Russian journalist and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko has appeared at a news conference after widespread reports he had been shot dead.
The Ukrainian security service said they faked the 41-year-old’s killing to catch out people who were targeting him.
The service said investigators identified a Ukrainian citizen who was allegedly paid $40,000 (£30,000) by the Russian security service to organise and carry out the killing. The suspect has been detained.
Moscow-born war reporter Mr Babchenko, 41, was said to have left behind a wife and six children when it was thought he had been murdered.
Ukrainian police claimed he had been shot multiple times in the back at his Kiev apartment building and was found bleeding by his partner.
He later appeared at a news conference saying “I’m still alive”, where he apologised to her, and said she had not been briefed on the operation beforehand.
Even before his fake death, Mr Babchenko was a controversial figure in his home country where he claimed he and his family had repeatedly faced threats.
The former soldier criticised Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, and also criticised the Russian president’s support for separatists in southeast Ukraine.
Mr Babchenko has also been a contributor for Russia’s top opposition paper the Novaya Gazeta.
The journalist was 19 when he fought with the Russian army in Chechnya in the 1990s.
He fought in the second Chechen campaign in the 2000s as a contract soldier.
Mr Babchenko has repeatedly said he hates war and does not want to take up arms again.
He wrote in 2017: “I used to be a good soldier.
“And now I am a bad soldier.
“I want to live more than to die.”
Mr Babchenko was in favour of an uprising in Kiev that ousted a Moscow-backed regime in 2014.
As a reporter he covered a conflict between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian insurgents in the east of the former Soviet country following the annexation of Crimea.
He left Moscow after a campaign of harassment, and went on to live in the Czech Republic and Israel before settling in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
Mr Babchenko later became shunned from his Moscow colleagues after a series of bombastic Facebook posts
The Russian journalist Yury Saprykin wrote on the independent news site Meduza: “From Babchenko’s position, even his Moscow colleagues looked this way: weak, conformist, inclined to endless compromises.”
He wrote in a controversial post in 2016 that he had “no sympathy or pity” for the victims of a plane crash carrying Russia’s Red Army choir to Syria.
In Kiev, he hosted a programme on the Crimean Tatar TV station ATR.
Mr Babchenko endlessly promoted doom-and-gloom scenarios for Russia under Putin.
He would say: “The motherland will always dump you, my son.”
In a Facebook post issued hours before was he reportedly killed he wrote about his “second birthday”.
He was referring to an instance where a Ukrainian general refused to let him on a helicopter that was then shot-down by Kremlin-backed rebels in 2014.
All 14 people on board were killed.