Uk cops foil plot kill putin
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UK cops foil plot to kill Putin
19/10/2003 11:34 - (SA)
London - British police have thwarted a plot to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin after arresting a renegade Russian intelligence agent in London, The Sunday Times reported.
"This is a criminal investigation into something that has an international dimension," a senior British government official was quoted as saying by the weekly newspaper.
"It's a matter for (Scotland) Yard who are taking it seriously," the unnamed source reportedly said.
According to The Sunday Times, detectives from Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch arrested a former KGB major, said to be a trained hitman, and a second Russian after a tip-off last weekend.
The would-be assassins were reportedly held for five days at a police station in west London under Britain's anti-terrorist legislation and questioned about possible links to Chechen guerrillas.
Police were alerted by Alexander Litvinenko, a former intelligence officer in Russia's FSB, the main successor to the KGB.
Litvinenko told The Sunday Times that the hitmen had asked him to set up a meeting with Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky who fled Russia in November 2000 after falling out with Putin.
Berezovsky - granted political asylum by Britain last month - told the newspaper that he and Litvinenko were called to a meeting with their lawyer at Scotland Yard on Friday.
"The police told me they were holding two men and that one of them had admitted being involved in a plot to kill President Putin," Berezovsky said.
The men apparently wanted Berezovsky, 57, whose personal fortune is estimated at three billion dollars, to finance the alleged plot.
The plot, in which Putin was to be shot dead by a sniper on a foreign trip, was outlined to Litvinenko in a series of telephone calls and a face-to-face meeting with one of the hitmen.
"He told Litvinenko that Putin must be overthrown, that he needed to be whacked," said a source close to the investigation, according to The Sunday Times.
Scotland Yard did not confirm the plot but said they had arrested two men, aged 36 and 40, last Sunday in London.