Ukraine says it faked murder of Russian journalist and Kremlin critic

BREAKING: 'Murdered' Russian journalist alive; death staged to flush out assassins

He said the citizen approached several acquaintances, including war veterans, offering $30,000 for the contract killing, one of whom revealed the plot to the security services.

Referring to Babchenko on Tuesday, Russia criticized Ukraine for not doing enough to investigate the murders of independent journalists on its soil.

"We have prevented an attempted murder of Babchenko by carrying out a special operation", Hrytsak said. He apologised to her at the press conference.

"Some called for me to be stripped of citizenship, others are making an online game where you can beat me to death", he said.

"The first and the most probable version is his professional activity", Kiev police chief Andriy Kryshchenko said at a televised press briefing when asked what police suspected was behind the murder.

Russian Federation denied any involvement in any murder plot, and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova later said Moscow was glad to hear Babchenko was alive, but also criticized Ukraine for staging a "provocation".

"I'm still alive", he said.

"Thank God he's alive", she said, wiping tears from her eyes and hugging a visiting reporter. President Petro Poroshenko has assigned 24-hour protection to Babchenko. Moscow is unlikely to calm down - so I ordered protection to be given to Arkady and his family. "I've given an order to provide Arkady and his family with protection", Poroshenko tweeted.

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One person is reportedly in Ukrainian custody, but the news has prompted confusion in Ukraine and a backlash from Russian Federation which was widely accused of ordering Babchenko murder.

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 auto exploded.

He became the target of pro-government politicians in Russian Federation after he criticised the country's policy in Ukraine and Syria.

Babchenko fought in Russia's two Chechen campaigns in the 1990s and early 2000s before becoming a war correspondent and author.

The Kremlin quickly issued a statement calling for an investigation into the murder. He wrote in a piece for The Guardian that it forced him to leave "a country I no longer feel safe in".

Arkady Babchenko, a critic of Vladimir Putin, was reported to have been shot dead and there were pictures released from the scene.

Two years ago Pavel Sheremet, a Belarusian journalist known for his criticism of his home country's leadership and his friendship with the slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, was blown up in a vehicle bomb in central Kiev. Many of those deaths are linked to the Kremlin. There have been 58 journalists killed in Russian Federation since 1992.

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