arkady Babchenko in Israel, Facebook

    Apparently, when the “assassin” faces a Ukrainian court, the low-quality photocopy of a passport or ID card from the passport desk will become the key part of the evidence pointing to Russia, while photos of Babchenko in excellent quality are widely available on the Internet. Facebook posts throughout June 2017 show him in Tel Aviv.

    The story of Babchenko’s “murder” and revival can be compared to the Skripal affair. These special operations show the current level of training of the special services, both Western and Ukrainian.

    The so-called “poisoning case” in Salisbury involving the Skripals, had the media and the expulsion of Russian diplomats carefully lined up. But in the case of the Ukraine, confusion reigns. Either the SBU never coordinated their plans with the Poroshenko administration, or it was a direct initiative under the supervision of Western special services, because it would be naive to think that the SBU would ever act independently.

    Journalist and publicist Armen Gasparyan says it is certain that official Kiev has lost the last remnants of its reputation:

    “Now, if something happens in Ukraine, it is unclear how to react to it. Whether to believe it, or to wait for it to turn into another insinuation from these insane people. When Moscow says that they are insane in Ukraine, then usually we get the answer from the West: no, they are in perfect condition, they have some minor problems, but in general everything is normal. Now the collective West has seen what the current Ukrainian government is.”

    It is obvious that this provocation is aimed at increasing the information pressure on Russia on the eve of the soccer World Cup, the start of which is scheduled for mid-June. It is possible that this provocation will not be the last either, and in the near future we will hear about new “killings” and “miraculous revivals”.

    Babchenko staging his own death. Photo supplied

    Babchenko is being called a “dissident” by the BBC after he lay in “pig’s blood with a make-up artist used to pull off the stunt”. Babchenko, unaware of the damage he has caused his country, says he watched news of his death unfold on television from a morgue. “I made that shirt with bullet holes in it.”

    The German leadership is furious about the hoax. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was in Kiev at the time, was also made to believe this elaborate lie that lasted almost 24 hours.

    This extreme case of fake news, manufactured by the Ukrainian state, not only cast a dark shadow over Steinmeier’s visit to Ukraine, but also on the credibility of the country’s leaders.

    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is due visit to the country too and German pundits warn that if Ukraine fails to fully account for Babchenko’s feigned death, its international image will suffer great damage.

    Insufficient reforms especially in terms rooting out corruption, has already tarnished Ukraine. “Hopefully Ukrainian leaders realise just how much is at stake in terms of their country’s credibility,” Bernd Johann noted for Deutsche Welle.

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