Ukraine says it faked murder of Russian journalist and Kremlin critic

Geneva Stokes
May 30, 2018

Mr Babchenko, a high-profile critic of of the Kremlin, appeared at a press conference on Ukrainian television on Wednesday.

Vasyl Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, announced at a news conference Wednesday that the security agency and the police had solved Babchenko's slaying.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said in a social media posting late on Tuesday he was convinced what he called "the Russian totalitarian machine" had not forgiven Mr. Babchenko for what Mr. Groysman called his honesty.

Gerashchenko said Babchenko's killer was waiting for him on the staircase inside the journalist's building and shot him in the back as he was going out to buy bread.

Ukraine admitted it had staged the murder of Babchenko in order to foil an attempt on his life by Russian Federation.

In London, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was "appalled by the killing of Babchenko".

Babchenko's wife found him bleeding at the apartment on Tuesday and called an ambulance, but he died on the way to a hospital, a police spokesman said.

Babchenko, one of Russia's best-known war reporters, fled the country in February 2017 after receiving death threats.

"Olechka, I am terribly sorry", he said, addressing her at the press conference, "but there were no other options".

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Ukrainian authorities released a drawing of the man they suspect is Mr Babchenko's assassin, about 40-45 years old, with a grey beard and wearing a cap.

The SBU said it had received information about the plot and had managed to prevent it.

A police officer guards near the apartment block where Babchenko was shot.

Another well-known journalist, Pavel Sheremet, from Belarus, was killed in a auto bombing in central Kiev in July 2016.

Moscow's annexation of Crimea and support for separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine were topics on which the journalist was scathingly critical of the Kremlin.

Babchenko left Russian Federation previous year and had told people that he feared for his life.

Babchenko told RFE/RL in December 2016 that "all of the elements" of Russia's state "propaganda machine" were engaged against him after he posted comments to Facebook about the crash of a Russian military plane in the Black Sea.

"I believe it to be more than a provocation against Russian Federation".

Mr Babchenko took part in the war in Chechnya as a soldier. Last year, he moved to Kiev, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station, ATR.

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