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File photo of Russian journalist Arkidiy Babchenko File photo of Russian journalist Arkidiy Babchenko  (AFP or licensors)

'Killed' Russian journalist shows up alive at news conference

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who had been reported shot and killed in the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday, shows up at a news conference on Wednesday very much alive, after it was revealed his death was staged.

By Stefan J. Bos

Vasily Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, told reporters that the agency faked Babchenko's death to catch those who were trying to kill him.

Kiev and national police had said Babchenko, a strong critic of the Kremlin, was shot multiple times in the back at his apartment building and found bleeding by his wife.

He showed up at Gritsak's news conference on Wednesday and thanked everyone who was mourning his death. Babchenko, 41, one of Russia's best-known war reporters, left Russia last year citing threats that he and his family would be harmed.

Earlier in the day, Ukraine blamed Russia for being behind the alleged killing in Kiev of the 41-year-old Babchenko.

Colleagues and friends were seen trying to get a glimpse of the Kiev apartment where he was allegedly shot and killed.

'Covered in blood'

His wife, it was said, found Babchenko in the hallway covered in blood. He was shot multiple times and died on his way to the hospital. Security forces are now surrounding the crime scene.

At least some government officials and journalists were quick to blame Russia saying the journalist had exposed military and other actions of Russia in Ukraine and other countries.

Even Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told journalists: "It is about finding out, as I said, the Russian patterns there." 

And Ukraine's Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said in a statement on his Facebook website that he was "confident that" what he called "the Russian totalitarian machine" did not forgive him the journalist's "honesty and principled stance."

Journalist Babchenko, who was an outspoken critic of the Kremlin, fled Russia last year and settled in Ukraine saying he feared for his life.

Serving in the army

He had served in the Russian army during the two wars in Chechnya in the 1990s and became one of Russia's best-known war reporters.

Babchenko stood in unofficial elections organized by the opposition in 2012 and condemned Russia's actions in Syria and eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian separatists fight against Ukrainian government forces.

Russia has denied wrongdoing and said "bloody crimes" had become routine for the "Kiev regime." Moscow also said it is ready to assist in investigating the murder of the 41-year old journalist, who worked in Kiev as a presenter on Ukraine's channel ATR TV.

Russian Investigative Committee spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko expresses Russia's willingness to assist Kiev with solving the murder of the Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko. She adds that Russian investigators are ready to carry out the necessary actions not only in Russia but also in Ukraine.

Kiev has in recent years seen several deadly attacks on high-profile figures, including journalists and politicians. Most of them were vocal critics of the Kremlin.

But the latest events underscored writer Mark Twain's famous words: "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

30 May 2018, 17:14