No matter how you look at it, it has become crystal clear that the Russian political system is wrought with corruption, oppression, and heinously unorthodox tactics that aim to ensure the rule of the Kremlin. Whether by discreet poisoning, sanctioned killings, or mysterious disappearances, President Vladimir Putin and his regime are sending an explicit message that anybody who attempts to discredit or delegitimize the government will be dealt with in the harshest of ways.
Just yesterday, reports emerged that yet another anti-Putin journalist having been gunned down in broad daylight, indicating the hit job was another in the pattern of journalist crackdown that has been occurring in Russia. The journalist, Arkady Babchenko, was claimed to have been found by his wife at their apartment in Ukraine, as he was bleeding out due to gunshot wounds inflicted to his back. Babchenko allegedly died in the ambulance on his way to the hospital.
However, in a turn of events that one would only expect to take place in a movie or TV show, Babchenko appeared alive and in person at a news conference, stunning and shocking those in attendance. The conference took place Wednesday, only a day after reports of the journalist’s death. According to the Associated Press:
‘Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who had been reported shot and killed in the Ukrainian capital Tuesday, has shown up at a news conference very much alive.
‘Vasily Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, told a news conference on Wednesday the agency faked Babchenko’s death to catch those who were trying to kill him.
‘He showed up at Gritsak’s news conference on Wednesday and thanked everyone who was mourning his death.’
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) May 30, 2018
Weirdest press conference of my life. Babchenko is alive. It was part of a sting to uncover an attempt on his life SBU says organized by Ukrainian citizen funded with $40k from Russia pic.twitter.com/Jk5j8MnQSr
— Ian Bateson (@ianbateson) May 30, 2018
Ukrainian authorities claimed at the conference that one suspect had been arrested as a result of the staged operation. The Ukrainian Security Service reported that the individual in question, a Ukrainian citizen who has not been mentioned by name, was contacted by the Russian security service in order to carry out the hit. The same aforementioned AP report states that the Ukrainian was paid $40,000 by Russians to organize and conduct the killing of Babchenko.
The Latest: Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who had been reported shot and killed in the Ukrainian capital, shows up at a news conference very much alive. https://t.co/oDPy0PoYvT
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 30, 2018
It is clear that Babchenko would be yet another target of the Kremlin’s pattern of violence against oppositional journalism, as he has been an outspoken and impassioned reporter against the Russian government. Babchenko ultimately went into exile early in 2017, and moved to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev to escape the violent consequences that would evidently ensue if he remained.
Babchenko was formerly enlisted in the Russian army and fought in Chechnya, but later undertook journalism once he left. He became a fierce critic of the Kremlin, and specifically President Putin, following various detrimental events including the annexation of Crimea, and the continued support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Although it is fortunate that Babchenko remains alive and healthy, the Russian government remains steadfast on suppressing opposition against them by all means necessary, even if it means targeting dissenters on foreign land. With the trend against journalists growing prevalent, such operations as was revealed Wednesday will be crucial in implicating the Russian government as the aggressors.
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