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Kyiv Court Frees Man Jailed For Plotting Murder Of Exiled Russian Journalist Babchenko

Borys Herman attends a court hearing in Kyiv in May 2018.
Borys Herman attends a court hearing in Kyiv in May 2018.

KYIV -- A Ukrainian court has released from custody the man convicted of being recruited by Russia's secret services to organize a plot in 2018 to kill self-exiled Russian reporter and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko.

The Kyiv regional prosecutor's office told RFE/RL that the Kyiv Appeals Court ruled on November 13 that Borys Herman must be released due to his poor health.

No other details were provided.

Herman was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison by a court in Kyiv on August 30, 2018, after he pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with authorities.

In May 2018, Ukrainian authorities had announced that Babchenko was shot dead outside his Kyiv apartment.

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) then shocked reporters and the world, saying that Babchenko was still alive.

The SBU said it thwarted the planned killing by working together with Babchenko to fake his death.

Herman is alleged to have promised $40,000 to a would-be assassin for the killing of Babchenko.

The alleged would-be killer, a former Ukrainian monk and army veteran named Oleksiy Tsymbalyuk, said he went to the SBU after Herman approached him and worked with the agency to foil the plot.

Despite its apparent success, the SBU operation was strongly criticized by media watchdogs, journalists, and others who said it undermined the credibility of journalists and Ukrainian officials.

Babchenko announced earlier this month that he had left Ukraine for Israel because he feared for his safety after the election in April of Volodymyr Zelenskiy as president of Ukraine.

Relations between Moscow and Kyiv have been badly damaged by Russia's seizure of Crimea in 2014 and backing for separatist militants in a devastating war in eastern Ukraine.

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