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Ukraine: Staged Babchenko 'murder' spotlights journalists' distrust of government

Journalist Arkady Babchenko reacts as he arrives at his workplace, the ATR TV channel, where his colleagues had laid flowers and a portrait of him in his memory, in Kiev, Ukraine, 31 May 2018
Journalist Arkady Babchenko reacts as he arrives at his workplace, the ATR TV channel, where his colleagues had laid flowers and a portrait of him in his memory, in Kiev, Ukraine, 31 May 2018

GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images

The following is an excerpt of a 6 June 2018 CPJ blog post by By Christopher Miller/CPJ Correspondent for Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.

In the week since the Ukrainian security service, the SBU, staged the assassination of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, little if any dust stirred up by the elaborate and controversial operation - ostensibly carried out to foil a Russian plot to kill him - has settled.

Instead, with the arrest of the alleged organizer (the director of a Ukrainian arms maker that supplies the country's military) and the admission of the would-be shooter authorities claim he hired (a right-wing former-monk-cum-Ukrainian-war-veteran), the case has grown more bizarre and complex.

On June 1, authorities claimed to have discovered an alleged Russian hit list of 47 people - mostly Ukrainian and Russian journalists and bloggers in Ukraine - which has added to the consternation.

Journalists here have long been on edge, what with numerous cases of harassment, physical attacks, and the publishing of personal information, known as doxing. Seven journalists in Ukraine have been targeted for murder, four with complete impunity, since CPJ began keeping detailed records in 1992. The most recent was the brazen daylight car bomb assassination of Belarusian-born Russian journalist Pavel Sheremet, in July 2016, which sent a chill through newsrooms.

Read the full blog post on CPJ's site.

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