Anti-Kremlin Journalist Who Faked Death Didn't Want To Share Skripal's Fate

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Babchenko said he had been informed a month ago about an alleged Russian plot against him and had agreed to co-operate with Ukraine's counter-operation.

When asked on Thursday, Babchenko said he had no hard evidence to prove that the staging of his death was not a Ukrainian ruse created to discredit Moscow.

The staged murder of Babchenko by Ukrainian authorities, who was "killed" on May 29 only to reappear a day later during the secret service's press conference, reinforced "the idea of journalists and politicians conspiring together", the organizations' president Philippe Leruth said.

Ukrainian police said Tuesday that Babchenko, a strong critic of the Kremlin, was shot multiple times in the back Tuesday and found bleeding there by his wife. Babchenko did not take the intimidation too seriously, Ponomarev said Wednesday before the fact that the slaying was staged came out.

Vasily Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, told a news conference on Wednesday the agency faked Babchenko's death to catch those who were trying to kill him. "I know that sickening feeling when you bury a colleague". One of the officers also told him how to fall down to appear to have been genuinely shot. He was taken in an ambulance to a hospital intensive care unit, where a forensic expert officially "documented" his death.

Babchenko said he was exhausted after playing out the elaborate ruse. After that, he ended up in a morgue that he said was "freezing as hell".

"This could have been a story about how, in all likelihood, Russian special services ordered the killing of a journalist in Kiev", says Ilya Lozovsky, managing editor of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a multinational investigative consortium.

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His closest relatives were in on the hoax, including his wife, who had returned from a trip to Moscow on Monday, Mr Babchenko said.

Babchenko disclosed for the first time details of how the deception involving his fake death had been carried out. Relations between the two countries have been strained since 2014, when Russian Federation annexed Crimea and separatists backed by Moscow in eastern Ukraine have fought government troops in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said he was surprised and shocked by "pseudo-moral" criticism from overseas, while Anton Gerashchenko, a prominent lawmaker and adviser to the minister, said the operation had been vital in order to trace the trail from the would-be assassin to his handlers. The man in turn allegedly hired an acquaintance to be the gunman.

"Now the true motives are beginning to be revealed for this staging, which is totally, obviously yet another anti-Russian provocation", the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

News reports said German's lawyer has identified him as the executive director of a joint venture in Ukraine with German arms-maker Schmeisser.

Ukraine said it had acted to foil a Russian plot to kill Arkady Babchenko.