Russian journalist and staunch Putin critic who was reported dead turns up ALIVE at news conference

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who had been reported shot and killed in the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday, has shown up at a news conference very much alive.

Vasily Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, said the agency faked Mr Babchenko’s death to catch those who are trying to kill him.

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko (C), who was reported murdered in the Ukrainian capital on May 29, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko (R) and head of the state security service (SBU) Vasily Gritsak attend a news briefing in Kiev (Reuters)
All smiles: Arkady Babchenko, who was reported murdered in the Ukrainian capital on May 29, apologised to his wife after faking his own death to help catch those who wanted him dead. (Reuters)

Kiev and national police had said Mr Babchenko, a strong critic of the Kremlin, was shot multiple times in the back at his apartment building and found bleeding by his wife.

Police claimed that the would-be assassin has now been seized as a result of the operation, having been ordered to execute experienced war reporter Mr Babchenko for £40,000.

The bizarre scenes were a shock to everyone – including Mr Babchenko’s wife, who received an apology from her husband for faking his own death.

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At a news conference in Kiev, Mr Babchenko told a stunned media: ‘Special apologies to my wife, Olechka. I am sorry, but there were no options here.

‘The operation took two months to prepare. I was told a month ago. As a result of the operation, one person has been captured.’

‘MY ONLY OPTION’ – THE FULL STATEMENT FROM BABCHENKO’S PRESS CONFERENCE:

The full statement made by Arkady Babchenko at his news conference in Kiev (Credit: @BBCMonitoring)

His elaborate plan did not, it would seem, go down too well with his colleagues either, who had mourned Babchenko and felt ‘down and out’ about his apparent death.

Simon Otrovsky, a journalist who worked alongside Babchenko, tweeted on Wednesday: ‘While I am very happy Arkady is alive I am also angry and confused because my fellow reporters and I spent yesterday posting and reading memories we shared of him and feeling very down and out.’


He added: ‘This was apparently some kind of sting operation. I hope it was worth it.’

Mr Babchenko told the news conference he’d previously fled Russia after receiving death threats.

He said his home address was published online and the threats he received were made by phone, email and social media.

‘There was no other way’: Babchenko said he fled Russia in 2017 after receiving death threats. (AP)

Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian lawmaker who also moved to Ukraine, said Mr Babchenko continued to be threatened after he settled last year in Kiev, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station. Mr Babchenko did not take the intimidation too seriously, according to Ponomarev.

Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and support for separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine were topics on which the journalist was scathingly critical of the Kremlin.