Arkady Babchenko, a celebrated war reporter who fled his home country past year amid a campaign of intimidation, was said to have been killed at his his apartment building in Kiev he appeared at a press conference Wednesday.
"It is anti-Russian bluster instead of talking about the need to conduct a thorough, objective investigation", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters before it was revealed that Babchenko was alive and well.
"I would like to apologise for what you have all had to go through", Babchenko, who looked on the verge of tears at times, told reporters.
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. He said his home address was published online and the threats he received were made by phone, email and social media. "Special apologies to my wife", he said. The Chief of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Vasyl Hrytsak, said the operation had been planned for two months.
Babchenko, 41, appeared at a news conference in Kyiv, where the Ukrainian security service (SBU) said that the reported assassination was a sting operation. His flight from Russian Federation came several months after he wrote in a Facebook post that he wasn't sorry members of a military band and state television journalists died in a plane crash on their way to Russia's military base in Syria.
He has contributed to a number of media outlets including top opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta and is an avid blogger, accusing Russian authorities of killing Kremlin critics and unleashing wars in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere.
In 2016, Pavel Sheremet, a renowned reporter, who was a prominent critic of the Russian and Ukrainian governments, was killed by a bomb placed on his vehicle.
Babchenko, a prominent war correspondent, is extremely critical of Russia's annexation of Crimea, and was forced to flee Russian Federation in February 2017 because of threats to him and his family.More news: Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski seeking 'a new challenge' after eight Bundesliga seasons
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Babchenko moved to Prague and then settled in Kiev with his wife and child.
Babchenko had recently reported extensively and critically on the pro-Russian separatists fighting Ukraine's government in the country's east and who are backed by Moscow.
He has hosted a programme on the Crimean Tatar TV station ATR for the past year. With an ongoing war, weapons are abundant in Ukraine and contract killings have become increasingly common.
- Polina Ivanova (@polina_ivanova) May 30, 2018Via Mash: #Babchenko says person involved in preparing the assassination has been arrested. Authorities said they suspected he was killed because of his work.
"I'm afraid this is not the last death", he wrote in a Facebook post.
Babchenko is a journalist and war correspondent, who claimed to have been forced out of his native Russian Federation after receiving death threats. The Kremlin's response to the post was explosive; soon Russian lawmakers and state media were calling for Babchenko's fining, prosecution, and deportation.
The helicopter was later shot down with all aboard killed.