Commenting on the assassination plot earlier Monday, President Vladimir Putin said it showed that Ukrainian and Western attempts to sow division in Russian society and break the country up from the inside had failed, and that they had shifted to a “policy of terror” against Russian journalists.
Neo-Nazis detained by Russian security services over a plot to kill television and radio host Vladimir Solovyev also planned to assassinate Sputnik and RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, television presenter and Rossiya Segodnya media group head Dmitry Kiselyev, and others, including political talk show duo Olga Skabeyeva and Evgeny Popov, as well as Tigran Keosayan, Simonyan’s husband, an FSB video showing the suspects’ interrogation has indicated.
“During the period between January and March of 2022, I came to the apartment where discussions were held in my presence about setting fire to cars with symbols supporting the special operation, as well as military recruitment offices. Apart from that, killings”, one of the accused said.
“Killings of who?” the person behind the camera asked.
“Killings of people engaged in propaganda – Solovyev, Kiselyev, Skabeyeva, Popov, etc. Keosayan and Simonyan”, the suspect said.
Another suspect confirmed to an interrogator in the video that the group had received instructions from the Ukrainian Security Service to kill Solovyev.
FSB: Members of ‘National Socialism/White Power arrested
The FSB announced earlier in the day that they had arrested members of “National Socialism/White Power”, an international neo-Nazi group, who were said to have planned to assassinate the Russian television host at Kiev’s behest. The group and its activities have been banned in Russia.
In searches of the arrested individuals’ homes, investigators found an IED, Molotov cocktails, multiple weapons, a grenade, narcotics, fake Ukrainian passports, and various ultra-right-wing literature and paraphernalia, including a Nazi German flag and armband, items with Swastika symbols on them, and a portrait of Adolf Hitler.
Asked to comment on the plot, Solovyev said he believed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky may have been directly involved.
Margarita Simonyan said she was unfazed by the appearance of her name in the kill list.
“All people are mortal. To die because you did not remain silent in a corner, but allowed yourself the luxury of telling the truth and defending your homeland in the way you think is right and possible – this is no worse than slowly fading away from an incurable disease or inevitable old age. I look at this philosophically and in a Christian-like manner”, Simonyan said.
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President Putin was briefed on the incident, and told officials from the Russian Prosecutor’s Office that Moscow had the names of the CIA and other Western intelligence agency operatives believed to be curating the Ukrainian security services.
Solovyev, Kiselyev, Kosayan, Skabeeva, and Popov are all listed on Myrotvorets (lit. “Peacekeeper”), a notorious Kiev-based website publishing personal information on the “enemies of Ukraine” curated by the Security Service of Ukraine and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Each of the Russian media figures is listed as a “Russian war criminal” and charged with spreading “propaganda of Russian Nazism and fascism”.
Several Ukrainians whose names have appeared on the site have been killed, among them writer Oles Buzina and ex-Rada lawmaker Oleg Kalashnikov. Andrea Rocchelli, an Italian freelance photojournalist who was machine gunned to death by Ukrainian troops while travelling through the Donbass in 2014, also had his name listed on the site. The Committee to Protect Journalists, the G7, and the Russian Foreign Ministry have repeatedly called for the site to be shut down.