Ukraine faked journalist’s death in bid to snare would-be assassins

Liberal backbencher Tony Abbott

Liberal backbencher Tony Abbott

Babchenko himself apologized for the pain the news of his death had caused, telling those present: "I have been forced to bury my friends and colleagues many times and I know the sickening feeling".

Babchenko, one of Russia's best-known war correspondents, had left Russia fearing for his life after criticizing Russian policy in Ukraine and Syria. An investigation has not yet begun.

Groysman's accusations were a matter of regret, Lavrov was quoted as saying.

The chief of Ukraine's security services told reporters that the agency faked Mr Babchenko's death in order to catch a man, allegedly hired by Moscow, to kill him. "Special apologies to my wife", he said.

His reported murder had triggered a war of words between Ukraine and Russian Federation and sent shivers through the journalistic communities in both countries.

"We must defend freedom of speech and it is vital that those responsible are now held to account", he added. Authorities said they suspected he was killed because of his work.

Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko has been seen in Ukraine.

The SBU said it had received information about the plot and had managed to prevent it.

"I call on Ukraine authorities to conduct immediate & full investigation", he tweeted yesterday.

Babchenko's wife found her husband covered with blood in their apartment Tuesday night, with the victim said to have died from gunshot wounds to his back.

He died in the ambulance on the way to hospital, Ukrainian police said.

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

Some even called for stripping Mr Babchenko of his Russian citizenship.

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"This is a terror attack against the journalism community both in Russian Federation and Ukraine".

Babchenko was well-known for his criticism of the Kremlin.

Moscow's annexation of Crimea and support for separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine were topics on which the journalist was scathingly critical of the Kremlin.

He faced backlash after commenting on the crash of a Russian plane transporting the world-famous military choir Alexandrov Ensemble en route to Syria.

But on Wednesday he showed up alive at a news conference in Ukraine.

Babchenko left Russian Federation previous year and had told people that he feared for his life.

Babchenko said: "A major effort is being organized".

"I'm still alive", he said.

Babchenko was 19 when he was sent to fight in Russia's first Chechen campaign in the 1990s as a conscript. He worked with Moskovsky Komsomolets, TVC and Channel One (Army Store).

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

"From our standpoint, it would be illogical and wrong to color this tragic incident, which actually was a manifestation of madness, with a political tint", Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS, the official state-run Russian news agency, last year.

Authorities in Ukraine are still investigating the killing of journalist Pavel Sheremet in a car-bomb blast in central Kyiv in July 2016. Now, social media is swimming with theories behind the reports of his death.

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