'Murdered' Russian dissident journalist shows up alive at news conference

Aug. 9 2013 Arkady Babchenko 41 who had been scathingly critical of the Kremlin in recent years looks at an opposition picket in Moscow Russia. Police in the capital of Ukraine say a Russian journalist has been shot

Vasily Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, said the agency faked Babchenko's death to catch those who are trying to kill him.

He showed up at Gritsak's new conference on Wednesday and thanked everyone who was mourning his death.

Gritsak said investigators had identified a Ukrainian man who had been recruited and paid $40,000 (£30,000) by Russian security services to organise and carry out the killing.

Mr Babchenko was reportedly found by his wife bleeding at the entrance to his block of flats, shot several times in the back, and died in an ambulance.

News of the "death" of the prominent Russian war correspondent and former soldier set off a series of recriminations between Kiev and Moscow, and pictures and flowers were laid by mourners at the Russian embassy in Kiev.

He had been denounced by pro-government politicians in Russia over comments on social media about the Russian bombing of Syria and over his characterisation of Russia as an aggressor towards Ukraine.

It not immediately clear whether Babchenko's wife and friend were aware of the security operation.

Babchenko, a prominent war correspondent, is extremely critical of Russia's annexation of Crimea, and was forced to flee Russian Federation in February 2017 because of threats to him and his family.

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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko blamed Moscow for wanting to kill Babchenko, and congratulated his country's security services for becoming stronger in the face of "Russian aggression".

"Ukraine is becoming the most risky country for reporters", Russian lawmaker Yevgeny Revenko said.

Today's official narrative from the regime is that Arkady Babchenko is alive and well having not been shot or been the victim of any altercation. According to the journalist, he was tipped off a month ago by a source who said Russia's Federal Security Service was plotting an assassination attempt.

Babchenko's death follows those of prominent Russian journalist Pavel Sheremet, killed in a vehicle bomb in Kiev in 2016, and ex-Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov, who was shot dead in the city in 2017.

Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko has been seen in Ukraine.

The journalist was 19 when he fought with the Russian army in Chechnya in the 1990s. He had faced political harassment after writing a Facebook post critical of Russia's military action in Syria and describing the "indifference" he felt upon learning of a plane crash that killed members of a famous military choir. On February 27 previous year, he wrote on Facebook that he had left Russian Federation.

Kiev's police chief said he suspected the journalist was killed because of his work.

The Kremlin quickly issued a statement calling for an investigation into the murder.

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