‘Slain’ journalist turns up at news conference


Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine

To the gasps, whoops and applause of stunned colleagues, Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko walked into a news conference Wednesday, less than a day after police in the Ukrainian capital said he had been assassinated.

Authorities said his death had been staged to foil a plot on his life by Moscow’s security services and one arrest was made. Russia denounced the faked killing as an outlandish attempt at defamation by its neighbor and foe.

Even Babchenko’s wife was unaware of the deception, and the 41-year-old Kremlin critic who fled to Ukraine 15 months ago apologized to her “for the hell she had to go through in the past two days. There was no choice there, either.”

Neither Babchenko nor Ukrainian Security Service chief Vasyl Gritsak gave details of the sting operation or how they made his wife believe he was dead.

Kiev Police Chief Andriy Krishchenko had announced Babchenko’s death Tuesday, saying the journalist’s wife found him bleeding at their apartment building in Kiev but that he died en route to the hospital. Lawmaker Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the interior minister, said the assailant had waited on a staircase in the building and shot Babchenko in the back as he was going to buy bread.

Just hours before the shooting was reported, Babchenko wrote on Face-book that he considered the day a “second birthday” because it was the fourth anniversary of his missing a flight on a Ukrainian military helicopter that later was shot down in the conflict between Ukraine and Moscow-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country.

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