Suspect in Babchenko Assassination Plot Tied to Russia

June 2, 2018
Vyacheslav Pivovarnik, said to be an officer of the so-called "Putin Foundation." Social media photo via The Bell

The independent Russian publication The Bell has published their findings regarding a suspect in the assassination plot against Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko.

Suspect in Babchenko Assassination Plot Tied to Russia

Social media profile of Vyacheslav Pivovarnik 

As we have reported, Russian blogger Arkady Babchenko, who fled to Ukraine to escape death threats in Russia, took part in a sting operation by Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and was revealed to be alive this week. The feigned death and “fake news” reported of his murder sparked controversy about the methods used and a denunciation of the Ukrainian authorities.

The Bell is a publication edited by Yelizabeta Osetinskaya who was fired from the Russian daily news service RBC for writing about President Vladimir Putin’s involvement in the Panama Papers’ stories. She went to Stanford University as a fellow for a year in 2016-2017, and she and her colleagues launched The Bell.

The Bell has made the claim that a suspect who supposedly worked at “the Putin Foundation” has been tied to the assassination plot. But as Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe has reported in Polygraph, it is not clear if such an organization exists as such. No foundation called formally “the Putin Foundation” is known in Russia, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denied its existence.

It might be that the reference is to the Russian Presidential Administration or the Presidential Council on Human Rights and the Development of Civil Society and its well-documented program to give grants to civic projects, or perhaps the foundation of an oligarch close to Putin, but this needs clarification.

The following is a translation by The Interpreter of their findings about the suspects so far.

“Putin Foundation Officer”: Who is Vyacheslav Pivovarnik, Who Was Connected to the Assassination Attempt on Babchenkov

By Pyotr Mironenko and Vladimir Motorin
Boris German, suspected of organizing the “assassination” of journalist Arkady Babchenko, arrested Thursday [May 31] in Kiev, named a person who, in his words, is behind the “attempt on the life” of Arkady Babchenko. He is Vyacheslav Pivovarnik, who “in the private Putin Foundation is responsible for Ukraine and terrorist attacks.” The Bell has learned that Pivovarnik is connected to Russia.
As Interfax-Ukraine reports, at a court hearing Thursday, German stated:

“A very long-time acquaintance, who now lives in Moscow, approached me and in the process of talking with him it came out that he was involved in the Putin Foundation in the organization of disorders in Ukraine. This fact was reported to the head of counterintelligence.”

According to German, counterintelligence gave him the authorizations to study this connection, to learn how the money comes into Ukraine.

The Ukrainian TV channel Hromadske broadcast another quotation from German, in which he cites the first and last names of the person who approached him:

“Vyacheslav Pivovarnik is responsible for [the topics of] Ukraine and terrorist attacks at the private Putin Foundation. I knew him back when he lived in Ukraine. The contact at the Kremlin is Pivovarnik.”

Business Trainer and Partner of National Patriots
o The SPARK Interfax data base has information only about one man with such a name — Vyacheslav Aleksandrovich Pivovarnik. The person with that first name, patronymic and last name directed or owned shares in five Ukrainian legal persons [corporations], including 50% in the Public Security Service of Ukraine, Ltd., the second co-founder of which was Sergey Yeremeyevich Deyev. A person with that exact same name last figured in the media as a member of the Ukrainian Old Believers and is called an expert for the Russian Fund for National and International Security. 
o According to SPARK, this fund is headed by a former Soviet general and intelligence propagandist, Leonid Shershnev (who died in late 2014). He was also the founder of the nationalist fund called Russians, and the Center to Aid Compatriots from Novorossiya and Ukraine”. [Novorossiya is the term used by the Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine given to a putative entity in part based on historical borders made up of parts of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia–The Interpreter.]
On the Odnoklassniki [Classmates] social network, there is a profile of a Vyacheslav Pivovarnik, born 1984. He studied at Uzhgorod State Institute for Informatics and the Kiev Polytechnical Institute. Among Pivovarnihk’s friends is Boris German.
A more detailed biography of Pivovarnik is desribed on the site There he is called a managing partner of the company TALENTKAPITAL. Telentkapital, Ltd among Pivovarnik’s companies in SPARK. Judging from the company’s Twitter account, in 2009-2010, it was involved in business trainings in Kiev. Pivovarnik’s profile in LinkedIn is shown there as well, but at publication time, it had been removed. Pivovarnik’s profile was removed in VKontakte as well, but in the aggregators’ data cache from social networks it can be seen that the last place of residence in the account was shown as St. Petersburg.
Rogozin Associate’s Company
o In 2012-2016, Vyacheslav Pivovarnik, according to SPARK, was also the general director of the Ukrainian company Ruskon-Ukraina, Ltd. The owner of the company was a foreign company, Enervi Trade Services, Ltd. In the registry of British companies, there is a company called NRV TRADE SERVICES, ltd., the director of which is shown as Boris German.
o Ruskon-Ukraine is a joint venture with Ruskon, a Russian operator of container freight, as the site news indicates.
The email address shown there as a contact is The owner of the Russian Ruskon is a businessman named Sergei Shishkarev, a former State Duma deputy.
RBC called him an associate, and The Insider called him a “close friend” of former Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin.
The news of the Ukrainian joint venture dated June 1, 2012 on Ruskon’s site has disappeared, but it can be found in Google cache.

UPDATE: According to a representative of the Russian Ruskon, in 2012-2013, the company held negotiations about the creation of the joint venture in Ukraine, but “in connection with the lack of economic feasibility,” it was not created in fact, and “no legal actions in that connection were undertaken.”

“When it became clear that the negotiations would not end with anything, we warned our counteragents of a ban on the use of both the name RUSKON and references to us. The announcement about the creation of the joint venture was placed by RUSKON on their site at the time when the negotiations were held. We did not have and do not have a relationship with the domain,” a company representative told The Bell.

In a related article, The Bell reported that Boris German admitted that he was working for Ukrainian counterintelligence.
Tsymbalyuk [the alleged assassin — The Bell] was chosen for his mission by counterintelligence, because he was known from his activity during time in the ATO [Anti-Terrorism Operation in Donbass–The Interpreter]. He is a priest, and never in his life would kill another person, especially an unarmed one.”
Chief Military Prosecutor of Ukraine Ruslan Kravchenko said the prosecution learned of the suspect’s possible confidential cooperation with counterintelligence only at the court hearing and intended to verify the information.
But these statements contradict simple logic, since the suspect does not know that the department of counterrintelligence is part of the Ukrainian Security Service, Kravchenko added.

Shevchenkovsky District Court of Kiev selected arrest as the measure of restraint for German for two months. His lawyer said he would appeal this decision.

Translated by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick