The speaker of the State Duma is convinced that Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny is in fact a Western intelligence operative. Vyacheslav Volodin’s allegations follow an interview published on October 1 in the German newspaper Der Spiegel where Navalny said he holds Vladimir Putin directly responsible for the nerve-agent attack that nearly killed him in August. “I contend that Putin is behind this crime, and I can think of no other explanations for what happened,” the Russian oppositionist said, vowing to return home once his rehabilitation in Germany is done.
Speaker Volodin says Navalny should be thanking the Russian president, not blaming him (despite the fact that the Kremlin previously denied Putin’s role in the decision to permit Navalny’s medical evacuation):
Navalny is a shameless bastard. Putin saved his life. If the Western intelligence agencies were behind what happened to him, then his statement starts to make sense. Honestly, everyone saved him — from the pilots to the doctors to the president. Only a real sleazebag could make such statements.
In his remarks on Thursday, Volodin also complained that Germany’s supposed reluctance to cooperate with Russia in the investigation of Navalny’s poisoning is proof that Western countries “staged” the entire incident in order to “create tension” inside Russia as a means of limiting Moscow’s ability to “defend the sovereignty” of Belarus amid widespread protests against Alexander Lukashenko’s latest contested re-election.
Update: In comments to journalists on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also accused Navalny of working with Western intelligence agencies, saying specifically that Navalny is currently cooperating with CIA specialists. Peskov also said the oppositonist’s claim that Vladimir Putin is to blame for his poisoning is “absolutely baseless and unacceptable.”
On August 20, Alexey Navalny became violently ill aboard a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. Pilots made an emergency landing in Omsk, where Navalny was hospitalized and immediately placed in a medically induced coma. Two days later, he was transferred aboard an air ambulance to Berlin, where German specialists later concluded that he had been exposed to a Novichok-class nerve agent. Russian officials maintain that they have no evidence that Navalny was poisoned. He regained consciousness on September 7 and was discharged from the hospital on September 22, though his full rehabilitation is expected to take several more weeks.