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.”


Facebook says it stored ‘millions’ of unencrypted Instagram passwords

Updated 19 April 2019
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Facebook says it stored ‘millions’ of unencrypted Instagram passwords

  • The California firm reaches an estimated 2.7 billion people with its core social network, Instagram and messaging applications

SAN FRANCISCO, US: “Millions” of Instagram users had their passwords stored in unencrypted form on internal servers, Facebook said Thursday, raising its original estimate of tens of thousands.
“We discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format. We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users,” Facebook said in a blog post.
“We will be notifying these users as we did the others. Our investigation has determined that these stored passwords were not internally abused or improperly accessed,” the social network said.
Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, revealed last month that the unencrypted passwords of hundreds of millions of users had been stored, putting the number of Instagram users affected in the tens of thousands.
The social network’s handling of user data has been a flashpoint for controversy since it admitted last year that Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy, used an app that may have hijacked the private details of 87 million users.
Facebook has announced a series of moves to tighten handling of data, including eliminating most of its data-sharing partnerships with outside companies.
The California firm reaches an estimated 2.7 billion people with its core social network, Instagram and messaging applications.