'Murdered' Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko turns up alive at news conference

2013 file image of Arkady Babchenko

2013 file image of Arkady BabchenkoAAP

Before Babchenko's appearance, Gritsak said investigators had identified a Ukrainian citizen who allegedly was paid $40,000 by the Russian security service to kill Babchenko.

A dissident Russian journalist who was reported murdered in Kiev dramatically reappeared alive yesterday in the middle of a briefing about his own killing by the Ukrainian state security service. Here's how the story unfolded. Shortly after, the war correspondent took up residence in Kiev, Ukraine, to avoid becoming the next journalist to die under suspicious circumstances.

Yet Babchenko appeared alive and well at a police press conference on Wednesday, where confused reporters expected to receive updates about the "murder" investigation.

Neither he nor Vasyl Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, provided details of how they staged Mr Babchenko's injuries or made his wife believe he was dead. "I would like to apologize for what you all had to go through ... because I've buried friends and colleagues many times, and I know it's a sickening-vomiting feeling when you have to bury your colleagues", he said. "Olechka, I'm sorry, but there were no options here either". He said they had two suspects in custody: the one who ordered the killing and the hitman who would have carried it out.

"I'm still alive", he told the shocked audience.

"I want to congratulate his family, all of us and the entire world, which is watching it, and congratulate Babchenko with a third birthday", Gritsak wrote on his Facebook page.

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The Russian internet news site Kommersant, citing a source close to the Ukrainian prosecution, reported that the assassination was "almost certainly a provocation by outside parties".

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Mr Babchenko, 41, is one of Russia's best-known war reporters, but was forced to leave the country past year because of repeated threats against him and his family.

According to earlier reports, Babchenko's house had run out of bread and he had gone to the shops to buy some before he was gunned down on Tuesday by someone waiting for him in the stairwell at the entrance to his home.

Babchenko had been scathingly critical of the Kremlin in recent years.

The Russian journalist is known as the author of several books on military themes, which have been translated into 16 languages. He stood in unofficial elections organised by the opposition in 2012 and denounced Russia's actions in Syria and eastern Ukraine.

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