Following the shocking revelation on May 30 that the murder of dissident Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko was staged as part of a special operation by Ukraine’s security service, the main suspect in custody, Ukrainian businessman Boris German, told authorities he was working with Ukrainian counter-intelligence as a double agent.
German said he received orders to organize the murder of Russian dissidents in Ukraine from a man named Vyacheslav Pivovarnik, who told him that he worked for “a private Putin foundation, organizing unrest in Ukraine.” When asked about this foundation, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that no such foundation exists in Russia.
Peskov is very likely correct that no entity known as “Putin’s foundation” or “Putin’s private foundation” exists in Russia. The evidence remains murky. However, if the conversation took place, it is possible that Pivovarnik was trying to tell German that he had with connections to the Russian presidential administration, or simply implying that the entity had direct authorization from Putin. It’s also important to note that German is under arrest for organizing the murder of a dissident journalist. There are a number of instances of attacks and murders of journalists who have written reports critical of the Russian government. Babchenbko, himself, fled Russia in the face of death threats.
An investigation by The Bell, a Russian news outlet, found that Pivovarnik had shares in several Ukrainian businesses, one of them called the Center for Assistance to Compatriots from Novorossiya and Ukraine. Novorossiya is the name used in a Kremlin project to dismantle Ukraine and is based on the historical name for part of what is now southeast Ukraine.
The Bell also found connections between German and Pivovarnik, who was the director of a company called Ruscon-Ukraine, which in turn was owned by a company whose director was German. The two were also friends on the Russian social network Odnoklassniki.
It is unlikely that the planned assassination of Babchenko that German allegedly discussed with Pivovarnik was connected to a publicly-known entity with a name like “Putin’s private foundation,” or any other name referring to the Russian president. This does not mean, however, that clandestine foundations linked to the Russian presidential administration or intelligence services don’t exist. Evidence from German and Ukrainian prosecutors may shed light on this.
And Peskov's assertion that the public information is "nothing more than innuendo" can only be corrected by disclosure of evidence by the Ukrainian security service and prosecutors.
As to the claim that German was working with Ukrainian counter intelligence operatives, the Ukrainian prosecutor says evidence his office has acquired refutes that notion.