Russian journalist Babchenko turns up alive after reported murder

Arkady Babchenko

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko surprised everyone Wednesday by showing up alive at a news conference on Ukrainian television, a day after he was reported dead, telling reporters his death was faked as part of a special intelligence operation.

At the briefing, Gritsak claimed that the Ukrainian Security Service had information confirming that Babchenko's planned murder was ordered "specifically" by the Russian special services.

Simon Otrovsky, a journalist who worked alongside Babchenko, tweeted on Wednesday: "While I am very happy Arkady is alive I am also angry and confused because my fellow reporters and I spent yesterday posting and reading memories we shared of him and feeling very down and out".

"Sorry for imposing this upon you, but there was no other way", he said.

Babchenko said he was not allowed to go into the details of his false death.

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But Moscow, later Wednesday, condemned the staged assassination, the foreign ministry saying "now the true motives are beginning to be revealed for this staging, which is totally obviously yet another anti-Russian provocation".

"I am outraged by this horrific act", Mr Desir said in an earlier statement.

Before ushering Mr Babchenko into the room, Mr Gritsak said investigators had identified a Ukrainian citizen who had been recruited and paid $US40,000 (£30,137) by the Russian security service to organise and carry out the killing.

Hours before pretending to have been fatally shot, Babchenko wrote on Facebook that he narrowly escaped death exactly four years ago when the Ukrainian military refused to take him on a helicopter heading to the front line in eastern Ukraine. He said Ukrainian law enforcement had been aware of a contract on his head for two months.

The hoax was part of an investigation into the threats against the Kremlin critic.

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

Ukraine also faced a backlash from worldwide journalism figures. Hrytsak said Russian Federation had sought to pay $40,000 for his death and that those behind the real assassination plot had been apprehended.

He matter of factly told reporters, "I've done my work. That's really helpful to all who care about journalists' safety". Babchenko had left Russian Federation for Ukraine in February 2017 because he feared for his life.

Babchenko, who wrote for opposition media, was one of Russia's best-known war correspondents. He said his comments, in which he said he "didn't give a damn" about the incident, had resulted in thousands of threats, his home address being published online and calls for him to be deported.

The former soldier criticised Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the Russian president's support for separatists in southeast Ukraine. In December 2016, Babchenko had written a Facebook post - about the Kremlin's actions in Aleppo, Syria - which was deemed "insufficiently patriotic" by authorities. He then he became a war reporter for several Russian newspapers.

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