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The curious case of Arkady Babchenko

Mahmudur Rahman | June 14, 2018 00:00:00


All ye, including this scribe, in the habit of laughing at Mr. Donald Trump's pursed lips spitting out the words 'Fake News' are probably looking for somewhere to hide. No tweet has emanated from the Oval Office yet but the media really have been caught with their pants down. Then again, perhaps being found in such a compromising situation isn't unusual any more; especially in the '#MeToo' scenario.

The breaking news of political journalist and Vladimir Putin critic, Arkady Babchenko's reported gunning down and death on way to hospital in Ukraine and the following day appearing in front of the press to suggest it was part of a 'plan' rings disgustingly hollow. It was reported so convincingly, including a statement by Babchenko's wife, that Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was forced to make a statement that his country was in no way involved. In other words, he was denying something that never happened to begin with.

World media and the Ukrainian government have quite a bit of explaining to do, Mr Babchenko as well. Already it has become difficult to make out who is to be believed anymore.

Ukraine's government suggests it was a plan to expose the assassins, allegedly hired by Russia to bump Babchenko off for his tirade against Mr. Putin. That sounds precious! In the days when nerve agents are used, intelligence agencies have licence to kill authority and persons left lifeless on flimsier grounds, the concept of governments hiring assassins, though not impossible, is far-fetched.

Mr. Babchenko said he had told no one of the plan, not even his wife. If that is so, how could she have been quoted as saying she heard gunshots while bathing and came out to find her husband in a pool of blood. Agatha Christie's diminutive, portly creation, Hercule Poirot would have been hard put at to figure out this one. The Ukraine government's version is Babchenko was shot in the back while going to buy vegetables. Now that's some way from an ensuite bathroom. Or maybe, she was in a portable one. The predicament about a lie is that it tends to bloat.

Reading between the lines it is the second incident involving a Russian with a dissenting point of view from the establishment. The British government was lambasted for losing the propaganda war with Russia over Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia's nerve agent poisoning. Whether this was a counter of sorts does beg question. One thing clear is that even the world of misinformation and skull-drudgery is becoming very sloppy. Though not a footnote, it is more than interesting that the one incident that resulted in hundreds of diplomatic personnel being recalled and howls of 'sanctions' demands made, has petered out. Sergei Skripal is rumoured to be heading for a safer haven in the US, Russia doesn't want Yulia coming home and the much-hyped international investigation is floundering. Predictable? Perhaps. Embarrassing? Decidedly so.

With apologies to those uninitiated in Bangla literature Mr. Babchenko's case is reversely proportional to the what Sarat Chandra meant when he wrote: Kadombini moriya proman korilo she more nai. (Kadombini's death proved she had been alive).

mahmudrahman@gmail.com


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