"Murdered" Russian Journalist Babchenko Alive, Speaks on Ukrainian TV

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

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

Russian investigators have opened their own investigation into the killing and said they are ready to cooperate with Ukraine.

"I did my job and I'm still alive".

The chief of Ukraine's security service (SBU), Vasiliy Hrytsak, defended the need for deception, telling reporters it had helped the agency identify and catch the person who he said had promised a Ukrainian war veteran $30,000 to assassinate Babchenko.

Gritsak said the agency had collected proof his assassination had been ordered by the Russian security services. The unidentified Ukrainian man in turn allegedly hired an acquaintance to be the gunman, he added.

Babchenko, a Putin critic, lived in the Ukrainian capital after receiving threats at home for saying he did not mourn the victims of a Russian military plane crash.

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"I would like to apologise separately to my wife for the hell she had to experience in these two days". I am sorry, but there were no options here.

"Also, I would like to express big thanks to the Security Service of Ukraine for saving my life". He also said that a Ukrainian national, now detained, had planned to go to Russian Federation via a third country upon completing the contract.

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

The initial news sent shock waves across Ukraine and Russian Federation, where dozens of journalists have been targeted for assassination for their work.

Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian lawmaker who also moved to Ukraine, said Mr Babchenko continued being threatened after he settled last autumn in Kiev, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry released a sketch of a suspect wearing a cap and showing a beard, aged around 40 to 45-years-old.

He is a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his policy in Ukraine and Syria.

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"We think this should attract very tough worldwide reaction which will move the Ukrainian authorities towards active measures to resolve the situation", said Mr Peskov.

But the trading of words appeared to be in vain.

The surprise came as Gritsak held the news conference to announce that Ukrainian police had solved the reported killing.

The Committee to Protect Journalists revealed it is investigating the "unprecedented" situation as it said: "We are relieved that Arkady Babchenko is alive. Like many dissidents, I am used to abuse, but a recent campaign against me was so personal, so scary, that I was forced to flee". He had fled to the country as he feared for his life in Russian Federation.

One journalist from Radio Free Europe didn't see what the benefit of faking his death was for Babchenko.

In 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, who chronicled the killings and torture of civilians by the Russian military, was shot dead in her apartment.

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He took part in the second Chechen campaign in the 2000s as a contract soldier. He died five years later.

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