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                        THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2019
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Russian journalist alive after plot foiled
Journal Staff Report

KYIV, May 30 - A dissident Russian journalist reported murdered in Kyiv on Tuesday dramatically reappeared alive on Wednesday during a televised briefing by Ukrainian state security about the killing, which they then said they had staged, Reuters reported.

Authorities said Tuesday Arkady Babchenko was shot dead at his flat and found by his wife in a pool of blood.

But he took to the podium before stunned reporters and said he had been part of a Ukrainian operation to thwart a Russian attempt on his life and expose those behind it.

"I would like to apologize for what you have all had to go through," said Babchenko, who looked on the verge of tears. "I'm sorry but there was no other way of doing it. Separately, I want to apologize to my wife for the hell that she has been through."

His reappearance elicited gasps, then cheers and applause from journalists at the briefing.

Babchenko, 41, is a critic of President Vladimir Putin and Russian policy in Ukraine and Syria.

The SBU said it received information about a plot to kill 30 people in Ukraine, including Babchenko, but had thwarted it.

The security service declined to say who the other 29 people were but said it had detained a Ukrainian citizen recruited by Russia to find someone to kill Babchenko. He was given $40,000 to organize the murder, $30,000 for the killer and $10,000 for being an intermediary, the SBU said.

The detained man had been ordered to buy weapons, including 300 Kalashnikovs, grenade launchers, and explosives which were to be stashed in central Ukraine, it added. A video of the man being detained was shown to reporters.

"We managed not only to break this cynical provocation, but also to document the preparation of this shameful crime by Russian special services," SBU chief Vasyl Hrytsak said.

General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, who appeared alongside Babchenko, said it had been necessary to fake the journalist's death so that the organizers of the plot to kill him would believe they had succeeded.

Meanwhile, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said it was unimpressed.

"We are relieved that Arkady Babchenko is alive," said the CPJ's Nina Ognianova. "(But) Ukrainian authorities must now disclose what necessitated the extreme measure of staging news of the Russian journalist's murder." (rt/ez)




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