Leonid Bershidsky: Russian journalist lives to tell the tale of his murder

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Arkady Babchenko, a Russian journalist who had recently been reported dead in Kiev, showed up at a press conference Wednesday to reveal that he is actually very much alive.

Police in Kiev said Babchenko's wife found him outside their apartment.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted his congratulations to the Ukrainian Security Service and said he had given an order to provide Babchenko and his family with protection.

The head of the Ukrainian Security Service said the suspected organizer of the alleged hit plot was detained Wednesday, suggesting the bogus killing was aimed at flushing him out.

In February 2017, writing for Britain's The Guardian newspaper, Babchenko said: "I can tell you what political harassment feels like in [President Vladimir] Putin's Russian Federation". His family was not informed of the plan either, leading him to add: "Special apologies to my wife, Olechka, there was no other option".

Babchenko, 41, fled his native Russia for Ukraine previous year after receiving death threats for criticizing Russian military involvement in Syria.

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Russian Federation said Ukraine had used Babchenko as a propaganda tool.

This was in part because several prominent Russian journalists critical of Putin's policies have been murdered in recent years.

He said a hitman was paid to carry out the killing after being recruited by Russian special forces.

"We are relieved that #ArkadyBabchenko is alive", it said.

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.

Babchenko served in the Russian army and fought during the first separatist war in Chechnya during the 1990s.

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Babchenko fled Russian Federation previous year, fearing for his life, and settled in Ukraine.

Natalia Gevorkyan, a Russian reporter living in France, said the situation was becoming so bad that the European Union and the United States should help protect people fleeing persecution and facing death threats in Russia.

Babchenko said, in turn, that the pay for his contract killing was set at US$40,000.

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

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

Media outlets around the world, including Newsweek, covered the "murder", as foreign and Ukrainian officials voiced their suspicions that Moscow was behind the journalist's death. In July 2016, investigative reporter Pavel Sheremet was killed by a bomb in his vehicle.

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He left Russian Federation in February 2017, saying he was receiving threats and concerned he might be jailed. Mr Babchenko's wife had earlier said he'd been shot in the back as he left their apartment in the city.

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