Russia’s not-so-surprising February surprise

Russia’s not-so-surprising February surprise

It’s early to say how credible the reported assassination plot against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is, but it is pretty clear that the Kremlin is taking full advantage of the timing of the announcement, just a week before the presidential election.

First, there’s the fact that Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said the arrest of two men after an apartment explosion is January was "was absolutely a plot to kill the prime minister," even before the Ukrainian government had confirmed it. Then there’s the confusion about when this arrest actually took place: 

Channel One said the suspects were arrested on Jan. 4, but a statement released by the Ukrainian security services this month, which made no mention of an assassination plot against Mr. Putin, said the arrests were made on Feb. 4. 

And as Miriam Elder notes, Russians have heard this tune before. Another attempt to kill Putin was "foiled" by authorities in Moscow the day Dmitry Medvedev was elected president in 2008. Many in the Russian opposition also believe that Putin may have been involved in a series of Moscow appartment bombings, blamed on Chechen militants, prior to his first election as president in 2000.

It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility that Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov might have plotted to kill Putin, as the suspects say in their videotaped confession, but the timing of this information being made public does seem awfully convenient at a time when the opposition is showing more life than ever before.