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St. Petersburg police officer under investigation for allegedly selling flight data on Navalny’s FSB poisoners

Source: Kommersant

The St. Petersburg branch of the Russian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case for abuse of office against a local police officer who allegedly sold passenger data from the August 2020 flight where opposition politician Alexey Navalny fell ill from chemical nerve agent poisoning, says Kommersant.

Reportedly, in early September 2020, the police officer in question used a government database to search for information on flights from Tomsk to Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport on August 20 and 21. He then selected Navalny’s flight — S7 Airlines flight 2614 — and “obtained personal data,” which he then “transferred to a particular individual.” The case against the police major is being overseen by the FSB. If found guilty, the officer could face between three and ten years in prison.

While Kommersant refrained from naming the police officer in question, according to website 47news the case was launched against a police major named Roman Gladyshev and his alleged accomplice, police captain Konstantin Golubev. 

Earlier, RBC reported that a senior police official from Samara was under investigation in a similar case — allegedly, he leaked flight records that were used to identify the FSB agents implicated in Navalny’s poisoning. 

According to Kommersant, the investigation into the data leak in St. Petersburg is connected to the detention of Myayle Machuyulite, a journalist from the Telegram-based news outlet Baza. Last weekend, Machyulite was held as a witness in an unspecified criminal case and questioned for seven hours without a lawyer present. Prior to being detained, Machyulite met with a familiar police officer at St. Petersburg’s Moskovsky Railway Station; reportedly, the officer promised to give her some “important information.”

The local news outlet Fontanka wrote that allegedly, Machuyulite may have paid the police officer to “breach” the government database and obtain passenger data from Navalny’s flight. In conversation with Kommersant, Baza’s editor-in-chief Nikita Mogutin declined to confirm or deny that Myayle Machuyulite had been interrogated in connection with the data leak. 

In December 2020, Bellingcat published a joint investigation implicating a subunit of FSB agents in the August 2020 poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny. According to the report, these operatives had been tailing Navalny on trips to dozens of cities across Russia for several years. The investigation was based in part on flight data obtained through the black market. 

Later, Navalny shared a video revealing that he had managed to fool one of the federal agents identified in the investigation into detailing the Kremlin’s poisoning operation. The FSB dismissed the conversation as fake and claimed that the Bellingcat investigation was a provocation carried out with the help of foreign intelligence services.

After spending nearly five months in Germany recovering from the attempt on his life, Alexey Navalny returned to Russia in mid-January 2021 and was arrested immediately. In February, a Russian court sentenced him to nearly three years in prison for allegedly violating the terms of his probation in the Yves Rocher case. According to media reports, Navalny has been transferred to the Correctional Colony Number 2 in the city of Pokrov, Vladimir region. 

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