Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko shows up at Ukraine press conference alive

Arkady Babchenko

Before ushering Babchenko into the room, Gritsak said investigators had identified a Ukrainian citizen who allegedly was paid $40,000 by the Russian security service to organize and carry out the hit.

Lavrov, who called Babchenko's killing a tragedy, said the allegation was nonsense and a continuation of what he called Kiev's anti-Russian course.

Babchenko's death follows those of prominent Russian journalist Pavel Sheremet, killed in a auto bomb in Kiev in 2016, and ex-Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov, who was shot dead in the city in 2017.

He added that Mr Babchenko was a "true friend of Ukraine who was telling the world the truth about Russian aggression".

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.

Kiev and national police had reported Mr Babchenko, a strong critic of the Kremlin, was shot multiple times in the back at his apartment building and found bleeding by his wife. He spoke about leaving the country previous year because of repeated threats against himself and his family.

Commenting on the revelation that Babchenko is alive, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, "It's of course great news that Babchenko is alive".

In response to allegations that Moscow may have been the murder, Matviyenko said "Russia had no motivation" to kill the journalist, the state-run TASS news agency reported.

Babchenko is one of at least a dozen Kremlin critics who've been murdered or died under mysterious circumstances over the past decade.

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

Babchenko left Russian Federation past year and had told people that he feared for his life. In 2017, he said he wanted to live for another 160 years and "die somewhere in the Mariner Valley on Mars", referring to the largest canyon in the Solar System.

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. "In Russia, dissidents like me are harassed with impunity".

Babchenko served in the Russian Army during the first separatist war in Chechnya in the 1990s before he became a journalist.

A former war correspondent, he worked in Kiev as a presenter on Ukraine's channel ATR TV.

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