Viktor Zolotov, the director of Russia’s National Guard and Vladimir Putin’s former longtime head of security, says he wants to beat Alexey Navalny into a bloody pulp. Responding in a YouTube video to recent allegations by Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, Zolotov has challenged the opposition leader to a fight.
“You have made me the subject of insulting, defamatory remarks. It is not customary among officers simply to forgive. From time immemorial, scoundrels have had their faces smashed and been called to duels. Mr. Navalny, no one is stopping us from reviving at least some of these traditions, by which I mean a challenge. I simply challenge you to a duel — in the ring, on the judo mat, wherever, and I promise to make good, juicy mincemeat of you,” Zolotov said in a video shared on YouTube.
Zolotov also admitted that corruption does exist in Russia’s National Guard, but he stressed that the agency is confronting the problem.
Update: The Kremlin responds. Commenting on Zolotov’s remarks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday, “Sometimes, when confronting brazen slander, you can fight by any means — when there’s brazen slander that is nothing other than a violation of existing laws. Of course, it’s better to shut down such slander at the root.” Asked if he thinks it’s appropriate for a high-ranking federal official to talk openly about beating up a private citizen in a “duel,” Peskov refused to comment, saying only that the Kremlin doesn’t consider Zolotov’s remarks to be a physical threat aimed at Navalny.
On August 23, the Anti-Corruption Foundation published an investigative report about evidence of corruption in the National Guard’s food-supply procurement contracts. Researchers found that prices on basic foodstuffs nearly tripled after the agency’s only supplier became the “Friendship of the Peoples“ Meatpacking Plant LLC, which is owned by Boris Kantemirov, the former head of the Interior Ministry’s Central Archive of Internal Troops. Formed in 2016 by Vladimir Putin’s executive order, Russia’s National Guard was built primarily from staff and resources pulled from the Interior Ministry.
Alexey Navalny is currently serving a 30-day jail sentence for staging an “illegal protest” in January 2018. Navalny's lockup kept him off the streets on September 9, when his supporters staged nationwide protests against the government's plan to raise the country's retirement age.