Putin's agents tried killing Alexei Navalny by poisoning his underpants, admits FSB hit team member: Reports

Konstantin Kudryavtsev was duped into telling Navalny on the phone that an FSB hit squad in Siberia had secretly applied deadly nerve agent Novichok to his clothes

                            Putin's agents tried killing Alexei Navalny by poisoning his underpants, admits FSB hit team member: Reports
(Getty Images)

An agent of Russia's top security agency FSB has admitted that Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny was poisoned through his underpants while on a flight, a report has claimed. According to Bellingcat, Konstantin Kudryavtsev was duped into telling Navalny, posing as a high ranking security member, that an FSB hit squad in Siberia had secretly applied the deadly nerve agent to his clothes. It is feared that the poison could have been administered while Navalny was out of his Tomsk hotel room or while his clothes were in a hotel laundry service, the Daily Mail reported. Navalny, who almost died in the sinister attack, reportedly posed as a Russian security official who wanted to be debriefed about "what went wrong" with the alleged assassination plot.

German army emergency personnel load portable isolation unit (Epi Shuttle) into their ambulance that was used to transport Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny at Charite hospital on August 22, 2020, in Berlin, Germany. (Getty Images)

41-year-old Kudryavtsev was allegedly part of a secret FSB squad that targeted Navalny on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. The longstanding critic of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, who is currently recovering at an undisclosed location in Germany, reportedly decided to confront two of the "plotters" by assuming the identity of Maxim Ustinov, a fictional aide in Russia's national security council.

While one of the men targeted quickly realized the plot and hung up, Kudryavtsev is said to be fooled by the disguise. Navalny, posing as Ustinov, said his superior was seeking an "urgent report" from the FSB team regarding what went wrong. The call went on for almost fifty minutes, per the report, and Kudryavtsev is said to have revealed the "plotters" had applied the chemical to Navalny's underpants, specifically "where the groin is."

"On which piece of cloth was your focus on? Which garment had the highest risk factor?" Navalny asked. "The underpants," Kudryavtsev replied, per a Bellingcat transcript, before describing the FSB squad's concerted efforts to remove traces of the nerve agent from Navalny's clothes, some of which were reportedly left behind at a hospital. Kudryavtsev suggested that a German military lab that discovered evidence of Novichok may have found traces of the suspect as well. Furthermore, he explained that Navalny only survived because the plane he was on made an emergency landing after he fell ill.

"If it had been a little longer, I think the situation could have gone differently," he is said to have told 'Ustinov'. "The flight is about three hours, this is a long flight…If you don't land the plane the effect would've been different and the result would've been different."

General view of Charite hospital building where Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is treated on September 15, 2020, in Berlin, Germany. (Getty Images)

Kudryavtsev allegedly also admitted going to Omsk after the poisoning, as he was tasked with retrieving Navalny's clothes from doctors and law enforcement in Omsk. "When we arrived, they gave them to us, the local Omsk guys brought [them] with the transport police," he reportedly said.

"So there won't be any surprises with the clothes….?" Navalny asked. "That's why we went there several times," the agent responded, before suggesting that he was handed the clothes by Mikhail Evdokimov, head of the local FSB counter-terrorism department.

According to Bellingcat, the conversation is strong evidence that the "FSB attempted to assassinate, and not simply incapacitate or intimidate, Navalny" and that it confirms details of its investigation. "The main, overarching admission made during the lengthy conversation was that FSB was indeed behind the poisoning operation against Alexei Navalny in Tomsk," the new report states. "While Kudryavtsev says he was not part of the actual poisoning operation in Tomsk, he admits to being involved in at least one previous operation in 2017, as well as in the clean-up operation after Navalny's hospitalization in Omsk."

Moscow has denied any involvement in the Navalny case. Last week, Putin brazenly quipped that "if someone had wanted to poison him they would have finished him off." The Russian president suggested that Navalny was backed by US intelligence, and it was therefore justified for agents to keep an eye on him, according to The Sun.

"But that absolutely does not mean he needs to be poisoned," said Putin. "Who needs him?"

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