Russian journalist reportedly killed in Kiev turns up alive

Charlene Craig
May 30, 2018

Mr Gritsak said investigators had identified a Ukrainian citizen who was recruited and paid $40,000 by Russian security services to organise the journalist's killing.

Update, May 30, 2018, 10:50 am: On Wednesday, Arkady Babchenko showed up alive at a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, according to the Associated Press and other journalists in attendance.

Russian Federation denied the claims that it was behind Babchenko's murder, instead using the opportunity to lambaste the security of journalists in Ukraine.

Babchenko thanked the security services of Ukraine and asked his friends and his wife, who was also unaware of the operation, to forgive him for the suffering they had to endure thinking that he had been dead.

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In February 2017, writing for Britain's The Guardian newspaper, Babchenko said: "I can tell you what political harassment feels like in [President Vladimir] Putin's Russian Federation".

"I'm still alive", he said. "I would like to apologize for what you all had to go through ... because I've buried friends and colleagues many times, and I know it's a sickening-vomiting feeling when you have to bury your colleagues", he said.

The murder of anti-Kremlin reporter Arkady Babchenko was widely reported and condemned on Tuesday.

His reported murder had triggered a war of words between Ukraine and Russian Federation and sent shivers through the journalistic communities in both countries.

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Babchenko, 41, one of Russia's best-known war reporters, spoke and wrote about leaving the country because of repeated threats that he and his family would be harmed. It is claimed they were from the Wagner Group, a private army Moscow is said to be using in Syria.

Babchenko told RFE/RL in late 2016 that State Duma Deputy Vitaly Milonov, Federation Council member Frants Klintsevich, and Russian media like Channel One and Life News were "stitching together some fake news" about him.

In Ukraine, Babchenko worked for the Crimean Tatar television network, ATR, and reported frequently on Russia's support for separatist militants in eastern Ukraine.

He has contributed to a number of media outlets including top opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta and is an avid blogger, accusing Russian authorities of killing Kremlin critics and unleashing wars in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere. Russian authorities again denied any connection with the plane's downing over an area of Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatist forces.

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