Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said Monday he had a security agent admit that the Federal Security Service (FSB) wanted to kill him this summer and put poison in his underwear.
In a blog post, the Kremlin critic said he called a man named Konstantin Kudryavtsev, who is an expert on chemical weapons with the FSB’s secret service.
“I called my killer. He confessed to everything,” Navalny said on Twitter, a claim that the FSB rejected later on Monday.
Navalny said he hid his phone number and introduced himself as an advisor to the Security Council aide, Nikolai Patrushev. He needs information for an official report on the poisoning attempt.
The opposition leader released an audio recording and transcript of the phone call and posted a video of the conversation.
He said that the speech analysis “would show that it was really” Kudryavtsev.
In the audio recording, the voice on the other end of the line sounds hesitant and cautious at first, but finally tells the story and explains why Navalny survived the poison attack.
The FSB described the call late Monday as a “provocation to discredit” the agency.
The telephone conversation “about the alleged actions against” Navalny would not have been possible without “the support of foreign intelligence services” and the video that the Kremlin critic published about the call was “falsified”.
Navalny, 44, fell seriously ill during a flight from Siberia to Moscow in August and was hospitalized in the Russian city of Omsk before being transported to Berlin by medical aircraft.
Experts from several Western countries concluded that the Kremlin critic was poisoned with Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok – a claim Moscow has repeatedly denied.
A joint media report headed by the Bellingcat investigation website last week revealed the names and photos of FSB chemical weapons experts who had followed Navalny for years.
In his blog post on Monday, the opposition leader said he called the security forces named in the report last week. He said almost everyone hung up except the man he said was Kudryavtsev.
During that call, the person who was believed to be Kudryavtsev said that his unit did not expect the pilot to make an emergency landing in Omsk.
He said if the flight had continued, Navalny would not have survived.
In the recorded comments, the agent said an attacker placed the poison along the inner seams of a pair of Navalny’s underwear.
He explained how he and another FSB agent flew to Omsk after the poisoning and removed all traces of the poison.
However, Kudryavtsev never explained his exact role in the operation.
On Monday, Navalny employee Lyubov Sobol went to a building on the outskirts of Moscow where Kudryavtsev lives, according to the Bellingcat report.
According to the video she streamed live on her Twitter account, the police turned her car around and later arrested her.
Journalists also arrived at the scene and rang the doorbell at Kudryavtsev’s reported apartment, but no one came to the door.
“You are stupid”
Bellingcat as well as Der Spiegel and the Russian website The Insider were given access to Navalny’s account and published reports on Monday.
“I’ve been reporting on the FSB for years and I never thought they were great professionals. But Navalny’s prank is a shock even to me,” wrote Russian journalist Irina Borogan on Twitter.
“They are stupid and that makes them even more dangerous,” she added.
Last week, President Vladimir Putin denied reports that the FSB had poisoned Navalny, despite suggesting the Kremlin critic would be supported by US intelligence and, if so, Russia should pursue him.
“But that doesn’t mean at all that it is necessary to poison him. Who needs him?” said the Russian guide.
If the Russian special services wanted to poison Navalny, “they would have taken it to the end,” he added.
Putin has refused to publicly pronounce Navalny’s name and instead referred to him as “the patient in Berlin” when asked directly about the opposition leader.
Navalny has said that Putin was behind his poisoning and that he will return to Russia once he has fully recovered in Germany.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)