- Officials and statesmen have been targeted by terrorists
and the like from time immemorial. President Charles de Gaulle of France
set a kind of record, surviving numerous attempts on his life. There were
a number of attempts on the life of several U.S. presidents. President
Abraham Lincoln was shot dead in 1865. President John F. Kennedy fell victim
to an assassination in 1963. A terrorist shot and wounded President Ronald
Reagan in 1981. Iraqi secret service tried to assassinate President George
Bush Sr., in 1993. Were there any attempts on the life of Russian President
- First attempt
- The attempt was to have been made on Putin's life while
the president was attending the funeral of Anatoly Sobchak in St. Petersburg,
on February 24, 2000. Sergei Devystov, a press secretary for the Federal
Guard Service (responsible for protecting the president), said that "not
a not a psychopath but a certain organization was behind the attempt."
- Second attempt
- The attempt was to have been made during an informal
summit of the CIS presidents, held in the Russian city of Yalta from August
18-19, 2000. Russian security agencies reportedly received a tip from abroad
on the planned attack against President Putin. Four Chechens and several
nationals from the Middle East countries were arrested during investigation.
- Information with regard to the above attempts is rather
scarce since all the documents pertaining to the cases are classified.
- Third attempt
- The attempt was to have been made during President Putin's
official visit to Azerbaijan on January 9-10, 2002. Azeri security services
foiled the attempt, according to a statement by Namik Abbasov, head of
the Azeri National Security Ministry, released in October 2001. According
to Abbasov, the Iraqi citizen Kyanan Rostam is believed to have intended
to carry out the attempt. Rostam was reported to have spent some time in
training camps in Afghanistan and had links to Chechen rebels.
- Three months prior to Putin's arrival in Baku, Azeri
security agencies received information on theplans to kill the Russian
president during his upcoming visit to Azerbaijan. About ten days before
the start of the visit, the Azeri security agencies had learned about the
delivery of explosives to Azerbaijan. Consequently, Kyanan Rostam, the
recipient of explosives, was taken into custody. In January 2002, Rostam
was tried and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
- Fourth attempt
- A Zhiguli 10 pulled into the area within the Kremlin
walls about midday on February 6, 2002. A tall man of strong build climbed
out of the car. He looked like her was about 40 years old. The man approached
the security officers who were apparently taken aback by his sudden arrival.
The man said, "My name is Ivan Zaitzev. I'm the President of
Russia. Now take me to Vladimir Putin!" Needless to say, the man was
handcuffed in no time and taken to the nearest police station for questioning.The
police checked his ID while in custory. Zaitzev's documents looked in perfect
order. His work pass showed that the man was in the employ of a private
company. The police sealed Zaitzev's vehicle and took him to a hospital.
The doctors recognized their patient at once. Zaitsev had been brought
to the hospital from the same police station a year before. He was detained
while trying to drive his Volga into the Kremlin through the Spaskiye Gate
during the previous incident.
- When questioned by investigators about the reasons behind
his illegal entries to the Kremlin, Zaitsev made it quite clear that he
was planning to kill President Putin in both cases. According to doctors,
a personal tragedy prompted Zaitsev to do what he has done. His elder brother
had been murdered six months before the first incident took place in the
Kremlin. The crime was reportedly committed in a hideous manner: the police
discovered a beheaded body of the brother.
- Ivan Zaitzev was going to cut off the head of President
Putin. 'I've got to cut Putin's head off," said an entry iin his diary.
Why did he decide to kill the Russian president? Zaitsev was ready and
willing to discuss his reasons while talking to psychiatrists. He told
them that he had seen President Putin as a German spy who led Russia to
Nazism. He listed the following signs of the onset of Nazism in Russia:
steps taken by the government against an independent media; numerous neo-Nazi
groups operating across the country; nationwide propaganda of physical
- Fifth attempt
- Not unlike the previous attempt, the fifth one came to
naught. The mysterious explosive devices reportedly discovered in the vicinity
of Rublevo-Uspenskoye highway vanished without a trace. News agency Regnum
reported on the explosives found near the highway on November 28, 2002.
