A Russian journalist and outspoken Kremlin critic who was reportedly killed in Kiev appeared Wednesday alive and well at a press conference in Ukraine.
Vasily Gritsak, the head of the Ukrainian Security Service, said the agency faked reporter Arkady Babchenko’s death in an effort to catch those who are trying to kill him.
Ukrainian officials said the ruse was necessary for their operation to be successful.
A bleeding Babchenko was supposedly found by his wife at the entrance to his apartment building with several gunshot wounds in his back.
The journalist apparently didn’t even tell his wife that the murder had been staged.
“Special apologies to my wife,” he said. “There was no other option.”
Several Russian journalists and other dissidents have been killed in recent years in Kiev. Many of their murders remain unsolved.
Babchenko, 41, was one of Russia’s best-known war reporters.
He said fled Russia for Prague before settling in Kiev last year following repeated threats against his family.
The military veteran served in the Russian forces in the 1990s in Chechnya before becoming a writer and an outspoken critic of the Kremlin’s use of force in Syria, Ukraine and other conflicts.
Gritsak said that the ruse exposed Russian agents who were attempting to kill the writer and authorities have made one arrest.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman wrote on Facebook that he was “sure the Russian totalitarian machine had not forgiven” Babchenko “his honesty and principles.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded by denouncing the accusations, calling the supposed killing a “tragedy.”