Prominent Russian journalist who criticised Kremlin shot dead in Kiev

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To the applause and gasps of the press, Babchenko took the floor at the news conference and apologized to the friends and family who mourned for him and were unaware of the plan.

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".

Kiev police chief Andriy Kryshchenko told local media they suspected Mr Babchenko was killed because of his "professional activities".

Before ushering Babchenko into the room, Gritsak said the Ukrainian allegedly recruited by Russian agents to kill the reporter had hired an acquaintance to be the gunman.

Ukrainian parliamentary deputy Anton Herashchenko, who is also an aide to the interior minister, said Babchenko had just returned home from a nearby grocery store and was opening his apartment door when an assailant waiting in the stairwell shot him multiple times in the back.


Mr Babchenko, one of Russia's best-known war reporters, spoke and wrote past year about leaving the country because of repeated threats that he and his family would be harmed.

The State Security Service (SBU) said Russian Federation had sought to pay US$40,000 (NZ$) to assassinate Arkady Babchenko, who moved to Kiev a year ago following threats in his homeland.

At the event, he also shared his fears prior to leaving Russian Federation, comments that would prove to be eerily prescient given Tuesday's shooting outside his home: "For years I thought I'd be arrested", Babchenko said then.

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

"From Babchenko's position, even his Moscow colleagues looked this way: weak, conformist, inclined to endless compromises", Russian journalist Yury Saprykin wrote on Meduza, an independent news site.


A number of Kremlin critics have been killed in Ukraine in recent years, with one gunned down on a Kiev street in broad daylight and another whose vehicle exploded.

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.

He faced backlash after commenting on the crash of a Russian plane transporting the world-famous military choir Alexandrov Ensemble en route to Syria. "In Russia, dissidents like me are harassed with impunity".

In Kiev, he hosted a programme on the Crimean Tatar TV station ATR.

While studying law in Moscow aged 18, Mr Babchenko was conscripted into the Russian army and served during the Chechen wars from 1994-2000.


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