Diary

The Ridiculous Response From Reporters Without Borders

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Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
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By now, we all know the story about Arkady Babchenko, a Russian journalist who expatriated to Ukraine for fear of his life because he is a Putin critic. Yesterday, we all thought he was shot dead, but today we learned otherwise.

Arkady Babchenko sent shock waves around the world when he arrived at a news conference on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after he was reported dead.

The head of Ukraine’s security services, Vasyl Hrytsak, said the elaborate sting was set up to catch hitmen paid by Russian forces.

This is nothing but good news. A journalist turns out to be alive and the people plotting his murder were exposed, one of them arrested. However, Reporters Without Borders–an organization dedicated to the freedom and safety of journalists–has a different idea.

“This journalist’s reappearance is a great relief but it was distressing and regrettable that the Security Service of Ukraine played with the truth,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Was such a scheme really necessary? There can be no grounds for faking a journalist’s death.”

No grounds? Seriously? I’ll tell you what there are no grounds for. There are no grounds for a foreign power to hire a hitman to murder an expat Russian journalist who was trying to stay safe in another country. Ukrainian authorities withheld the truth for a day. Meantime, Russia Today, Sputnik News and other Putin propaganda outlets withhold the truth all the time, every single day, multiple times per day. RSF’s sentiments could not be more misplaced.

The Committee to Protect Journalists was a little more cautious:

“We are relieved that Arkady Babchenko is alive,” said Nina Ognianova, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “Ukrainian authorities must now disclose what necessitated the extreme measure of staging news of the Russian journalist’s murder. CPJ is investigating this unprecedented situation and will have further comment once we have more details.”

It seems to me that it was an “extreme measure” for Putin to send his security service goons into a foreign land to hire an assassin to murder a journalist. It also seems to me that an “extreme measure” such as this might well justify an extreme response such as faking a reporter’s murder for a day.