Kremlin critic turns up alive on TV after reported murder

Kremlin critic turns up alive on TV after reported murder

Arkady Babchenko was reported to have been shot in his apartment in Kiev on Tuesday, in a high-profile murder thought to be related to his prominent journalism work.

Mr Babchenko, 41, was found bleeding at the entrance to his block of flats by his wife and died in an ambulance.

Ukraine's Security Service said the operation foiled a real attempt against Babchenko's life.

"I'm still alive", Babchenko told a group of fellow reporters. "I'm sorry for making you live through this".

Sporting a black hoodie and appearing somewhat perplexed, Babchenko first offered his wife "special apologies for the hell she's been through these past two days".

Babchenko, 41, fled his native Russia for Ukraine previous year after receiving death threats for criticizing Russian military involvement in Syria.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was happy to see that Mr Babchenko was alive, but said Ukraine had used his story as propaganda.

Moscow's annexation of Crimea and support for separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine were topics on which the journalist was scathingly critical of the Kremlin. He was given $40,000 to organize the murder, $30,000 for the killer and $10,000 for being an intermediary, the SBU said.

"We are relieved that #ArkadyBabchenko is alive", it said.

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However, Aleksandr Bortnikov, the head of Russia's Federal Security Service, claimed such allegations are "nonsense" and a "provocation".

In a post to Facebook just hours after news of Babchenko's death emerged, Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman said, "I am convinced that the Russian totalitarian machine could not forgive his honesty and principled position".

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

"Everything is over from yesterday", Babchenko said.

Mr Babchenko sparked a backlash in Russian Federation for his comments in a 2016 Facebook post on the military plane crash.

Poroshenko welcomed Babchenko with a hug at the presidential administration and said the journalist and his family would be given protection. "From Babchenko's position, even his Moscow colleagues looked this way: weak, conformist, inclined to endless compromises", Russian journalist Yury Saprykin wrote on Meduza, an independent news site.

While studying law in Moscow aged 18, Mr Babchenko was conscripted into the Russian army and served during the Chechen wars from 1994-2000.

Ukrainian lawmaker Anton Gerashchenko wrote on Facebook that investigators would be looking at "Russian spy agencies' efforts to get rid of those who are trying to tell the truth about what is going on in Russia and Ukraine", the AP reports. Prominent journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed in Kiev on July 20, 2016, when an explosive device detonated under the auto he was driving.

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