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Russian dissident journalist Arkady Babchenko speaks during an interview with foreign media in Kiev, Ukraine May 31, 2018.

The Russian journalist who worked with Ukrainian authorities to fake his own death says the elaborately staged murder included getting smeared in pig's blood and taken to the morgue.

"I only stopped being afraid at the morgue, " he said. "I'm sorry you had to go through this but there was no other way".

Babchenko's contract-style killing by three shots to the back had been reported by Ukrainian authorities, only for the journalist to reappear in public hours later on Wednesday.

He went on to thank the Ukrainian Security Service, the SBU, for saving his life and said the most important thing was that what he called other big acts of terror had been thwarted.

Journalist Arkady Babchenko's faked murder aimed at preventing an assassination attempt does not change Moscow's view of Ukraine as a risky place for journalists, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

News that he was alive brought a mixture of relief and praise for the Ukrainian security services, including from President Petro Poroshenko, but a backlash from certain quarters about how the incident was handled.

Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko said the man contacted by German to kill Babchenko informed authorities of the plot.

They said they had detained a man who had received $40,000 (34,200 euros) from Russian secret services to organise the murder of the journalist.

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"This could have been a story about how, in all likelihood, Russian special services ordered the killing of a journalist in Kiev", says Ilya Lozovsky, managing editor of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a multinational investigative consortium.

"Everyone who says this undermines trusts in journalists: what would you do in my place, if they came to you and said there is a hit out on you?"

It also produced global condemnation, in part because several prominent Russians critical of Putin have been murdered in recent years, three of them in Ukraine.

Mr Babchenko, a Putin critic, has lived in the Ukrainian capital since receiving threats at home for saying he did not mourn the victims of a Russian military plane crash.

Babchenko said he had made a decision to accept an offer from Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko to become a Ukrainian citizen.

Pressed for details about the contract on his head allegedly taken out by Russian Federation and how the arrest would benefit investigators, Babchenko said he had no idea and was leaving it up to the security service. The two countries have been at odds since a popular revolt in Ukraine in 2014 toppled a Russian-backed government in favour of a pro-Western one.

"This is the height of cynicism against the backdrop of such a brutal murder".

When asked on Thursday, Babchenko said he had no hard evidence to prove that the staging of his death was not a Ukrainian ruse created to discredit Moscow.


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