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Having been called unpatriotic over a piece past year on Russia's intervention in Syria, Babchenko complained of an atmosphere of hate toward his work.

In a shocking twist Wednesday, he turned up alive at a news conference and revealed he was informed a month ago about the plan to fake his death.

The reporter, however, apologised to his wife for putting her through "this hell she had to live through for three days...but there was no other option".

"I am outraged by this horrific act", Mr Desir said in an earlier statement.

Today's official narrative from the regime is that Arkady Babchenko is alive and well having not been shot or been the victim of any altercation.

The person recruited for the killing and the mastermind of the plot have both been arrested, the Security Service said.

General prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, who appeared alongside Mr Babchenko, said it was necessary to fake the journalist's death so that the organisers of the plot to kill him would believe they had succeeded.

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The head of Ukraine's security service Vasyl Grytsak told reporters that the journalist's faked death was part of a "special operation" to pre-empt a real plot to kill him.

"Everything is over from yesterday", Mr Babchenko said.

"I know that sickening feeling when you bury a colleague", he added.

As a result of the brilliant operation conducted by Ukrainian law enforcement officers, the killer who received the order for the murder of Arkady and the organiser of the murder has been detained.

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.

That man in turn approached a former Ukrainian volunteer soldier to carry out the killing, Hrytsak said.

"The important thing is my life has been saved and other, bigger terrorist attacks have been thwarted", he said.

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Babchenko, 41, one of Russia's best-known war reporters, spoke and wrote about leaving the country because of repeated threats that he and his family would be harmed.

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

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.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said in a social media posting late on Tuesday he was convinced what he called "the Russian totalitarian machine" had not forgiven Babchenko for what Groysman called his honesty.

Babchenko did not take the intimidation too seriously, according to Ponomarev.

Mr Babchenko's "killing" was the fourth of a Kremlin critic in the Ukrainian capital in two years.

Just hours before his staged death, Babchenko wrote on Twitter about his fortune back in 2014, when he was refused travel on a Ukrainian military helicopter.

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