Russian journalist who 'died' shows up alive in Ukraine

Russian journalist who 'died' shows up alive in Ukraine

Ukrainian security officials had announced late on May 29 that Babchenko, a fierce critic of the Kremlin and a veteran Russian war correspondent, had been killed - shot three times in the back as he returned to his Kyiv apartment after buying bread.

Konstantin Kosachev, head of the worldwide affairs committee of the upper house of the Russian parliament, compared Ukraine's allegations to Britain's claims that Moscow was behind the nerve gas poisonings of a Russian former spy and his daughter in England.

The 41-year-old journalist had spoken publicly about the threats against his life and the fear that drove him to leave Russian Federation.

At the briefing, Gritsak claimed that the Ukrainian Security Service had information confirming that Babchenko's planned murder was ordered "specifically" by the Russian special services. Prominent Russians to have been murdered in Kiev include journalist Pavel Sheremet, who was killed in a vehicle bomb in 2016, and ex-Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov, who was shot dead in 2017. Olechka, I am terribly sorry, but there were no other options.

According to a translation from BBC Monitoring, Babchenko said: "I would like to apologise for what all of you had to experience, that you had to get through".

Russia's foreign ministry expressed relief at Babchenko being alive.

"I'm glad he is alive, but he undermined even further the credibility of journalists and the media", he added.

To the amazement and applause of the assembled journalists at the headquarters of the State Security Service, or SBU, Ukrainian authorities said they had staged his murder.

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Ukrainian security officials said two people were apprehended as a result of the sting: a Ukrainian man allegedly paid by Russian Federation to facilitate the foiled assassination, and the thwarted gunman himself.

"The important thing is my life has been saved and other, bigger terrorist attacks have been thwarted", he said. On February 27 a year ago, he wrote on Facebook that he had left Russian Federation.

He matter of factly told reporters, "I've done my work".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Ukraine's accusations were "very sad" as an investigation into the incident had yet to begin.

Babchenko, 41, one of Russia's best-known war reporters, spoke and wrote about leaving the country because of repeated threats that he and his family would be harmed. He said his comments had resulted in thousands of threats, his home address being published online and calls for him to be deported.

The former soldier criticised Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the Russian president's support for separatists in southeast Ukraine. 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.

Mr Babchenko's "killing" was the fourth of a Kremlin critic in the Ukrainian capital in two years.

"And I was lucky".

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