The independent Russian publication The Bell has published their findings regarding a suspect in the assassination plot against Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko.
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
“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.”
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 ruscon-ukraine.com.ua,” a company representative told The Bell.
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