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Top Russian Official Pledges Support for Family of Slain Journalist, Arkady Babchenko

31 May 2018

Russia's senior-most lawmaker has pledged support for the family of journalist Arkady Babchenko, who was killed in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on Tuesday night.

Ukrainian security service chief Vasily Gritsak said the agency staged Babchenko's death to catch people trying to assassinate him, The Guardian reports.

On Wednesday, at a news conference organized to give reporters updates about his assassination, he showed up alive.

According to a translation from BBC Monitoring, Babchenko said: "I would like to apologise for what all of you had to experience, that you had to get through".

Before ushering Mr Babchenko into the room, Mr Gritsak said investigators had identified a Ukrainian citizen who had been recruited and paid $40,000 (€34,000) by Russian security services to organise and carry out the killing.

Authorities announced on Tuesday that Babchenko's wife discovered him with gunshot wounds at their apartment and he died en route to a Kiev hospital.

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Mr Babchenko took part in the war in Chechnya as a soldier.

Babchenko, who wrote for opposition media, was one of Russia's best-known war correspondents.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko blamed Moscow for wanting to kill Babchenko, and congratulated his country's security services for becoming stronger in the face of "Russian aggression".

The Committee to Protect Journalists revealed it is investigating the "unprecedented" situation as it said: "We are relieved that Arkady Babchenko is alive".

But on Wednesday, an emotional Babchenko appeared before reporters saying he had been part of a special Ukrainian operation to thwart a Russian attempt on his life and said he was fine.

The contract hit was ordered by the Russian special service, the SBU said.

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The SBU also said that the assassin was apprehended.

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

In March of the same year, former Russian MP Denis Voronenkov was shot dead outside a hotel in Kiev.

Video shared on Twitter by Radio Free Europe's Russian service shows his ATR colleagues rejoicing in cheers and disbelief at seeing Babchenko alive.

On February 27, 2017, he wrote on social media that he had left Russian Federation.

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

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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.

Top Russian Official Pledges Support for Family of Slain Journalist, Arkady Babchenko