Arkady Babchenko, a dissident journalist and a critic of Vladimir Putin, was announced dead in Kiev on Tuesday 29 May. However, he then walked into a press conference on Wednesday 30 May, stating that he had staged his death with the help of Ukrainian security services. They stated that the staged murder was arranged in an effort to foil an assassination plot against Babchenko. He then apologised to his wife for making her live through this.

41-year-old journalist explained the plot during the press conference; he stated that Ukrainian officials told him about a threat against him and that $40,000 had already been transferred for the alleged assassination attempt.

He said that he became convinced that Russian government agencies were involved when he saw information on him which could only be accessed by Russian special services.

The staged murder was done when Arkady's wife found him lying in a puddle of 'blood' in front of their building. The Ukrainian police stated that he had died in the ambulance before reaching the hospital. They even had posted a sketch of a bearded man in a baseball hat as the drawing of a suspect.

Reactions to Babchenko's 'death'

Both Russia and Ukraine reacted to Babchenko's (staged) death while he was still thought as dead.

Ukraine leaders had found Russia to blame. Anton Herashchenko wrote a post on Facebook in which he said that the investigators would be looking at "Russian spy agencies' effort to to get rid of those who are trying to tell the truth about what is going on in Russia and Ukraine.” Volodymyr Groysman, Ukraine's Prime Minister, wrote "I am confident that the Russian totalitarian machine did not forgive him, his honesty and principled stance," on Facebook.

Russian politicians, on the other hand, had blamed Ukraine for the 'killing'. Russian ministry stated: "The level of physical violence and murders of the media workers in [Ukraine] has been growing consistently and the investigations do not result in the punishment of the criminals."

Who is Arkady Babchenko?

Babchenko is a former soldier, writer and a journalist.

He studied law in Moscow before serving as a soldier. He served in the wars in Chechnya and wrote his war memories in a memoir called 'One Soldier's War.' He then worked as a war correspondent, writing about the war in Georgia and south Ukraine.

He fled from Russia after a Facebook post he made about the crash of a Russian plane which was taking the world-famous Military choir Alexandrov Ensemble to Syria for a performance for pilots working for the Russian air campaign in Aleppo. There were a lot of negative reactions to his post, he received many threats and his home address was published on the internet. The comments included many hate messages, personal threats and even calls for him to be stripped off from Russian citizenship. It is said that his work and civil position was the reason why he was under the risk of assassination.