By Paul Abelsky and Ilya Arkhipov
Feb 27, 2012 11:57 AM CT
Russian and Ukrainian security services foiled a plot to assassinateVladimir Putin, who faces a presidential election in less than a week, said his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.
Two militants were detained in Ukraine for planning to murder the premier in Moscow after the March 4 presidential ballot, Russia’s state-run Channel One television said today. It would be “inappropriate” to link the release of information about the plot to the election, Peskov said by phone today.
Putin, 59, is seeking a return to the Kremlin amid the biggest challenge to his 12-year rule after fraud allegations at parliamentary polls in December sparked the largest mass demonstrations against the government since the 1990s. Thousands of protesters wearing white ribbons yesterday joined hands in a bid to encircle central Moscow, including the Kremlin. Three polls published last week show Putin winning more than 50 percent, the level needed to avoid a runoff.
“Everything is being done to assure Putin’s victory,” said Gennady Gudkov, a lawmaker for the opposition Just Russia party and a deputy head of the lower house of parliament’s security committee. “That’s why information is being dumped so that everyone forgets about mass protest rallies, allowing at the same time to pick up a few points on people’s sympathy.”