Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who had been reportedly shot and killed in the Ukrainian capital Tuesday, showed up alive at a news conference today.
Vasily Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, told a news conference on Wednesday the agency faked Babchenko’s death to catch those who were trying to kill him.
Kiev and national police had said Babchenko, a strong critic of the Kremlin, was shot multiple times in the back at his apartment building and found bleeding by his wife. His death was reported this morning, with Kiev police saying he had been shot dead after returning to his home after going food shopping.
Ukrainian police spokesman Yaroslav Trakalo said Babchenko was found bleeding by his wife after she heard shooting, adding that he died in an ambulance on his way to hospital. Images circulated online of Babchenko lying on his front with holes in the back of his shirt, and a pool of blood underneath him.
Kiev police chief Andriy Kryshchenko said at a televised press briefing earlier today: “The first and the most probable [reason for his murder] is his professional activity.”
Ukrainian authorities even went as far as releasing a drawing of the man they suspect is Babchenko’s assassin, around 40-45 years old, with a grey beard and wearing a cap. They were also quick to blame Russia’s “totalitarian machine” for his murder. Moscow denied the charges with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying it was “very sad” Moscow had been accused of murdering the reporter.
But Babchenko showed up at Gritsak’s new conference later today and thanked everyone who was mourning his death.
Babchenko, a former soldier in the Chechen war who became one of Russia’s best-known war correspondents, has long been a fierce critic of Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. He had left his homeland fearing for his life after criticising Russian policy in Ukraine and Syria.