Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko reacts during a news conference at the Ukrainian Security Service on Wednesday, May 30, 2018. Babchenko turned up at a news conference in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday less than 24 hours after police reported he had been shot and killed at his Kiev apartment building. The country's security services said Babchenko's death was faked to foil a plot to take his life.(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

The Latest: Even journalist's wife led to think he was dead

May 30, 2018 - 6:32 pm

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on the reported slaying in Ukraine of a Russian journalist: (all times local):

1:00 a.m.

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko may have been the last person reporters expected to see at a news conference in Ukraine's capital about his shooting death.

But with a flourish, the chief of the Ukrainian Security Service produced the 41-year-old Babchenko in the flesh Wednesday and revealed the slaying reported by Kiev police a day earlier was staged.

Vasyl Gritsak says the deception was needed to thwart an alleged plot by Russia's security services to assassinate the journalist. He says a Ukrainian citizen allegedly paid $40,000 to arrange the hit has been arrested.

Babchenko says even his wife was led to think he died. He apologized to her "for the hell she had to go through in the past two days. There was no choice there, either."


6:00 p.m.

The head of the Ukrainian Security Service says investigators have identified a Ukrainian citizen who allegedly was paid $40,000 by the Russian security service to organize and carry out the killing of an exiled Russian journalist.

Vasyl Gritsak announced at a news conference Wednesday that the security agency and police had solved Arkady Babchenko's slaying, which turned out to have been faked.

To the applause and gasps of the press, Babchenko took the floor at the news conference and apologized to the friends and family who mourned for him and were unaware of the plan.

Kiev and national police had said Babchenko, a strong critic of the Kremlin, was shot multiple times in the back at his apartment building on Tuesday and found there bleeding by his wife.

Before ushering Babchenko into the room, Gritsak said the Ukrainian allegedly recruited by Russian agents to kill the reporter had hired an acquaintance to be the gunman.


5:25 p.m.

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who had been reported shot and killed in the Ukrainian capital Tuesday, has shown up at a news conference very much alive.

Vasily Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, told a news conference on Wednesday the agency faked Babchenko's death to catch those who were trying to kill him.

Kiev and national police had said Babchenko, a strong critic of the Kremlin, was shot multiple times in the back at his apartment building and found bleeding by his wife.

He showed up at Gritsak's new conference on Wednesday and thanked everyone who was mourning his death.

Babchenko, 41, one of Russia's best-known war reporters, spoke and wrote about leaving the country because of repeated threats that he and his family would be harmed.


2:35 p.m.

A top lawmaker says Russia is willing to help Ukraine investigate the murder of a Russian journalist.

Arkady Babchenko, who was scathingly critical of the Kremlin, was gunned down in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on Tuesday.

Babchenko fled Russia last year, fearing for his life, and settled in Ukraine. He had served in the Russian army during the two wars in Chechnya in 1990s and became one of Russia's best-known war reporters.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma, told Russian news agencies Wednesday that Russia would be happy to help with the investigation if Ukrainian authorities requested it.

Ukrainian authorities have said they think Babchenko was killed because of his work. Several Ukrainian politicians blamed the Kremlin for the killing. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed those comments as cynical.

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