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Babchenko, who was reportedly shot dead on Tuesday inside his Ukraine home, today stunned journalists by appearing before a press conference in Kiev. However, Aleksandr Bortnikov, the head of Russia's Federal Security Service, claimed such allegations are "nonsense" and a "provocation".

Making things even stranger, it is now being said by the regime that the entire saga was a lie created to entrap an actual would-be murderer that was planning to kill Arkady Babchenko on the orders of the Russian government. Prominent Russians to have been murdered in Kiev include journalist Pavel Sheremet, who was killed in a vehicle bomb in 2016, and ex-Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov, who was shot dead in 2017. "I'm sorry, but there was no other way of doing it".

Regime media outlets have released the following video purporting to show Babchenko alive and well.

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

"We demand that the Ukrainian authorities make every effort to promptly investigate the crime", the Russian ministry said on May 29 after reports about Babchenko's "murder."

"I want to apologize that all of you had to go through that - I was at funerals of my friends and colleagues, so I know this nauseating feeling, but it was the only way out", he said.

Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian MP who serves as an adviser to the interior minister, said on Facebook: "As a result of the brilliant special operation conducted by Ukrainian law enforcers, the killer who was ordered to kill Arkady and the organiser of the murder was detained".

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In his last Facebook post before he disappeared, Babchenko recalled an incident four years ago when he was meant to fly in a Ukrainian military helicopter in Ukraine's embattled Donbass region.

"The important thing is my life has been saved and other, bigger terrorist attacks have been thwarted", he said. "It is the duty of the state to provide correct information to the public", said Deniz Yazici of the media freedom office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

That man in turn approached a former Ukrainian volunteer soldier to carry out the killing, Hrytsak said. "That's really helpful to all who care about journalists' safety".

Babchenko, a Kremlin critic, left Russian Federation past year after criticizing the Moscow government.

Babchenko fled Russian Federation in 2017, writing on social media he no longer felt safe living there.

Babchenko had been scathingly critical of the Kremlin in recent years. His flight from Russian Federation came several months after he wrote in a Facebook post that he wasn't sorry that members of a military band and state TV journalists died in a plane crash on their way to Russia's military base in Syria.

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


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