Ukraine faked journalist’s death in bid to snare would-be assassins

Arkady Babchenko

A Russian journalist and Kremlin critic reported killed late Tuesday appeared alive and well Wednesday to describe his part in what Ukrainian officials called an operation to catch a would-be murderer.

The Associated Press (AP) is reporting that Ukrainian security officials "confirmed" Babchenko's death to help track down the would-be killers.

His reported murder had triggered a war of words between Ukraine and Russian Federation and sent shivers through the journalistic communities in both countries.

They said he was found by his wife after she heard shooting and he died in an ambulance on the way to hospital.

Babchenko, one of Russia's best-known war reporters, fled the country in February 2017 after receiving death threats. He spoke about leaving the country past year because of repeated threats against himself and his family.

"I could offer my condolences to to Arkady Babchenko's family, but I will not", Gritsak said before introducing Babchenko alive, according to The Telegraph.

SBU head Vasyl Hrytsak told a news conference in the Ukrainian capital that those behind the real assassination plot had been apprehended. Ukrainian authorities released a drawing of the man they suspect is Babchenko's assassin, around 40-45 years old, with a grey beard and wearing a cap.

Arkady Babchenko was a Russian writer, journalist and military correspondent.

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"Ukraine is becoming the most risky country for reporters", Russian lawmaker Yevgeny Revenko said in remarks carried by the state RIA Novosti news agency.

Having been called unpatriotic over a piece a year ago on Russia's intervention in Syria, Babchenko complained of an atmosphere of hate toward his work.

He had been heavily critical of Moscow's annexation of Crimea, its alleged support of separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine, and Russia's involvement in Syria's civil war. "I would like to apologise for what you have all had to go through", Babchenko, who looked on the verge of tears at times, told reporters.

Babchenko is one of at least a dozen Kremlin critics who've been murdered or died under mysterious circumstances over the past decade.

"I believe it to be more than a provocation against Russian Federation".

Babchenko was 19 when he was sent to fight in Russia's first Chechen campaign in the 1990s as a conscript.

In Kiev, he hosted a programme on the Crimean Tatar TV station ATR.

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