It’s a crazy turn of events. A Russian journalist — who, according to media reports, had been shot dead in his apartment —made an appearance during a Wednesday press conference to announce he faked his own death to avoid being assassinated.
"Murdered" journalist Arkady Babchenko, 41, appeared next to Ukrainian security officials in a live news conference, as Ukraine's Security Service said it staged the death to foil an alleged Russian plot to kill Babchenko.
The security service said they planned the fake death two months ago, after collecting intelligence on Russian special services. Even Babchenko’s wife, who reportedly found his body, thought he was actually dead, officials revealed during the conference.
"I would like to apologize for what you all had to go through... because I've buried friends and colleagues many times, and I know it's a sickening, vomiting feeling when you have to bury your colleagues," Babchenko said. "Also I would like to apologize to my wife for the hell she went through in those two days. Olechka, I'm sorry, but there were no options here either."
Almost immediately after the initial reports saying Babchenko was murdered inside his apartment building in Kyiv, Ukraine surfaced on Tuesday, Russia and Ukraine began blaming each other for the murder, CNN reported.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman claimed Russia was behind the killing, as Babchenko had criticized the Kremlin and fled his home country last year.
"I'm sure that the Russian totalitarian machine did not forgive him his honesty and his fidelity to principle," Groysman said in a Facebook post, according to the BBC. "Best friend of Ukraine, who told the truth about Russian aggression to the world. The murderers must be punished!"
Independent Russian journalist Yevgenia Albats tweeted (translated from Russian): "There was not a single reason for Arkady Babchenko's murder apart from what he wrote. No other reason."
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, however, claimed that Ukraine is an unsafe place for journalists.
"We know that many people are dying, many journalists are dying, journalists are thrown into prison for doing journalist work. We consider this unacceptable, we believe that this should be the topic for a very tough international reaction that will encourage the Ukrainian authorities to take effective measures to rectify the situation," he said, according to CNN.
Babchenko served in the Russian army during the Chechen wars from 1994 to 2000 and later wrote a memoir entitled “One Soldier's War” about the experience. He has worked as a journalist for multiple outlets and has been an outspoken opponent of the Kremlin.
[Photos: Getty Images]
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