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How the Poisoning of Alexey Navalny Turned Merkel Against Putin

Rogue Valley

Putin = War Criminal
DP Veteran
Apr 18, 2013
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Political Leaning
How the Poisoning of Alexey Navalny Turned Merkel Against Putin

What Western officials describe as a botched attempt to kill a leading Kremlin critic has triggered a new downward spiral in Russia’s ties with Europe.


Alexey Navalny’s team was at breakfast in the Siberian city of Tomsk when they received word that the opposition leader had fallen violently ill on his flight home to Moscow. The activists raced to the room in the Xander hotel he’d left hours before and scrambled to collect evidence. “It was obvious to us that Navalny hadn’t just gotten a bit sick,” they recalled in an Instagram post Thursday. “We decided to take everything that might be of use.” A plastic Svyatoi Istochnik (‘Holy Source’) water bottle they picked up would weeks later be found by a German military lab to have traces of Novichok, the weapons-grade nerve agent first developed by the Soviets. The use of a banned chemical weapon in the Aug. 20 attack has left German authorities with little doubt that the operation was ordered from the highest levels of the Russian government, according to three officials in Berlin familiar with the findings. Quick action by the pilot of his flight to make an emergency landing and the medical personnel that first treated him likely saved the 44-year-old’s life, German officials and his colleagues said. The sloppiness of his would-be assassins left a trail of evidence pointing to the Kremlin that Berlin could not ignore. What Western officials call a botched attempt to kill a leading opposition figure has triggered a new downward spiral in Russia’s ties with Europe, and above all with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose patience had already been tested by President Vladimir Putin.

Her government was grappling with how to respond to a 2015 cyberattack on the Bundestag and a 2019 killing in Berlin, both of which were ordered by Russian state actors, German prosecutors say. Even against the Kremlin’s track record of malfeasance, the brazen targeting of a chief critic would be devastating to Putin’s already low standing in the West, a European diplomat said. Vladimir Uglev, an expert from the team that developed the poison decades ago, said he suspects the Novichok was put on the water bottle in an effort to kill Navalny during the flight or shortly after. “The people who did this calculated everything down to the smallest detail, but they failed to take into account one crucial thing: the human factor,” he said. For Merkel, a self-described Russophile who grew up in East Germany, a deep well of patience had been emptied. Her message to the Kremlin was blunt by her standards. “It’s clear that Alexey Navalny is the victim of a crime,” Merkel told reporters gathered hours later. “The intent was to silence him.”

A strategic blunder by the FSB. Assassinating the Skripals is one thing. Assassinating Alexei Navalny is quite another thing altogether.
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