Russia's state television says Russian and Ukrainian authorities have arrested a group of suspects accused of attempting to assassinate Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
The Channel One station said Monday the suspects were plotting to kill Putin in Moscow immediately after Russia's March 4 presidential election. The report said the suspects were arrested in Ukraine's Black Sea port city of Odessa.
The report quoted Ukrainian security officials as saying the suspects were arrested earlier this year following an explosion that took place while they were practicing making explosives. It said the plotters had been working for a group that wants to create an Islamic state in Russia's North Caucasus.
The report did not quote any named security officials.
Putin's spokesman confirmed the report to the Itar-Tass news agency, but gave no further details.
Prime minister Putin is widely expected to win a third term as president in the March election, after serving two terms from 2000 to 2008.
Moscow has since extended the presidential term to six years. If re-elected, the 59-year-old Putin could serve two more six-year terms and remain in power until 2024.
Russian forces fought two separate wars in the last two decades against Islamic insurgents seeking independence in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya.
Source: VOA News