Published: Sat, June 02, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko turns up alive after reported murder

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko turns up alive after reported murder

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who had been reported shot and killed in the Ukrainian capital Tuesday, has shown up at a news conference very much alive.

Ukrainian police said Tuesday that Babchenko, a strong critic of the Kremlin, was shot multiple times in the back and found bleeding there by his wife.

A government official had previously said he later died in the ambulance on his way to the hospital.

Arkady Babchenko, 41, appeared at a press conference in Kyiv after the Ukrainian security service (SBU) announced that his assassination had been staged to catch a would-be assassin.

The security service said, according to the Post, that Babchenko's death was meant to be the first of some 30 planned killings of Russian citizens in Ukraine allegedly ordered by Russian special services.

Babchenko had since October 2017 worked in Kiev as a television anchor of the program, "Prime: Babchenko", airing on the Crimean Tatar channel ATR, news reports said. "Olya, excuse me, please, but there was no other option".

"I apologize to my wife".

Babchenko, 41, fled his native Russia for Ukraine a year ago after receiving death threats for criticizing Russian military involvement in Syria. "It is anti-Russian bluster instead of talking about the need to conduct a thorough, objective investigation", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters before it was revealed that Mr Babchenko was alive and well.

He said a hitman was paid to carry out the killing after being recruited by Russian special forces.

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Mark Galeotti, a veteran commentator on Russian Federation said the Ukrainian sting operation would play into Moscow's hands.

In London, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was "appalled by the killing of Babchenko".

Ukrainian officials led by Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman had accused Russian Federation of being behind the killing of the Kremlin critic, a charge that Moscow batted back.

Another journalist, Sergiy Grishyn, said "Babchenko will have to give me money for pills" for the stress he'd suffered.

In December 2016, Mr Babchenko wrote a Facebook post (in Russian) about a crashed Tu-154 transport plane, which fell into the Black Sea while carrying a Red Army choir to Syria.

Babchenko was well-known for his criticism of the Kremlin.

Poroshenko welcomed Babchenko with a hug at the presidential administration and said the journalist and his family would be given protection.

The military veteran served in the Russian forces in the 1990s in Chechnya before becoming a writer and an outspoken critic of the Kremlin's use of force in Syria, Ukraine and other conflicts.

In 2016, investigative journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed when a bomb exploded his vehicle.

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