Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who had been reported shot and killed in the Ukrainian capital Tuesday, has shown up at a news conference alive.
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.
He added that the staged death was part of a “special operation” to pre-empt a real plot 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.
He showed up at a news conference on Wednesday and thanked everyone who was mourning his death. He also thanked the Ukranian Security Service for saving his life.
Babchenko, one of Russia‘s best-known war correspondents, left his country in February 2017, saying he was receiving threats and he was concerned he might be jailed.
He served in the Russian army during the first separatist war in Chechnya during the 1990s and later became a journalist. He worked as a military correspondent for several Russian media outlets.
In the autumn, Babchenko moved to Kiev, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station, ATR.
After reports of his death on Tuesday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said on social media that he was convinced “the Russian totalitarian machine” had not forgiven Babchenko for what Groysman called his honesty.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had rejected allegations that Moscow was behind the murder of the journalist, calling it part of an anti-Russian campaign, the TASS news agency reported on Tuesday.
Alexander Bortnikov, head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), said Ukrainian allegations the FSB was behind the killing of Babchenko were nonsense and a provocation, the Interfax news agency reported earlier on Wednesday.