Konstantin Kudryavtsev was fooled to reveal details of the poison plot against Alexei Navalny, it is alleged
Vladimir Putin’s critic Alexei Navalny claimed today that he got an FSB agent to admit that Russian bombers tried to kill him while wearing poisoned underpants.
As part of his startling claim, the Russian opposition leader, who cheated on death earlier this year, said he posed as an intelligence officer to defraud Konstantin Kudryavtsev.
Believing he gave an important debrief to one of his seniors, Kudryavtsev reportedly revealed that nerve agent Novichok was secretly applied to Navalny’s underwear by an FSB hit team in Siberia – with the “crotch area” specifically affected by Bellingcat.
The poison may have been administered while Navalny was out of his hotel room in Tomsk or while his clothes were in a hotel laundry service, it is feared.
41-year-old Kudryavtsev is accused of belonging to a secret FSB squad allegedly targeting Navalny, a longtime critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow.
Navalny, recovering in a secret location in Germany, decided to confront two of the “conspirators” with the wrong person of Maxim Ustinov, a fictional adjutant in the Russian National Security Council.
One of the men noticed he was talking to Navalny and hung up, but Kudryavtsev was fooled by the disguise, it is alleged.
Navalny posed as “Maxim” and said his boss was looking for an “urgent report” on “What went wrong with Navalny” from the FSB team.
Navalny poses with his wife Julia and their children in the German hospital where he was treated after being poisoned with Novichok in Siberia last August
Over the past week, several suspected conspirators have been identified who are believed to be members of the FSB, the security agency that ultimately reports to Vladimir Putin
In a 49-minute phone call, Kudryavtsev apparently said that the “conspirators” put the poison on Navalny’s underpants, specifically “where the groin is”.
“What piece of fabric did you focus on? Which item of clothing had the highest risk factor? Asked Navalny.
“The underpants,” Kudryavtsev replied, according to a Bellingcat transcript.
Kudryavtsev also described the concerted efforts of the alleged FSB team to remove traces of Novichok from Navalny’s clothing, some of which were left behind in a hospital.
However, he offered the theory that the German military laboratory that discovered evidence of Novichok may have found traces of the suspect in his blood.
Kudryavtsev also suggested that Navalny only survived because the plane he was traveling on made an emergency landing after his illness.
“If it had taken a little longer, the situation could have turned out differently in my opinion,” he is said to have said to “Maxim”.
The alleged FSB man further explained: “The flight takes about three hours, this is a long flight …
“If you didn’t land the plane, the effect would have been different and the result would have been different.”
Kudryavtsev also admitted going to Omsk in the days after the poisoning. He was apparently hired to fetch the navalny clothes from doctors and policemen in Omsk.
“When we arrived, they gave them to us, the local Omskers [them] with the transport police, ”he said.
Navalny is taken to an ambulance in Omsk (left) after falling sick on an airplane after a trip to an airport cafe (right) in Siberia
Navalny arrives in Berlin, where he was flown for treatment after the alleged FSB attempt in his life in Russia last August
Navalny – posing as “Maxim” – asked: “So there will be no surprises with the clothes …?”
The agent answered. “That’s why we went there several times.”
He suggested that the clothes be given to him by another FSB man, Mikhail Evdokimov, the head of the local FSB counter-terrorism division.
According to Bellingcat, the conversation is evidence that the FSB attempted to assassinate Navalny rather than simply incapacitating or intimidating him, and the call confirms details of its investigation.
“The most important, overarching admission during the long conversation was that the FSB was actually behind the poisoning operation against Alexei Navalny in Tomsk,” says the new report.
“While Kudryavtsev says he wasn’t part of the actual poisoning operation in Tomsk, he admits he was involved in at least one previous operation in 2017, as well as the cleanup after Navalny’s hospitalization in Omsk.”
Several other suspected FSB conspirators were identified last week, but most of them refused to comment when contacted by navalny or investigative journalists.
Navalny’s allies pointed at his archenemy Vladimir Putin (pictured), but the Kremlin has denied any involvement in the opposition leader’s illness
Kudryavtsev is said to have pointed to earlier attempts to kill Navalny, which the Putin critic now suspects.
However, he said he was not involved in an incident in Kaliningrad, weeks before the Siberia poisoning, in which Navalny believes he and his wife may have been targeted.
Research released last week found FSB agents followed Navalny for more than three years before he fell ill in August.
After the plane crash in Siberia, Navalny was rushed to a hospital in Omsk before being flown to Berlin when Germany agreed to accept him.
Navalny later said that his clothes were taken from him before leaving Russia, which refused to open a full investigation into the case.
Germany said a military laboratory had found traces of Novichok, the Soviet-era nerve agent used to attack Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.
Moscow denies involvement in the Navalny case, with Putin gloomy joking last week that “if anyone tried to poison him, he would have done him.”
Putin suggested that Navalny was assisted by U.S. intelligence, a claim that Navalny denies. It is therefore right, Putin said, that Russian agents kept an eye on him.
“But that doesn’t mean at all that he has to be poisoned,” Putin said. “Who needs him?”