A 41-year-old former Russian soldier-turned-journalist reported to have been assassinated on Tuesday, faked his own death as part of an elaborate sting operation by Ukraine to bust an actual hit planned by Russia, according to the head of the SBU, Ukraine's national security service.
According to Tuesday's media "reports", the Journalist, Arkady Babachenko, was shot three times in the back in his apartment building in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev last Tuesday after going out to buy bread - his wife finding him in a pool of blood after she came out of the bathroom following the "murder." He was pronounced dead in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
A photo of Babachenko taken by his wife, which was staged, was posted online.
Вот всё, что вы можете повторить, ублюдки pic.twitter.com/St8E9sFG4D— Уголок циника (@cynicarea) May 29, 2018
Then, in a remarkable "recovery", on Wednesday, Babachenko showed up to a press conference, reporting that the SBU had intelligence about the actual assassination scheme and that he helped them to derail the plot. The assassin who received the real order to kill Babachenko along with the person who organized the hit, have reportedly been detained.
WATCH: Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, reported to have been killed, appears at a news conference, as Ukrainian Security Service says the agency faked his death to catch those who were trying to kill him - @MSNBC pic.twitter.com/WnhAkVSls2— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 30, 2018
Babachenko fled to Ukraine in February 2017 after he says he received threats and could be arrested following his work as a presenter for Ukraine's ATR TV. He has been one of Russia's most recognizable war correspondents, and has spoken out about Russia's actions in Syria and Ukraine in recent years.
Following his "death," Ukrainian officials confirmed Babachenko had been shot and said it was believed he had been targeted due to his work as an anti-Putin journalist. Ukrainian lawmaker Anton Gerashchneko told the BBC that the killer waited for Babachenkon near his Kiev apartment and then shot him from behind.
“When Arkady opened the door of his flat, the killer cowardly shot him in the back, firing several shots,” wrote Gerashchneko on Facebook - however it is unclear if he knew about the ruse. He added that investigators were looking into "Russian spy agencies" as "Putin's regime takes aim at people whom it's impossible to break or intimidate."
Фоторобот, распространенный украинской полицией в связи с убийством Аркадия Бабченко pic.twitter.com/VL7DcDdVa9— Эхо Москвы (@EchoMskRu) May 29, 2018
A neighbor told local media that the assassin had probably used a silencer, since they didn't hear any shots.
The reaction to Babachenko's assassination was to condemn Russia. The Guardian described it "as the most recent murder of a high-profile dissident in Kiev, a city that has become a refuge for some of Moscow’s most vehement critics, as well as the scene of targeted assassinations that have remained unsolved for years.”
On Facebook, Gerashchenko wrote (translated):
Arkady Babchenko is alive!
As a result of the brilliant special operation carried out by Ukrainian law enforcers, the killer who received the order for the murder of Arkady and the organizer of the murder were detained.
Gerashchenko went on to describe the sting operation - which he likened to Sherlock Holmes faking his own death (Google translated):
In order to better document the customers and organizers of the crime - representatives of the Russian special services, they had to be assured that the hired killer had successfully completed the order.
The fact that in fact the murder of Arkady Babchenko is a dramatization, he knew a very limited circle of people.
This was done in order to prevent the slightest possibility of information leakage.
To do this, law enforcement officers had to go to a large-scale information security operation.
It was for this that the production photo of the allegedly murdered Arkady Babchenko was made and published, and the photo-robots of the alleged killer with Caucasian appearance were distributed.
To create a picture of full reality, statements were made by the official representatives of the National Police about the death of Arkady.
Law enforcers could not fail to understand that the news of the murder of Arkady Babchenko would be a pain in thousands of hearts around the world. But they had no other choice.
In order to trace and document the chain from the killer to the organizers and customers it was necessary to create in them full confidence that the order was executed and force them to take a number of actions that will be documented by the investigation.
After all, the hero of Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes successfully used the method of staging his own death for the effective investigation of complex and intricate crimes. No matter how painful it was for his family and Dr. Watson.
Babachenko was born in Moscow in 1977. While studying law, he was conscripted into the Russian army and served during the Chechen wars from 1994 to 2000. Following his service, he became a war correspondent, and worked for Moskovsky Komsomolets and Zabytiy Polk according to Heavy. He also wrote a memoir in 2006, "One Soldier's War," in which he chronicled his experiences. He has a degree in international law from the Modern Humanitarian University.
Babachenko became a taxi driver for several years after he had stopped work as a journalist - returning to the profession in 2009 for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta where he covered the South Ossetia war. He is the founder of "Journalists Without Middle-men," and has since written several award-winning books about his experience. He has also been a freelance writer for several foreign publications, including the BBC and The Guardian.