'Murdered' Russian journalist Babchenko appears at a news conference very much alive

Arkady Babchenko left Russia in 2017 saying he was receiving threats and concerned he might be jailed

Dmitry Muratov, the former longtime editor for the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, said the killing recalled the murder of one of Russia's best-known commentators, Anna Politkovskaya, who was killed, execution-style, inside her apartment building in Moscow in 2006.

Ukrainian police said Tuesday that Babchenko, a strong critic of the Kremlin, was shot multiple times in the back Tuesday, found bleeding there by his wife and died on the way to the hospital.

However, Muzhdabaev said that Babchenko did not report on Ukrainian affairs and that his journalism was exclusively "about the Russian government, about their actions, about their criminal activities, that's all".

The 41-year-old appeared Wednesday with the head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) to admit that he faked death in order to foil a very real plot to murder him.

He did not specify what those planned acts were, but the SBU said it had received information about a plot to kill 30 people in Ukraine, including Mr Babchenko, but had managed to prevent it.

"I would like to apologize for what you have all had to go through", said Babchenko, who looked on the verge of tears. "I'm sorry for making you live through this".

Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian MP who also moved to Ukraine, said Mr Babchenko continued being threatened after he settled in Kiev previous year, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station.

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

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

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"I did my job and I'm still alive".

"I'm sure that the Russian totalitarian machine did not forgive him his honesty and his fidelity to principle", Ukrainian prime minister Volodymyr Groysman wrote on Facebook.

Babchenko is a well-known critic of Russia's policies toward Ukraine.

Mark Galeotti, a veteran commentator on Russian Federation said the Ukrainian sting operation would play into Moscow's hands.

Russia's Investigative Committee said in an online statement late on Tuesday that it had launched a murder investigation into Babchenko's death.

Babchenko was killed less than a month after Putin was inaugurated for his 4th Kremlin term and as Russian Federation gears up to host the World Cup later this month.

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

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma, told Russian news agencies Wednesday that Russia would be happy to help with the investigation if Ukrainian authorities requested it. Prominent journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed in Kiev on July 20, 2016, when an explosive device detonated under the vehicle he was driving.

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