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.”


Houthi-held Sanaa ‘most dangerous’ for journalists with over 4200 violations

Updated 21 April 2019
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Houthi-held Sanaa ‘most dangerous’ for journalists with over 4200 violations

  • The report said Houthis killed 22 journalists since the start of the war
  • Houthis committed a total of 4288 violations against the media in Yemen

DUBAI: The Houthi-held capital has been labelled “the most dangerous for journalists and media” by a Yemeni media watch group on Saturday, with 4248 reported violations against the press.

The National Organization of Yemeni Media (SADA) issued a report on the “reality of the Yemeni press during the year of 2018,” which stated that the Houthi militia were responsible for 97 percent of all violations made against the media in Yemen last year that came to 4,364.

Outside of Sanaa, the Houthi militia committed 76 violations against the media, bringing the number to a total of 4288 cases.

Since the Houthi coup in 2014, the militia has been reported to have killed at least 22 journalists through sniping, using them as human shields, and kidnapped 141.

Other violations included “abduction, enforced disappearance, murder, physical assault, targeting of houses, occupation of media institutions, and security prosecution.”