The Putin assassination plot – a well-timed revelation?
An assassination plot to kill the Russian Prime minister was revealed by the state-owned Channel 1 TV station in a prime-time special report just days before the Russian election on Sunday.
The slick, well-researched and well-produced four minute report, details the plot uncovered - by accident – by the Ukrainian and Russian security agencies. It features the videotaped confession by one of the terrorists to the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (the successor to the KGB).
He confirms that the target of the assassination plot was Vladimir Putin. The report also shows parts of the explosive devices, the plans and reconnaissance materials. According to the terrorists’ confession, they were acting on the orders of Doku Umarov, a Chechen separatist leader.
How will the revelations impact the presidential campaign? While few doubt the authenticity of the plot, some commentators are asking if the decision to go public with the story just days before the voters head to the polls is suspicious. While the last arrests were made on 4th January, the government chose to release the story six days before the presidential elections.
Interviewed by Echo Moskvy radio, a political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin gives a blunt assessment of the situation. “The KGB old guard in the Kremlin are using the same old tactics of manipulating public opinion based on the idea that there are enemies plotting to destroy Russia's leader everywhere.”
According to Oreshkin, the “Kremlin PR team” thinks that the revelation will cause Russians to unite behind Putin and thus boost his ratings in the polls.
“Do you really believe the assassination plot ?”, asks the opposition online newspaper SLON. The publication interviewed leading Russian political scientists and most believed the timing of the story's release was not chosen by accident.
Some, like Stanislav Belkovsky, think that Putin’s campaign team were looking to give their boss a ratings push.
Igor Bunin, an analyst from the Political Technologies Center, considers it an attempt by the country's over-zealous security agencies to prove their loyalty to Putin.
Political scientist Gleb Pavlovsky argues that the timing of the revelations could be a powerful attempt to “silence” the final campaign push by the opposition in the last days before the election.
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts.