Arkady Babchenko: He Was a Most Hated Figure


Russian opposition journalist Arkady Babchenko was shot dead in Ukrainian capital Kyiv. He left Russia in 2017 amid threats to him and his family.

Arkady Babchenko, 42, was murdered by three shots on Tuesday evening, May 29, outside his apartment. 

In the 1990s, before the beginning of journalistic career, he took part in both Chechen campaigns. Then, as a military correspondent, he covered the events in South Ossetia in 2008, the ethnic conflict in Kyrgyzstan in 2010, and the war in Donbas. The journalist on a regular basis received threats from Russian nationalists, especially after his harsh statements about the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

In 2017, Babchenko left Russia because of fears of persecution for political reasons. First he lived in Prague, then in Israel, and in August 2017 moved to Kyiv, where he worked as a presenter at the Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR.

The Ukrainian police said the journalist was found by his wife in the stairwell of his apartment building and taken by ambulance to a hospital. He died en route from what the police said were multiple gunshot wounds to his back.

Metropolitan police chief, Andriy Krishchenko, said on TV that “the first and most obvious” reason for the attack was Babchenko’s “professional activities,” which included articles and social media posts questioning Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine and Russia’s military role in Syria.

The authorities released a sketch of a suspect, describing him as a bearded man 40 to 45 years old.

Russian authorities responded almost immediately. 

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed condolences to the journalist’s relatives and friends and stressed that the level of physical violence and killings against journalists has been “steadily on the rise in Ukraine, but the perpetrators go unpunished.” “Bloody crimes and total impunity have become routine for the Kyiv regime,” the ministry concluded. 

Later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the murder of Arkady Babchenko a tragedy and said he was outraged by Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman’s remark mamed Russian special services as the prime suspect in the case.

Russian colleagues and friends Babchenko, as well as human rights activists are convinced that the only reason for the murder could be the professional activity of the journalist. Several independent associations intend to conduct their own investigation. “We will closely monitor how this crime will be investigated, we do not have absolute trust in either Russian or Ukrainian authorities,” said co-founder of the independent trade union of journalists Pavel Nikulin.

Novaya Gazeta also intends to conduct its journalistic investigation in Kyiv, where the newspaper has bureaus and colleagues who have maintained relations with Babchenko. “Every word will be examined under the magnifying glass,” Dmitry Muratov, the founder of Novaya Gazeta, promised.

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