For one day, the family and friends of Arkady Babchenko were led to believe that the Russian journalist had been the victim of an assassination.
In Russia, it’s not a far-fetched idea so nobody thought to question it. Within 24-hours, they received the shock of a lifetime when Babchenko appeared in a press conference, alive and well.
Edited highlights of the Babchenko press conference pic.twitter.com/RpcprrhM1n
— Alan White (@aljwhite) May 30, 2018
Apparently, the journalist worked with Ukrainian authorities to expose an assassination plot against him. The 41-year-old is often critical of the Kremlin which, in Russia, can be a death sentence.
To increase the realism of Babchenko’s faked assassination, the journalist was forced to keep away from family and friends. As expected, his miraculous return was met with a mixture of shock, joy and anger.
There have been hundreds of obituaries for #Babchenko published in Russia today by his colleagues, friends, enemies
…which he can now read. Speechless
— Polina Ivanova (@polina__ivanova) May 30, 2018
“The overriding emotion that we all have right now is we’re very pissed off because he sort of put us through hell,” a colleague of Babchenko explained to CNN.
Babchenko publicly apologized to his wife, stating: “Olechka, I am sorry, but there were no options here. I’m sorry for making you live through this. I’ve buried my own friends and colleagues many times myself.”
Turns out not even Babchenko's own wife – to say nothing of his six adopted children – knew about it. “Olechka, I am sorry, but there were no options here,” Babchenko says. “I'm sorry for making you live through this. I've buried my own friends and colleagues many times myself.”
— max seddon (@maxseddon) May 30, 2018
While those closest to the Russian journalist may not be amused, the internet most certainly was. The shocking scenario drew out a slew of meme responses making light of the situation.
when a guy you reported as dead yesterday shows up at your press conference pic.twitter.com/K7t6VaTPyi
— Ethan Booker (@Ethan_Booker) May 30, 2018
Using images from The Simpsons, American Horror Story and popular memes, Twitter turned the situation into a multitude of clever jokes.
News just in on Arkady Babchenko. pic.twitter.com/fbEh6yUerE
— Joe Leogue (@JoeLeogue) May 30, 2018
Arkady Babchenko shows up at the news conference: pic.twitter.com/DbzkN0GU5w
— David Mack (@davidmackau) May 30, 2018
Bad Husbands Of The World Association instantly award Babchenko the “Thank You For Lowering The Bar” Prize 2018. https://t.co/60JqhDcXLm
— Mark Wallace (@wallaceme) May 30, 2018
This is the first meme I've ever shared but it's a day of firsts so… pic.twitter.com/5glv1VjU1H
— Jane Bradley (@jane__bradley) May 30, 2018
How Babchenko’s life will change in the wake of his faked death is as yet unknown. But columnist for The Guardian, Dawn Foster, put forth a very likely scenario.
Ukrainian divorce lawyers desperately scrabbling to be the first to get hold of Arkady Babchenko's wife.
— Dawn Foster (@DawnHFoster) May 30, 2018
Judge: And what is the reason for your divorce?
Mrs Babchenko: He faked his own death
Mrs Babchenko: To own the Russians
Mr Babchenko, leaning to mic: That is correct
Judge: Divorce approved
— Mollie Goodfellow (@hansmollman) May 30, 2018
It may not help his situation that when he reappeared alive and well at the news conference, which was originally assumed to be to provide more details about his murder, Babchenko had this face:
Yup, that's me. You're probably wondering how I ended up in this situation. pic.twitter.com/clFpEbSd8e
— Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) May 30, 2018
H/T: Twitter, CNN