According to the news agency, the explosives were discovered at a time
when President Putin was supposed to be on the above highway while going
back from Kremlin to his residence outside Moscow. The highway, which is
regularly used by vehicles carrying high-ranking government officials,
was shut off at about 8.45 p.m. for more than two hours on that night.
The president's motorcade took a detour. New reports mentioned 40 kilos
of explosives allegedly placed in three metal boxes hidden in a pipe in
close proximity to the highway. Other reports said that field engineers
had been spotted at work in a forest close to a nearby village.
- Before long there were more reports on potential terrorists.
The media cited sources claiming that workers had installed new signboards
in that section of the highway shortly before the explosives were discovered.
Taking into account that a Mercedes with tinted windows was parked near
a team of workers, the traffic police apparently interpreted the "energetic
activity of unauthorized personnel" as suspicious. The road was closed,
and the president's motorcade detoured around the location via a secondary
- It is worthy of notice that one day later the official
sources denied all the reports on the incident. The only piece of information
that was never denied is the original media report about an attempt in
- Sixth attempt
- A handmade explosive device was found on the highway
connecting St. Petersburg and Pskov on June 23, 2003, several hours before
the president's motorcade was supposed to take the road. A local policeman
discovered the device by chance while patrolling the road at night. The
device was hidden away in a bag placed under an overpass.
- The police and security service called up reinforcements
to the scene to deal with the situation. The device proved to be a rather
crudely built bomb. No one was hurt. Steps were taken to hush up the incident.
- Seventh attempt
- According to an article published by the British newspaper
The Sunday Times several years ago, the British police foiled a conspiracy
aimed at the assassination of President Putin during one of his foreign
- Citing representatives of Scotland Yard, the newspaper
reported that two Russians, aged 40 and 36, had been detained in London
on October 12, 2003, by operatives of a counterterrorism unit. One of the
Russians was a former member of the Russian Security Service. The police
acted on a tip from the former Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko,
who informed the police that the two men had requested him to make an appointment
for them to meet Boris Berezovsky
- Let me digress for a moment. The point is that Litvinenko
was poisoned by polonium-210, a radioactive substance produced during the
decay of uranium-238, on November 1 in London. Some experts believe that
somebody attempted to kill Litvinenko by poisoning him with polonium. Litvinenko
fell ill shortly after having a meeting with an Italian man who claimed
to have information on the killing of journalist Anna Politkoveskaya. Litvinenko's
condition had been described as serious but stable until recently. The
transplantation of bone marrow was required for saving his life, and the
doctors were on an active search for a donor. Unfortunately, Litvinenko
passed away in the evening of November 23.
- The British police were questioning the two suspects
for five days, trying to detect possible links between the two and Chechen
rebels. However, the suspects were released on Friday and flew back to
- The results are obvious
- All in all, at least seven attempts have been made on
the life of Vladimir Putin since he took office in 2000. Besides, there
were several car crashes involving the Russian president. None of them
looks like an ordinary traffic accident at all.
- There were also some unsubstantiated threats against
President Putin. For example, the terrorist group Islambuli Brigade posted
a statement on one of the Islamist web sites in September, 2004. According
to the statement, Vladimir Putin, "the head of a state of the infidels",
was chosen as the group's next target. The terrorists also called on all
their supporters to help carry out the attack. Chechen terrorists, many
of them had been already captured by Russian authorities, issued a similar
statement some time earlier that year. They promised that anybody who would
help take President Putin captive would get a reward of $20 million. The
authorities were quick to comment on the threats voiced by the terrorists.
- "The threats against the Russian president are absolutely
real. Many extremist and terrorist organizations have long threatened to
kill the president," said Gennady Gudkov, a member of the Committee
for Security of the State Duma, in an interview following the above reports.
"The Federal Guard Service takes into consideration possible threats
while choosing an appropriate tactic in order to protect the president,"