Arkady Babchenko, the dissident Russian journalist and Kremlin critic reported to have been shot dead in Kiev on Tuesday, has turned up alive in Ukraine.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Vasily Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, said the death had been staged in order to catch those who were trying to kill him.
Authorities had received information about a Russian security services plot to kill Babchenko and managed to prevent it.
His wife— who found his body in a pool of blood in their flat— was unaware of the operation and thought he had been killed.
"Olechka, I am sorry, but there were no options here. I would like to apologise for what you have all had to go through," Babchenko, who looked on the verge of tears at times, told reporters.
"I'm sorry for making you live through this. I've buried my own friends and colleagues many times myself."
Babchenko thanked the Ukrainian security service for saving his life.
The Ukrainian Security Services says it was "normal" because "Sherlock Holmes did it".
I'm glad he is alive, but he undermined even further the credibility of journalists and the media.
But Russian journalists speaking to HuffPost UK have expressed doubts about the operation.
Andrei Soldatov, editor of the Agentura.Ru web site, said: "... to me, it's crossing a line big time.
"Babchenko is a journalist not a policeman, for Christ sake, and part of our job is trust, whatever Trump and Putin say about fake news.
"I'm glad he is alive, but he undermined even further the credibility of journalists and the media."
Oleg Kashin, a Russian journalist who was brutally attacked in 2010, told HuffPost UK that while the development was undoubtedly good news, those close to Babchenko might not be so pleased: "What is better— to be killed or to be part of this Macabre show?
"I think to be alive is good but I'm not sure that Arkady's friends tomorrow will be happy to talk with him or smile at him tomorrow."
Sparked backlash on 2016 Facebook post
Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker who serves as an adviser to the interior minister, described the operation in a Facebook post, detailing how "very limited circle of people" knew the truth.
His reported murder had triggered a war of words between Ukraine and Russia and sent shivers through the journalistic communities in both countries.
Babchenko sparked a backlash in Russia for his comments in a 2016 Facebook post on a Russian military plane crash. He said his comments had resulted in thousands of threats, his home address being published online and calls for him to be deported.
The plane, carrying 92 people, including dozens of Red Army Choir singers, dancers and orchestra members, crashed into the Black Sea on its way to Syria in December 2016, killing everyone on board.