Kiev seeks to reassure West over staging of Russian journalist’s murder

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko (C), who was reported murdered in the Ukrainian capital on May 29, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko (R) and head of the state security service (SBU) Vasily Gritsak attend a news briefing in Kiev, Ukraine May 30, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 01 June 2018
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Kiev seeks to reassure West over staging of Russian journalist’s murder

  • Around a dozen diplomats went to Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General’s Office for a meeting behind closed doors that lasted nearly two hours.
  • Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko had announced the meeting on television the day before.

KIEV: Ukrainian law enforcement chiefs on Friday met Western diplomats to brief them on Kiev’s decision to stage a contract-style killing of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, which has prompted widespread criticism.
Around a dozen diplomats went to Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General’s Office for a meeting behind closed doors that lasted nearly two hours, AFP journalists said.
Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko had announced the meeting on television the day before, saying that he wanted to “explain everything that could be explained given the undercover nature of the investigation.”
Lutsenko said he had invited diplomats from the Group of Seven countries, which is made up of Germany, Canada, the United States, France, Britain, Italy and Japan.
Vasyl Grytsak, the head of Ukraine’s SBU security service which organized the special operation also took part, a source in the service confirmed to AFP.
Ukrainian police announced on Tuesday evening that Babchenko, a Russian emigre journalist known for his outspoken anti-Kremlin views, had been shot dead, only for him to reappear alive and well at a news conference at the SBU headquarters the following day.
The SBU and the Prosecutor-General’s Office then revealed that the announcement of his death, which prompted a grief-stricken reaction around the world, had been made as part of a sting operation.
Kiev has said the move was justified to foil a real plot to assassinate Babchenko and confirm the link between the killer and the organizer.
It claims the murder plot was organized by the Russian secret services and envisaged killing not only Babchenko but also some 30 others.
The way the murder was staged has attracted much criticism, particularly from organizations representing journalists, which questioned the need for such extreme tactics.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas who was visiting Kiev on Friday said ahead of his visit that it was “indispensable to shed light on what happened” and called on Ukraine to clarify the situation in order to “encourage trust.”
Russian foreign ministry spokesman Artyom Kozhin said at a briefing in Moscow on Friday that Kiev’s actions “have definitively undermined trust in Ukrainian sources of information, including official ones.”
He noted however that “We are in principle glad that Babchenko is alive.”


Google Doodle serves up falafel in quirky animation

Updated 18 June 2019
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Google Doodle serves up falafel in quirky animation

  • It is believed falafels originated in Egypt, where they were called ta’ameya and made of fava beans
  • The popularity of falafel then moved towards the Levant area, where the use of chickpea became a staple

DUBAI: One of the Middle East’s favorite dishes has been featured in a Google Doodle as the site apparently took a break from the Women’s World Cup.

Google had been running a series of doodles about the major sporting event, but on Tuesday – apparently randomly - focused on what the search giant described as the “best thing that ever happened to chickpeas.”

We don’t know why they chose Tuesday to run the Doodle – June 12 having been International Falafel Day.  

But the Middle East’s claim to these mouthwatering balls of chickpeas, onions, herbs and spices is undeniable.

Here's a simple step-by-step guide to making falafels, posted by food blog Food Wishes:

It is believed falafels originated in Egypt, where they were called ta’ameya and made of fava beans, about a thousand years ago, by Coptic Christians who ate them during lent as a meat substitute.

Another version of the story suggests that it goes further back to Pharaonic times – traces of fava beans were said to be found in the tombs of the Pharaohs, according to website Egyptian Streets, and that there were paintings from ancient Egypt showing people making the food.

The popularity of falafel then moved towards the Levant area, where the use of chickpea became a staple.

Over the years, many variations of falafel were invented, with global fast food chain McDonalds joining in the falafel craze with its McFalafel.

Popular Iraqi-American comedian Remy Munasifi, attracted more than 1.5 million views for a song about falafels he posted on his YouTube account “GoRemy.’