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Former GRU officer says Kremlin could poison Putin critic Navalny again and Putin’s ‘personal sanction is required’

An intelligence historian and former captain in Russia’s special services told Insider the possibility of Putin critic Alexei Navalny being poisoned again “cannot be excluded.”

Volodarsky is an independent intelligence analyst and was formerly a captain in Russia’s special forces, the GRU Spetsnaz. He is now an intelligence historian, and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in London.

On the possibility of Navalny being poisoned while detained, Volodarsky said that “In today’s situation, this cannot be excluded. At a critical time, the regime may wish to get rid of him.”

On August 20, 2020, Navalny collapsed while on a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk, en route to Moscow. The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, where Navalny was hospitalized. Two days later, Navalny was transferred to the Charite hospital in Berlin, and doctors and chemical weapons experts ruled that he was poisoned with a cholinesterase inhibitor, a nerve agent within the Novichok family.

Navalny was jailed shortly after returning to Russia, and in March of this year, a judge sentenced him to 13 years in a maximum-security prison, accusing him of embezzling money through his foundation and finding him in contempt of court for allegedly insulting a judge.The opposition figure’s allies and the US State Department have argued that his detention and the charges against him are purely political.

Volodarsky told Insider that Putin would call the shots if Navalny were poisoned again.

When we talk about prominent international figures like Anna Politkovskaya, Boris Berezovsky, Boris Nemtsov, or Alexey Navalny, Putin’s personal sanction is required,” Volodarsky told Insider.

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