Sun, Jun 03, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Kiev says it uncovered a plot to kill 47

WORTH THE CONTROVERSY?A dozen diplomats from all over the world met with the Ukrainian prosecutor-general to discuss the staging of a Russian journalist’s murder

AFP, KIEV

Ukraine on Friday said that its sting operation involving the staged murder of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko had resulted in it uncovering a list of 47 people, mostly journalists, who were potential targets for further attacks.

The controversial operation, which involved top officials lying in public about Babchenko’s death, helped security services discover a list of 47 people, mainly Ukrainian and Russian emigre journalists, who “could be the next victims of terrorists,” Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko wrote on Facebook.

Lutsenko said they had all been informed and arrangements were being made for their safety.

Kiev-based journalist Matvei Ganapolsky, who works for Russian Echo of Moscow radio, told the station that he and another prominent journalist Evgeniy Kiselev had both been summoned by the Ukrainian security service and warned of a potential risk to their safety by its head Vasyl Grytsak and Lutsenko.

He was also shown material on the Babchenko attack that showed “this is all serious and a real attack was in fact being prepared, they were planning to kill him,” Ganapolsky said.

Earlier Ukrainian authorities said that the Russian secret services had envisaged killing not only Babchenko but some 30 others.

Ukrainian law enforcement chiefs including Lutsenko earlier on Friday met Western diplomats to brief them on Kiev’s decision to stage a contract-style killing of Babchenko, which has prompted widespread criticism.

About a dozen diplomats went to Lutsenko’s office for a meeting with him and Grytsak that lasted nearly two hours, AFP journalists saw.

The diplomats were told that staging Babchenko’s murder over more than 12 hours from Tuesday to Wednesday — with law enforcement officials and even the country’s president issuing false statements — allowed them to “prevent the journalist’s death,” the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General’s Office said in a statement.

The Ukrainian authorities were also able to “fully document the organizer’s criminal actions,” gaining information on “possible potential victims, against whom it is likely terror attacks and murders were being planned,” the statement said.

Lutsenko told diplomats his officers had carried out a “large-scale and complex operation” and the public would be informed of the details as far as possible during the criminal investigation.

Diplomats attended from the Group of Seven countries — the US, Germany, Canada, France, Britain, Italy and Japan — as well as Australia, Norway, the EU and Council of Europe.

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 way the murder was staged has attracted much criticism, particularly from organizations representing journalists, which questioned the need for such extreme tactics.

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