Russian Journalist Said To Be Killed Shows Up At News Conference Very Much Alive
The Russian journalist who was said to have been killed yesterday in Kiev, Ukraine, turned up very much alive at a news conference today.
In a wild turn of events streamed live, Arkady Babchenko was introduced to applause and gasps from the reporters in attendance.
"I would like to apologize for what you have all had to go through," Babchenko said, according to Reuters. "I'm sorry, but there was no other way of doing it. Separately, I want to apologize to my wife for the hell that she has been through."
It's not clear exactly what his wife knew. On Tuesday, Kiev police told reporters that Babchenko had been shot multiple times in the back at his apartment and had died from his injuries. His wife was said to have found him bleeding from his wounds. Police said Babchenko had been targeted for his work.
The head of the Ukrainian Security Service, Vasyl Gritsak, said Wednesday that his agency faked Babchenko's death in order to set up a sting operation to catch those who were trying to kill him, according to The Associated Press:
"Before ushering Babchenko into the room, Gritsak said investigators had identified a Ukrainian citizen who had been recruited and paid $40,000 by the Russian security service to organize and carry out the killing. The unidentified Ukrainian man in turn hired an acquaintance who had fought in the separatist war in eastern Ukraine as the gunman."
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted his congratulations to the Ukrainian Security Service, and said that he had given an order to provide Babchenko and his family with protection.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that it was glad Babchenko was alive but accused Ukraine of using his story as propaganda, Reuters reports.
Babchenko had moved to Kiev in the fall after fleeing Russia, where he was a prominent war correspondent who in recent years had become fiercely critical of the Kremlin.
Writing last year in The Guardian, Babchenko described how a Facebook post he'd written about the Russian bombing of civilians in Aleppo, Syria, was deemed insufficiently patriotic and led to a systematic campaign against him. In Kiev, he has been a television host on a Crimean Tatar network.
In 2016, investigative journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed when a bomb exploded his car. The case is unsolved.