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Arkady Babchenko

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Arkady Babchenko
Arkadiy Babchenko (cropped2).jpg
Babchenko in Tskhinvali in 2008
Born Arkady Arkadyevich Babchenko
(1977-03-18) 18 March 1977 (age 41)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, USSR
Occupation Journalist
Notable works One Soldier's War (2006)

Arkady Arkadyevich Babchenko (Russian: Аркадий Аркадьевич Бабченко; born 18 March 1977) is a Russian print and television journalist.[1][2] From 1995, Babchenko served in the communication corps in the North Caucasus while participating in the First Chechen War. He later volunteered for six months during the Second Chechen War.[2] After leaving the army in 2000 he worked as a war correspondent for more than a decade.[3] Since 2017 he has worked as a presenter for the (Kiev based) TV channel ATR. In 2006 he published the book One Soldier's War, about his experiences in Chechnya.[2][4]

It was reported on 29 May 2018 that Babchenko had been shot dead in his home in Kiev, Ukraine.[5][6][7] The next day, he appeared in person at a press conference with the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).[1] The SBU said it staged Babchenko's murder in order to arrest Ukrainian assassins (allegedly recruited by Russian security services operatives) who were actually planning on carrying out the assassination.[1][8]

Early life

Babchenko was born in 1977 in Moscow, Russian SSR.[9] One of his grandfathers was born in Henichesk, Ukrainian SSR.[10][nb 1]

In 1995, while studying law in Moscow aged 18, Babchenko was conscripted into the Russian army and served until 2000 in the North Caucasus.[11] He served in the communication corps in the First Chechen War[12] and later volunteered for six months during the Second Chechen War.[2]

Journalism and author

After leaving the armed forces in 2000, Babchenko worked as a war correspondent for more than a decade,[3] including for Moskovskiy Komsomolets and Zabytyi Polk.[12]

Between 2002/2003 and 2006, the literary magazine Novy Mir published Babchenko's account of his experiences as a soldier in Chechnya, in a series of chapters titled "Ten Episodes About the War".[13][14][15] Novy Mir also published his short story "Alkhan-Yurt" (named after the Alkhan-Yurt massacre).[13][14] "Ten Episodes About the War" was published in book form by Eksmo in 2006 as Alkhan-Yurt.[13][14] It was translated and published in English as One Soldier's War.[16][17][18]

Legal issues

In March 2012, a criminal case was initiated against Babchenko for "making public calls for mass riots" because of the publication of a post about the possible tactics of For Fair Elections movement protesters.[19]

Exile

In December 2016 Babchenko wrote on Facebook that he had "no sympathy, no pity" for members of the Alexandrov Ensemble choir and pro-government journalists who died in the 2016 Tu-154 plane crash near Sochi[20] en route to Syria.[21] Speaking to RFE/RL's Russian Service, Babchenko said that "we must be in one line; we must express sadness; we must appear sad -- and anyone who doesn't must be destroyed."[20] In a piece published by The Guardian on 24 February 2017, Babchenko claimed that in this Facebook post: "I did not call for anything or insult anyone. I just reminded my readers that Russia was indiscriminately bombing Aleppo, without recognising that dozens of children were dying in those bombs, their photographs making their way around the world."[21] In the backlash, his home address was revealed to the public, he then received personal threats and some people called for him to be stripped of his Russian citizenship.[3] Babchenko and his family fled Russia in February 2017, moving first to Prague.[nb 2] He subsequently moved to Kiev with his family and started working as a presenter for the Kiev-based Crimean TV channel ATR.[3][11][7]

Staged death

International media reported on 29 May 2018 that Babchenko was assassinated as he returned to his apartment in Kiev.[23][24] In a press statement, the Kiev Police stated that Babchenko possibly could have been killed as a reprisal for his work as a journalist.[25] Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman claimed Russia was responsible for the assassination.[26] The head of Russia's Federal Security Service, Alexander Bortnikov, denied the involvement of Russia.[27]

Babchenko meeting with (from left to right) Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, SBU head Vasyl Hrytsak, and General Prosecutor of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko on 30 May.

