‘Murdered’ Russian Journalist Shows Up Alive at Press Conference

Russian journalist Arkadiy Babchenko killed in Kiev

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who had been reported shot and killed in the Ukrainian capital Tuesday, has shown up at a news conference alive. Here's how the story unfolded.

Earlier today the Kremlin had described the allegation by Ukraine that it was behind the murder of Mr Babchenko as an anti-Russian smear.

Babchenko thanked the SBU for "saving his life", and apologised unreservedly to his partner who reportedly found him in a pool of blood after he'd been shot.

Babchenko, who has repeatedly faced death threats for his reporting, said he took part in the "special operation" to help catch the alleged mastermind of a real plot to kill him.

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 know that sickening feeling when you bury a colleague. I'm sorry you had to go through this, but there was no other way".

Babchenko was critical of Russia's annexation of Crimea and its operations in Syria, and was forced to flee Russian Federation in February 2017 because of threats to him and his family.

Mr Hrytsak said the SBU had identified a Ukrainian citizen who had been paid US$40,000 ($52,934) by Russian agents to organise the killing. "I did my job and I'm still alive". One day later, he appeared at a news conference in Kiev.

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"I want to congratulate his family, all of us and the entire world, which is watching it, and congratulate Babchenko with a third birthday", Gritsak wrote on his Facebook page.

"I was told a month ago".

He also said that a Ukrainian national, now detained, had planned to go to Russian Federation via a third country upon completing the contract.

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, condemned the murder of Ukrainian journalist Arkady Babchenko, which took place on 29 may in Kiev. He criticised Putin's annexation of Crimea and his support for the separatists of southeast Ukraine.

In late 2017, Babchenko wrote for The Guardian, saying: "I can tell you what political harassment feels like in [President Vladimir] Putin's Russian Federation".

Mr Babchenko, one of Russia's best-known war reporters, fled the country in February previous year after receiving death threats.

The plane, carrying 92 people, including dozens of Red Army Choir singers, dancers and orchestra members, crashed into the Black Sea on its way to Syria in December 2016, killing everyone on board.

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