Russian and Ukrainian secret services have foiled a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after the March 4, 2012 Presidential elections, Russian state television said on Monday.

Channel One said two suspects arrested in Ukraine earlier this year confessed of plotting to bomb Mr. Putin’s motorcade in Moscow on orders of Chechen warlord Doku Umarov, who had organised a bloody suicide bombing of a Moscow airport a year ago.

The suspects were arrested after an accidental bomb explosion at a rented flat in Ukraine’s Black Sea port city of Odessa which killed one of the would be terrorists. The men said they had come to Ukraine from the United Arab Emirates via Turkey.

“They told us to come to Odessa and learn how to make bombs,” one of the two detained men identified as Ilya Pyanzin said in the Russian TV report. “Later, in Moscow, we were to stage attacks against commercial entities, with the subsequent assassination attempt against Putin.”

“The deadline was after the election of the Russian President," said the other man, Adam Osmayev.

Russians reacted with disbelief to the report. A call-in poll conducted by the popular radio Echo of Moscow found that 92 per cent of listeners thought it was an election trick to boost Mr. Putin’s popularity ahead of the coming election.

“Have they run out of amphora?” a listener asked sarcastically in reference to Mr. Putin’s publicised scuba diving last year, when he pulled to the surface two centuries-old Greek amphora jars. Mr. Putin’s press secretary later admitted that the diving exploit was a set-up and the jars had been placed on the seabed beforehand.

Media recalled that a similar report of an assassination plot against Mr. Putin and his protégé, Dmitry Medvedev, came four years ago, on the voting day in Russia’s Presidential election, which saw Mr. Medvedev succeed Mr. Putin.

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