Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Putin murder plot was foiled by UK anti-terror police, unearthed documents show

Putin appears to limp amidst speculation over his health

The Kremlin has continued to accuse Ukraine of launching a series of drone attacks on its territory — arguing that one was intended to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Video footage posted to social media last week shows two drones edging towards a tower of the Kremlin, an ancient fortified structure in Moscow, before being detonated and destroyed by defence systems.

Ukraine has vehemently denied the allegations. Russia hawks say it is difficult to imagine two remotely controlled drones being flown into Moscow — one of the heaviest fortified cities in the world — and allowed to reach so close to the country’s political heart.

Many attempts have been made on Putin’s life in his two decades in power at home and abroad.

One unlikely plot was due to take place, archive reports show, in Britain: a plan that UK anti-terror police foiled at the eleventh hour.

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In October 2003, Putin was due for a state visit to the UK. Back then, relations between the West and Russia were as strong as ever.

That month, two alleged former KGB members were arrested after it was found out they were planning for Putin to be shot by a sniper.

The men have remained unidentified this entire time and after being caught, were released on condition they returned to Moscow.

Over five days, the men were held, with Scotland Yard releasing a statement that read: “We can confirm two men aged 40 and 36 were arrested by officers from SO13 (the anti-terrorist branch) on the morning of Sunday, October 12 in central London following allegations of offences under the Terrorism Act 2000.”

The men’s plot was discovered with the help of another former KGB agent who had fled Russia for Britain.

Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian who three years later was fatally poisoned in what is largely believed to have been an act ordered by Putin, first informed the police about the plan.

He told them he had had a telephone conversation with one of the men planning the attack, who told him that Putin must be “overthrown” and needed to be “whacked”.

He had also met with the man outside a noodle restaurant in London’s Leicester Square, where he told Mr Litvinenko that he knew a senior officer in the FSB — the successor to the KGB — who supervised security for Putin during his trips abroad.

The spy is said to have suggested he could find out information about Putin’s pre-planned route during the UK visit which would help the assassination attempt.

Chechen separatists are thought to have been enlisted as the gunmen, an insider telling the Sunday Times that they would “pop up somewhere on Putin’s route with sniper rifles”.

The insider added: “Major P (the codename for the spy) said (Putin) had to be overthrown because he was bankrupting the country and was going to put everyone in jail?”

Litvinenko told detectives at Scotland Yard that the alleged assassins had asked him to set up a meeting with Boris Berezovsky — the exiled Russian tycoon who was found dead in his Berkshire home in 2013 — in order to ask him to finance the plot.

Friends of Litvinenko and Berezovsky say the pair feared the plot could be an attempt to set them up by involving them in it, so they immediately informed the police.

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