The fake murder of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko caused sharp criticism. However, Deputy Head of Ukraine's Presidential Administration Kostiantyn Yeliseyev calls for understanding. This is stated in his interview with German daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel.
Q: The Ukrainian security service imitated the murder of journalist Arkady Babchenko, because a real attempt on his life was staged and the plan had to be exposed. Was it really the only way to save the journalist's life?
A: Many of our friends are trying to understand why this was done. It was Russia that began the so-called hybrid war against Ukraine. Ukraine lives every day with such a threat. Our security agencies are trying to protect Ukraine and the lives of its citizens.
According to our special services, there was no other way to protect the life of Arkady Babchenko and his family. Such a secret operation was the only possibility. In this way, our security forces managed to save his life.
Secondly, it was possible to identify and detain a probable killer.
Thirdly, they managed to establish a clear link between the accused person and Russia. Following the results of a special operation, our security agencies received a list of more than 40 people to be killed on the orders of Russian special services.
Q: Are they Ukrainian citizens?
A: Ukrainians and Russian citizens who live in Ukraine. Believe me, this list includes well-known journalists and politicians. Law enforcement officers have currently provided them with personal protection. So if you ask me if such secrecy was justified, if such a special operation was worth it, then my answer is yes. So we hope for understanding from our partners.
Q: Did Ukrainian security forces find evidence of a connection to Russia? If so, will it be made public?
A: Of course, we expect that the Ukrainian security authorities will in the near future provide society and the international community with clear evidence of the connection to Russia, as well as give answers to open questions - the sooner the better. The SBU head and the prosecutor general have already met with the ambassadors of the G7 countries and the EU and answered their questions. But we have to wait for the completion of the investigation before we get the answers to all questions.
Q: Finally, it's a political decision whether evidence will be made public or not…
A: In order to preserve the confidence of our foreign partners and journalists, the Ukrainian authorities are obliged to report on the outcome of the investigation and provide evidence of Russia's involvement. I hope this will happen in the near future.
Q: Does Ukraine risk losing its credibility on the international scene as a result of such an action?
A: I do not understand why everyone is talking about credibility now. We are doing what we have to do and what all governments are doing - we are protecting national interests and citizens' lives. In the case of Babchenko everything was done successfully. This operation should be praised.
Der Tagesspiegel is a daily newspaper founded in September 1945 in Berlin as a nationwide edition. A total of 109,444 copies were sold in 2018. The newspaper has about 220,000 readers.