Hours after reporting the killing of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko (pictured) by a gunman in his apartment building in Kiev, Ukrainian media corrected themselves by citing national police as saying that the ‘murder’ was staged to catch the plotter.
Babchenko appeared before journalists at the office of Ukraine’s State Security Service on May 30 and said his death was faked for a good cause. He thanked Ukraine’s security services for trapping the plotter and also sought forgiveness of his friends and wife for causing them pain by staging the murder.
Ukraine’s security service said Russia paid $40,000 to a Ukrainian handler to kill Babchenko, the first of the 30 Russian citizens in Ukraine Kremlin allegedly wanted to eliminate. The organiser of the murder hired a man for $30,000.
The security service came to know of the murder plan and asked the ‘killer’ to act as a double agent to help them arrest the handler.
Earlier report said Babchenko’s wife came to his rescue after hearing gun shots. She called an ambulance and Babchenko, 41, ‘died’ on the way to hospital. Kiev police chief Andrei Krishchenko said the crime may be linked to Babchenko’s work as a journalist adding that the role of accomplices cannot be ruled out.
.Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian legislator and adviser to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, wrote on his Facebook page that Arkady went to a shop to buy some bread. The assailant was waiting for him at the staircase of his residential building and the victim was shot in the back several times.
People initially thought the report was true and started mourning the death of the journalist.
Babchenko served in the Russian army and fought during the first separatist war in Chechnya in the 1990s.
He later became a writer, journalist and military correspondent. He contributed to Russia’s Moskovsky Komsomolets daily, as well as TV Tsentr and Channel One TV. He also wrote articles for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper.
Babchenko, said to be a critic of President Vladimir Putin, left Russia in 2017 after receiving threats. He lived in Prague for a while. Since August 2017, he had been staying in Kiev, where he hosted a show on a Crimean-Tatar TV channel, ATR.