Reports of a foiled plan to assassinate the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, have set off waves of scepticism as distrust of the government erupted publicly just days before Sunday's presidential election.  Russians have long been quietly cynical of their leaders, and the internet has been home to widespread irreverence about Mr Putin and his government.  But the street protests that have roiled Moscow since December's parliamentary elections have had wide resonance.

Despite numerous details about the alleged plot and confessions shown on national television, disbelief reverberated throughout Moscow.  Even in the national parliament, the Duma, politicians questioned the report.  Even believers were uncomfortable about the timing. 'The event dates back to February 4 and news about it has emerged today, on the last week before voting,' said Sergei Mironov, a Duma deputy, presidential candidate and head of A Just Russia.  'I have the feeling that all this is not a mere coincidence.

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