Moscow correspondent of the Time Simon Schuster reported about a traditional pre-election plot against Putin in a form of so-called "assassination attempt".
"At first, police in Ukraine said a gas leak caused the explosion soon after New Year's Eve. A few days later, they said it was a clumsy bombmaker, who was perhaps looking to blow up a stadium or trying to kill a shipping boss in the port city of Odessa.
Finally, on Monday, police dropped a bombshell of their own: the explosion that tore through an Odessa apartment on Jan. 4 was part of a plan to assassinate Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
With a week to go before Putin's expected victory in Russia's presidential election, his spokesman confirmed that he was the target of an assassination plot. The bad guys, predictably, were Chechens with ties to the West.
The source of this latest version of events is Russia's state-run Channel One network, the government's leading mouthpiece. Rather than present the facts as breaking news, it ran a four-minute, documentary-style report showing the alleged mastermind, Adam Osmayev, battered and bruised (see photo of Osmayev after KGB tortures), confessing to the assassination attempt in front of the cameras.
"The final aim was to go to Moscow and try to carry out the assassination of Prime Minister Putin", the 31-year-old said.
Some reminder of the terrorist threat seemed predictable ahead of the elections. Umarov, Russia's most-wanted terrorist, has taken responsibility for most of the suicide attacks (Respectable journalists write: martyr attacks. Suicide is forbidden in Islam, like in Christianity. Simon ought to know these things, since he started to write about it - KC) the country has seen in the past decade.
That includes the twin subway bombings that killed at least 40 people in Moscow in 2010 and the suicide attack in the arrivals hall of Moscow's biggest airport, which killed at least 37 people last year.
This month, however, Umarov released a video ordering his terrorist network to call off all attacks against Russian civilians (Simon should refrain from using the word terrorist, as Reuters does. This word is biased. Those who are described by some people as terrorists, are national heroes for the others, e.g. Mandela. Therefore, instead of the terrorist network, Simon must use a neutral word Mujahideen, as the American press always did during the jihad in the timeof the Russian-Afghan war - KC).
He said the wave of protests against Putin's government in December proved that Russians do not support the regime. "The civilian population are also hostages of the same regime that is today cruelly fighting a war against Islam," Umarov says in the video, which was posted on YouTube on Feb. 2.†
"Our religion therefore orders us to protect this civilian population".
He then instructed his fighters to limit their terrorist attacks to Russian security forces and government officials (Simon, it does not go like that. Such attacks are considred non-terrorist by all international standards, including the US and UN. Controversial are attacks against the civilian population, recall Dresden 1945, or US nuclear bombing of peaceful Japanese cities in 1945, not to mention the current countless attacks of the US against civilian population in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc. - KC).
Putin, in other words, was still fair game. But the use of operatives from the West has never been a trademark of Umarov's brand of terrorism (What's this? In Afghanistan, for example, isn't it the same thing? - KC), which is a homegrown jihadist movement (Simon should remember about the Occam razor and not introduce a new notion, when the same is expressed by the term Jihadi movement - KC) with the goal of creating an Islamist state (Simon should write an Islamic. In the end, such things are better known by the Kavkaz Center - KC) in the Caucasus.
So the report's claim that the brains behind the plot against Putin lived and studied in London seems odd.
But speaking by phone from London on Monday, Berezovsky denied any links to the protests in Moscow or to the assassination attempt. "I am an Orthodox Christian, so I renounce violence in principle (apparently, as Orthodox Christians from among Russian soldiers and KGB thugs in the Caucasus - KC)", he said.†
More likely, he said, the assassination plot "is another attempt to say, 'Look how important our dear leader is, look how much danger he is in'. They're shown the same old threats, the Chechens, the awful Berezovsky and his London friends, and the desire kicks in to protect the dear leader".
Other opposition figures also speculated that the assassination plot could be a pre-election maneuver meant to shore up support for Putin. "It's the question of the day," wrote Oleg Kozyrev, a popular opposition blogger. "Was the plot against Putin foiled or made up?"
One of the leaders of a Russian opposition party, Vladimir Milov, pointed out that the timing of the news looked suspicious. "They already revealed a 'plot against Putin' before the elections four years ago," Milov wrote on Facebook.
Indeed, on election day in 2008, Russian police reportedly arrested a 24-year-old Tajikistan citizen suspected of plotting to shoot Putin with a sniper rifle in the Kremlin.
But for those who haven't made up their minds, the alleged plot will bring back memories of the Chechen threat, which set the stage for Putin's win in the presidential election in 2000, when he played up his image as a wartime leader. His campaign this time around has not been subtle in reminding voters about this. In an article published in the Izvestiya Daily on Jan. 16, Putin recalled a message intercepted by the FSB in the 1990s from a terrorist leader in Chechnya.
The message was that "Russia is weak as never before. Now we have our one and only chance to take the North Caucasus away from the Russians," Putin wrote.
In the end, he added, Russia managed to defeat the rebels and retain the unity of the Russian state (what actually occurred could be seen by every Russian - KC).
"Few people now remember how difficult it was," he lamented. But whether it is real or not, the assassination plot will surely help remind them", writes Simon Shuster in the Time.†
In an interview with the Lithuanian mass media, a renowned expert on KGB thugs, former chief dissident of USSR Bukovsky also believes that "an assassination attempt on Putin" from Odessa is an invention of the KGB and Russian puppet Yanukovych's secret police.
"Chechens are usually scapegoats for the Putin regime. Ukrainian Security Service is closely linked to Moscow KGB since the Soviet era, and the current Ukrainian leadership is extremely pro-Moscow. It may be that they return the debt to Putin, who openly tried to help Yanukovych to win presidential elections during the Orange Revolution", said Bukovsky.
Bukovski does not in fact believe in the plot and possible execution of Putin by guerillas and is sure that for the implementation of the plan, the organizers need to have their own man in the Kremlin.
"In any case - he continues - I do not believe that the organization of his murder is a real thing. If anyone could have such a plan, then only the members of his own team. The confrontation between the civil society in Russia and the regime is becoming too dangerous, so they could kill Putin in an attempt to defuse the situation. This happened in Egypt, Libya, etc., when the confrontation reached its peak".
The former Soviet dissident, who unsuccessfully tried to be nominated for president of Russia in the elections of 2008 , believes that the poll quoted by official Russian media that if presidential elections were held now, there would be no need for a second round and the victory would be for Putin, is a lie of the KGB thugs.
"On the contrary, Putin can "win" the first round only as a result of massive fraud. Consequently, there is a desperate advertising attempt to revive his popularity as a savior of the motherland from destructive activities from outside", he commented on the KGB tales about "prevention of an assassination attempt on Putin" which appeared on Monday.
Department of Monitoring