SECURITY SERVICES in Russia and the Ukraine have foiled a plot to assassinate Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin as part of a series of co-ordinated explosions, Russian state television has reported.
A report carried by Channel One said that suspected militants were planning to kill the premier after next month’s presidential election, in which Putin is expected to be returned as the country’s head of state.
Bloomberg said the report said the two men were acting on the orders of the Chechen warlord Doku Umarov, who were planning to carry out the attack in Moscow after planning for it in the Ukranian city of Odessa.
The plotters had originally come from the United Arab Emirates, the report said, with one of them having died in January when an improvised explosive device had killed him in his Odessa apartment.
It was the investigation into this death which had led detectives to uncover the assassination plot, the TV report said.
The New York Times quoted Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov who confirmed an assassination attempt had been planned.
One of the group of three, named as Adam Osmayev, said the planned attacks would have taken place in co-ordination with other blasts in central locations in Moscow, and that the assassination would not necessarily have been a suicide attack.
“There are combat mines, which are called armour-piercing mines,” he said in a police interview which was aired on TV.
“So it wouldn’t necessarily be a suicide bomber. The man who died, for instance, was ready to be a suicide bomber.”
The TV report further showed video footage, apparently taken from the would-be assassins’ laptop, showing Putin getting in and out of a car – shot “so that we had an understanding of how he was protected,” AFP quoted.
The Russian report is not the first time that Putin has been the target of an alleged assassination plot: the Daily Telegraph reports that a similar plot to kill Putin and the current president, Dmitry Medvedev, was foiled on the night of Medvedev’s election four years ago.
Another previous plot was revealed in 2007, when it was said that an attempt would be made on the then-president’s life during a visit to Iran.
Though Putin is expected to easily win the election on March 4, he remains deeply unpopular in Chechnya after sending ground troops into the area while he served as Boris Yeltsin’s prime minister in 1999.