President Vladimir V. Putin has never publicly mentioned the opposition leader’s name in 20 years of speeches and interviews. Why? He is “completely out of their control,” which is intolerable, one analyst says.

“Every element of the system acts according to its own logic, not in the interests of the system as a whole,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, the founder of a political analysis firm, R.Politik, and author of a recent article calling the poisoning the “act of a sickly regime.” “Poisoning is not the most effective way of dealing with an opponent. It is total idiocy.”

Mr. Putin and others in Russia’s ruling elite don’t so much fear Mr. Navalny, Ms. Stanovaya said, as despise him as a disruptive interloper.

“They are like residents of a luxury residential neighborhood who want to get rid of a tramp who starts sleeping next to their beautiful fountain,” she said. “Navalny is not part of their world, and they want him gone.” Ms. Stanovaya added that Russia’s ruling elite — particularly former K.G.B. officers like Mr. Putin and many of his close advisers — see the opposition leader “as an instrument” used by Russia’s foreign enemies, “not as a rival or even a person.” “Our country is run by the logic of the K.G.B.,” she said.



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