The Russian authorities tighten the siege on the collaborators of the prominent Russian opponent, Alexei Navalni. Days after a journalistic investigation pointed to alleged agents of one of the Russian intelligence agencies as responsible for the poisoning that nearly cost him his life in the summer, pressure increases against the dissident’s allies.
This Friday, the Russian police arrested Liubov Sobol, one of the most prominent, and two employees of the organization of the lawyer and anti-corruption activist, which is still recovering in Germany from the attack.
The collaborators of the opponent are being investigated in a criminal case of trespassing, after Sobol went on Monday to the apartment of one of the alleged agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB, heir to the KGB) identified as members of the brigade that he allegedly poisoned Navalni with a toxic agent from the Novichok family in a journalistic investigation led by Bellingcat.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied any involvement in the case and has assured that the opponent collaborates with the United States and that it is all an operation of Washington’s secret services.
Shortly before Sobol went to confront the man identified in the extensive journalistic reports as Konstantin Kudryatsev, an FSB chemical weapons expert, Navalni released a recording of a telephone conversation in which he claims that, presenting himself as a high-level official who made a report on the failures of the operation, managed to trick Kudryatsev into detailing how the mission went.
In the alleged conversation, the alleged agent explained that they had put the poison in his underwear. Also that he saved his life because the plane in which he collapsed while traveling from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow made an emergency landing in another city in Siberia and the doctors treated him immediately.
On Monday, the police already arrested Sobol in the vicinity of the alleged spy’s apartment, where some media also went to locate the house. She was detained for six hours.
On that occasion, Navalni’s main ally, who tried to stand in the local elections in Moscow last summer but was vetoed by the electoral commission like so many other independent candidates and who plans to run as a candidate in the parliamentary elections of the year that comes, he received a fine of about 1,000 rubles (11 euros) for disobedience to an agent.
The opposition woman was arrested again this Friday, after a police raid on her house, which was searched early in the morning. She is charged in a criminal case for breaking and entering, according to her team, following the complaint by the mother-in-law of the alleged spy, who accuses Sobol of pushing her and breaking into her apartment.
He could face up to two years in prison. The official report of the Investigation Committee does not detail the status of the lawyer and activist in the anti-corruption organization founded by Navalni (FBK) in the framework of the criminal investigation.
From Germany, Navalni wrote on social networks that he has no doubt that the latest arrests and the pressure on his collaborators is due to the latest revelations about his poisoning, for which the
European Union has sanctioned several officials from Putin’s circle ; Brussels argues that it is impossible that an attack of this magnitude on an opponent, who was closely followed by the Russian secret services, occurred without the knowledge of the Kremlin. Meanwhile, Russia has not launched an investigation into the Novichok attack on Navalni last August.
Sobol is used to arrests and has several open cases related to protests; It has also been sued by oligarchs from the orbit of the Kremlin, such as Yevgueni Prigozhin, known as Putin’s chef.