Alexey Tsymbalyuk, the Ukrainian veteran who was allegedly hired to murder Arkady Babchenko, has granted an interview to the BBC’s Russian-language service, revealing that he and Boris German (the man arrested for working as a Russian agent) were first acquainted in 2015, when he supplied Ukrainian volunteers with various gun accessories.
Tsymbalyuk says German invited him to lunch in early April, when he supposedly told him about a group of people who needed to be killed “by autumn.” The group mostly comprised Russians who German allegedly said were guilty of interfering in Ukraine and elsewhere. German never produced a full list, but Tsymbalyuk says he mentioned the name of journalist Arkady Babchenko. German supposedly talked about 30 people at first, and then 60 people. He apparently never mentioned who was behind the plot, but Tsymbalyuk says he's certain that Russia is responsible. He also says he’s disinclined to believe German’s claims that he was actually working with Ukrainian counterintelligence.
Tsymbalyuk says he never received a hit list with 47 names (leaked by the Ukrainian media and verified by Ukraine’s National Security Agency), speculating that investigators got it “from German’s correspondence with the [murder plot’s] organizer.” The Ukrainian veteran says he only knew the names of the next two targets.
Immediately after German approached him about the job, Tsymbalyuk says he reported the criminal plot to Ukrainian national security agents, who recruited him for a special operation that ended with the staging of Babchenko’s murder on May 29. Tsymbalyuk says he actually went to Babchenko’s apartment on the day of the hoax, and waited around for “10-15 seconds,” in case he was being followed. He says he even teased Babchenko, wishing him good health.
Boris German, now jailed and awaiting trial, has confessed to hiring a Ukrainian war veteran to kill Arkady Babchenko, but he insists that he was cooperating with Ukrainian counterintelligence against an old acquaintance in Russia supposedly working for a “private Putin foundation” to sow unrest in Ukraine. Prosecutors have said German’s testimony contradicts the case evidence, but they’re looking into his claims.