When in December 2016 a Russian plane crashed, killing dozens of Red Army Choir singers, dancers and musicians, a wave of national grief seized the people of Russia. The loss of the orchestra, en route to play in Syria, wiped out the cream of a generation of young musicians.
Amid the general mourning, one voice struck a jarring note. In a Facebook post, a Russian journalist named Arkady Babchenko bragged that he would not be mourning the loss because, he lied, Russian jets were attacking the people of Aleppo.
His wilful misrepresentation of Moscow’s fraternal support for the Syrian goverment’s resistance against western-backed jihadi terror, coupled with his crass insensitivity in choosing this moment to pour his reactionary bile onto the Red Army Choir victims, sparked a wave of public revulsion on social media.
Eventually, Babchenko fell foul of the law, facing criminal prosecution for posting calls on his blog urging people to attack the police during protest rallies. Feeling the heat and deciding that he lacked friends in Russia, Babchenko headed off for pastures new.
After stopping for a while in Israel, where he found time to write a number of Facebook posts praising the apartheid state for its supposed ‘diversity’, he found a natural pole of attraction in the pathologically Russophobic imperialist-backed junta (sorry, internationally-recognised government) in Kiev and made his new home in Ukraine.
There he might be expected to have lived out his useless days under the patronage of the junta, firing off the occasional slander against all things Russian. Instead, however, on Tuesday 29 May, Kiev chief of police Andriy Krishchenko made the dramatic announcement that Babchenko had been shot dead in his apartment block, bleeding to death en route to the hospital.
An adviser to the interior minister added some mournful detail, saying that the assassin had waited on the stairs and shot the victim in the back as he was going to buy bread. Corroborative photos were displayed, apparently showing Babchenko’s grisly corpse covered in blood.
On Tuesday night, the Ukrainian prime minister Volodymr Groysman posted that he was convinced that “the Russian totalitarian machine” had not forgiven Babchenko for his “honesty”. The same message played in a thousand permutations echoed around all the imperialist media.
Just as happened with the Skripal case, social media were instantly awash with lamentations and accusations, jabbing an accusing finger at the Kremlin with never a pause for breath or reflection.
Then, on Wednesday 30 May, the junta’s spy department, the SBU, revealed out of the blue that Babchenko was in fact alive, that the SBU had helped him to stage his own death, that a few simple props like a bucket of pig’s blood and a shirt with faked ‘bullet holes’ in the back had sufficed to con the wilfully gullible media, and that the government had been lying through its teeth to friend and foe alike.
The junta claimed that the hoax was designed to pre-empt some other, ‘genuine’ assassination plan, but so far every regime account has been riddled with inconsistencies and bereft of evidence. By putting on this grisly cabaret the Kiev junta has at a stroke destroyed every last shred of its credibility in the eyes of the world.
Interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko admitted that he knew Babashenko was alive and well at the very moment when he was going on social media to blame Russia for the ‘assassination’.
By collaborating with the SBU in staging this farce, Babchenko has exposed the hollowness of his preferred posture as a ‘courageous investigative journalist maintaining his journalistic independence at all costs’. Instead, he stands revealed as a venal agent of the SBU gestapo, happy to tell any lie that is required of him, even down to faking his own death.
By his actions Babchenko has helped to blow the cover of other agents provocateurs who find it convenient to trade as journalists.
The president of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Philippe Leruth, noted: “By spreading false evidence about his murder, Ukrainian authorities have seriously eroded the credibility of information, and their communication runs the risk of being considered a propaganda operation,” and incredulously asked: “Was it really necessary to stage his death in order to stop an alleged attack?”
Leruth’s colleague at the IFJ, General Secretary Anthony Bellanger, noted: “This is not a simple journalistic case anymore, but rather a complete circus orchestrated by military figures and a journalist threatened with death for several weeks,” adding: “it is intolerable to lie to journalists around the world and to mislead millions of citizens”. (Babchenko case: intolerable and unacceptable by Sergei Supinsky, AFP, 31 May 2018)
Further evidence of the way that the SBU tries to cajole or threaten journalists into acting as its agents has surfaced around the bogus prosecution for treason of the deputy editor-in-chief of RIA Novosti Ukraine, Kirill Vyshinsky.
