Kremlin critic "killed" in Kyiv -- then "resurrected" at a press conference

Arkadiy Babchenko, who fled Russia a year ago, fearing for his life, was, reportedly, killed on his doorstep in Kyiv on Tuesday night. The next day, he appeared alive before the cameras.

Daria Sukharchuk
Daria Sukharchuk NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Kremlin critic "killed" in Kyiv -- then "resurrected" at a press conference - NewsMavens
Arkadiy Babchenko. (AP Photo/Alexander Baroshin/East News

Why this story matters:

Babchenko is one of Russia's most vocal critics -- not just of the Kremlin, but of Russian society as a whole -- for not stopping the war in Ukraine, and for the annexation of Crimea; for not resisting hard enough, for being afraid of violence.

Having fought in two Chechen conflicts, he often said that no one never really returns from war.

He had to flee Russia a year ago, after attracting too many death threats when he refused to publicly mourn the death of a military orchestra in a plane crash on the way to Syria. Now, he covers the war in the east of Ukraine.

After Babchenko's reported death, media all around the world published memorial pieces. But then Babchenko resurfaced and revealed that his assassination had been faked in an attempt to entrap criminals who were planning to murder him.

Memorial meetings turned to celebrations, and many joked about Babchenko's theatrical "resurrection". And yet, despite the joy and relief of seeing their colleague alive, many doubted the fake death was necessary.

Is it decent to fake the death of a journalist when so many are killed every year? Can we trust a journalist who agreed to lie about his own death, sending shockwaves through the media community? Could he be lying about other things? And can we trust the Ukrainian authorities who spread the news about Babchenko's death and cooked up the whole "murder"? For the moment, as we wait for more news from the Ukrainian Security Service, none of these questions can be answered.

Details from the story:

  • Arkadiy Babchenko is a journalist specializing in covering the war, most recently -- the war in Ukraine.
  • Babchenko is famous for his radical, almost merciless views: he blamed all Russians for the war in Ukraine and was forced to leave Russia after he refused to mourn when the TU-154 plane crashed in the Black Sea on its way to Syria, carrying a military orchestra and a famous philanthropist.
  • After that post, which was followed by many death threats, he fled Russia, fearing for his life.
  • For the last year, Babchenko was working for a local TV station covering the war in the east.
  • The news of his murder was spread by the Ukrainian authorities, who confirmed that he was shot in the apartment block he lived in and died in the ambulance called by his wife, on Tuesday night
  • At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Babchenko appeared in front of the public and revealed that the whole "murder" was a secret operation by the Ukrainian Security Service, designed to catch a Russian secret agent.
  • The story put out by the Security Service seems improbable to many: the Russian agent was supposed to kill 30 people after Babchenko and hide 300 AK rifles in Central Ukraine.

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