The next day, Babchenko appeared alive and well on live Ukrainian television at a press conference held by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).[28] Babchenko had collaborated with the SBU for a month, conducting a secret operation.[29][30][31] According to the SBU, the murder had been staged to expose Russian agents.[1][32][33] Previously in Kiev, vocal critics of Vladimir Putin, journalist Pavel Sheremet and politician Denis Voronenkov, had been assassinated in 2016.[1][34][35][36] Babchenko's wife said she knew her husband's death would be staged.[37] The SBU also said it had detained a Ukrainian suspect[1] (allegedly recruited by a Russian intelligence official), and an accomplice,[8] who was engaged in preparations for the contract killing of Babchenko.[38][39] The alleged assassin was reported to be helping the SBU with its investigation.[40] According to SBU head Vasyl Hrytsak, those who had wanted to assassinate Babchenko had been planning to kill 30 people in Ukraine.[41] The SBU claimed to have discovered this plot when one of the men approached to kill Babchenko revealed the plot to the security services.[1] Allegedly several people, including Ukrainian war veterans, had been offered $30,000 for the contract killing.[1]

The staged death of Babchenko was criticised by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the International Federation of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders.[42][43] Media stated that the Ukrainian government started propagation of fake news.[32] Babchenko and the Ukrainian authorities defended the operation, saying it was necessary to collect evidence.[37][44][45][46] Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (also) rejected criticism of the sting operation, claiming that because of it "The whole world saw the real face of our enemy. It is not Ukraine you should condemn but Russia."[36]

On 31 May a Ukrainian court had remanded Borys Herman in custody for allegedly having paid $15,000 to a hired hitman after the news of the "killing" broke. Herman said that he had had no intention of killing the reporter and that he had co-operated with the Ukrainian counterintelligence (in turn, the prosecutor stated that Herman was not a "secret agent" at all).[44][47] Borys Herman is a businessman working for a Ukrainian-German weapons company and he is a son of Lev Herman, known for his deep-rooted ties to a famous Russian criminal authority of Ukrainian origin, Semion Mogilevich, who has many alleged links to top Russian officials.[48] Herman mentioned Vyacheslav Pivovarnik as a direct contractor of the assassination. Pivovarnik is a Ukrainian citizen, who according to some sources[49] cooperated with the former deputy of the State Duma Sergey Shishkarev. His location was not established immediately; there is the evidence that in February he left in an unknown direction.[50]

Personal life

Babchenko is married.[51] He has six adopted children and a biological daughter.[19]

Publications

Authored

  • Alkhan-Yurt: Povesti i Rasskaz. Moscow: IAuza, 2006. ISBN 9785878491907. (In Russian)
    • One Soldier's War in Chechnya. London: Portobello, 2007. ISBN 978-1846271052. London: Portobello, 2008. ISBN 978-1846270406. Translated by Nick Allen. (In English)
    • One Soldier's War. New York: Grove, 2008. ISBN 9780802118608. Reprint edition; New York: Grove, 2009. ISBN 978-0802144034. Translated by Nick Allen. (In English)
    • La Guerra Más Cruel. Barcelona: Galaxia Gutenberg: Círculo de Lectores, 2008. ISBN 9788481097627. Translated by Joaquín Fernández-Valdés Roig-Gironella. (In Spanish)
    • Dziesięć Kawałków o Wojnie: Rosjanin w Czeczenii. Seria Terra incognita (Warsaw, Poland). Warszawa: Wydaw. W.A.B., 2009. ISBN 9788374145671. (In Polish)
    • La Guerra di un Soldato in Cecenia. Strade blu. Milano: Mondadori, 2011. ISBN 9788804606444. Translated by Maria Elena Murdaca. (In Italian)
    • Voĭna = Tlom. Moscow: ANF, 2016. ISBN 9785916715934. (In Russian)
  • How Free is the Russian Media? = Naskolʹko Svobodny Smi v Rossii?. Index on Censorship, vol. 37, no. 1. London: Routledge, 2008. OCLC 213859921.

Contributed

  • War & Peace: Contemporary Russian Prose. Glas New Russian Writing 40. Moscow: Glas, 2006. Edited by Natasha Perova and Joanne Turnbull. Includes Argun by Babchenko. ISBN 9785717200745. An anthology. Translated from Russian.

