Russian journalist shot and killed in Ukrainian capital

Arkady Babchenko

Arkady Babchenko

Arkady Babchenko, a fiercely anti-Kremlin journalist who had been reported shot and killed in Kiev, showed up alive Wednesday at a news conference to explain that police faked his death to catch the man who ordered a hit on him.

Lavrov, who called Babchenko's killing a tragedy, said the allegation was nonsense and a continuation of what he called Kiev's anti-Russian course.

A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry wrote that it was good news that Babchenko was alive, but said Ukraine had used him as a "propaganda effect". "I would like to apologise for what you have all had to go through", Babchenko told reporters at a press conference. "I'm sorry you had to go through this but there was no other way".

Sporting a black hoodie and appearing somewhat perplexed, Babchenko first offered his wife "special apologies for the hell she's been through these past two days".

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

His murder triggered a huge outpouring of grief among Russia's liberal opposition, with journalists and politicians warning that Kremlin critics had become fair game under President Vladimir Putin.

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. The two countries have been at odds since a popular revolt in Ukraine in 2014 toppled a Russian-backed government in favour of a pro-Western one.

Ethical questions were also raised in the wider journalism community.

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"Ukrainian authorities must disclose what necessitated the extreme measure of staging news of the Russian journalist's murder". Some media organisations said the staged plot undermined the credibility of journalists. He said the most important thing was that what he called other big acts of terror had been thwarted. "I want to live more than to die".

"The organizer of the crime talked about the need to eliminate 30 people in Ukraine".

"Before ushering Babchenko into the room, Gritsak said investigators had identified a Ukrainian citizen who had been recruited and paid $40,000 by the Russian security service to organize and carry out the killing". Police said Babchenko had been targeted because of his work.

Ukraine's prime minister, foreign minister, the European Union, the United States and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe were among the many to condemn Babchenko's reported murder. The security service declined to say who the other 29 people were.

The journalist group's director, Christophe Deloire, expressed on Twitter his "deepest indignation at the discovery of the manipulation of the Ukrainian secret services".

"It is always very unsafe for a government to play with the facts, especially using journalists for their fake stories", the head of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, wrote on Twitter. When a brief but bloody war broke out between Russian Federation and Georgia over South Ossetia in 2008, Babchenko went to the separatist region to cover the conflict as a correspondent for Novaya Gazeta, an award-winning opposition newspaper in Russian Federation. Mr Babchenko did not take the intimidation too seriously, Mr Ponomarev said, before the fact that the murder was staged came out.

The Committee to Protect Journalists tweeted a statement skeptical of the sting operation.

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