Journalist Arkady Babchenko's faked murder aimed at preventing an assassination attempt does not change Moscow's view of Ukraine as a risky place for journalists, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
The Ukrainian agents told him the Russian security services had placed an order for his slaying the month before that, Babchenko, who fled Russia in February 2017 because of what he described as death threats.
Arkady Babchenko, the dissident Russian journalist who faked his own murder to foil an alleged Kremlin assassination plot, has revealed how he hid in a Ukrainian mortuary to convince the world that he was dead.
Officials reported on Tuesday night that Babchenko, a Kremlin critic, had been shot to death in his apartment in Kiev, and released photos of him laying in a pool of blood. "I know that sickening feeling when you bury a colleague". His return brought unexpected relief to those who mourned him, but it has also raised concerns from those anxious that the manner in which the ruse was carried out will have lasting negative implications. He was taken in an ambulance to a hospital intensive care unit, where a forensic expert officially "documented" his death.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Kiev would offer protection to Babchenko and his family. After that, he ended up in a morgue.
From the morgue, where he changed clothes, Mr Babchenko watched television reports on his death until he was taken to a safe house.
The head of Ukraine's security service, Vasyl Hrytsak, said an elaborate sting operation had been set up to catch hitmen paid by Russian forces. "That Babchenko had been killed?" he said.
However, Babchenko later hit back at what he described as "the keepers of morality, who are dissatisfied with the fact that I somehow wrongly, in their opinion, did not die". Relations between the two countries have been strained since 2014, when Russian Federation annexed Crimea and separatists backed by Moscow in eastern Ukraine have fought government troops in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people.
Ukrainian authorities rushed to defend the stunt, with Interior Minister Arsen Avakov stating he was surprised with "pseudo-moral" criticism from overseas and that the secret services achieved with the operation "enough ... to be satisfied". The unidentified Ukrainian man in turn allegedly hired an acquaintance to be the gunman, Gritsak said.
The list received from the "Russian source" in this case (naming the 30 people Moscow supposedly wanted dead) was also handed over to Ukrainian counterintelligence, German says.
Herman said he had been contacted by someone close to the Kremlin about plans to kill Babchenko but that he instead turned this information over to the Ukrainian authorities and worked on counter-intelligence operations with them.