Russian journalist and writer Arkady Babchenko, a long-time critic of Vladimir Putin’s regime, was assassinated in Kiev on Tuesday evening. According to several sources, including the Ukrainian site Ukrainskaya Pravda, Mr. Babchenko was shot three times in the back in the stairwell of his building in the Dniprovskiy district of the Ukrainian capital. He managed to get back to his apartment, where his wife found him bleeding and notified the emergency services. He died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
The 41-year-old father of one had fought in the Russian army during the two Chechen wars before working as a war reporter for the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets and NTV channel. He then moved closer to liberal publications, in particular Novaya Gazeta, the employer of another murdered journalist, Anna Politkovskaya. Mr. Babchenko had also told in several books his experience in the Russian armed forces, receiving several literary prizes.
Opposed to the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the war waged by Moscow in eastern Ukraine, he turned into a virulent critic of the regime of Vladimir Putin. He fled Russia in February 2017 after receiving death threats after a violent Internet campaign and on Russian television, where he was named a traitor and a fascist. « I’ve been scared for ten years, » he explained when he left. When you are a dissident in Russia, we can kill you, we can imprison you … »
For the past year, he has hosted a program on the Ukrainian TV channel ATR. He also continued to collaborate on several newspapers and wrote independently on social media. He also continued to cover the war in Donbass. Many of his colleagues paid tribute to him on Tuesday night, citing his professionalism and courage as a journalist.
In recent years, killings have increased in Ukraine, most often attributed by the authorities to Russia. Since the summer of 2016, car bombs and gun attacks targeted and killed Ukrainian security officials and Donbass war veterans.
In March 2017, Denis Voronenkov, a former Russian deputy living in exile in Kiev, was shot dead in the center of the Ukrainian capital. And in July 2016, the executive director of the site Ukrainskaya Pravda Pavel Sheremet, also of Russian nationality, died in the explosion of the car he was driving.