Boris German, the middleman in an alleged Russian plot to kill Russian journalist and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko, added some more bizarre twists to an already complex tale on May 31.
Appearing in Shevchenkivsky District Court of Kyiv, German, 50, the acting director of Ukrainian-German private arms production company Schmeiser, said he was working for a Russian citizen, who in turn had said he was working for a private fund of Russian President Vladimir Putin set up to destabilize Ukraine.
But German also claimed that he was a double agent, and had been cooperating with Ukraine’s SBU security service for six months.
The court ordered German to be held in a detention center for two months ahead of his trial. No bail was granted.
If German’s claim is true, that makes two double agents in the case so far: Speaking on May 30 at the press conference where Babchenko sensationally appeared before the press alive and well, after having been reported murdered, Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko said the journalist’s “killer” had in fact been cooperating with the SBU since allegedly being hired by German.
The SBU said they had faked Babchenko’s death as it was the only way to persuade those who had ordered his murder that the hit had indeed been carried out, and to reveal themselves. They also said this had allowed them to gain access to a list of 30 Russian dissidents living in exile in various European countries whom they alleged the Kremlin intended to kill. However, no proof of this has yet been shown, bringing Ukraine’s credibility into question.
German named Russian citizen Viacheslav Pivovarnik as the alleged contractor and overseer of Ukrainian issues “for a private fund of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.”
“An old friend of mine who lives in Moscow contacted me, and during the conversation it emerged that he worked for a private fund of Putin, organizing operations to destabilize Ukraine. I immediately reported this information to the counterintelligence of Ukraine, because I thought it was in the competence of counterintelligence, not the SBU,” German said in court.
In fact, there is no separate counterintelligence agency in Ukraine. The SBU’s Department of Counter Intelligence manages counterintelligence operations in Ukraine.
German said that he knew the hired killer, Donbas war veteran Oleksiy Tsymbaluk, would have gone over to the SBU, but that he, German, needed to “pretend that he was still working for his contractor in Russia.”
“You needed proof of a Russian link to my murder? Here it is,” Babchenko wrote on Facebook on May 31.
However, earlier on May 31 German’s defense lawyer Yevgeniy Solodko wrote on Facebook that German’s correspondence with Tsymbaluk has no “mention of an order for murder from his client.”
German added that the SBU’s counterintelligence agents had tasked him with working as a double agent in order to discover how the Kremlin’s money flows into Ukraine.
Putin’s spokesperson Dmitri Peskov said German’s claim of Putin having a private fund for the destabilization of Ukraine was false. He described claims of there being Russian connections to Babchenko’s faked murder as “dirty insinuations.”
Prosecutors asked for German to be placed in custody for two months to give them time to check the claims he had made in court.
Solodko told the journalists after the court hearing on May 31 that he planned to file an appeal in five days.
During the court hearing, prosecutors said German had purchased a ticket to Milan on May 29, the day of “Babchenko’s murder.” He had intended to flee Ukraine on May 30 – the same day he was arrested in Kyiv, they said.
Solodko claimed that the trip had been long-planned, and German was supposed to meet with the management of the Beretta arms production company in Milan.
Prosecutors claimed German had paid $14,000 in advance to Tsymbaluk and also gave him $1,000 to purchase a gun.
German claimed that he knew there would be no assassination from the very beginning.
“We were both serving our country,” German said.
He added that his undercover work helped him and his handler in law enforcement discover a lot of interesting information about Kremlin-financed organizations and politicians in Ukraine.
He named Pivovarnik as his “contact in the Kremlin.”
Ukraine’s online database of businesses Opendatabot lists Pivovarkin as the co-owner of company Gromadyanska Sluzhba Bezpeky Ukrainy, or the Civil Security Service of Ukraine. He owns 50 percent of the company’s share capital of Hr 1,000.
The Justice Ministry registry in turn lists Pivovarnik as being a resident of the city of Chop, Zakarpattya Oblast, Ukraine.
The Civil Security Service of Ukraine is a private security company that also acts in the field of financial intermediation, the registry reads. The company is co-owned by Sergey Yeremeevych Deyev, a Kyiv Oblast resident.
Russian online news website Bell reported on June 1 Pivovarkin is a Russian businessman involved in at least five different businesses in Ukraine.
In 2012-2016 Pivovarnik was the CEO of the Ukrainian branch of Russian logistics company Ruskon, which is owned by Russian lawmaker Sergey Shyshkarev.
Shyshkarev is allegedly a close ally of former a deputy prime minister of Russia, Dmitri Rogozin.