In late May, Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko was reportedly found dead in his apartment in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, in what authorities said was the Kremlin’s latest assassination of a dissident reporter.
Less than 24 hours later, the 41-year-old walked into the police press conference about his own assassination, alive and well.
His “murder,” he explained to the stunned room who might as well have just seen a ghost, had been part of an elaborate sting operation by Ukraine’s secret service, the SBU, to catch Russian hitmen who were really out to kill him and as many as 29 others, according to Ukrainian intelligence.
The stunt grabbed headlines around the world — and soon triggered a wave of condemnation from fellow journalists. Now, they argued, any time a reporter actually was killed by Russia or any other repressive government, critics would dismiss the reports as “fake news.”
Despite the blowback, Babchenko has remained unrepentant, telling VICE News that the plot to murder him left him with little choice but to cooperate with the SBU’s plan.
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