Ukraine reveals it staged 'murder' of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko


The security service declined to say who the other 29 people were but said it had detained a Ukrainian citizen recruited by Russian Federation to find someone to kill Babchenko.

On Wednesday Ukrainian authorities announced that Mr. Babchenko was alive a day after they said he had been shot and killed as he opened his apartment door in Kiev. He said he had left the country because threats had been made against him and his family.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday finding out Babchenko was still alive came as the "best news".

In early 2017, after spending years fearing he would be arrested, beaten, or worse, Babchenko left Russian Federation.

He showed up at Gritsak's new conference on Wednesday and thanked everyone who was mourning his death.

Ukrainian security officials said two people were apprehended as a result of the sting: a Ukrainian man allegedly paid by Russian Federation to facilitate the foiled assassination, and the thwarted gunman himself.

Christophe Deloire, the head of the Paris-based media watchdog, told AFP that while he was relieved that Arkady Babchenko was alive, "it is pathetic and regrettable that the Ukrainian police have played with the truth, whatever their motive ... for the stunt".

He also apologized to his wife and all those who believed he had been killed - but said the secrecy had been unavoidable.

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Writing on Twitter, the security service said it chose to conduct the operation to collect evidence of terrorist activity by the Russian special services on Ukrainian territory. Babchenko's colleagues in the media certainly appreciated it.

"The important thing is my life has been saved and other, bigger terrorist attacks have been thwarted", he said.

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. 14 people died, but I got lucky.

Babchenko had written for the liberal opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, six of whose correspondents have been murdered for real. He also took a stand against Moscow's military campaign in Syria.

Babchenko sparked a backlash in Russia for his comments in a 2016 Facebook post on a Russian military plane crash. He died five years later.

Ukrainian officials led by Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman accused Russian Federation of being behind the killing of the Kremlin critic, a charge that Moscow batted back.

"Law enforcement couldn't fail to understand that news of Arkady Babchenko's murder would bring pain to thousands of hearts around the world". He was given US$40,000 to organise the murder, US$30,000 for the killer and US$10,000 for being an intermediary, it said. Colleagues at the Ukrainian TV station where he worked - who had been watching the press conference live - whooped, danced and clapped in disbelief when it emerged he was still among the living. Anastasia Baburova, Khadzhimurad Kamalov were both killed in central Moscow and Makhachkala, the capital of the Dagestan region, respectively in the years after.