Russian journalist’s fake murder involved swine blood and morgue

KIEV, Ukraine — The Russian journalist who worked with Ukrainian authorities to fake his own death says he was smeared with swine blood and taken to the morgue as part of his elaborately staged murder. Arkady Babchenko detailed the deception to reporters Thursday for the first time since Ukrainian authorities revealed they had staged his death to foil an alleged plot on his life by Moscow’s security services.

Babchenko told fellow reporters at a news conference in Kiev that he could have refused when Ukrainian officials approached him with the idea for the ruse about a month ago. He says he agreed of his own volition.

Kiev police said Tuesday that the 41-year-old Babchenko had been shot to death inside his apartment building, but announced the next day that he was alive and they had detained a suspect in the case. 

Babchenko apologized to his wife, who he said was not briefed on the scheme in advance, “for the hell she had to go through in the past two days. There was no choice there, either.”

The astonishing turn of events brought harsh criticism from Russia and the international media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders.

The journalist group’s director, Christophe Deloire, expressed on Twitter his “deepest indignation at the discovery of the manipulation of the Ukrainian secret services. It is always deeply dangerous for states to play with the facts.”

The group told CBS News that the staged murder was “distressing.”

“While the reappearance of the reporter may be a great relief, it is deeply regrettable that Ukraine’s authorities have played with the truth, no matter their motive,” it said.

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who was reported murdered in the Ukrainian capital on May 29, attends a news briefing by the Ukrainian state security service in Kiev, Ukraine May 30, 2018.

VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS

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