'Convenient' Islamist plot to assassinate Putin is ‘foiled'

Pro-government TV station reports arrests of three accused of planning next president's murder

LAST UPDATED AT 12:22 ON Mon 27 Feb 2012

THE REPORT from Moscow of an Islamist plot to assassinate Vladimir Putin, foiled by Russian and Ukrainian intelligence services, has raised eyebrows in anti-Putin circles in Moscow and among western observers because of its timing.

According to Russia's Channel One, a pro-government TV station, two internationally wanted terrorists were arrested in the Ukrainian port of Odessa in early January and have since confessed that they were planning to attack Putin's motorcade shortly after the 4 March election – assuming he wins it.

The pair, who had arrived in the Ukraine from the United Arab Emirates, told police that they had received instructions from the Chechen warlord - and Moscow's most wanted - Doku Umarov.

While in custody, they informed on another plotter, Adam Osmaev, who was subsequently arrested in the Ukraine. He was the instructor, charged with training the two men and getting them to the capital, according to Channel One. "The final aim was to come to Moscow and try to carry out an attack on Putin,"Osmaev confessed.

As The Guardian reports, the big puzzle is why the news of the plot was conveniently saved until now – with the election coming up next Sunday.

"Do I understand correctly that no one believes in the assassination attempt on Putin?" Danila Lindele, a leader of Russia's opposition Blue Bucket movement, tweeted.

Another Russian Twitter user wrote: "It's better to pretend we believe it. Or else they'll start blowing up homes again."

This is a reference to the infamous apartment block bombings on the eve of Putin's first election in 2000 which were supposed to be the work of Chechen rebels but which, it has long been accepted, were actually orchestrated by the Kremlin to boost Putin's argument that Russians needed a tough guy to run the country.

Labour's former Europe Minister Denis MacShane tweeted: "Putin plot just before election bizarre"while Daily Mail political editor James Chapman tweeted: "Putin ‘assassination plot' about as credible as the idea he hasn't had more than one facelift.” · 

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