Awards

  • Debut Prize from the International Pokolenie (Generation) Foundation (2001) for Десять серий о войне (Ten Episodes About the War)[52][53]

Notes

  1. ^ On 31 May 2018 it appeared that the fact that Babchenko's grandfather was born in the Ukrainian SSR might fast track Babchenko for Ukrainian citizenship.[10]
  2. ^ According to the Czech Interior Ministry Babchenko had not (there) applied for temporary or permanent residence or asylum in the Czech Republic.[22] A report in the Czech online portal Aktualne read that Babchenko had arrived in the Czech Republic in February 2017, but left a little less than six months after he lost the hope of obtaining a residence permit.[22]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "'Murdered' Russia journalist is alive". BBC News. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c d "No quiet on the Chechen front". The Guardian. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 30 May 2018. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Who was the Russian journalist shot dead in Kiev? Arkady Babchenko mini-profile". The Irish Times. Retrieved 1 June 2018. 
  4. ^ "When does a soldier's 'memoir' count as fact, and when as fiction?". The Independent. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2018. 
  5. ^ Roth, Andrew (29 May 2018). "Russian journalist and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko shot dead in Kiev". the Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2018. 
  6. ^ Carroll, Oliver (29 May 2018). "Russian journalist and Kremlin critic killed in Kiev". The Independent. Retrieved 30 May 2018. 
  7. ^ a b "Russian journalist shot dead in Kiev". BBC News. 29 May 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018 – via www.bbc.co.uk. 
  8. ^ a b "'Murdered' Ukrainian journalist walks into press conference". News.com.au. 31 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Приёмная мать из Москвы годами оформляет документы на детей". ОТР. 10 November 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2015. 
  10. ^ a b (in Ukrainian) Babchenko told about plans for the future and Ukrainian citizenship, Ukrayinska Pravda (31 May 2018)
  11. ^ a b Harding, Luke (30 May 2018). "How ex-soldier Arkady Babchenko became an enemy of the Kremlin". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2018. 
  12. ^ a b Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko is shot and killed in Kiev, Meduza (29 May 2018)
  13. ^ a b c "There's no coming home from war: Yuri Saprykin remembers Arkady Babchenko". Meduza. Retrieved 31 May 2018. 
  14. ^ a b c "A man made by war: Why we'll remember journalist and writer Arkady Babchenko". Meduza. Retrieved 31 May 2018. 
  15. ^ Sinatti, Piero (October 2011). "Chechnya: The Ghost of New Civil War" (PDF). Eastwest. 38: 60. 
  16. ^ Wright, Evan (17 February 2008). "The fog of war". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 31 May 2018 – via LA Times. 
  17. ^ "A soldier's memoir of Chechnya". 20 December 2007. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 31 May 2018 – via www.telegraph.co.uk. 
  18. ^ Fischer, Tibor (9 December 2006). "Review: Glas 40 – War and Peace". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2018. 
  19. ^ a b "Russian journalist Babchenko shot dead in Kyiv: All details". Ukrainian Independent Information Agency. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 2 June 2018. 
  20. ^ a b "Some Plane-Crash Reactions Prompt Calls For Soviet-Style Law On Dissent". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 28 December 2016.
  21. ^ a b Babchenko, Arkady (24 February 2017). "The 'unpatriotic' post on Facebook that meant I finally had to flee Russia". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2018. 
  22. ^ a b "Journalist Babchenko did not apply for residence or asylum – Czech Interior Ministry". Interfax-Ukraine. Retrieved 2 June 2018. 
  23. ^ "Российский журналист Аркадий Бабченко убит в Киеве" (in Russian). Euronews. 29 May 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018. 
  24. ^ "Russian Journalist Shot and Killed in Ukrainian Capital". The New York Times. 29 May 2018. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 30 May 2018 – via NYTimes.com. 
  25. ^ "Полиция назвала версией убийства Аркадия Бабченко его профессиональную деятельность". Meduza. Retrieved 2 June 2018. 
