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Plot to kill Putin foiled

Moscow, Feb 27 - Russian and Ukrainian security services have foiled a plot to assassinate Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin shortly after the upcoming presidential election in the country, it emerged Monday.

The group of criminals, who were already on the international wanted list, were detained in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, the Daily Telegraph reported.

According to the state-run TV Channel One, the gang was planning to assassinate Putin in Moscow, soon after the presidential elections scheduled to be held March 4. Special forces had seized two conspirators in Odessa city, after an explosion in an apartment in January.

The alleged Chechen ringleader, Adam Osmayev, has reportedly confessed to planning the assassination on the orders of Doku Umarov, the emir of the Islamist insurgency against Moscow's rule in the North Caucasus region.

Channel One showed Osmayev in detention saying: "The ultimate aim was to travel to Moscow and try to assassinate Premier Putin."

Osmayev, who was shown with blotches of green antiseptic covering wounds on his face, was captured separately later. The men had a laptop with several videos of Putin's motorcade travelling through Moscow on it.

The plan was exposed after an explosion in Odessa Jan 4, which was initially thought to be a domestic gas explosion. However, it turned out to be an accident during the preparation of an explosive device.

One of the men, Ruslan Madayev, 26, died in the blast but Ukrainian special forces arrested a second, Ilya Pyanzin, 28, two days later.

Putin did not comment Monday morning but his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, confirmed that the murder plot was real.

Madayev and Pyanzin, a Kazakh citizen, were said to have flown to Ukraine from the United Arab Emirates via Turkey "with precise instructions from representatives of Doku Umarov".


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