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Outspoken Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko, reportedly killed in a hail of bullets outside his Kiev apartment, appeared alive and well at a press conference Wednesday in the Ukrainian capital. His wife, according to the version that was reported Tuesday, had found his body after he had been shot several times by the entrance to their apartment in Kiev.

His wife was also at home when the shooting occurred, media reports said.

Ukraine Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko wrote on Facebook the Security Service went to great lengths to fake Babchenko's death.

The Associated Press (AP) is reporting that Ukrainian security officials "confirmed" Babchenko's death to help track down the would-be killers.

Arkady Babchenko, Russian journalist and Kremlin critic, was murdered last night.

In February 2017, writing for Britain's The Guardian newspaper, Babchenko said: "I can tell you what political harassment feels like in [President Vladimir] Putin's Russian Federation". "Olya, excuse me, please, but there was no other option".

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was happy to see that Mr Babchenko was alive, but said Ukraine had used his story as propaganda.

But the journalist, who became an enemy of the state after panning Kremlin policy including the annexation of Crimea and its support of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, staged the murder to thwart Moscow's planned attack on him.

Mr Hrytsak said the SBU had identified a Ukrainian citizen who had been paid US$40,000 ($52,934) by Russian agents to organise the killing.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman implied Russian Federation had orchestrated the killing.

"We are relieved that #ArkadyBabchenko is alive", it said.

No stranger to death, Babchenko served in the Russian army during Chechnya's two wars for independence, after which he wrote a powerful memoir about the everyday brutality of conflict before turning to journalism, writing about war for a range of Russian publications.

The Committee to Protect Journalists tweeted a statement skeptical of the sting operation.

"Before arriving in Ukraine, he was forced to leave Russian Federation".

The Russian internet news site Kommersant, citing a source close to the Ukrainian prosecution, reported that the assassination was "almost certainly a provocation by outside parties".

In a Facebook post hours before the fake killing, Babchenko wrote about his "second birthday" when a Ukrainian general refused to let him on a helicopter that was then shot down by Kremlin-backed rebels, killing 14 people on board in 2014.

He faced backlash after commenting on the crash of a Russian plane transporting the world-famous military choir Alexandrov Ensemble en route to Syria.

In 2016, investigative journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed when a bomb exploded his vehicle.