Russia’s and Ukraine’s secret services arrested two men over a plot to assassinate Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after the March 4 presidential elections, Channel One state television said yesterday.
The station showed two men who said they were acting on the orders of Chechen warlord Doku Umarov. They said they prepared the attack in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa and planned to execute it in Moscow.
It said three plotters came to Ukraine from the United Arab Emirates via Turkey with “clear instructions from representatives of Doku Umarov.”
One of the men died in a blast early last month that prompted the investigation, the report said.
“They told us that first you come to Odessa and learn how to make bombs,” the station showed a man identified as Ilya Pyanzin as saying.
“And then later, in Moscow, you will stage attacks against commercial objects, with the subsequent assassination attempt against Putin,” the man said.
The state television footage, apparently shot in Ukraine, showed a video of Putin getting into his car being played on the laptop computer belonging to the second arrested man, identified as Adam Osmayev.
The video footage of Putin’s movements was shot “so that we had an understanding of how he was protected,” Osmayev said.
“The end goal was to come to Moscow and to try to stage an assassination attempt against Prime Minister Putin,” he said. “The deadline was after the election of the Russian president.”
The report said one of the two detained men had told Russian and Ukrainian investigators that some explosives had already been hidden near Kutuzovsky Prospekt — the avenue Putin passes daily to reach the government White House.
It quoted an unidentified Russian Federal Security Service official as saying that the explosives would have created a “serious blast,” powerful “enough to tear apart a truck.”
The two detained men and the person killed in the Odessa blast on Jan. 4 were all Russians, Interfax quoted the Ukrainian SBU security service as saying, but the Channel One report said Osmayev was a Kazakhstani national.
Ukraine’s SBU said a fourth man also injured in the blast, which apparently went off while they were practicing making explosives.
There was no further information about the fourth person or whether he was involved in the alleged plot.
Putin is widely expected to return for a third term as president in elections on Sunday after serving two terms between 2000 and 2008 in which he waged a brutal campaign against Muslim insurgents in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya.
The region remains wracked by violence to this day and Umarov — who has claimed responsibility for some deadly suicide attacks in Moscow — remains at large.
Putin’s official spokesman said he could confirm the Channel One report, but not provide more details for the moment.
“I confirm this information but am not commenting now,” ITAR-TASS quoted spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.
There was no immediate reaction to the report from kavkazcenter.com, a Web site Umarov and other militants use regularly to communicate their messages.
The Channel One report was immediately picked up by other Russian media and is likely to remain the overwhelming topic of discussion as the country heads into Sunday’s election.
Putin is facing four weak challengers in the vote and is widely expected to win the vote in the first round with support of about 60 percent.