Despite independent journalists uncovering more details about last year's nerve-gas attack against Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, public sentiment in the country remains unmoved. The primary reason is not that Russian citizens don't know about the crime; it is that too many just don't care.
MOSCOW – Alexei Navalny is about to disturb Russia’s laziest month. As in Soviet times, the New Year holiday stretches halfway through January, allowing for Russians to drink, eat oranges, and watch nostalgic 1970s romantic comedies. Politics usually gets put on hold – but perhaps not this year, with Navalny’s planned return from Berlin on January 17, following his poisoning last August.
The end of 2020 already signaled that this January would be different, because we Russians learned that Navalny, the country’s main opposition leader, was the target of a murder plot that was almost certainly carried out at the Kremlin’s behest. Instead of protecting us, the FSB, the Russian intelligence service and successor to the KGB, has been busy trying to eliminate the regime’s opponents.
An investigation conducted by journalists from Bellingcat, The Insider, and CNN has provided a clear picture of the Kremlin’s operation to poison Navalny with the nerve agent Novichok during his August trip to the Siberian city of Tomsk. It is Navalny’s luck that the FSB’s former mastery of the dark arts has atrophied over time. The operation failed, and Navalny is now openly – and sometimes almost comedically – exposing his assailants, one of whom, believing that he was speaking to someone in the “system,” revealed operational details of the plot over the phone. It was Navalny, who recorded the call.