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Putin assassination attempt 'foiled'

Vladimir Putin
An assassination attempt was made on Russian President Vladimir Putin at a conference in Yalta last month  

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- An assassination attempt on Russian President Vladimir Putin was foiled last month, the head of Ukraine's security services said on Tuesday.

The attempt was made at a summit of former Soviet nations at Yalta, Russian news agency Interfax reported.

The Yalta summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) took place the weekend after the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea during a military exercise.

Ukraine's Security Service chief Leonid Derkach said last week that his service foiled a plan to assassinate one of the CIS leaders at the August 18-19 summit. He revealed on Tuesday that the leader was Putin.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with CNN's Larry King about the Kursk tragedy.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin discusses his religious faith with CNN's Larry King.

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The English language website Russia Today, quoting Interfax, said the service was informed from abroad about the planned assassination and arrested four Chechen and "several persons from Middle East countries."

Besides Putin, the presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Ukraine attended the Yalta summit.

Russian security officials acknowledge that they did receive threats against Putin's life but said those threats were dealt with and nothing occurred.

Putin received widespread criticism from the Russian media for falling to return to Moscow to deal with the crisis that followed the sinking of the Kursk on August 12.

Speaking in the Crimea while was attending the CIS summit, he said he did not wish to interfere in the rescue efforts of the experts.

Officials described the Yalta summit as a working meeting and said that in view of the submarine tragedy the agenda had been altered to remove the entertainment part of the programme.

The assassination attempt comes on top of several other disasters to befall the Russian leader during the month of August.

As well as the Kursk tragedy, Moscow's giant TV tower was put out of action by a fire in which three people lost their lives. Some of the 18 million homes in and around Moscow which lost television and radio programmes following the blaze and many have not had them restored.

Earlier in the month terror returned to the streets of Moscow when a bomb was set off in Pushkin Square, close to the Kremlin, and 11 people died.

Last week, Putin appeared on CNN's Larry King Live when he talked freely for one hour about the status of the Russian navy, the US presidential race, his own career with the KGB, and the "ideological vacuum" that resulted from life in a communist state.



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