Reports–rang–out–early–Wednesday–morning that Russian–journalist and outspoken critic of the–Kremlin, Arkady–Babchenko, was found bleeding to–death at his Ukrainian–home, apparently shot–several times in the–back. According to police, he succumbed to his injuries in–the ambulance on–the way to the hospital.
During a press conference the next day, Babchenko–himself–––still–alive and well – waltzed into–a–room–full–of his fellow–journalists to the sound–of gasps. Like a magician’s–great reveal at the–end of a show, the–Ukrainian–media (and the world at large) had just been–duped.
It turns out that for the–last month, the Security–Service–of–Ukraine (SBU) had been in contact with Babchenko–and notified him about a–coming attempt on his life. They worked together to try–and catch those who threatened his life. “An offer was made to take part in this special–operation,” Babchenko–said, adding that he didn’t really have–a–choice in the–matter.
The Russian–government is believed to be behind–the assassination attempt, according to Babchenko, who saw that his sensitive–private information and documents including his passport–photo were among some key–evidence recovered by SBU – documents that–would be hard to obtain if–you weren’t the Russian–government.
According–to–SBU, Russian–special forces recruited–a–Ukrainian–citizen–(Codename “G”) to assemble a crack team of assassins and–terrorists in–Ukraine to–do–the Kremlin’s dirty work. Babchenko’s–assassination was one of the missions–assigned to this terrorist group.
Through SBU’s own espionage–tactics, they–learned that “G” recruited–a–former member of the ATO in eastern–Ukraine and–instructed the hitman to kill Babchenko for $30,000, half of which had–already–been paid. SBU also intercepted a dossier that contained data on Babchenko, his–wife–and kids, his work and private life, and even–phone numbers, bank account–information and passport pictures.
“G” and one other–individual who–is believed to have–carried–out the attempted assassination–have since been captured by–Ukrainian–forces and a pretrial investigation–is–underway.
Babchenko–took the time at the press–conference to–apologize to his–wife, “for the hell she went through these past two–days,” he said. Babchenko’s–wife was the one who found his body and called for–help, believing that her husband had just been murdered in his own–home. “Olechka, I’m sorry, but–there were no other options here,” said–Babchenko.
“I apologize for what–you had to go through,” he went–on, asking for–forgiveness from his friends and colleagues–as–well. “I’ve buried friends and–colleagues many times, and I know it’s a–sickening-vomiting feeling when–you have to bury your colleagues.” Journalist assassinations–are all too common–among critics of Russia.
Babchenko–left–Russia–in–2017, saying–that–he “no–longer–felt–safe” there. And–it’s easy to understand–why. According–to the Committee to Protect–Journalists–and–the Glasnost Defense–Foundation, since–1992, 58–journalists–have–met an–untimely end in Russia for voicing–differing opinions than–the state-sponsored stories–that come from the Kremlin. And–while many of–these–deaths–were ruled–as–suicides or accidents by way–of–falling from–tall–balconies–or “slipping” in their–homes, Babchenko avoided–being number 59.
We now look forward–to what happens in this case, what evidence links “G” to Russia, and what the–world will say in response.