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Why Putin Might be Hoping Navalny Survives His Poisoning

The Russian leader is known to target opponents, but his involvement this time seems unlikely.

While Navalny has long been an irritant for the Kremlin, organizing large street protests and exposing high-level corruption by Russian officials, including former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, experts were skeptical that it would be in Putin’s interests to kill him.

“I don’t believe this for a second,” the analyst Tatiana Stanovaya wrote on her public Telegram channel. “Some years ago I was told that Navalny’s murder was seen in the Kremlin as a kind of nightmare scenario—one that would be seen only as a dangerous kind of provocation that would spark protests.”

The timing of the incident makes the Putin theory seem especially unlikely—as the Kremlin juggles a large coronavirus outbreak, an escalating political crisis in neighboring Belarus, and unrest in the far-east region of Khabarovsk.

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