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.
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.
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.