'Murdered' Russian Journalist Turns Up Alive At News Conference

Sergei Bobylev  TASS

Sergei Bobylev TASS

A Kremlin critic who was reportedly shot and killed in Kiev has suddenly turned up alive at a news conference in Ukraine. Here's how the story unfolded. He was denounced by pro-government politicians in Russia over comments on social media about the Russian bombing of Aleppo in Syria's war, and over his characterisation of Russia as an aggressor towards Ukraine.

Original reports claimed Babchenko, a BBC News and Guardian contributor who was openly critical of Russia's relationship with Ukraine, had been shot to death in Kiev.

Arkady Babchenko, 41, appeared at a press conference in Kyiv after the Ukrainian security service (SBU) announced that his assassination had been staged to catch a would-be assassin.

Neither he nor Vasyl Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, provided details of how they staged Mr Babchenko's injuries or made his wife believe he was dead. "I've been at the funeral of many friends and colleagues, and I know this nauseous feeling".

"I am sorry, but there were no options here", Babchenko said at the presser.

To the applause and gasps of the press, Mr Babchenko took the floor and apologised to the friends and family who mourned for him who were unaware of the plan. "Law enforcement couldn't fail to understand that news of Arkady Babchenko's murder would bring pain to thousands of hearts around the world".

Babchenko apologized to his wife "for the hell she had to go through in the past two days".

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Journalist Arkady Babchenko fled his country in 2017 after learning that a campaign was being waged against him by Russian officials.

Speaking today, he said: "Apologies to my wife, Olechka".

He thanked the Ukrainian security services for saving his life and said he had no choice but to take part.

In his last Facebook post before he disappeared, Babchenko recalled an incident four years ago when he was meant to fly in a Ukrainian military helicopter in Ukraine's embattled Donbass region.

The former soldier criticised Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the Russian president's support for separatists in southeast Ukraine. The Ukrainian authorities are saying that in fact Russian intelligence services were behind a real plot. "The organiser was talking about killing another 30 people in Ukraine".

His reported murder touched off a war of words between Ukraine and Russian Federation, a flurry of condemnations from European capitals and Washington, and shivers through the journalistic communities in both countries.

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