Kiev’s fake Babchenko murder erodes media & information credibility – Intl Journalist Federation
“The profession’s aim is to seek the truth and … any manipulation of information can dramatically damage media credibility as well as journalism as a whole,” the IFJ said in a statement on Thursday. The staged murder of Babchenko by Ukrainian authorities, who was “killed” on May 29 only to reappear a day later during the secret service’s press conference, reinforced “the idea of journalists and politicians conspiring together,” the organizations’ president Philippe Leruth said.
“By spreading false evidence about his murder, Ukrainian authorities have seriously eroded the credibility of information, and their communication runs the risk of being considered a propaganda operation. Was it really necessary to stage his death in order to stop an alleged attack?” Leruth wondered.
The stunt was also inappropriate due to the fact that “killers and their backers” of journalists who were indeed assassinated, such as Pavel Sheremet, have never been identified by Ukraine’s authorities. While IJF condemns the killings and “fights against impunity, which benefits journalists’ murderers,” it also advocates transparency of information, Leruth stressed.
Moreover, the whole affair was “a complete circus orchestrated by military figures and a journalist,” and it was not “simple journalistic case anymore,” IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger argued. The stunt misled journalists worldwide and “millions of citizens that were rightly moved by this so-called murder,” he added.
Ukrainian authorities rushed to defend the stunt, with Interior Minister Arsen Avakov stating he was surprised with “pseudo-moral” criticism from abroad and that the secret services achieved with the operation “enough … to be satisfied.”
The “murder” and “resurrection” of Babchenko have, however, caused a massive outcry among journalists and media freedom organizations worldwide. While elated with his reappearance, many condemned the deliberate spread of false information.
“Relieved that Arkady Babchenko is alive!” OSCE’s representative on media freedom Harlem Desir tweeted. “I deplore the decision to spread false information on the life of a journalist. It is the duty of the state to provide correct information to the public.” Similar statements came from Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
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