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Russian FSB claims to foil ‘Ukrainian assassination plot’ against propagandist Vladimir Solovyov

Source: Meduza

The Russian FSB claims to have foiled an alleged assassination plot against prominent Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov and other state television personalities. According to a statement released on Monday, April 25, FSB agents arrested a group of “neo-Nazis” who Ukraine’s Security Service (the SBU) allegedly hired to carry out the murders. 

Russia’s Investigative Committee also released footage that appears to show FSB agents carrying out raids and arresting the alleged suspects, as well as clips of some of their confessions. 

Russian Investigative Committee

Though the detainees faces are blurred in the video clips, several of them appear to have tattoos of Nazi symbols. Russian investigators also claim that the searches uncovered weapons, ammunition, drugs, and fake Ukrainian passports, as well as “nationalist literature and paraphernalia.”

“Members of the criminal group confessed to plotting the murder of V. Solovyov, after which they planned to hide abroad,” the FSB statement says. 

According to a separate press release from Russia’s Investigative Committee, six suspects were arrested in total; allegedly, they planned to kill Solovyov by “blowing up” his car.

In one of the interrogation clips, a man (with a tattoo of Nazi Germany’s coat of arms on his chest) says that the weapons found during the raid were left there “by members of a Nazi group” who were supposed “to eliminate pro-Putin figure” Vladimir Solovyov “as soon as possible,” under orders from the “SBU of Ukraine.”

In a second clip, another alleged suspect says that there were orders from the SBU to “eliminate Solovyov as quickly as possible.” 

“From January to March 2022, I came to the apartment, where we discussed [...] burning cars with symbols of support for the special operation, as well as military recruitment offices,” says the man in a third interrogation clip. According to his testimony, the group also allegedly discussed plans to murder “people carrying out propaganda” — namely, prominent Russian state television personalities Vladimir Solovyov, Dmitry Kiselyov, Olga Skabeeva, Evgeny Popov, Tigran Keosayan, and Margarita Simonyan. 

According to the FSB, the detained suspects are members of National Socialism/White Power (NS/WP) — a neo-Nazi group banned in Russia as a terrorist organization. After the arrests were announced on Monday, an “official comment” from NS/WP began circulating on neo-Nazi Telegram channels, but it did not contain confirmation that the detainees were members or supporters of the group. 

Earlier in the day on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the authorities had thwarted the activities of “a terrorist group that planned to attack and murder a famous Russian TV journalist.” Putin then blamed Western countries for the alleged plot, claiming they had “turned to terror” in an effort to “split Russia” and “destroy Russia from the inside.” 

In turn, FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov said that “the preparation for this terrorist attack was carried out by a group of Russian citizens, Muscovites,” adding that all six suspects had been detained. 

“I think that it’s directly related to [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky, because Zelensky directly threatened [me], that is, he’s mentioned my surname more than once,” Solovyov said in a comment on the alleged plot. 

Ukraine’s Security Service said in a statement that it “has no plans to assassinate V. Solovyov” and “does not intend to seriously comment on the new fantasies of the Russian intelligence services, who are simply inventing achievements for a Russian audience.” 

“Solovyov is [...] an ordinary propagandist — the Russian equivalent of Goebbels — who will be held accountable for his crimes in international courts after Ukraine’s victory,” the SBU statement says. 

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