'Murdered' journalist appears alive at news conference

02 June, 2018, 03:47 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Sergei Bobylev  TASS

Vasily Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), led the press conference, ostensibly convened to give the media details on the assassination of Babchenko.

A government official had previously said he later died in the ambulance on his way to the hospital. As a result of the operation, one person has been captured'. "I would like to apologise for what you have all had to go through", Babchenko told reporters at a press conference.

"Olechka, I am sorry, but there were no options here", Babchenko declared.

His reappearance elicited gasps, then cheers and applause from journalists at the briefing. A few hours after his stunning appearance, Babchenko triumphantly took to Twitter to say he will live to the age of 96 and dance on the grave of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I'd like to draw your attention to Russia's ongoing aggression in Ukraine".

He accused Ukraine and its "Western handlers" of seeking to use it to stir up anti-Russian sentiments.

Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Kremlin human rights council and head of the Russian Union of Journalists, said Babchenko had his "own special vision of the world, with his very critical view of Russian politics". Some media organizations said the staged plot undermined the credibility of journalists.

Arkady Babchenko was earlier reported to have been killed in his apartment building in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

He did not specify what those planned acts were, but the SBU said it had received information about a plot to kill 30 people in Ukraine, including Mr Babchenko, but had managed to prevent it.

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He said Ukrainian security agents told him a month ago that assassins had been paid $40,000 to kill him. A video of the man being detained was shown to reporters. The ministry also underlined the alarming level of violence against journalists in Ukraine.

Babchenko, 41, was veteran of the First Chechen War who had specialized in covering conflict after his discharge from the military. "It is always very unsafe for states to play with facts and especially on the backs of journalists".

Referring to Babchenko on Tuesday, Russia criticized Ukraine for not doing enough to investigate the murders of independent journalists on its soil.

Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, welcomed the news that the journalist is in fact alive but said "it's obvious that a propaganda effect was part of this story".

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said it was also unimpressed. Russia's high commissioner for human rights, Tatiana Moskalkova, promised to address Ukrainian authorities, urging them to pay special attention to the investigation of the journalist's murder. "That's really helpful to all who care about journalist safety".

"I'm still alive", he said.

His elaborate plan did not, it would seem, go down too well with his colleagues either, who had mourned Babchenko and felt "down and out" about his apparent death.

In a social media post soon after news of his death emerged, the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Vladimir Groysman, said it held Russian Federation responsible.

A well-known Kremlin critic, he stood in unofficial elections organised by the opposition in 2012 and denounced Russia's actions in Syria and eastern Ukraine.

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