Arkady Babchenko: The plot twist that 'crossed the line'

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Media caption,

Back from the dead?

It began as a tragedy. It ended like an episode of Sherlock.

The story of the fake murder of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko shocked many, including seasoned journalists.

Ukrainian authorities staged the murder of Babchenko as part of a sting operation to foil a Russian assassination plot.

After the initial announcement saying Babchenko was murdered he surprised everyone when he turned up at a press conference in Kiev on Wednesday - the day after his reported death.

His re-emergence caused a swirl of conflicting emotions among Russian and Ukrainian social media users.

'Plot twist'

Jack Stubbs of Reuters dubbed it "the world's biggest ever season-finale plot twist," as people compared Babchenko to television characters who have been known to rise from the dead.

Photographer Michael Bernadsky compared Babchenko to Jon Snow from Game of Thrones on Facebook, while several people shared a cartoon of the journalist dressed as Kenny from South Park.

Meanwhile, many respondents to Wednesday's BBC article posted on Reddit noted similarities with the plot of The Dark Knight.

Some of those criticising Babchenko online used a hashtag combining the Ukrainian's surname with a Russian swear word, with over 1,000 tweets using the portmanteau.

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With Babchenko being one of the top trends on Twitter and Facebook in Russia and Ukraine, reaction has varied between relief and anger - particularly from other journalists.

Pavlo Kazarin, a journalist based in Kiev, saw the funny side as he tweeted that he would "kill him myself now".

But other colleagues saw things differently.

Yuriy Svirko wrote on Facebook that "you just don't joke like that" after the historic murders of journalists Georgiy Gongadze in 2000 and Pavel Sheremet in 2016.

Russian journalist Andrei Soldatov said Babchenko was "crossing a line" and claimed his actions "undermined even further the credibility of journalists and the media".

While Channel 4 News International Editor Lindsey Hilsum expressed her concern this could have wider implications on the safety of journalists worldwide.

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