  26. ^ "Премьер-министр Украины: к убийству Бабченко причастна Россия" (in Russian). RL/RFE. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018. 
  27. ^ "В ФСБ сравнили обвинения в убийстве Бабченко с "делом Скрипаля"" (in Russian). Interfax. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018. 
  28. ^ "Arkady Babchenko: Gasps and cheers as 'murdered' journalist appears". BBC News. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2018. 
  29. ^ Oliphant, Roland (30 May 2018). "'Murdered' journalist Arkady Babchenko turns up alive after death staged to 'expose Russian plot'". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 30 May 2018 – via www.telegraph.co.uk. 
  30. ^ "Russian dissident journalist reported shot dead in Kiev appears at press conference". The Independent. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018. 
  31. ^ Roth, Andrew (30 May 2018). "Ukraine reveals it staged 'murder' of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2018. 
  32. ^ a b "Babchenko: I became involved in SBU's special operation month ago". KyivPost. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018. 
  33. ^ "Arkady Babchenko: Ukraine staged fake murder of journalist". BBC News. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018. 
  34. ^ Russian journalist and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko shot dead in Kiev, The Guardian (29 May 2018)
  35. ^ Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko shot dead in Kiev, Financial Times (29 May 2018)
  36. ^ a b "Arkady Babchenko's 'killing' polarises Ukraine and Russia". Al Jazeera. 1 June 2018. Retrieved 2 June 2018. 
  37. ^ a b Harding, Luke (31 May 2018). "Arkady Babchenko tells media he was taken to morgue for staged 'murder'". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2018. 
  38. ^ Journalist Babchenko alive: His "assassination" was SBU's special operation, Ukrainian Independent Information Agency (30 May 2018)
  39. ^ Organizer of Babchenko 'murder' detained in Kyiv, Interfax-Ukraine (30 May 2018)
  40. ^ (in Ukrainian) Babchenko's "killer" collaborated with the SBU, Ukrayinska Pravda (30 May 2018)
  41. ^ SBU chief says organizer of attempt on Babchenko planned to kill 30 people in Ukraine, Interfax-Ukraine (30 May 2018)
  42. ^ "Ukraine condemned for faking murder". BBC. 31 May 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2018. 
  43. ^ Harding, Luke (31 May 2018). "Arkady Babchenko's fake murder: questions that need answering". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2018. 
  44. ^ a b "Arkady Babchenko: Suspect remanded in reporter's hoax death case". BBC News. 1 June 2018. Retrieved 2 June 2018. 
  45. ^ "Lutsenko, Hrytsak to Western diplomats: Special operation on Babchenko allowed to receive information on other potential victims". Interfax-Ukraine. 1 June 2018. Retrieved 2 June 2018. 
  46. ^ Walker, Shaun (5 June 2018). "Ukraine's president defends faked murder of Russian journalist". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2018. 
  47. ^ Musafirova, Olga (1 June 2018). "«Какой я бандит?!» – Организатор «убийства» Бабченко на суде неожиданно заявил о работе на контрразведку Украины". Новая газета (in Russian). Retrieved 7 June 2018. 
  48. ^ Nemtsova, Anna; Dickey, Christopher (6 June 2018). "How That Journalist's Faked Murder Exposed Russia's Gangsters and Spies". Daily Beast. Retrieved 7 June 2018. 
  49. ^ Mironenko, Peter (2 June 2018). "The major stories you need to understand Russia (An insider view, in 5 minutes)". The Bell. Retrieved 7 June 2018. 
  50. ^ Кокорева, Мария; Солопов, Максим (1 June 2018). "Компания экс-депутата Думы объяснила связь с фигурантом «дела Бабченко»". РБК (in Russian). Retrieved 6 June 2018. 
  51. ^ "Про «пятый пункт» и пятую колонну". The New Times. 14 April 2014. 
  52. ^ "Биография Аркадия Бабченко" (in Russian). TASS. Retrieved 31 May 2018. 
  53. ^ "В Екатеринбурге состоялась презентация книги юного писателя, инвалида детства" (in Russian). Православие.Ru. 22 March 2005. Retrieved 31 May 2018. 

External links

  • "Аркадий Бабченко: «Оружие не возьму больше никогда»". BBC. 7 April 2008. Archived from the original on 30 October 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
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