Editor’s note: After this story was reported, the authorities revealed Arkady Babchenko was alive and his “murder” had been a hoax to arrest a man planning to kill him.

Famous Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, a prominent critic of the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was murdered on May 29 in his apartment in Kyiv, where he lived for less than a year.

Babchenko was shot in the back. His wife was in the bathroom when she heard the gunshots and walked in to find her husband wounded on the floor. She called the police. The journalist died on the way to hospital.

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The police had no information about possible suspects. Investigators are working at the crime scene.

Babchenko, 41, was a pro-Ukrainian Russian journalist and an experienced war reporter who openly criticised the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.

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Babchenko had reported from the war-torn Donbas since the beginning of Russia’s war against Ukraine in 2014. He was forced to leave Russia in February 2017 due to threats to him and his family members. He lived in Prague for several months before settling in Kyiv in August.

In Kyiv, Babchenko hosted a political talk show “Prime: Babchenko” on Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR and wrote op-eds for the Novoye Vremya and Ukrainska Pravda news websites.

Babchenko was openly critical of the Russian government on his show, as well as online.

Babchenko leaves a wife and a daughter.

Police officers guard the entrance to the building, where Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko used to live. Babchenko was murdered in his apartment in Kyiv on May 29. (Volodymyr Petrov)

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry published a composite portrait of a suspect in Babchenko’s murder on Twitter late at night on May 29, adding that the investigators were still working on the crime scene, questioning the witnesses.

The composite portrait describes a tall man with a grey beard, in his forties. He was wearing denim heat, jacket and jeans.

Babchenko is not the first journalist critical of the Putin regime to be killed in Kyiv in recent years.

Almost two years ago Belarussian journalist Pavel Sheremet, who used to work in Russia, but had moved to Ukraine, was killed by a car bomb when he was driving to work on the morning of July 20, 2016.

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The bomb, which had been attached to the bottom of his car, detonated on the crossing of Ivana Franka and Bohdana Khmelnytskoho Streets in the very center of Kyiv. Sheremet received severe injuries and died on the spot.

Immediately after the murder, Ukraine’s highest officials, including President Petro Poroshenko, promised to take the investigation under personal control. Poroshenko said that finding the murderers was “a matter of honor.”

Nearly two years later, the murder remains unsolved. The police have no suspects. No arrests have been made in connection with the case.

 

 

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