Russian security services claim that they have uncovered a plan by a group of suicide bombers to assassinate Russian President Putin during his visit to Iran later this week. Advisors have informed Putin of the threat – but he’s going to visit Tehran anyway.
It’s not clear who wants to kill Putin – apparently there are not just one, but several groups of suicide bombers wandering around Iran looking for the Russian President – nor is it clear why they’d want to assassinate him, but here are a few of my own stabs in the dark (in descending order of probability):
- A Chechen group with sympathisers in Iran (true, there aren’t many of these, but there are a few)
- A group of domestic political opponents, who have just realised the only way they are going to be more powerful than Putin is if he is six feet under
- The CIA (come on – the CIA want to kill everyone, including from time to time, their own Presidents)
- The Iranian government – they’re really puppets of Russia, who are forcing nuclear weapons on Iran as a part of their own nefarious plots.
Hmmmm. I’m not convinced, and I wrote these possibilities down myself. How about this for a more plausible reason:
Putin is about to enter the most risky period of his leadership of Russia – he’s about to stand down as President and attempt to transfer real power from the Presidency to the Prime Minister’s office, despite the existence of a constitution which puts technical power in the hands of the President. He’ll most likely be able to pull it off, but what if his hand-picked President suddenly grows a backbone?
It’s vital for Putin that he is seen as strongman, capable of standing up for and fearlessly defending the interests of Russia’s people – both at home and abroad. He’s already made a stab at showing off his masculinity with his “Fishing with Putin” photos, and the revelation of this assassination attempt – whether there is a grain of truth in it or not – and the news that Putin will be visiting Iran regardless, is really about giving Putin the opportunity to say “look at me! Mad and bad foreigners want to kill me but – for you, the Russian people – I will put my head into the lion’s jaw.”
I think you are right about this one.
We know that the state controlled this news leak (there were identical quotes from an anonymous source in TASS, RIA, and Interfax). We know the Iranians immediately discarded the threat. And most importantly, within hours Pravda was carrying a headline casting Putin’s decision to travel anyways as heroic. As an added benefit, inventing an Islamist plot to assassinate him has the added benefit of shoring up Russia’s anti-terrorism credentials at a critical time.
However if the conspiracy theorists are disappointed with such a pedestrian political stunt, they can just resort to default: blame an exiled London oligarch. He’ll be more than happy to do an interview about it.
I’d forgotten about the Oligarchs – not sure how I managed that.
Another thought that has occurred to me was that the leaked assassination story might have just been seen as a good way to get a the press interested in what would otherwise have been a not particularly newsworthy summit.
I think I may be taking these conspiracy theories a little too far now…