Russian scribe turns up alive during briefing about his own ‘killing’

Sergei Bobylev  TASS

Remarkably, Mr Babchenko showed up at the news conference and thanked everyone who was mourning his death.

Vasily Gritsak, head of the service, told reporters at a press conference that Babchenko's murder had been staged.

Officials in Russia reacted with reserved dismay to the staged assassination of a Russian journalist by Ukrainian state security services (SBU), which led to claims that the Kremlin had ordered the "hit".

"I'm still alive", Arkady Babchenko, 41, told startled fellow reporters at the news conference held less than 24 hours after police reported he had been shot and killed at his Kiev apartment building.

The murder will further strain ties between Ukraine and Russian Federation, post-Soviet allies who fell out following the ouster of Ukraine's pro-Kremlin leader in 2014.

Writing on Twitter, the security service said it made a decision to conduct the operation to collect evidence of terrorist activity by the Russian special services on Ukrainian territory.

Arkady Babchenko died of his wounds - multiple gunshots to his back - in an ambulance after his wife found him covered in his blood in their home, police said, adding they suspected the killing was linked to Babchenko's professional activities.

The book led to work as a war correspondent for a number of Russian newspapers, reporting on the country's involvement in one nearby conflict after another: the Second Chechen War, the 2008 invasion of Georgia, and 2010 ethnic clashes in Kyrgystan.

Arkady Babchenko, who moved to the city previous year following threats in his homeland, was sacked on after returning from buying bread and died of his injuries in an ambulance, local police said late Tuesday.

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

However, the journalist has appeared at a news conference in Ukraine.

Gritsak said killing Babchenko was part of a larger alleged plot by Russian security services.

Arkady Babchenko was shot in the back on May 29 outside his apartment in Kyiv, where he lived in exile.

Even after he moved to Kiev, the journalist supposedly continued to be threatened.

Earlier today the Kremlin had described the allegation by Ukraine that it was behind the murder of Mr Babchenko as an anti-Russian smear.

Some of his articles and posts outraged many Russians. "In Russia, dissidents like me are harassed with impunity".

After moving to Kiev last autumn he had been working as a host for Crimean TV station ATR.

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

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