According to pro-Russian government Channel One, an attempt on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s life was stopped in Ukraine. Sources say a group preparing to carry out an assassination order was stopped by the SBU, the Ukrainian special services.
According to the Associated Foreign Press two men were arrested in the Black Sea port of Odessa in connection with the plot. Its being reported that the attempt on Putin’s life was scheduled for next Sunday’s presidential vote, very likely with the hopes of destabilizing the country. The men captured said they were prepared to carry out the attack in Moscow. They also said that they planned to stage attacks against commercial interests after Putin’s death. With this revelation by the admitted attackers, there can be little doubt that the plot was intended to destabilize Russia.
Once in the hands of authorities the men admitted that they were working for a Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov. The pair had travelled to Odessa from the United Arab Emirates to learn how to produce explosives. The men were caught as part of an operation that began earlier when a member of the group had killed himself after an explosion, presumably learning how to use them.
“Russia’s Channel One station said the alleged members of the group had arrived in Ukraine from the United Arab Emirates via Turkey with instructions from Doku Umarov, the Chechen rebel leader.
“Umarov has claimed responsibilty for a number of attacks in Russia in the past, including the Moscow airport bombing on January 24 last year, which left 36 people dead.”
– Al-Jazeera’s Christopher True, Moscow, Russia
There’s a very good possibility the average Russian might become more sympathetic towards Putin after this attempted assassination. The fact this was attempted by a Chechen rebel leader would lead many who see Russia under attack rally around him. If there is one thing we’ve seen in the past, its people rallying around their leader in a time of war or immediately following a terrorist attack. However in this case its an assassination plot, not a war or terrorist attack aimed at the population itself, so it will be a very Putin centred reaction. Immediately following the election of Barack Obama a white supremacist group was caught in the middle of a plot to assassinate him. Even some of those who were against the election of Obama began to have some sympathy for him. Its not unimaginable that a similar kind of sympathy might come Putin’s way as a result.
Some in Russia have cast doubt on the validity of the claim an assassination attempt was going to be made on Putin. These people have noted that a similar plot was foiled on March 2nd, 2008 when an attempt was made on his life in Red Square the day of the election. The accusation is clear, they are accusing the Ukrainian government of working with Putin to produce a phony terrorist attack to gain him votes. Its hard to tell in this case, its not unimaginable that Putin would use such a tactic to get re-elected, especially after the disastrous previous election.