Russian Journalist Who Criticized Kremlin Shot Dead In Ukraine's Capital

Update | Ukraine's local press initially reported that Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, was shot dead on Tuesday in Kiev. However, his reappearance in a press conference in Ukraine on Wednesday debunks reports of his demise.

The Kyiv Post reported that Babchenko, 41, was in his Kiev apartment, when the attacker shot him in the back. His wife, who was in the bathroom at the time, found him bleeding on the floor and called police. After emergency services arrived, Babchenko was taken to the hospital but died en route.

Ukrainian police do not yet have any specific suspects, but suggested his murder was due to his "professional activities." Babchenko was a well-known war correspondent and openly supportive of Ukraine. He left Russia in February 2017 because he feared for his life, according to Reuters.

"I call on Ukraine authorities to conduct immediate and full investigation," Harlem Désir, the media freedom representative at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe wrote in a tweet, saying that he was "horrified" by the news.

Horrified by report that well-known Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko was shot and killed in his home in #Kyiv. I call on #Ukraine authorities to conduct immediate & full investigation. My thoughts are with journalist’s family. @OSCE_RFoM

— Harlem Désir (@harlemdesir) May 29, 2018

Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker and an adviser to the country's interior minister, said that the investigaion would look at "Russian spy agencies' efforts to get rid of those who are trying to tell the truth about what is going on in Russia and Ukraine," The Guardian reported.

The lawmaker also explained that the killer was waiting for the journalist in the stairwell of his building. He said that the attacker shot Babchenko in the back as he stepped out of his apartment to buy bread.

Leaders in Moscow, conversely, pinned the blame on Ukrainian authorities, saying that the government was unable to adequately protect journalists.

"Ukraine is becoming the most dangerous country for reporters," Russian lawmaker Yevgeny Revenko said. "The Ukrainian government can't guarantee basic freedoms."

Babchenko had openly criticized numerous Kremlin policies and international campaigns. He attacked Moscow's annexation of Crimea and criticized its support for separatist insurgents in Ukraine. He was also vocal against Russia's ongoing military campaign in Syria.

His writings drew criticism from many ordinary Russian citizens as well. In one particularly controversial article, he said he did not feel any sadness for the deaths of Russian army choir members in a December 2016 plane crash. The soldiers were headed to perform for Russian troops based in Syria.

The murder marks the second of an independent journalist in the Ukrainian capital in recent years. Back in 2016, award-winning Belorussian investigative journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed in a Kiev car bomb. Sheremet often criticized government officials in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

This article was updated with new developments