A fellow journalist, Irina Vysokovich, arrived in Ukraine to cover the trial, but en route to the court found herself bundled into a car and driven to SBU headquarters, where she was subjected to several hours of interrogation.
Only after she had promised to spy on her colleagues and gone on camera to say that she had no complaints about the SBU would they let her go. They gave her the code name ‘Mila’ and told her that she would be “reached out to”. (Spy scandal in Ukraine: Special forces tried to recruit RIA Novosti reporter, asking to leak data, RT, 3 June 2018)
Imperialism is the source of terrorism
If the Kiev regime were really concerned about stopping assassinations and terror attacks, it would worry less about the Kremlin and look a little closer to home.
In a rambling and incoherent statement, Babchenko muttered about “other, probably more large-scale and serious terrorist attacks, which were being arranged in earnest”, adding: “This is why a week ago they said in Russia that some Isis terrorists were planning attacks before the Champions League. I suppose that was supposed to be me.” (Ukraine’s story of thwarting journalist’s murder starts to fall apart, RT, 31 May 2018)
Whether the threat of a jihadist attack on the games was real or imagined is unknown (the final of the Champions League passed off without incident). For what it’s worth, The Sun certainly believed it, publishing what purported to be menacing warnings posted on an Islamic State website.
What is well documented, however, is the role that Chechen and other jihadists have played in launching terror attacks against the people of the Donbass (in eastern Ukraine, presently fighting for independence from the fascistic coup government) on behalf of the Kiev junta. An article posted in 2015 on the Intercept website reported that Ukraine had become an important stop-off point for the ‘brothers’.
“In Ukraine, you can buy a passport and a new identity. For $15,000, a fighter receives a new name and a legal document attesting to Ukrainian citizenship … After his release from prison in Azerbaijan, Ruslan became the eternal wanderer, a rebel – and one of the brothers now in Ukraine.”
The article went on to explain how Ukrainian ‘volunteers’ had earlier travelled to Chechnya to fight the Russians, and now the jihadi ‘brothers’ were returning the favour.
“Munayev, now head of the Dudayev battalion, decided the brothers should fight in Ukraine. ‘I am here today because my brother, Isa, called us and said, It’s time to repay your debt,’ Ruslan says. ‘There was a time when the brothers from Ukraine came [to Chechnya] and fought against the common enemy, the aggressor, the occupier.’
“That debt is to Ukrainians like Oleksandr Muzychko, who became one of the brothers, even though he never converted to Islam. Muzyczko, along with other Ukrainian volunteers, joined Chechen fighters and took part in the first Chechen war against Russia. He commanded a branch of Ukrainian volunteers, called ‘Viking’, which fought under [a] famed Chechen militant leader …
“For many muslims, like Ruslan, the war in Ukraine’s Donbass region is just the next stage in the fight against the Russian empire.”
The article concluded with an anecdote which perfectly illustrates the state of Russophobe harmony that prevails between Ukrainian fascism and Islamist terror, transcending all barriers of race and faith.
“Ruslan finally drove me to see his ‘older brother’, to Isa Munayev, and his secret base located many miles west of Donetsk. Riding in an old Chrysler that Ruslan bought in Poland, we drove for several hours, on potholed and snowy roads. Ruslan had glued to the car one of the emblems of Ukraine’s ATO, the so-called Anti-Terrorist Operation, which includes both soldiers and volunteers in the fight against separatists [sic].
“The bumper sticker allows him to drive through police traffic stops without being held up – or if he is stopped, they won’t demand bribes as they do from other drivers. The ATO sticker, Ruslan’s camouflage uniform, and a gun in his belt are enough to settle matters. Policemen salute him and wish him good luck.” (In midst of war, Ukraine becomes gateway for jihad by Marcin Mamon, The Intercept, 26 February 2015)
If the Kiev regime wants to root out terrorist threats, it should first take a look at its friends – or simply glance in the mirror. Owing its very existence to a bloody coup, the imperialist-backed junta survives on a drip-feed of IMF loans from the west whilst staving off its own collapse by committing daily acts of terror against the people of the Donbass, and by subjecting Ukrainian society as a whole to the ravages of IMF-dictated austerity and the most repressive police state despotism. It won’t make old bones.