Konstantin Kudryavtsev was duped into revealing details of the poison plot against Alexei Navalny, it is claimed
An alleged FSB agent has been caught out admitting that Alexei Navalny was poisoned with Novichok in his underpants, it is claimed.
Konstantin Kudryavtsev was duped into telling Navalny that the military-grade nerve agent was secretly applied to his clothes by an FSB hit squad in Siberia, according to
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, it is feared.
Navalny, who nearly died in the poison attack, posed as a Russian security official seeking a ‘debriefing’ about ‘what went wrong’ with the alleged plot.
Kudryavtsev, 41, is accused of belonging to a secret FSB squad which allegedly targeted Navalny, a longstanding critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin, on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow.
Navalny, who is recuperating at a secret location in Germany, decided to confront two of the ‘plotters’ by using the fake persona of Maxim Ustinov, a fictional aide in Russia’s national security council.
One of the men realised he was speaking to Navalny and hung up, but Kudryavtsev was fooled by the disguise, it is claimed.
Posing as ‘Maxim’, Navalny said his boss was seeking an ‘urgent report’ from the FSB team about what had gone wrong with the alleged assassination plot.
Navalny poses with his wife Yulia and their children at the German hospital where he was treated after being poisoned with Novichok in Siberia last August
Several alleged plotters were identified last week and were said to belong to the FSB, the security agency which ultimately reports to Vladimir Putin
In a 49-minute call, Kudryavtsev apparently said that the ‘plotters’ had applied the poison 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, according to a Bellingcat transcript.
Kudryavtsev also described concerted efforts by the alleged FSB squad to remove traces of Novichok from Navalny’s clothes, some of which were left behind at a hospital.
However, he offered the theory that the German military lab which discovered evidence of Novichok might have found traces of the suspect in his blood.
Kudryavtsev also suggested that Navalny only survived because the plane he was travelling 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 ‘Maxim’.
The alleged FSB man went on to explain: ‘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.’
Kudryavtsev also admitted going to Omsk in the days after the poisoning, it is claimed. He was apparently tasked to retrieve the Navalny clothes from doctors and police in Omsk.
‘When we arrived, they gave them to us, the local Omsk guys brought [them] with the transport police,’ he said.
Navalny being taken to an ambulance in Omsk (left) after falling ill on a plane following a trip to an airport cafe (right) in Siberia
Navalny arrives in Berlin where he was airlifted for treatment following the alleged FSB attempt on his life in Russia last August
Navalny – posing as ‘Maxim’- asked: ‘So there won’t be any surprises with the clothes….?’
The agent replied. ‘That’s why we went there several times.’
He suggested that he was handed the clothes by another FSB man Mikhail Evdokimov, head of the local FSB counter-terrorism department.
Bellingcat says the conversation is evidence that the ‘FSB attempted to assassinate, and not simply incapacitate or intimidate, Navalny’, and says the call 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 says.
‘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.’
Several other alleged FSB plotters were identified last week, but most of them refused to comment when contacted by Navalny or investigative journalists.
Navalny’s allies pointed the finger at his arch-nemesis Vladimir Putin (pictured) but the Kremlin has denied any involvement in the opposition leader’s illness
Kudryavtsev is said to have hinted at previous attempts to kill Navalny, which the Putin critic now suspects took place.
However, he says he was not involved in an incident in Kaliningrad weeks before the Siberia poisoning where Navalny believes he and his wife might have been targeted.
The investigations published last week alleged that FSB agents had been tailing Navalny for more than three years before he fell ill in August.
After collapsing on the plane in Siberia, Navalny was taken to hospital in Omsk before being airlifted to Berlin when Germany agreed to take him in.
Navalny later said that his clothes were taken away from him before he left Russia, which refused to open a full investigation into the case.
Germany said a military lab had found traces of Novichok, the Soviet-era nerve agent previously used to target Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.
Moscow denies involvement in the Navalny case, with Putin darkly joking last week that ‘if someone had wanted to poison him they would have finished him off’.
Putin suggested that Navalny was backed by US intelligence, an allegation Navalny denies. It was therefore right, said Putin, that Russian agents kept an eye on him.
‘But that absolutely does not mean he needs to be poisoned,’ said Putin. ‘Who needs him?’