Ukrainian and Russian security services have gathered information about a plot to assassinate Russia`s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is poised to be elected president on Sunday, the state-run Channel One reported on Monday, according to RIA Novosti. The group of criminals involved were already on the international wanted list and were detained in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa in early January, after they survived an explosion in a rented apartment.
They had reportedly tried to produce a home-made explosive device. The two men were arrested, while a third man, who was also in the apartment, died during the explosion, the TV channel said.
According to the TV channel, after weeks of interrogation, the gang members confessed they were planning to assassinate Putin in Moscow, soon after the March 4 presidential elections.
One of the surviving militants, Ilya Pyanzin, said that the Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov, who is believed to be behind the deadliest terrorist attacks in Russia, hired him and the late Ruslan Madayev to kill Putin.
Pyanzin and Madayev came from the United Arab Emirates via Turkey to Ukraine. In Odessa, they were met by a local fixer, Adam Osmayev, who was supposed to brief the militants about the plan and send them to Moscow.
The TV report, featuring Osmayev `s interrogation, says that the militant, who had been on the international wanted list since 2007, is cooperating with investigators, as he hopes not to be extradited to Russia.
“The final task was to go to Moscow and carry out an assassination attempt on the premier Putin,” Osmayev said during questioning, adding that the late Madayev was ready to become a suicide bomber.
According to the assassination plan that was found in the militants’ laptop, they had to learn the structure of Putin’s security team and how his bodyguards worked, the TV report says.
“The deadline was set up for the period after the presidential elections,” Osmayev said.
Osmayev confessed that he scrutinized the routes of government corteges and that the preparation for the attack was in its final stage.
The TV report also said that the militants were going to use mines hidden along Moscow’s Kutuzovsky Avenue, which Putin passes every day on his way to the government building in downtown city.
An unknown security official told the TV channel that the mines were powerful enough to “tear apart a truck.”
Ukrainian Security Services confirmed the information released about the assassination plot.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was not available for comment.
Putin, who served as president from 2000 to 2008, is expected to return to the Kremlin for a third, non-consecutive term in office in elections on March 4.