Published: Wed, May 30, 2018
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

'Murdered' Russian journalist alive; death staged to flush out assassins

'Murdered' Russian journalist alive; death staged to flush out assassins

Kiev and national police had said Mr Babchenko, a strong critic of the Kremlin, was shot multiple times in the back at his apartment building and found bleeding by his wife.

Harlem Desir, the media freedom representative at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said he was "horrified" by Mr Babchenko's death.

Babchenko, one of Russia's best-known war correspondents, had left Russia fearing for his life after criticizing Russian policy in Ukraine and Syria.

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

Ukrainian and Russian officials immediately traded finger-pointing over his death.

Writing on Twitter, the security service said it had received prior warning about the attempted murder of Babchenko and chose to conduct an operation to collect evidence of terrorist activity by the Russian special services on Ukrainian territory.

The Associated Press (AP) is reporting that Ukrainian security officials "confirmed" Babchenko's death to help track down the would-be killers.

Ukrainian officials led by Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman had accused Russian Federation of being behind the killing of the Kremlin critic, a charge that Moscow batted back.

Another renowned journalist, Pavel Sheremet, a native of Belarus who had worked for Russian media outlets in the past, was killed in a auto bombing in central Kiev in July 2016.

Liege shooting: Gunman 'kills two policemen' in Belgium
Belgium was then hit by its own IS suicide attacks on Brussels airport and a metro station which killed 32 people in 2016. The country's federal crisis centre said there was "absolutely no confirmation yet that the incident is terror-related".

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

In 2016, Pavel Sheremet, a renowned reporter, who was a prominent critic of the Russian and Ukrainian governments, was killed by a bomb placed on his vehicle. The case has remained unsolved. In March 2017, Denis Voronenko, a former pro-Kremlin Russian MP who had defected to Ukraine, was gunned down in broad daylight in front of a hotel in central Kiev. Ukrainian prosecutors alleged that Mr Voronenkov, who had toed the Kremlin line while serving as a Russian MP but turned into a Kremlin critic after his 2016 move to Ukraine, was killed on orders from a Russian crime lord.

Babchenko served in the Russian army and fought during the first separatist war in Chechnya during the 1990s.

Russian state media mocked Ukraine for solving a murder it had staged itself, while the Russian Foreign ministry said it was happy that Babchenko was alive, but said Ukraine has used his story as propaganda.

He wrote about his experience as a young soldier in the Chechen campaigns in a book published in English under the title "One Soldier's War".

Babchenko sparked a backlash in Russia for his comments in a 2016 Facebook post on a Russian military plane crash. Some even called for stripping Babchenko of his Russian citizenship.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman had said in a social media posting late on Tuesday that he was convinced what he called "the Russian totalitarian machine" had not forgiven Babchenko for what Groysman called his honesty.

Babchenko left Russian Federation in February 2017 after receiving threats, living first in the Czech Republic, then in Israel, before moving to Kiev.

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