Moscow is condemning the faked death of journalist Arkady Babchenko as an “anti-Russian provocation”. Journalistic organizations are also reacting saying the operation discredits reporters, as well as Ukraine.
The staged murder is being described as an attempt to foil a Russian assassination plot. But Babchenko is apologizing to his friends and family for misleading them.
CGTN’s Jessica King has more from Moscow.
Babchenko’s colleagues at ATR TV in Ukraine celebrated the news that the Russian journalist is alive.
“I’m waiting to see Babchenko and tell him few words– about flowers, about a portrait of him with black ribbon, about 16 hours of horror we spent,” said ATR TV Chief Executive Producer Khrystyna Bondarenko. “We’re really very happy, and thankful that he’s alive.”
“It’s unbelievable,” said journalist and friend Pavel Kanygin. “Babchenko was dead. And now I can’t believe it. How can they have performed this horrible, nerve-wracking and great staging?”
It had been reported across the world that the 41-year-old Babchenko was murdered outside his apartment in Ukraine’s capital, because of his journalism, which often criticized the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin.
Tributes poured in for the well-known war reporter. But then, a shocking twist in the murder story. Arkady Babchenko walked into a Ukranian Intelligence Service news conference — very much alive.
Authorities said his death was staged as part of a sting operation to foil an alleged Russian plot to kill him.
“I would like to apologize to my wife for the hell she has had to go through the past two days,” Babchenko told the reporters at the briefing. “Olechka, forgive me, please. I also had no choice about this. Then, I would really like to thank the Ukrainian security services who saved my life.”
While many are happy and relieved Babchenko is back from the dead, others are more critical, said it undermines the credibility of journalists, and accusing Ukraine of spreading fake news.
The Kremlin describes it as “a provocation” against Russia.
Kiev has seen a number of deadly attacks on high-profile figures, including journalists and politicians. Most of them were vocal critics of the Kremlin.
But this staged murder has raised some serious questions about deliberate misreporting, and puts more pressure on the already strained relationship between Russia and Ukraine.