Makeup and pig's blood: Russian reporter describes his faked assassination in Kiev

Arkadiy Babchenko

Babchenko made a shock reappearance at a news conference in Kiev on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the Ukrainian authorities reported that he had been shot dead at his home in a contract-style killing blamed on Russian Federation.

Ukrainian authorities said the staging of Babchenko's death was done to foil a real plan to kill him.

Ethical questions were also raised in the wider journalism community. It was not clear if she had been involved in the plot or not.

But on Wednesday there were gasps at a Kiev press conference when Babchenko entered the room. Instead, flanked by Ukranian security officials, wearing a hoodie and occasionally flashing a sheepish smile, Babchenko launched into an explanation of the ploy.

He told fellow reporters at a news conference in Kiev that he could have refused when Ukrainian officials approached him with the idea for the ruse about a month ago. He said he was told that $40,000 had already been transferred for the alleged assassination attempt. On Thursday Babchenko said that he and Ukraine's police had simulated every step of that.

UNIAN correspondent in Russia Roman Tsymbaliuk has said Russia exploited the initial reports about the murder of Russian journalist Arkadiy Babchenko in Kyiv as a pretext for another round of information war against Ukraine, so the dramatic developments where the SBU presented the "victim" safe and sound were taken with apparent disappointment. "I had no choice but to cooperate". The staging of his murder could undermine confidence in the work of journalists and temper public outrage when they are killed. The Ukrainian government supported his claim and said that they would fully support Mr. Babchenko's quest for justice. Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman pinned responsibility for the murder on what he called the Russian totalitarian machine, and colleagues poured out their emotions at interviews and on social media. Poroshenko ordered that Babchenko and his family be given round-the-clock security, warning that "Moscow is hardly likely to settle down".

News that he was alive brought a mixture of relief and praise for the Ukrainian security services, including from President Petro Poroshenko, but a backlash from certain quarters about how the incident was handled.

"Babchenko is a journalist, not a policeman. and part of our job is trust", he wrote on Twitter.

The affair seemed unlikely to improve the frosty relations between Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Once Babchenko reappeared, the Russian Foreign Ministry was quick to label the exercise as "anti-Russian provocation".

Ukrainian authorities rushed to defend the stunt, with Interior Minister Arsen Avakov stating he was surprised with "pseudo-moral" criticism from overseas and that the secret services achieved with the operation "enough ... to be satisfied".

At the start of Wednesday's news conference, Gritsak announced the journalist's murder had been solved and called the day Babchenko's "third birthday".

Another journalist, Sergiy Grishyn, said "Babchenko will have to give me money for pills" for the stress he'd suffered.

"I want to thank all Ukrainians who were not indifferent, who were ready to fight and act in order to save the country", he said, adding that Babchenko was at risk of an attack from a Russian citizen who "owns a huge arsenal of weapons, can create arms dumps and organize terrorist acts". "Separately, I wanted to apologize to my wife for the hell she went through during these two days". "Olechka, I'm sorry, but there were no options here either". He also promised he would drive an American military truck through central Moscow.

Speaking to CNN, journalist and colleague of Babchenko, Simon Ostrovsky, described Wednesday's revelation as "totally shocking and unprecedented". Opposition groups and human rights organisations say the Kremlin is behind the killings.

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