Plot to kill Putin foiled says Ukraine
Moscow, February 27, 2012
Russian and Ukrainian security services have foiled a plot to assassinate Vladimir Putin after next week's presidential election, Ukraine's SBU counter-intelligence agency said on Monday.
Russian pro-government Channel One television said Ukrainian special services in the Black Sea port of Odessa had held two men linked to a group seeking an Islamist state in Russia's North Caucasus.
"I can officially confirm that they were preparing an (assassination) attempt on Putin," said Marina Ostapenko, a spokeswoman for the SBU.
Ostapenko said two men were under arrest. One was seized in Odessa after being wounded in an explosion at an apartment in the city on Jan. 4 which also killed another alleged plotter.
The second man, who was on the international wanted list, was arrested a month later after initially escaping, she said.
"We found him in an apartment and detained him without a single shot being fired on February 4," she said.
Some Russians reacted with scepticism, making clear on social network sites that they did not believe the report or suggesting the timing of the announcement was intended to attract sympathy for Putin before the March 4 election.
Opinion polls show Putin, a former KGB officer who crushed separatists during a war he launched in the Chechnya region in the North Caucasus before he became president, will easily win the election and reclaim the post he held from 2000 until 2008.
But he faces a growing opposition protest movement and wants to secure outright victory on Sunday, averting a runoff that might dent his authority.
Several assassination attempts have been reported on Putin since he rose to power in 2000 but such reports have rarely made a big impact in Russia. - Reuters