Journalist critical of Kremlin shot and killed in Ukraine

Journalist critical of Kremlin shot and killed in Ukraine

A Russian journalist who was reportedly gunned down in Ukraine's capital strolled into a news conference that authorities called overnight to discuss the investigation of his death, revealing that the slaying had been staged to foil an alleged Kremlin hit plot.

Russian Federation reacted to the staged murder of Babchenko: the Investigative Committee of Russian Federation opened a criminal investigation, Russia's Foreign Ministry demanded that Ukraine conducts an on-the-spot investigation of the journalist's murder.

"Turns out not even Babchenko's own wife - to say nothing of his six adopted children - knew about it. "Olechka, I am sorry, but there were no options here", Babchenko says".

The weird scenes were a shock to everyone - including Mr Babchenko's wife, who received an apology from her husband for faking his own death.

On Tuesday, Kiev police told reporters that Babchenko had been shot multiple times in the back at his apartment and had died from his injuries.

Mr Babchenko, one of Russia's best-known war reporters, fled the country in February 2017 after receiving death threats.

Babchenko, 41, was scathingly critical of the Kremlin's policies, assailing Moscow's annexation of Crimea, its support for separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine and the Russian campaign in Syria.

The head of Ukraine's security service Vasyl Grytsak said the set-up had foiled "a cynical plot and (allowed his officers to) document how the Russian security service was planning for this crime".

Mr Babchenko's reappearance elicited gasps, then cheers and applause from journalists at the briefing.

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The later news that it was fake sent yet more shock waves, including for those who were still mourning Babchenko.

Writing on Twitter, the security service said it had received prior warning about the attempted murder of Babchenko and made a decision to conduct an operation to collect evidence of terrorist activity by the Russian special services on Ukrainian territory.

The journalist was killed less than a month after President Vladimir Putin was inaugurated for his fourth Kremlin term and as Russian Federation gears up to host the World Cup later this month.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said it was "great news" that Babchenko was alive but on Twitter she slammed the "propagandistic effect" of the set-up.

He has also stated that the murder of Russian journalist Arkadiy Babchenko was ordered by Russian special forces. "All it takes is one case like this to cast doubt on all the other political assassinations", he said in a nod to the recent murders of a number of Kremlin critics in Ukraine. "Ukrainian authorities must now disclose what necessitated the extreme measure of staging news of the Russian journalist's murder".

Mr Gritsak said killing Mr Babchenko was part of a larger alleged plot by Russian security services. Police said Babchenko had been targeted because of his work.

He said: "Four years ago General Kulchitsky wouldn't take me on his helicopter because there wasn't the space".

In December 2016, Babchenko wrote a Facebook post (in Russian) about a crashed Tu-154 transport plane, which went into the Black Sea while carrying a Red Army choir to Syria.

He said he regretted that Babchenko agreed to be part of it.

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