During the G20 Summit in July 2017, Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who pointed to reporters in the room and asked, “these are the ones hurting you?” Trump answered, “they are, you’re right about that.”
At the time, those journalists and many Americans were outraged, although Trump’s supporters laughed off the incident and said that too many people were “snowflakes” and are offended by everything. There was a reason for the criticism of Trump’s jovial answer to Putin that day, and the following story is one of them.
Russian journalist who was sharply critical of the Kremlin has been fatally shot at his apartment in Ukraine, police say. https://t.co/v2Rw3HcAXe
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 29, 2018
On Tuesday, a Russian journalist named Arkady Babchenko was killed in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. Police Chief Andriy Krishchenko confirmed details to reporters, who wrote that:
‘Ukrainian police said Arkady Babchenko’s wife found him bleeding at their apartment building in Kiev and called an ambulance, but Babchenko died on the way to a hospital.
‘Police said he died of multiple gunshots wounds to his back.’
Police also said that his “professional activities” were the most obvious explanation.
Babchenko was a former member of the Russian army who fought in Chechnya in the first separatist war. He later became a journalist critical of the Kremlin’s decision to annex Crimea and their support for Syria and eastern Ukraine.
The journalist later moved to Ukraine in February 2017 out of fear for his life and his freedom, believing that he may end up imprisoned and fearful of the threats he had received. He had written statements saying that he was not sympathetic to those killed who supported the Kremlin. While this enraged Russian civilians, it also got the attention of the Russian government.
Ukrainian authorities confirm Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko has been shot and killed tonight in Kyiv. He died in ambulance en route to hospital. This marks the second murder of a high-profile Russian journalist in Kyiv in less than two years. (Sheremet by car bomb in 2016.) https://t.co/7ASG0o7ECG
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) May 29, 2018
Journalism in Russia is dangerous business. According to PunditFact, Russia ranks 180th out of 199 countries for journalistic freedom. An in-depth look into the dangers reporters faced turned up these startling details:
‘Combining data from two nonprofits that records violations of press rights (the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists and the Moscow-based Glasnost Defense Foundation), we found that at least 34 journalists have been murdered in Russia since 2000.
‘For comparison, in the same time period, two journalists were murdered in China, while three were killed in the United States (including the on-air deaths of two television reporters in Virginia this year).’
Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko is shot to death in Kiev. He had moved to Prague, then Kiev because of threats against him.https://t.co/fNTFsQGJO3
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) May 29, 2018
Putin’s off-hand comment to Trump was not funny, nor should it be taken lightly, and neither should Trump’s public statements that the “fake news” journalists are “the enemy of the people.”
Featured image via Getty/Mikhail Klimentyev