We at the Committee to Protect Journalists, like our colleagues around the world, were relieved to learn that Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko is alive and well, following the devastating news the day before that he had been murdered in Kiev.
Babchenko said he had made a decision to accept an offer from Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko to become a Ukrainian citizen. The ordeal started at 6 p.m. and by 10 p.m., he arrived, cold and wet, at the morgue. "Tell me, I'm a fucking great guy huh?!" he wrote in another post.
His unexpected return was initially met with gasps and cheers.
Grytsak said the authorities had arrested the alleged mastermind of a plot against Babchenko, saying a Ukrainian citizen named only as "G" had offered to pay a hit man to carry out the killing after being recruited by Russian special forces and paid US$40,000.
Mr. President, as you stated you were fully informed of the SBU-led operation and congratulated the agency on its success, we believe that you are best placed to address the many outstanding questions. "We bought plane tickets for the first flight to Kiev", said Kanygin, who works for the investigative Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. He had opted to go an event honoring Babchenko instead of attending an award ceremony. "He undermined even further the credibility of journalists". Public trust in Ukrainian institutions, already low, is unlikely to be bolstered by deliberately false statements and a lack of transparency.
Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, took a critical stance toward the Ukrainian government on Twitter.
"It is always very unsafe for a government to play with the facts, especially using journalists for their fake stories", the head of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, wrote on Twitter.
The stunt was also inappropriate due to the fact that "killers and their backers" of journalists who were indeed assassinated, such as Pavel Sheremet, have never been identified by Ukraine's authorities.
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As he reappeared for the first time, Mr Babchenko apologised and thanked everyone who had been mourning his death.
The Russians pressed the would-be assassin to carry out the order quickly but the Ukrainians managed to get the operation delayed with a series of obstacles, such as pretending that Babchenko had broken his leg or had on a trip overseas, he said.
It added that the perpetrator of the assassination attempt had been detained and its organizers "discovered". Russian officials have called the staging anti-Russian provocation.
Anton Guerachtchenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, likened the plot to a story from a crime novel, saying on Facebook that "Sherlock Holmes successfully used the method of staging his own death to efficiently solve complicated crimes".
News that he was alive brought a mixture of relief and praise for the Ukrainian security services, including from President Petro Poroshenko, but a backlash from certain quarters about how the incident was handled.
The suspect Borys Herman, the co-owner of a weapons manufacturer, said he had been contacted by someone in Russian Federation about plans to kill Babchenko but instead turned this information over to the Ukrainian authorities and worked on counterintelligence operations with them. "It is a pity that masquerade has failed in other cases".
Babchenko, under fire from some quarters over the deception, hit back in a news conference in Kiev on Thursday, saying that he went along with the ruse organized by Ukrainian security officials because he feared for his life. He was thinking about his safety and the safety of his family.