MOSCOW (Reuters) – Security services in Russia and Ukraine said yesterday they had foiled a plot to kill Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, but his opponents ridiculed the announcement as a campaign stunt six days before he runs in Russia’s presidential election.
Russia’s pro-government Channel One television said two men arrested belonged to a group seeking an Islamist state in Russia’s North Caucasus. A computer seized contained numerous video files showing Putin’s motorcade, usually heavily guarded, moving about Moscow. “Our final goal was to go to Moscow and attempt to assassinate Putin,” a bruised man described as one of the plotters was shown saying in a police interview transmitted on Channel One. “Our deadline was after the election of the president of Russia.”
Opinion polls show Putin will win the election and reclaim the post he held from 2000 to 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.