Russian Journalist Faked His Own Death, Ukraine's Security Chief Says

Russian Journalist Faked His Own Death, Ukraine's Security Chief Says

"Then I would very much like to thank the Security Service of Ukraine for saving my life", he said. He was given US$40,000 to organise the murder, US$30,000 for the killer and US$10,000 for being an intermediary, it said.

A Russian journalist and outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin is alive after he was reported shot and killed in his apartment in Kiev, Ukraine.

The State Security Service, or SBU, said Russian Federation had sought to pay $40,000 to assassinate Arkady Babchenko, who moved to Kiev previous year following threats in his homeland.

The Ukrainian president's office referred journalists on Wednesday to comments by Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, who said it was too early to draw conclusions but that there was "an astounding similarity to the methods Russian Federation uses to provoke political destabilisation".

Ukraine and Russian Federation traded accusations after Babchenko was reported to have been shot dead in Kiev, in a killing that sent shivers through the journalistic communities in both countries.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday finding out Babchenko was still alive came as the "best news". "Olechka, I am sorry, but there were no options here".

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He later defiantly promised on Twitter to "die at 96 after dancing on Putin's grave".

News of the "death" of the prominent Russian war correspondent and former soldier set off a series of recriminations between Kiev and Moscow, and pictures and flowers were laid by mourners at the Russian embassy in Kiev.

Russia dismissed the charge as part of an "anti-Russian campaign", its foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said. It also brought condemnation from the United States and European countries. Babchenko's wife, he wrote, had called to say that the journalist had been shot in their home and was taken to the hospital.

"To me, it's crossing a line big time".

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

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

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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 repeatedly said he faced death threats.

Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian lawmaker who also moved to Ukraine, said Babchenko continued to be threatened after he settled past year in Kiev, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station.

Authorities said his death had been staged to foil a plot on his life by Moscow's security services and one arrest was made.

He fled Russia after he received threats for saying he did not mourn the victims of a Russian defence ministry plane crash in a 2016 Facebook post.

He moved to Kiev last autumn, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station ATR.

"A mindless and tragic mistreatment of public empathy that discredits so many things at once - Ukraine, Russian liberals, journalists".

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