Chechen police detained him, and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright expressed strong concern over him being detained as a possible enemy collaborator.
She had no qualms, however, about insurgents treating him as one of their own, when they exchanged their friend for three Russian soldiers.The story of the exchange is very murky to this day (as most stories involving Babitsky): either he wasn’t exchanged at all, or he was, but not by the people which he thought exchanged him… Whatever it was, soon after he was arrested with a forged passport in Makhachkala, immediately went on a hunger strike, was rapidly released on bail, taken to Moscow by the police minister’s plane, and ultimately got off with a fine.
At the press conference in the capital Babitsky said that Putin was personally involved in his case, and the goal was to chase Babitsky out of the country at all costs.In 2003 he was witness for the defense at the trial on Ahmed Zakayev’s extradition.In September 2004 – after the news of the hostage-taking in Beslan – he tried to fly to Ossetia to mediate for their release, but was detained at Vnukovo airport.
In August 2008 Babitsky sharply condemned “Russian aggression” in Georgia and by November 2009, he headed the “Echo of the Caucasus” – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty service broadcasting for in Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia [RFE/RL itself is a Cold War era, CIA founded/funded US mouthpiece in East Europe]
In March 2014, Babitsky unexpectedly supported the reunification of Crimea with Russia in his personal blog (while simultaneously condemning Putin’s treatment of dissidents).
Because of this he was temporarily suspended from working at RFE/RL; however, his materials eventually reappeared on air in “Echo of the Caucasus”.
But – apparently – “Radio Liberty” has very little patience for free thought.
In September 2014 Babitsky was fired, but he only recently elaborated on the reasons, in an interview to a Prague newspaper “Lidove noviny”.
According to Babitsky, he happened to shoot a video where locals in the Donbass are exhuming four bodies – two civilians and two rebels. However, the locals were convinced that the dead were not rebels at all.
“They were killed by pro-government paramilitary fighters from the “Aidar” battalion… I posted the video without comment and sent it to the Moldovan editorial office of “Radio Liberty”. After material was placed on the site, pro-Kiev nationalists from Ukrainian RFE office had a massive fit… There was a terrible scandal … But the video I posted – that was only what I really saw with my own eyes… ”
Finding this video today it is impossible; it was removed from the “Radio Liberty” website and somehow purged even from YouTube.
So, ultimately, Babitsky’s struggle for freedom was put to an end by “Radio Liberty”.
A fitting outcome, don’t you think?