Russian Journalist Reported Murdered Turns Up Very Much Alive

Babchenko reportedly faked his own death to foil an attempt to kill him.

3 min read
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A Russian journalist harshly critical of the Kremlin who was reported to have been shot and killed in the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday, 29 May, surprised more than a few people when he turned up alive and well for a news conference in the Ukrainian capital on Wednesday, 30 May.

I’m still alive.
Arkady Babchenko, Russian Journalist

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko turned up at the news conference in the Ukrainian capital 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.

Initial reports stated that Babchenko’s wife found him bleeding at their apartment building in Kiev and called an ambulance, but Babchenko died on the way to a hospital, according to police.

Police said at the time that he had suffered multiple gunshot wounds in his back.

Authorities said they suspected he was killed because of his work.


Vasyl Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, announced at a news conference Wednesday that the security agency and the police had solved Babchenko's slaying. He then startled everyone there by inviting the 41-year-old reporter into the room.

To applause and gasps from the press, Babchenko took the floor and apologised to the friends and family who mourned for him and were unaware of the plan.

Before ushering Babchenko into the room, Gritsak said investigators had identified a Ukrainian citizen who had been recruited and paid $40,000 by the Russian security service to organise and carry out the killing. The unidentified Ukrainian man in turn hired an acquaintance who had fought in the separatist war in eastern Ukraine as the gunman.

Babchenko, one of Russia’s best-known war reporters, fled the country in February 2017 after receiving death threats. He spoke and wrote about leaving the country because of the threats against him and his family... He said his home address was published online and the threats he received were made by phone, email and social media. 

The Committee to Protect Journalists in New York, in a reaction to the first report of Babchenko’s death, said on Twitter that "Ukrainian authorities should conduct a swift and thorough investigation" into Babchenko's murder.

Babchenko, 41, had been scathingly critical of the Kremlin's policies, assailing Moscow's annexation of Crimea, its support for separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine and the Russian campaign in Syria.

Babchenko reportedly faked his own death to foil an attempt to kill him.

Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian lawmaker who also moved to Ukraine, said Wednesday that Babchenko continued being threatened after he settled last fall in Kiev, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station. Babchenko did not take the intimidation too seriously, according to Ponomarev.

Ukrainian police released a sketch of a suspect based on witness descriptions of a gray-bearded man in his 40s wearing a baseball cap. They said the gunman may have had accomplices.

In Moscow, officials and lawmakers criticised Ukrainian authorities for their alleged failure to protect journalists.


In March 2017, renegade Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov was shot and killed at the entrance of an upscale hotel in Kiev. Ukrainian prosecutors alleged that Voronenkov, who had toed the Kremlin line while serving as a Russian lawmaker but turned into a Kremlin critic after his 2016 move to Ukraine, was killed on orders from a Russian crime lord.

Renowned journalist, Pavel Sheremet, a native of Belarus who had worked for Russian media outlets in the past, was also killed in a car bombing in central Kiev in July 2016. The case has remained unsolved.

Just hours before he was shot at on Tuesday, Babchenko wrote on Facebook that he narrowly escaped death exactly four years ago when the Ukrainian military refused to take him on a helicopter heading to the front line in eastern Ukraine. The aircraft was shot down minutes later.

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Topics:  Kremlin   Journalist Killed 

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