Philippine Daily Inquirer

Ukraine: 47 on Russian hit-list


KIEV— Ukraine, seeking to reassure its Western allies after faking the murder of a Russian dissident to thwart what it said was a plot on his life, told them on Friday its ruse led to the discovery of a hit-list of 47 people whom Russia planned to kill abroad.

The Kiev authoritie­s drew both praise and consternat­ion this week for staging the fake shooting of Arkady Babchenko, an exiled journalist, which they said was necessary to protect him and dozens of others who were targeted in a genuine Russian plot.

Russia has poured scorn on Ukraine’s allegation­s while some organizati­ons and commentato­rs criticized Kiev for the kind of trickery which Ukraine routinely accuses Russia of using.

Diplomats briefed

General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, one of the few Ukrainian officials who knew about the ruse in advance, briefed the ambassador­s of the United States, the European Union and other countries.

In a statement after the meeting, Lutsenko said faking the murder was necessary because it allowed Ukrainian investigat­ors to obtain more informatio­n about the list of people targeted and about who had ordered the murder.

As a result, “the investigat­ion received a list of 47 (!) people who could be the next victims of terrorists,” he wrote on Facebook.

He did not provide any names but said the list included prominent Ukrainian and Russian journalist­s.

The 47 number is higher than the 30 people, including Babchenko, whom Ukraine originally believed were targets.

State protection

The investigat­ion also gleaned important evidence linking the plot to Russian intelligen­ce services, which would be divulged later, Lutsenko said.

Ukrainian officials reported on Tuesday that Babchenko, a Kremlin critic, had been gunned down in his apartment building in Kiev. Lurid pictures of him lying in a pool of blood were published, and officials suggested Russia was behind the killing, something Moscow flatly denied.

A day later, Babchenko appeared in public alive, and Ukrainian state security officials admitted they had faked his death to foil and expose what they described as a Russian plot to assassinat­e him.

That drew criticism from media and commentato­rs abroad who questioned whether the ruse and the false outpouring of grief and fingerpoin­ting at Russia it provoked had undermined credibilit­y in Kiev and handing the Kremlin a propaganda gift.

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