Russian journalist turns up alive after reported murder

Arkady Babchenko left Russia in 2017 saying he was receiving threats and concerned he might be jailed

A day after he was reported to have been murdered in Kiev, a prominent Russian journalist and critic of Vladimir Putin has turned out to be very much alive, after agreeing to fake his own death as part of a sting operation mounted by the Ukrainian security services.

The 41-year-old had reportedly been shot several times in the back and died in an ambulance on the way to hospital.

His reported murder touched off a war of words between Ukraine and Russian Federation, a flurry of condemnations from European capitals and Washington, and shivers through the journalistic communities in both countries.

Arkady Babchenko was earlier reported to have been killed in his apartment building in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

Babchenko left Russian Federation a year ago after he said he received a slew of death threats for his reporting. His family was not informed of the plan either, leading him to add: "Special apologies to my wife, Olechka, there was no other option".

He also apologized to his wife, who he said was not briefed on the scheme in advance, "for the hell she had to go through in the past two days".

In a controversial 2016 Facebook post, Babchenko wrote he had "no sympathy or pity" for the victims of a plane crash carrying Russia's Red Army choir to Syria given Moscow's support for Bashar al-Assad.

Russian Federation said Ukraine had used Babchenko as a propaganda tool.

He said a hitman was paid to carry out the killing after being recruited by Russian special forces.

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"I am convinced that the Russian totalitarian machine could not forgive his honesty and principled position", Ukraine's Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman posted on Facebook Tuesday.

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

Babchenko is a well-known critic of Russia's policies toward Ukraine.

In London, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was "appalled by the killing of Babchenko".

Russia's Investigative Committee said in an online statement late on Tuesday that it had launched a murder investigation into Babchenko's death.

He had been denounced by pro-Government politicians in Russia over comments on social media about the Russian bombing of Aleppo in Syria's war, and over his characterisation of Russia as an aggressor towards Ukraine.

Arkadiy Babchenko is the Russian journalist, war-time correspondent and the writer. "(But) Ukrainian authorities must now disclose what necessitated the extreme measure of staging news of the Russian journalist's murder".

In 2016, investigative journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed when a bomb exploded his auto.

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