Anti-Putin Russian journalist shot dead in Ukraine capital

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -A Russian journalist who was reportedly gunned down in Ukraine's capital strolled into a news conference that authorities called Wednesday to discuss the investigation of his death, revealing that the slaying had been staged to foil an alleged Kremlin hit plot.

Mr Babchenko, a high-profile critic of of the Kremlin, appeared at a press conference on Ukrainian television on Wednesday.

"He said in that press conference that one of those people had been captured, and the security services - the ones who staged his death - they said that they were trying to catch Russian agents", he added.

The Committee to Protect Journalists in NY said on Twitter that "Ukrainian authorities should conduct a swift and thorough investigation" into Babchenko's death.

Babchenko, 41, contributes to a number of media outlets including top opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta and is an avid blogger, accusing Russian authorities of hunting down Kremlin critics and unleashing wars in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere.

"I have buried many friends and colleagues many times and I know the sickening feeling", Babchenko said at the news conference.

Babchenko, a former soldier in the Chechen war who became one of Russia's best-known war correspondents, had left his homeland fearing for his life after criticising Russian policy on Ukraine and Syria.

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Ukrainian police circulated the Babchenko killer's suspect sketch showing 40-45 years old man with grey beard. The Ukrainian police have launched a criminal investigation and said that two reasons could be behind the assassination, namely, the journalist's work and his position on some political issues.

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said journalists were being killed with impunity in Ukraine.

His reporting about Moscow's support for pro-Russia separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine brought him severe criticism by Russian state media and from Russian officials.

Pro-Kremlin activists unleashed a campaign of harassment against Babchenko, forcing him to flee Russian Federation past year.

Babchenko sparked a backlash in Russia for his comments in a 2016 Facebook post on a Russian military plane crash. "In Russia, dissidents like me are harassed with impunity".

Babchenko took part in the war in Chechnya as a soldier. Last year, he moved to Kiev, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station, ATR.

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