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‘Persecution mania’ How the Kremlin’s spokesman responded to the latest revelations about Navalny’s poisoning

Source: Meduza
Evgeny Feldman for “Meduza”

Following opposition figure Alexey Navalny’s bombshell video where he speaks to an FSB operative implicated in his poisoning, journalists had plenty of questions for Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. In conversation with reporters on Tuesday, December 22, Peskov reiterated the FSB’s statement dismissing the video and claimed that Navalny (or as he insists on calling him, “the Berlin patient”) suffers from “a pronounced persecution mania.” Here are Peskov’s comments, in full.

BBC: Dmitry Sergeevich, could you comment on Alexey Navalny’s conversation with an alleged participant in the operation to poison him, in which this alleged participant says that they destroyed evidence?

Dmitry Peskov: Well you know, the Federal Security Service commented on this conversation yesterday, quite comprehensively and unequivocally. So I don’t see any reason to add anything here. 

CNN: Does the Kremlin still deny any connection to the poisoning

Dmitry Peskov: To which poisoning?

CNN: Of Alexey Navalny. 

Dmitry Peskov: I see, Well, we, in fact…Neither the Kremlin nor anyone else can speak about some kind of poisoning unequivocally. We have said repeatedly that, unfortunately, we haven’t been able to obtain the information necessary for the proceedings from our counterparts in Berlin — from the doctors at the Charité Hospital and those doctors who work at the laboratories in Berlin, Sweden, and France. Also, we have not been able to obtain the requested information about this from the OPCW [the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] for a long time. In this regard, we cannot speak unequivocally about any poisoning, we don’t have any data on it. All these other examples — well, they probably need to be treated in line with what the Federal Security Service said yesterday.

Business FM: Did they familiarize themselves with the video itself inside the Kremlin or did they prefer not to watch it, to take no interest?

Dmitry Peskov: Well, listen, of course we don’t have time to watch such materials. You see, generally speaking there’s enough work. We don’t complain about a lack of work. But what I can tell you, and I’ll take advantage slightly and, perhaps, allow myself to express a personal point of view, which I usually don’t express, because I have no right to do so. I’ll take advantage slightly here. In general we can, of course, say that the patient [Navalny] has a pronounced persecution mania. You can also clearly identify certain signs of magalomania. Because, as they say, he even compares himself to Jesus. And the rest, of course, are Freudian manifestations. Such an obsession with the codpiece area, in fact, and so on. So that’s probably the way to treat it.

Ekho Moskvy: In light of the latest events, including the uncovering of those FSB officers who, as the president says, “kept an eye” on Alexey Navalny — how does the president assess the work of the Federal Security Service, does he still trust the leadership of this service?

Dmitry Peskov: An inappropriate question. First, the president didn’t identify specific officers who are keeping an eye on such people as the Berlin patient. He didn’t talk about this, let’s not take things out of context, we need specific statements here.

And the question itself is absolutely inappropriate. You know that the Federal Security Service fulfills a very important role according to the constitution. It protects us from terrorism, protects against extremism, protects against various mortal dangers. And, certainly, it plays this role very well and very effectively. 

Ekho Moskvy: One can agree or disagree with what is said in these investigations, as the president says, this is legalized information from foreign intelligence services, but the image of the Federal Security Service has been seriously damaged. Doesn’t the Kremlin think it necessary, perhaps, to respond somehow — to publish some recordings from the hotel, to demonstrate that this is incorrect?

Dmitry Peskov: Read yesterday’s statement from the FSB. They said specifically that this an attempt at discreditation. But, certainly, such attempts can’t discredit the Federal Security Service. I think I’ve run out of things to say on this topic. 

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