LONDON, England # Two men have been arrested by British anti-terrorist police in London over a plot to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin, a newspaper has said.
The Russian men, allegedly renegade intelligence officers, were planning for Putin to be shot by a sniper while on a foreign trip, The Sunday Times of London reported.
Scotland Yard said that two Russian men had been held and questioned by anti-terrorist officers in London over a five-day period.
“We can confirm two men aged 40 and 36 were arrested by officers from SO13 (the anti-terrorist branch) on the morning of Sunday, October 12 in central London following allegations of offences under the Terrorism Act 2000,” a spokeswoman said.
She added that the men were released on Friday without further action but refused to confirm reports that this was on condition they returned to Russia.
One of the men, said to be a former secret service hit man, knew a senior officer in Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the KGB, who would provide information about Putin’s movements abroad, The Sunday Times said.
SO13 was alerted when they received details from a former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko after he had been contacted by the alleged plotter, the paper said.
Litvinenko, who defected to Britain three years ago, alleged that the two arrested men were trying to engage Russian exiles in Britain in the conspiracy to kill Putin.
But police sources played down the allegations.
“If Scotland Yard get an allegation of this kind it has to investigate if there’s any truth in it. It seems like there wasn’t in this case,” a police source told Reuters.