Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian lawmaker who also moved to Ukraine, said Babchenko continued being threatened after he settled last fall in Kiev, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station.
In a shocking twist Wednesday, he turned up alive at a news conference and revealed he was informed a month ago about the plan to fake his death.
Babchenko, 41, rose to fame as a war correspondent in Russian Federation.
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He became the target of pro-government politicians in Russian Federation after he criticised the country's policy in Ukraine and Syria.
Gerashchenko said this explained why so few people, not even Babchenko's wife, knew he was still alive.
One man stuck black and white photos of Babchenko on the fence of the Russian embassy in Kiev, and mourners were expected to gather in Kiev's central Maidan square on Wednesday evening.
The Investigative Committee of Russian Federation said it had opened a criminal case into Mr Babchenko's death.
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The SBU in turn said that its officers had detained a suspect who was engaged in preparations for the contract killing of the journalist. Prominent Russians to have been murdered in Kiev include journalist Pavel Sheremet, who was killed in a vehicle bomb in 2016, and ex-Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov, who was shot dead in 2017.
A number of Kremlin critics have been killed in Ukraine in recent years, with one gunned down on a Kiev street in broad daylight and another whose vehicle exploded.
While studying law in Moscow aged 18, Babchenko was conscripted into the Russian army and served during the Chechen wars from 1994 to 2000.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Ukraine's accusations were "very sad" as an investigation into the incident had yet to begin.
The Kremlin described such allegations as part of an anti-Russian smear campaign.
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Vog - or volcanic smog - is a haze created when sulfur dioxide gas and other volcanic pollutants settle with moisture and dust. The lava flows from Kilauea are still ongoing, and as the molten rock spews forth volcanic gasses and ash come along with it.