Kiev court orders detention of suspect in plot to murder Russian journalist

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KIEV (Reuters) - A Kiev court granted a request by prosecutors on Thursday to detain a suspect for two months in what Ukrainian authorities say is a plot to murder Russian dissident Arkady Babchenko.

Borys Herman, the co-owner of a weapons manufacturer, appeared in court denying that there was ever any intent to kill Babchenko and saying that he had acted in Ukraine’s interests.

Babchenko collaborated with the Ukrainian security services to fake his own assassination on Tuesday before reappearing at a press briefing the next day.

Herman said he had been contacted by someone close to the Kremlin about plans to kill Babchenko but that he instead turned this information over to the Ukrainian authorities and worked on counter-intelligence operations with them.

“We knew perfectly well that there would be no killing,” he said. “This was done only for the benefit of Ukraine.”

Prosecutors said they had evidence that Herman had handed over $15,000 to pay someone to kill Babchenko.

Ukrainian authorities accuse Russia of trying to destabilize Ukraine through a series of targeted assassinations. The Kremlin called accusations of Russian involvement “the height of cynicism”.

One of Herman’s lawyers said he would appeal the decision to detain him.

Reporting by Olena Vasina and Natalia Zinets; writing by Matthias Williams; editing by David Stamp