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Ukraine jails man for plotting to kill Russian reporter Babchenko

September 1, 2018

Ukraine said Saturday it had jailed a man who plotted an assassination attempt against a Russian journalist who sparked a worldwide outcry earlier this year by faking his own murder.

Ukraine security chief Vassyl Grytsak said a Kiev court had on Thursday sentenced Borys German, a Ukrainian citizen, to four-and-a-half years in prison after he was found guilty of helping to plot an attempt on the life of anti-Kremlin reporter Arkady Babchenko.

He said that German had pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

Babchenko hit international headlines in May by faking his own murder in collaboration with the Ukrainian authorities.

Kiev sent shockwaves through Ukraine and Russia by announcing in May that Babchenko had been shot dead at his home in a contract-style killing.

But at a news conference the next day, Babchenko reappeared in person, stunning the world and sparking anger among journalists and press freedom groups across the globe.

Kiev came under heavy criticism for staging the killing, but insisted that it was the only way to prevent a real assassination.

German, a weapons manufacturer, was arrested in May on suspicion of organising a murder attempt against Babchenko, after allegedly being recruited by Russian secret services.

Oleksiy Tsymbaliuk, a former Ukrainian Orthodox priest who fought against pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s east, said he had been approached by German and offered money to kill Babchenko.

Babchenko had left Russia in February 2017 after receiving death threats.

He has contributed to a number of media outlets including Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta and is an avid blogger.

He has accused Russian authorities of killing Kremlin critics and unleashing wars in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere.

Moscow has angrily denied any accusation of involvement in an assassination plot and said the staging of Babchenko’s murder was a “provocation” to discredit Russia.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.