Arkady Babchenko, a Russian investigative journalist who was reported to have been shot and killed yesterday, is alive.
Ukrainian authorities reported on Tuesday that Babchenko had been shot at the entrance to his home by an assailant. The news sent shockwaves through the journalistic community and led to mutual accusations between Ukrainian and Russian officials about who was responsible for his murder.
On Wednesday afternoon, however, Babchenko appeared on television at a press conference and said that his murder had been staged by Ukrainian special forces as part of a sting operation to uncover a genuine plot against his life, allegedly organized by Russian special forces.
"The operation was being prepared for two months. I was informed a month ago,” Babchenko was quoted as saying at a press conference.
“I apologize to my wife. Olechka, forgive me, but there was no other choice,” he said.
Ukraine's Security Services (SBU) said that officers had detained a Ukrainian citizen who had allegedly received $40,000 to be recruited for the murder, as well as the mastermind behind the planned assassination.
The SBU accused Russia of being behind the planned murder and said it had "indisputable evidence of the terrorist activity of Russian special forces in Ukraine."
"We created and published staged photographs of the supposedly murdered Arkady Babchenko and distributed a composite sketch of the supposed killer," Ukraine's Interior Minister, Anton Gerashchenko, wrote on Facebook.
"Law enforcement couldn't fail to understand that news of Arkady Babchenko's murder would bring pain to thousands of hearts around the world," he said.
"But we had no other choice."