The Kremlin was accused this week of killing a journalist in Ukraine. But it turns out that the "dead" man is very much alive.
On the news of Arkady Babchenko’s demise, public condemnation quickly followed, with eager calls to sanction Russia. Similar to the Skripal affair, the Western media rushed to judgement.
But the critic of President Vladimir Putin, has turned up alive and smiling, offering reasons for his excellent state of health which are quite difficult to find credible.
Ukrainian authorities themselves admitted that Babchenko’s supposed death was outright faked. To be clear, they willfully lied to the international media, the public, and their audience at large.
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman accused Russia publicly of being behind the killing in Kiev of the Russian journalist Babchenko.
“I am confident that the Russian totalitarian machine did not forgive him his honesty and principled stance,” the prime minister declared on Facebook. But while the Ukrainian Prime Minister officially accused Russia of killing the man, they were actually faking his murder.
Babchenko was said to have been “gunned down outside his apartment on Tuesday”, “shot dead in Ukraine capital”, according to the British daily, The Telegraph.
The newspaper immediately suggested that Russia may have been involved in murder. Similarly, CNBC repeated the false accusation against the Kremlin as did hundreds of headlines in the Anglo-American media.
Despite a lack of any evidence that Russia was involved, one German union of journalists, the DJV, called for an EU boycott of the Soccer World Cup to be held in Russia soon.
News even broke in Kiev that the police had been in Babchenko’s apartment block hours before he was “killed” and they had manipulated the CCTV feed.
“The incident occurred on Nikolsko-Slobodskaya Street, Dnieper district, in the capital. Line 102 received a message from doctors: a woman called and said she found her husband covered in blood in the apartment,” the Ukrainian Interior Ministry reported. They spared the public no gruesome detail of the alleged killing: Kiev published a photo of the “dead” Babchenko lying a pool of blood.
“The dead person is a Russian citizen born in 1977, who is the anchor of a TV channel,” the statement said, “The victim died from the injuries inflicted to his back.”
The Ukrainian Ambassador to Austria denounced the murder as a “cowardly” act against “Putin’s opponent”. Various other public figures joined in the chorus of denouncing the Russian leader.
The Ukrainian internal security service, the SBU, however said it had created a stunt together with Babchenko which was done to “catch someone” who had threatened him. But the explanation did not reveal why the Ukrainian authorities lied to the public. The alleged perpetrator that they have since arrested, is not Russian, but Ukrainian.
Vasily Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, told a news conference that his agency had faked Babchenko’s death.
Reuters correspondent Polina Ivanova reported from Moscow that the “murdered” man has apologised to his wife. “Special apologies to my wife. Olechka, I am sorry, but there were no options here. The operation took two months to prepare. I was told a month ago. As a result of the operation, one person has been captured, he is being held.”
Hours after his stunt, he was however smirking on live TV: “I did my bit of the job. I’m still alive. Didn’t give you the satisfaction.”
The German DJV has since deleted its tweet calling for sanctions against Russia from its website.
Strangely, no Western source cared as much about the real murders of Russian journalists in the Ukraine. Russia lost four journalists in Ukraine over a few short months, which is unprecedented.
They included correspondent Igor Kornelyuk, video engineer Anton Voloshin, cameraman Anatoly Klyan, and photojournalist Andrei Stenin (pictured above, left). The team reported on the situation on the ground during the Maidan coup.
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