After being warned he was the target of a state-ordered assassination plot, Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko faked his own death in order to expose those coordinating his murder.
Arkady Babchenko faked his own assassination on Tuesday in an elaborate plot with Ukrainian authorities.
As reported by The CEO Magazine, the Russian war correspondent and veteran of the Chechen war, was understood to have died on his way to hospital after being shot outside his Kiev apartment.
But the journalist, who became an enemy of the state after panning Kremlin policy including the annexation of Crimea and its support of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, staged the murder to thwart Moscow’s planned attack on him.
On Wednesday, he was revealed to the world alive and well at a press conference held by Ukraine’s SBU security service. Not even his wife knew it was a hoax.
“According to information received by the Ukrainian security service, the killing of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko was ordered by the Russian security services themselves,” Vasyl Hrytsak, head of the SBU said, before introducing him to the disbelief of onlookers.
Babchenko revealed the SBU had learned of Moscow’s “serious” plan to kill him two months ago and warned him about it one month ago, suggesting he agree to a sting operation.
It is understood the hitman had been supplied with a passport photo of Babchenko, proof that it was state-ordered, according to the 41-year-old.
He was one of 30 Ukraine-based individuals allegedly targeted in the plot, and the SBU says it had information Russian agents had paid an intermediary (a Ukrainian citizen) US$40,000 to arrange the killing. The middle man was to receive $10,000 and the assassin would walk away with $30,000.
The Ukrainian Embassy in London has claimed to have arrested “the perpetrator of the crime and will bring organisers to justice”.
Comment of the Embassy with regard to the situation with the alleged assassination of Arkadiy Babchenko pic.twitter.com/omHnshCCbE
— Ukraine's Emb. to UK (@UkrEmbLondon) May 30, 2018
Babchenko thanked the SBU for “saving his life”, and apologised unreservedly to his partner who reportedly found him in a pool of blood after he’d been shot.
“Olechka, I am sorry, but there were no options here,” Babchenko declared. “I’m sorry for making you live through this. I’ve buried my own friends and colleagues many times myself.”
It’s no surprise the world’s media quickly accepted his murder as fact. Babchenko had written for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which has already lost six correspondents for real.
It also followed the mysterious death of Russian investigative reporter Maxim Borodin last month, in which he fell five stories from his apartment in Yekaterinburg.
The Putin government has accused Ukraine of “fanning anti-Russian hysteria”.
Konstantin Kosachev, head of the international affairs committee of the upper house of the Russian Parliament, compared Ukraine’s actions to the UK blaming Russia of being behind the nerve gas poisonings of Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in England in March.
“The logic is the same — to defame Russia,” Kosachev told the state news agency Tass.