Would-be assassins targeting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after Russia's March 4 presidential election were apprehended by special forces in Ukraine, the Moscow Times reported Monday, citing Russia's state-owned Channel One television.

Authorities were tipped off by explosions during the manufacturing of bombs planned for use in the assassination attempt, and the suspects were arrested in in the Ukrainian port city Odessa after their apartment burst into flames in early January.

One suspect, identified by Channel One as Ruslan Madayev, reportedly died in the explosion, while a second, Ilya Pyanzin, was taken into custody. A third member of the group, Adam Osmayev, was later apprehended.

Pyanzin said he and Madayev arrived in Ukraine from the United Arab Emirates under orders from representatives of a rebel leader in the separatist republic of Chechnya.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that the group had been planning an attack on the prime minister.

An attempt to assassinate Putin and the current president, Dmitry Medvedev, was also reported during Russia's last presidential election, in 2008.