Ukraine admitted Wednesday it had staged the murder of anti-Kremlin journalist Arkady Babchenko in order to foil an attempt on his life by Russian Federation, a stunning development in a case that had attracted global headlines.
Police initially reported that Babchenko had been shot in the back while leaving his Kiev apartment and died en route to the hospital.
Arkady Babchenko's wife reportedly told authorities she believed he was shot because of his professional work.
One person is reportedly in Ukrainian custody, but the news has prompted confusion in Ukraine and a backlash from Russian Federation which was widely accused of ordering Babchenko murder.
Arkady Babchenko, 41, appeared at a press conference in Kyiv after the Ukrainian security service (SBU) announced that his assassination had been staged to catch a would-be assassin. "I would like to apologise for what you have all had to go through", Babchenko told reporters at a press conference. His family was not informed of the plan either, leading him to add: "Special apologies to my wife, Olechka, there was no other option".
Over the last two years, the streets of Kiev have witnessed the murders of two Russians critical of the Kremlin, former lawmaker Denis Voronenkov and investigative journalist Pavel Sheremet.
Gritsak said the elaborate ruse aided investigators in identifying a Ukrainian citizen who allegedly was paid $40,000 by Russian to organize and carry out the killing.
"I'm still alive", he said.
Ukrainian officials led by Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman had accused Russian Federation of being behind the killing of the Kremlin critic, a charge that Moscow batted back.
Moscow has described the allegations as part of an anti-Russian smear campaign.
Babchenko was a veteran war correspondent who worked for a number of media outlets over the years.
Hours before pretending to have been fatally shot, Babchenko wrote on Facebook that he narrowly escaped death exactly four years ago when the Ukrainian military refused to take him on a helicopter heading to the front line in eastern Ukraine.
In New York, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Twitter that "Ukrainian authorities should conduct a swift and thorough investigation" into Babchenko's murder. In one, he said he felt no regret about the deaths of Russian army choir members and others from a December 2016 plane crash as they were heading to perform before Russian troops in Syria. Russia's high commissioner for human rights, Tatiana Moskalkova, promised to address Ukrainian authorities, urging them to pay special attention to the investigation of the journalist's murder. His murder follows the earlier death of Ukranian-Belarussian journalist Pavel Sheremet by auto bomb in central Kiev in 2016.