Even journalist's wife led to think he was dead

2013 file image of Arkady Babchenko

A Russian journalist has turned up at a news conference in the Ukrainian capital today less than 24 hours after police reported he had been shot and killed at his Kiev apartment building.

Babchenko, clad in a black sweatshirt, walked into the room as other reporters gasped and exclaimed their surprise, then broke into applause.

Grytsak announced authorities had arrested the alleged mastermind of the plot, saying a Ukrainian citizen named only by the initial G. had offered to pay a hitman to carry out the killing after being recruited by Russian special forces and paid $40,000.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said he was "relieved to learn that Babchenko' s murder was staged by Ukrainian police and that he is alive".

"Sorry for imposing this upon you, but there was no other way", he said.

Ukrainian officials asked him to participate in a sting operation to avoid being assassinated, he said.

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Mr Babchenko has also been a contributor for Russia's top opposition paper the Novaya Gazeta.

"I'm still alive for the moment".

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko (centre) has shown up at a news conference alive after being reported dead. "We know some names but I won't name them".

Ukrainian security officials said two people were apprehended as a result of the sting: a Ukrainian man allegedly paid by Russian Federation to facilitate the foiled assassination, and the thwarted gunman himself.

Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian MP who serves as an adviser to the interior minister, said on Facebook: "As a result of the brilliant special operation conducted by Ukrainian law enforcers, the killer who was ordered to kill Arkady and the organiser of the murder was detained".

The Kremlin described such allegations as part of an anti-Russian smear campaign.

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"The important thing is my life has been saved and other, bigger terrorist attacks have been thwarted", he said. The Ukrainian man also was supposed to procure large quantities of weapons and explosives, including 300 AK-47 rifles and "hundreds of kilos of explosives", to perpetrate acts of terror in Ukraine, he said.

Ukraine also faced a backlash from global journalism figures.

The SBU said it had received information about the plot and had managed to prevent it.

He matter of factly told reporters, "I've done my work". "That's really helpful to all who care about journalist safety".

Babchenko fought in Russia's two Chechen campaigns in the 1990s and early 2000s before becoming a war correspondent and author.

Babchenko left Russian Federation in February 2017 after receiving threats, living first in the Czech Republic, then in Israel, before moving to Kiev. In December 2016, Babchenko had written a Facebook post - about the Kremlin's actions in Aleppo, Syria - which was deemed "insufficiently patriotic" by authorities.

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Several Russian lawmakers said at the time that Babchenko should be stripped of his citizenship over the comment, and Russian state media called him a traitor.

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