Russia’s secret service has arrested two men in connection with a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after the March 4 presidential elections, Channel One state television said Monday.
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 were planning to carry it out in Moscow.
The station 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 in early January 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, which was 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.
“This was done 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 premier Putin,” Osmayev said.
“The deadline was after the election of the Russian president,” Osmayev said.
Putin is widely expected to return for a third term as president in March 4 elections after serving two terms in 2000-2008 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 of the deadly suicide attacks in Moscow — remains at large.
Putin’s official spokesman said he can confirm the Channel One report but could not provide a more detailed comment at this time.
“I confirm this information but not commenting at this time,” ITAR-TASS quoted spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.
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 further quoted an unidentified Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) official as saying that the explosive found near a road would have created a blast powerful enough to severely damage Putin’s vehicle.
“This would have been a serious blast,” the FSB official told Channel One.
“It would have been enough to tear apart a truck.”
There was no immediate reaction to the report from kavkazcenter.com, a website Umarov and other militants use regularly to communicate their messages.
Putin is facing four weak challengers in Sunday’s election and widely expected to win the vote in the first round with support of about 60 percent.