The truth of who ordered and who carried out the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny should not be a parlor game.
President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, a former director of the Federal Security Service, and the Kremlin leader who commands a loyal security establishment, presumably can snap his fingers and get the answer, if he doesn’t already know. But it is evident by Russia’s obfuscations and misdirections that Putin is instead running a disinformation machine to deflect responsibility for the assassination attempt.
Navalny, recovering in Germany from poisoning with a substance from the Novichok class of Soviet-era nerve agents, said in an interview with Der Spiegel that responsibility for the attack on his life rests with the man in the Kremlin.
“I assert that Putin was behind the crime, and I have no other explanation for what happened,” he said. “I have no other versions of the crime. I am not saying this to flatter myself, but on the basis of facts.” Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, rejected the charge and offered the lame and ludicrous claim that Mr. Navalny is working with the CIA.
Navalny had been organizing local election campaigns in Tomsk, then fell ill aboard a plane en route to Moscow on Aug. 20. The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk. Since this all happened inside of Russia, the Russian authorities should get to the bottom of what was clearly an attempt on his life. Instead, Putin and others around him have been doing everything but. On Sept. 9, after Navalny was transported to Germany, and doctors there confirmed use of the nerve agent, Russia denounced “groundless accusations against” the country and a “massive misinformation campaign.”
Then, on Sept. 14, according to Le Monde, Putin told French President Emmanuel Macron in a phone call that Navalny may have poisoned himself, that he was an “internet troublemaker who has simulated illnesses in the past.”
On Sept. 25, Russia criticized “a broad smear campaign baselessly accusing Russian authorities of allegedly poisoning the Russian citizen.” Russia suggested that perhaps the incident was “another staged mystical use of chemical weapons,” and claimed that since the U.S. and European nations had studied Novichok compounds, this “refutes any possible arguments that such technologies should only be associated with the U.S.S.R. or Russia.” In other words, move on, nothing to see here.
Putin is fooling no one with the parlor games.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE WASHINGTON POST