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Transcript: Arkady Babchenko's Remarks After SBU Sting Operation

Arkady Babchenko at the SBU in Kyiv on May 30
Arkady Babchenko at the SBU in Kyiv on May 30

A partial transcript of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko's remarks at SBU headquarters in Kyiv on May 30. Ukrainian security officials said they had faked the death of the dissident Russian journalist in an effort to catch people it says were involved in a Russian plot to kill him:

"Good afternoon. I’ll be speaking Russian. Apologies for that.

"First, I’d like to apologize for everything you’ve had to go through. I’ve been at the funeral of many friends and colleagues, and I know this nauseous feeling. Sorry for imposing this upon you, but there was no other way.

"Special apologies to my wife for the hell she’s been through these two days. Olya, excuse me, please, but there was no other option.

"I’d also like to thank the Ukrainian Security Service for saving my life. ... This operation has been prepared for two months. I was told about this a month ago.

"Over this month, I’ve seen the guys work hard like bulls. We’ve been in constant contact and planned our actions. The result was this special operation that ended up in arresting the guy. He is in custody. Or has been detained. I don’t know the details.

"The crime is a proven fact. All the evidence is there and, most importantly, apart from saving my life, for which I’m very thankful, bigger and more serious terrorist attacks have been prevented. These terrorist attacks were prepared thoroughly.

"A week or two ago, Russia announced that [Islamic State] were preparing terrorist attacks before the Champions League [final in Kyiv]. I think it was going to be my [assassination].

"What else to say?

"As I said, two months ago I was approached and told that my assassination has been commissioned and money allocated. Forty-thousand dollars. It turns out I’m quite valuable!

"I was shown my passport details and photo that exists only in my passport. I had this photo taken when I was 25. It exists only in my passport and [Russian] registry office. So it was clear that this information comes from Russian governmental services. Only special forces can obtain that kind of information.

"I was offered to take part in this operation. There were no other options: Either we do it or we do it anyway. I agreed and we prepared this operation for a month. The guys worked hard like bulls.

"There was pressure from [those who ordered the killing]. They only gave three weeks to do it."

Translation by Petr Serebryani

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