Bid to assassinate Putin at summit 'was foiled by agents'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

An attempt to kill the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, during a conference in the Crimea last month was foiled by security agents tipped off by foreign secret services, the head of Ukraine's security service said yesterday.

An attempt to kill the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, during a conference in the Crimea last month was foiled by security agents tipped off by foreign secret services, the head of Ukraine's security service said yesterday.

Leonid Derkach, the head of the Ukrainian service, gave few details of the assassination plan but the Russian leader's bodyguards confirmed that they knew about a would-be attempt on his life while he was attending a summit of former Soviet states in the Crimea, which is part of Ukraine. Mr Derkach said earlier that four people from Chechnya and several others from the Middle East had been involved in the plot.

Mr Putin was able to attend only the first day of the summit on 18 August before he had to return to Moscow in the aftermath of the sinking of the Kursk nuclear-powered submarine in the Barents Sea.

As with the sinking of the Kursk, the Russian government was unable yesterday to give a clear picture of what had happened. Both Russian and Ukrainian security services would only confirm there had been a plot, which they had dealt with effectively. Mr Putin is an obvious target for Chechen separatists because he is the architect of the year-old war in Chechnya.

The Russian security agencies have had singularly little success in bringing to book those responsible for many acts of violence across the country, including the bomb explosions in Moscow and other Russian cities, which killed more than 300 people a year ago. Federal prosecutors now say that a bomb placed in an underpass near Pushkin square in Moscow, which exploded on 8 August killing 12 people and injuring 108, was probably planted by somebody settling a business dispute. At the time it was widely assumed the bomb had been planted by Chechens.

Vladimir Zinchenko, the deputy head of the Interior Ministry's department for economic crimes, was quoted as saying that evidence was accumulating against businessmen "whose interests are concentrated at Pushkin square". He was presumably referring to gang wars between the different groups that control stallholders selling cheap goods in the underpasses.

The sheer number of state security agencies in Russia also makes it easy for them to deny knowledge of or responsibility for any particular event. Three months ago, for instance, Russian forces in Chechnya sent in helicopters and armoured vehicles to arrest Ruslan Alikhadziyev, the moderate speaker of the Chechen parliament, but now deny they ever held him or know where he is. Chechen rebels claim he has been tortured to death.

In a separate development, Yevgeny Adamov, Russia's Minister for Atomic Energy, said yesterday there was no reason to raise to the surface the Kursk submarine.

The Kursk has two nuclear reactors, which shut down automatically when the front end was ripped apart by an explosion. Immediately after the disaster, the navy said it would raise the Kursk, which is in 350 feet of water. Mr Adamov said that might be more dangerous than leaving it where it was.

Comments