Published: Sat, June 02, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

'I was resurrected': Russian journalist details how he faked his death

'I was resurrected': Russian journalist details how he faked his death

Dissident Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko said on Thursday he collaborated in a plot to fake his own death because he feared being targeted for assassination like former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

His reported murder sparked a war of words between Ukraine and Russian Federation.

But on Wednesday, an emotional Mr Babchenko appeared before reporters saying he had been part of a special Ukrainian operation to thwart a Russian attempt on his life, and that he was fine.

"I don't care whether you believe it next when I'm dead it won't matter to me anymore", said Babchenko. "I'm sorry, but there was no other way of doing it".

However, the journalist apologized to his wife for putting her through "this hell she had to live through for three days. but there was no other option".

Babchenko collaborated with the Ukrainian security services to fake his own assassination on Tuesday before reappearing at a press briefing the next day.

"That was the best news conference in my life", said Olga Musafirova.

"Thanks to this operation we were able to foil a cynical plot and document how the Russian security service was planning for this crime", Ukrainian security service head Vasyl Grytsak said when he reintroduced Babchenko, alive and well, to the world. He said he was approached by the Ukrainian Security Service, the SBU, a month ago.

"Once the gates of the morgue closed behind me, I was resurrected", he said, according to the Moscow Times. He was given US$40,000 to organise the murder, US$30,000 for the killer and US$10,000 for being an intermediary, it said.

"We knew perfectly well that there would be no killing", he said.

"Everyone who says this undermines trusts in journalists: what would you do in my place, if they came to you and said there is a hit out on you?" he said at a press conference in Kiev on Thursday.

Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian lawmaker who also moved to Ukraine, said Babchenko continued being threatened after he settled last fall in Kiev, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station.

Babchenko said he was anxious the entire time the operation would fall through, but was relieved after it was completed.

"I took a mouthful of it and spit it out", he said. "If they came to you and said there is a hit out on you", Babchenko said. The two countries have been at odds since a popular revolt in Ukraine in 2014 toppled a Russian-backed government in favour of a pro-Western one. The scribe had ended up in such conditions as he faced heavy criticism for stating that he did not mourn the deaths of a Russian military plane crash whose victims were predominantly pro-Kremlin journalists.

Ukraine yesterday was under fire after it admitted staging the murder of anti-Kremlin journalist Arkady Babchenko, despite relief in Russian Federation and Ukraine that he was alive.

He said that pig's blood and a make-up artist were used to stage a dead photo of him, and that he was afterward taken in an ambulance to the morgue.

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