INTERNATIONAL.- A Russian journalist who was reportedly gunned down in Ukraine’s capital strolled into a news conference that authorities called Wednesday to discuss the investigation of his death, revealing that the slaying had been staged to foil an alleged Kremlin hit plot.
“I’m still alive,” Arkady Babchenko, 41, told startled fellow reporters at the news conference held less than a day after police reported he had been shot and killed at his Kiev apartment building.
Ukrainian police said Tuesday that Babchenko, a strong critic of the Kremlin, was shot multiple times in the back Tuesday, found bleeding there by his wife and died on the way to the hospital. Kiev’s police chief said he suspected the journalist was killed because of his work.
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Details of the sting operation were not clear, including why authorities decided to go to such lengths to make it look as if Babchenko was dead. The head of the Ukrainian Security Service said the suspected organizer of the alleged hit plot was detained Wednesday, suggesting the bogus killing was aimed at flushing him out.
Babchenko apologized to his wife, who he said was not briefed on the scheme in advance, “for the hell she had to go through in the past two days. There was no choice there, either.” The astonishing turn of events brought harsh criticism from Russia and the international media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders.