Navalny tricks Russian FSB agent into confessing to botched attempt on his life

Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny spoke on the phone with Konstantin Kudryavtsev who is believed to be involved in the attempt on Navalny’s life. The politician called Kudryavtsev impersonating as am Assistant of the Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev. Navalny published a recording of the conversation on his YouTube channel.

A joint investigation of journalists from The Insider, Bellingcat and CNN with the participation of Der Spiegel, revealed that the FSB operative Kudryavtsev ("Sokolov") flew to Omsk five days after Navalny's poisoning and returned to Moscow on the same day. Investigators believed he was coming back to collect Navalny’s clothes. It turned out that he was instructed to clean Navalny’s suit and underwear from traces of Novichok nerve agent.

Navalny asked Kudryavtsev to explain why the operation failed, because the issue was going to be discussed at the Security Council meeting.

Kudryavtsev spoke to Navalny for 45 minutes.

"Well, they put it there... You know, don't you? He flew, it was planted, that's it. The situation has developed ... not in our favor. I think so. If only a little longer, then, accordingly… it could have gone differently," Kudryavtsev says.

Navalny asked what "a little longer" meant. The FSB officer replied: "If it [the plane] had flown a little longer for example, and did not have to land abruptly..."

Kudryavtsev said that in Omsk the police handed him a box of Navalny’s belongings. He had to clean them with a special solution to remove the traces of the Novichok nerve agent.

"The package was sealed, everything was there... There was a torn whole. There were things. They were wet. There were things, respectively, ... suit, underpants, socks, mask. The T-shirt, respectively, yes," the operative recalls.

According to him, he treated Navalny‘s suit and underwear with a special solution. The politician's underwear was "the riskiest subject". There could be a maximum concentration of poison, so the seams of the underwear were treated especially carefully.

Kudryavtsev also said that the method that his leadership chose to kill Navalny was “good”.

"The contact was good. The penetration was good. If they chose it, so they thought it was the right thing to do. [They chose it] according to the situation, according to the experience , probably," he said.

During the conversation Kudryavtsev mentioned the name of Vasily Kalashnikov, who went with him. Investigative journalists have not previously included this name in the list of "poisoners". He was presented as an employee of the Institute of Forensic Sciences, co-author of a number of scientific papers on the detection of metabolites of new neuro-paralytic substances.

Alexey Navalny lost consciousness on August 20 on a plane flying from Tomsk to Moscow. After an emergency landing in Omsk, he was hospitalized and two days later taken to the Charite hospital in Berlin for treatment. He was in an induced coma for 19 days. Experts of the Bundeswehr special laboratory at the request of the clinic conducted a toxicological analysis of samples taken from Navalny and found traces of the nerve agent of the Novichok group. Laboratories in Sweden and France, as well as OPCW experts, came to similar conclusions independently.

The Russian authorities deny all accusations of involvement in the assassination attempt on the opposition politician. The EU and the UK imposed sanctions on October 15 for poisoning Navalny. Moscow responded by announcing the introduction of countermeasures against German and French officials. In late November, more than 50 OPCW member states called on Russia to investigate the politician's poisoning.

  Navalny, Russia, FSB