Russia has claimed it foiled a Kyiv-sanctioned assassination plot to kill the chief editor of the RT international news channel, Margarita Simonyan, and another journalist, Ksenia Sobchak.

 

In a statement released on Saturday, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) accused “Ukrainian special services” of hiring members of a neo-Nazi group called “Paragraph-88” to kill the two women.

 

A spokesman for the FSB said: “The Federal Security Service, jointly with the Investigative Committee and the Interior Ministry of Russia, has foiled the assassination of Editor-in-Chief of RT TV Channel and Russia Today international news agency Margarita Simonyan, plotted by Ukrainian special services.

 

“According to available data, the murder of Ksenia Sobchak was also plotted.”

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The FSB said members of Paragraph-88 had been detained and published footage showing several suspects being arrested, as well as allegedly seized weapons and books on Nazism.

 

The RosZMI pro-Moscow media channel reported that the leader of the group, “Misha,” had admitted to being paid $16,000 to carry out each assassination.

 

In follow-up searches, the FSB said that its operators had seized a Kalashnikov assault rifle, along with 90 rounds, knives, knuckle-dusters, rubber clubs, handcuffs, badges and flags with Nazi insignia, Nazi literature as well as “means of communication” and computers on which was found information relating to the plot.

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Sources told Kyiv Post that various brands of gasoline and diesel fuel with a total volume of 12.5 thousand cubic meters were stored there.

 

“The Investigative Committee plans to institute criminal cases against the detained suspects on extremist and terrorist counts,” the FSB said.

 

Ukrainian officials have not commented on the claims.

 

Forty-three-year-old Simonyan has been the editor-in-chief of the Russian state-controlled broadcaster RT since it was founded in 2005 and is a director of the state-owned media Rossiya Segodnya group.

 

She was sanctioned by the EU, UK, and other states for her central role in state propaganda before and following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

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“Keep on working, brothers!” she said in a message on Saturday thanking the FSB.

 

Sobchak, 41, is a well-known public figure, TV anchor, journalist, socialite and actress. She is the younger daughter of the first democratically elected mayor of Saint Petersburg, Anatoly Sobchak, and the Russian senator Lyudmila Narusova.

 

In April, six alleged members of the banned Russian terrorist group “National Socialism/White Power,” were arrested and charged with preparing an assassination attempt against prominent Russian journalist Vladimir Solovyov.

 

The subsequent investigation claimed that they were also acting on behalf of the SBU.

 

In interviews with the international media at the beginning of the month, Major-General Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (HUR), admitted to sanctioning assassinations against Ukraine’s enemies.

 

When an interviewer tried to draw comparisons with Israel's Mossad, Budanov replied:

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“If you're asking about Mossad as being famous (for) ... eliminating enemies of their state, then we were doing it and we will be doing it. We don't need to create anything because it already exists.”

 

In April, Russian military blogger Maxim Vladen Tatarsky was murdered in a bomb attack in St Petersburg. Local activist Darya Trepova was arrested for the crime and reportedly admitted that she had been recruited by Ukrainian intelligence.

 

In August 2022, another Russian journalist, Darya Dugina, was assassinated in car bomb on the outskirts of Moscow. The FSB claimed that Ukrainian special services were behind the killing.

 

The New York Times reported in October that US government officials also believe Kyiv was responsible.

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