Suspect in Babchenko "Murder" Case Claims SBU's Goal Was to Scare Journalists
14 September, 2018

The Arkady Babchenko saga may be getting its biggest twist since Ukraine had revealed the murder of the Russian journalist was a sting operation to uncover Kremlin’s plans to assassinate Babchenko and other public figures in Ukraine.

A man claiming to be Viacheslav Pivovarnik – who, according to the official investigation, ordered Babchenko’s murder – spoke on camera saying that the main reason Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) staged Babchenko’s murder was to “spread fear among journalists in Ukraine.” The SBU deny these allegations.

Photo credit: video screenshot 

“The current regime of President [Petro] Poroshenko is in a critical condition now,” the Ukrainian-speaking man who claims to be Pivovarnik says in the video. “In order to obtain power and justify his political and economic failures, [Poroshenko] needs to constantly demonstrate foreign aggression from Russia.”

“Pivovarnik” goes on to say that former Ukrainian acting president Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, and some other officials are planning “a military coup under the guise of Russian aggression in 2018.”

READ MORE: Who Ordered the Murder of Russian Journalist Arkady Babchenko?

The video alleging all this information was published on a Youtube account by the name of Viacheslav Pivovarnik on September 12. This is the first video to appear on the channel.

The man in the video claims that he is “not willing to stay silent” as there was an attempt to murder him and and he “doesn’t trust the SBU any longer.” He then explains that “last night” (which, according to date sequence, would be September 11), a mine was planted at the entrance to the building where his parents live in the city of Chop in western Ukraine. He says that he was visiting his parents in the city.

READ MORE: Who Is Arkady Babchenko, The Journalist Russia Wanted To Assassinate?

The mine exploded, he adds, but “thank God, nobody was injured.” It is unclear whether “Pivovarnik” is still in Chop during the recording. An explosion near a house in Chop was indeed reported to the police early on September 12.

In the video, “Pivovarnik” also claims that he’s been working for the SBU since 2010 when he was hired by Oleksandr Skrypalskyi, the then-deputy head of the SBU and head of the main intelligence department in the Defense Ministry.

His role was to recruit people to the SBU’s “slate club,” which consisted of SBU’s “highest-profile employees,” government workers and politicians. He was also later given the task to "penetrate the political and business circles in Russia, as well as to establish relations with Russia's State Security Service (FSB.)" The man claims the SBU can accuse him of many terror attacks because he's an easy target having worked in Moscow.

Skrypalskyi told Hromadske that he could have not possibly hired the man in 2010 because he’s been retired since 2008.

“It’s [either] low-skilled acting coming from Russia or Pivovarnik’s own schizophrenia,” he commented on the allegations made in the video.

READ MORE: What We Know About the Man Accused of Plotting Babchenko’s Murder

Olena Hitlianska, the SBU spokesperson, told Hromadske that the entire video is nonsense.

“You know what, I would suggest we don’t study this fake in such detail. In my opinion, it is completely fabricated by Russian security services: from the beginning to the end,” Hitlianska said during Hromadske’s live television program on September 13. “It’s [Russia’s] attempt to outweigh the reputation blow they received when [the SBU] uncovered their criminal intentions yet again.”

Hitlianska added that, according to the SBU’s information, Pivovarnik is in Russia.

“A person talks about being an SBU agent while being in Russia. Doesn’t it seem strange to you?” she asked.

Pivovarnik’s relation to the Babchenko case was first revealed by Borys Herman, the man who the Ukrainian government named to be the organizer of the murder and recently sentenced to 4 years and 6 months. Back in May, Herman alleged that Pivovarnik is his “long-time acquaintance” and the person “responsible for Ukraine and terror attacks within [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s private fund.”

Herman’s lawyer, Yevhen Solodko, also seemed to disprove the information given in the video.

“I don’t know who he is, I’ve never seen Pivovarnik. But when General Skipalskyi was in the office, this young man was a schoolboy. Maybe it’s during those young years he was hired?” Solodko said.

Hromadske tried to reach out to Pivovarnik’s sister, but her phone was switched off.

/By Maria Romanenko