Putin says unafraid of assassination plots
MOSCOW - Agence France- Presse
AFP PhotoPrime Minister Vladimir Putin said today he was unafraid for his life and had grown used to plots to kill him, after state television reported a new conspiracy days before Russia's presidential poll.
"You cannot live with constant fear -- let them fear us. I have been living with this since 1999," when Putin first became prime minister before heading the Kremlin in 2000-2008, Russian news agencies quoted him as saying.
Russia's Channel One television on Monday showed two men with links to militants in Chechnya purportedly confessing to plans to blow up Putin's car after his expected return to the Kremlin in Sunday's ballot.
Several independent analysts and some opposition media said the report's timing appeared aimed at inciting a groundswell of public support around Putin in the face of almost daily street protests against his rule.
Putin, whose earlier career is linked closely to the decision to launch Russia's second war in Chechnya in 1999, said he had been informed of the plot in advance as a safety precaution.
"They reported it to me because people in my position have to live with it," he said after inspecting the site of an apartment block collapse in the southern city of Astrakhan that claimed at least eight lives.
"Such things should never reflect" on how you conduct your daily business, said Putin. "They were never a bother and they never will be."