Babchenko faked his own death in elaborate sting operation

Anti-Putin journalist who was declared dead shows up at news briefing in Ukraine | TheHill

Anti-Putin journalist who was declared dead shows up at news briefing in Ukraine | TheHill

Russian journalist and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko strolled into a press conference in Ukraine Wednesday, despite reports that he had been murdered Tuesday.

Less than 24 hours after it was reported that Babchenko had died from three gunshots to the back in the stairwell of his apartment building in an apparent contract-style killing, he appeared alive and well at a press conference in Kiev.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted his congratulations to the Ukrainian Security Service and said he had given an order to provide Babchenko and his family with protection.

He said it had received information about a Russian plot and managed to prevent it.

Mr Babchenko has thanked the Ukrainian security service for saving his life and has apologised for what people went through. "Olya, excuse me, please, but there was no other option". "Separately, I want to apologize to my wife for the hell that she has been through".

Babchenko left Russian Federation in February 2017, saying he was receiving threats and concerned he might be jailed.

Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian MP who also moved to Ukraine, said Mr Babchenko continued being threatened after he settled in Kiev a year ago, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station.

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In recent years, he became a highly vocal critic of the Russian government - a stance that put him at great risk. The Ukrainian Security Service said he, in turn, paid a potential gunman $30,000 to carry out the hit, the newspaper says.

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

Moscow has described the allegations as part of an anti-Russian smear campaign.

In the wake of the purported death, Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said on Facebook he was convinced that "the Russian totalitarian machine didn't forgive his honesty and integrity".

Babchenko was well-known for his criticism of the Kremlin. His flight from Russian Federation came several months after he wrote in a Facebook post that he wasn't sorry members of a military band and state television journalists died in a plane crash on their way to Russia's military base in Syria.

"Babchenko was well known for his critical journalism, and authorities must consider his murder as an attack on press freedom", CPJ Europe and Central Asia coordinator Nina Ognianova said in a statement.

In Moscow, officials and lawmakers criticized Ukrainian authorities for their alleged failure to protect journalists. His murder follows the earlier death of Ukranian-Belarussian journalist Pavel Sheremet by auto bomb in central Kiev in 2016.

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