On Wednesday morning, the AP referred to it as a "brazen killing." Hours later, it reported a shocker: that Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who was reportedly shot dead in Kiev on Tuesday, is actually alive. He showed up at a news conference in Ukraine. The initial reports into Babchenko's "death" said his wife found him bleeding in their Kiev apartment building with multiple gunshot wounds to the back; police confirmed that he died en route to a hospital. "I'm still alive," he announced instead upon appearing, explaining it was all part of a plot to catch those who allegedly plotted to kill him. How things unfolded:
- Vasily Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, had organized the news conference under the auspices of revealing updates on the investigation into Babchenko's murder. The AP reports Gritsak then "confused everyone" by inviting Babchenko into the room, and that gasps and applause followed, as well as apologies. "I know that sickening feeling when you bury a colleague. I'm sorry you had to go through this but there was no other way," said the journalist.
- Gritsak said the fake murder was staged in order to "foil a cynical plot and document how the Russian security service was planning for this crime," per the Guardian. He alleged Ukrainian authorities learned the Russians engaged a Ukrainian man to orchestrate a hit on Babchenko for $10,000, with another $30,000 to be paid to the man who pulled the trigger, reports Radio Free Europe.
- The BBC reports the Ukrainian reportedly approached a number of potential assassins, and one informed officials, who then worked with Babchenko to stage the hit. The Guardian reports the general prosecutor who appeared alongside Gritsak said they believed they had to convince the organizers of the plot that the hit had been successful. Gritsak says the Ukrainian organizer was arrested Wednesday.
- Babchenko suggested his wife didn't know about the plan: "Special apologies to my wife. Olechka, I am sorry, but there were no options here. The operation took two months to prepare. I was told a month ago. As a result of the operation, one person has been captured, he is being held," Babchenko is quoted as saying.
- He also said "larger terrorist attacks were prevented." Gritsak alleged Babchecko's death was to be part of a larger plot to kill 30 in the country, though none of the other alleged targets were identified.
- Neither Babchenko nor Gritsak explained how Babchenko was made to look injured.
- The AP offers this list of five other "stranger-than-fiction faked deaths."
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