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Russia TV has more details of failed plot to kill Putin
Source: Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1700 gmt 4 Nov 01

This is the second part of an investigation by Russia TV into an alleged plot to assassinate Vladimir Putin. The plan was developed by Chechen rebels, in concert with an Iraqi national in Baku with links to Usamah Bin-Ladin. Kremlin security officials have confirmed the existence of the plot, and Azeri sources say they have proof that Putin was the target. The first part was carried by the Vesti Nedeli programme on 28 October. The following is the text of the report, broadcast by Russia TV on 4 November:

[Presenter] In last week's programme we reported how a plot was hatched to kill the Russian president during his visit to Baku early this year. Our correspondent Andrey Kondrashov explained how the Azeri special services detained (?Kyanan Rostam), who is accused of planning the attack. This week, the Federal Bodyguard Service for the first time confirmed to us that there was indeed an assassination attempt planned in Baku. I have that written confirmation here in my hand. In today's report, Andrey Kondrashov has new details of the plan to kill Vladimir Putin.

[Correspondent] Ukraine was the first state to confirm that an attempt to kill Vladimir Putin had been planned on its territory. The head of the security service, Leonid Derkach, said that Putin was to have been killed in Yalta in August last year. Four Chechens and several Arabs were arrested at the time. But the Ukrainian special services did not have enough evidence, so they simply deported the suspects.

The second is Azerbaijan. Iraqi national (?Kyanan Rostam), who according to the Azeri special services planned to kill the Russian president, is still being held in a remand detention centre. A pupil of Bin-Ladin and an explosives instructor who has taught in Chechen camps, he occasionally leaves his cell to pray. This jihad warrior shows no interest in the keep-fit equipment used by his cellmates. He continues to refuse to testify or name his accomplices. But he is being kept in the same conditions as anyone else on remand.

The terrorist who prepared 48 explosive devices for Vladimir Putin's visit to Baku is looking at 10 years inside, the authorities say. But, the feeling in Azerbaijan is that this is not enough.

[Tariel Aliyev, serious crimes investigator at Azerbaijan National Security Ministry, captioned] In one state there's a plot to kill the president of another state, which happens to be a close neighbour and a great power. You can imagine what that would lead to.

[Correspondent] Unless (?Kyanan Rostam's) accomplices are caught, it will be difficult to prove he was plotting to kill Putin. But the National Security Ministry has no doubts.

[Namik Abbasov, Azerbaijan Minister of National Security, captioned] It was Putin, 100 per cent. There were phone calls about this. We have calls on tape.

[Correspondent] The ministry does have transcripts of the terrorists' phone calls. And the first radio transcripts were sent to it by Russia's Federal Security Service. Special units had been scanning calls made on [Chechen rebel commander] Arbi Barayev's satellite phone. Just ahead of Putin's visit to Baku, he was coordinating a series of explosions with rebels in Azerbaijan.

The Russian Federal Bodyguards Service doesn't comment on any reports about attempts to kill the president. An official statement faxed following a request by Vesti Nedeli is the first of its kind in the Service's history. The statement says that there was information about a threat to Vladimir Putin and the Russian special services carried out a series of operations in Baku with their Azeri colleagues. The outcome is known. In cases such as these, visits are usually cancelled. But Vladimir Putin did come to Baku, although a month and a half later than planned. The reasons for rescheduling the visit were never given, of course.

The Federal Bodyguards Service is one of the most secretive organizations in the country. Any breach of its operating procedures is tantamount to treason. Bodyguards are chosen individually and only one in several thousand makes it to Vladimir Putin's entourage.

Dmitriy Fonarev leads the National Association of Bodyguards. He used to work with Mikhail Gorbachev. He says there are effective ways of countering anything that terrorists are known to have, be it explosives, sniper fire or something else.

[Fonarev, captioned] Terrorists have to choose what kind of new methods to develop. That is, until new methods are invented they'll be able to plan attacks but it'll be extremely difficult to actually carry them out.

[Correspondent] The new method is anthrax. The old is suicide bomber, but they are now being programmed in new ways. The same thing could happen in Azerbaijan, Fonarev thinks.

[Fonarev] It could, just could, happen, I think. Someone from the group who's still at large could have been programmed or, so to speak, psyched up for a suicide attack. It's no secret that you can programme someone like that. It's not that hard to do.

[Correspondent] A presidential visit requires a particular kind of bodyguard operation. Up to 170 people could be responsible for ensuring the head of state's security. Some are working with agents, others are looking for explosives and measuring radiation levels, and a third group is always alongside the president.

[Fonarev] The worst thing for the bodyguards is a static situation. As soon as the guy you're looking after gets into the car, the car should be off. And he should get into the car quickly, not hang around. If you look at a man's head through a sniper rifle sight from, say, 150 metres, it's like a large sphere, it's huge. You can't miss.

[Correspondent] The president's motorcade, which can consist of over 10 vehicles, moves at up to 150 km per hour. Experts say that Vladimir Putin trains with his bodyguards. He doesn't need to be taught how to get into a car properly or not to hang around in one place while pressing the flesh. According to the experts, he was fully aware of the risk when he flew in a fighter plane or dropped in for tea in a village home that the security men hadn't checked out in advance.

Although when a Chechen rebel website is offering 7m dollars for killing top Russian officials, the bodyguards do have something to be concerned about.

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