Russian journalist critical of Kremlin shot dead in Ukraine

Sergio Conner
May 31, 2018

Simon Otrovsky, a journalist who worked alongside Babchenko, tweeted on Wednesday: "While I am very happy Arkady is alive I am also angry and confused because my fellow reporters and I spent yesterday posting and reading memories we shared of him and feeling very down and out".

A dissident Russian journalist who was reported murdered in Kiev dramatically reappeared alive on Wednesday in the middle of a briefing about his own killing by the Ukrainian state security service.

But on Wednesday, an emotional Babchenko appeared before reporters saying he had been part of a special Ukrainian operation to thwart a Russian attempt on his life and said he was fine.

Babchenko, one of Russia's best-known war reporters, has spoken and written about leaving Russian Federation because of threats he and his family faced and finally relocated to Ukraine, according to AP.

He had been denounced by pro-government politicians in Russia over comments on social media about the Russian bombing of Syria, and over his characterization of Russia as an aggressor toward Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities said the goal of the staged murder was to catch the people who'd actually been planning to kill Babchenko.

The Committee to Protect Journalists in NY said on Twitter that "Ukrainian authorities should conduct a swift and thorough investigation" into Babchenko's death. His murder follows the earlier death of Ukranian-Belarussian journalist Pavel Sheremet by auto bomb in central Kiev in 2016.

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In Moscow, officials and MPs criticised Ukrainian authorities for their alleged failure to protect journalists.

In March 2017, renegade Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov was shot and killed at the entrance of an upscale hotel in Kyiv.

Babchenko's murder was the fourth of a Kremlin critic in the Ukrainian capital in two years.

"Ukraine is becoming the most risky country for reporters", Yevgeny Revenko said in remarks carried by the state RIA Novosti news agency.

Police said that they had made one arrest in connection with the extraordinary operation. Some even called for stripping Mr Babchenko of his Russian citizenship.

He fled Russian Federation in 2017 after receiving death threats over a post he made on social media.

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

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