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Russian journalist fatally shot in Ukrainian capital

Editor's Note: The day after this report, Ukrainian authorities revealed that Arkady Babchenko's slaying had been staged to foil an alleged Kremlin hit plot. "I'm still alive," Babchenko told startled fellow reporters at the news conference on May 30. Read more.

MOSCOW -- Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko was shot and killed in the Ukrainian capital Tuesday, and the national police said he apparently was targeted because of his work. Ukrainian police said his wife found him bleeding at their apartment building in Kiev and called an ambulance, but Babchenko died on the way to a hospital. They said he suffered multiple gunshots wounds to his back.

"The first and the most obvious version is his professional activities," Kiev Police Chief Andriy Krishchenko said in a news conference.

Harlem Desir, a media freedom representative at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said he was "horrified" by Babchenko's death.

Babchenko, 41, served in the Russian army and fought during the first separatist war in Chechnya during the 1990s. He later became a journalist and worked as a military correspondent for several Russian media outlets. He also published several books based on his wartime experiences.

Babchenko had been scathingly critical of the Kremlin's policies in recent years, assailing Moscow's annexation of Crimea, its support for separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine and the Russian campaign in Syria.

Some of his articles and posts outraged many Russians. In one, he said he felt no regret about the deaths of Russian army choir members and others from a December 2016 plane crash as they were heading to perform before Russian troops in Syria.

Some even called for stripping Babchenko of his Russian citizenship.

Babchenko left Russia in February 2017, saying he was receiving threats and concerned he might be jailed. He moved to Kiev last fall, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station, ATR.

Ukrainian police officers guard in the entrance to a house where Russian journalist Babchenko was shot and died of his wounds in an ambulance, in Kiev
Police guard the entrance to the residence in Kiev on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Valentyn Ogirenko / REUTERS