Alexei Navalny Has Been Confirmed Poisoned by the Russian Nerve Agent Novichok. What Happens Now?

SEPTEMBER 4, 2020 10:16 AM EDT
Tatiana Stanovaya, founder and CEO of political analysis firm R.Politik, doubts Putin made the order even if the secret service might have been involved. “Putin does not see Navalny as a big threat, but there are many players around him who do see him as an enemy and would be willing to protect the regime from him,” she says. The president may not even know what happened yet, she adds.
Stanovaya says she doubts there will be a strong diplomatic pushback because Navalny was attacked on Russian soil, whereas Westminster took the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury as an attack on U.K. national security. In March 2018, then Prime Minister Theresa said “this was not only a crime against Sergei and Yulia Skripal. It was an indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom”.

For Putin, experts say, these accusations are a geopolitical attack. “It’s not about Navalny, it’s about destroying Russia,” says Stanovaya. “Russia will push for Germany to obtain all the proof. But it will never be enough,” she says.

It is a “big strike” against the opposition, says Stanovaya — and one that comes after Putin has already spent years threatening, arresting and jailing Kremlin critics, introducing laws that cast certain kinds of criticism of the government as threats to state security, and forcing civil society organizations to shut. In July, Navalny was forced to close his Anti-Corruption Foundation due to hefty court fines imposed over one of its investigations.



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