Russian and Ukrainian special services have arrested a group of suspects over an alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Vladimir Putin,Russia’s state television reported Monday.
The Channel One,sourcing its information from Russia’s Federal Security Service,said the suspects,linked to a Chechen rebel leader,were preparing to kill Putin in Moscow immediately after next Sunday’s presidential vote,in which he is all but certain to reclaim the presidency.
The station said the suspects had been arrested in Ukraine’s Black Sea port city of Odessa following an accidental explosion that occurred on Jan 4 while they were trying to manufacture explosives at a rented apartment.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the report to the ITAR-Tass news agency.
The Ukrainian Security Service had said it detained three Russian citizens on terrorist charges in Odessa on Feb. 4,but didn’t say then whether the suspects were linked to an anti-Putin plot. One of them,a Chechen,was killed during the accidental explosion in Odessa and another one,Kazakhstan’s citizen Ilya Pyanzin,was wounded in the blast and arrested.
Pyanzin led the investigators to their liaison in Odessa,Adam Osmayev,a Chechen who previously had lived in London,the report said.
Our goal was to go to Moscow and try to kill Prime Minister Putin, Osmayev said. Our deadline was after the Russian presidential election.
The Channel One said Osmayev had led the investigators to a cache of explosives near a Moscow avenue that Putin uses to travel between his office and a suburban residence. A Russian security officer told the station that the suspects also had videos of Putin’s convoy taken from different angles to prepare the attack.