An adjutant to Alexei Navalny was pursued by FSB agents as she set out from Moscow on the fateful Siberian voyage that led to his poisoning. This emerges from a new report that the Russian security service is behind the conspiracy.
Maria Pevchikh was seen on surveillance videos leaving Moscow with her bags packed – and, according to Bellingcat, was still being followed by the FSB when she arrived in Siberia when she arrived in Siberia.
Russia released the surveillance footage to support its false claim that Pevchikh Navalny administered Novichok to kill him.
However, the Bellingcat investigation claims three FSB agents followed Navalny and his entourage to Siberia after Pevchikh booked his flights. Days later, Navalny fell ill on a domestic flight and was flown to Germany, where a military laboratory found that he was poisoned with Novichok.
"These activists were close to the opposition activist in the days and hours of the period when he was poisoned with a military chemical weapon," Bellingcat said.
"In view of this implausible series of coincidences, the burden of proof for an innocent declaration seems to lie solely with the Russian state."
Navalny's colleague Maria Pevchikh left Moscow on her way to Siberia on the fateful journey – where she was allegedly pursued by the FSB – in a picture leaked to the Russian media
Moments of disaster: Alexei Navalny in an airport bus in Siberia on August 20, just before boarding the flight on which he passed out after suspected Novichok poisoning
Yulia Navalnaya (pictured visiting her husband at the hospital) reported symptoms during a visit to Kaliningrad in July that were similar to those on the flight, according to Alexei Navalny
How the & # 39; FSB plot & # 39; developed
12. August: Three FSB conspirators buy plane tickets to Siberia after Navalny's entourage booked a flight there
13 August: The alleged FSB team flies to Novosibirsk one day before Navalny's arrival. Maria Pevchikh also flies to Siberia and is shadowed when leaving Moscow
17th August: Navalny travels on to Tomsk, pursued by alleged FSB activists. When he books a flight back to Moscow, the "conspirators" do the same thing minutes later
August 19th: Navalny has a drink in a hotel bar in Tomsk and leaves his room empty. Communication between members of the alleged FSB unit is increasing
20th of August: Navalny boarded the flight in Tomsk and fell seriously ill on board, forcing an emergency landing
August 22nd: The unconscious Navalny is flown to Berlin. A German military laboratory later finds evidence of Novichok
Navalny, who is recovering in Germany, said his own investigators had reviewed the results and the case had now been resolved in Russia despite the lack of an official investigation.
“I know who wanted to kill me. I know where you live. I know where they work. I know their real names. I know their wrong names. I have their photos, ”Navalny said, capturing photos of the men named in the investigation.
"This is a story about a secret group of FSB killers that includes doctors and chemists, about how they tried to kill me several times and almost killed my wife," he said.
Bellingcat, who previously named three military intelligence officers as guilty of the Sergei Skripal poisoning in 2018, claims that Russian security services have a secret chemical weapons program operated by a 15-person unit called FSB Forensics -Team is disguised.
In an echo of the Skripal case, Putin was suspected after a German laboratory found evidence that Navalny had been poisoned with Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok – but the Kremlin denied any involvement.
The FSB had allegedly been on Navalny's tail in a year-long surveillance campaign, which may have resulted in his wife being poisoned in an earlier attempt in his life.
Her travel history suggested that the FSB – heir to the Soviet-era KGB – has been tracking Navalny for some time, it is alleged, possibly as early as January 2017.
FSB team members made at least 37 trips to the same destinations as Navalny between 2017 and 2020.
They appeared to have "professional operational safety practices," including traveling on different but simultaneous flights to Navalny so that he would not notice.
In fact, Navalny told CNN that he did not identify any of the suspected agents by his tail and said it was "absolutely terrifying" to learn that he had likely been followed for years.
However, there have also been cases where the agents are said to have used their real names or assumed unsubtle aliases such as their wife's maiden name.
Some of the early trips were made during Navalny's attempt to compete in the 2018 presidential race against Putin, which was eventually torpedoed by election officials.
By 2020, the activities of the suspected plotters could be tracked in greater detail based on call logs showing where and when they were communicating.
This raised suspicions that the FSB had made a first attempt to poison Navalny in Kaliningrad last July, weeks before he fell ill in Siberia.
Three suspected FSB members flew to Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave that borders Poland, around the same time Navalny and his wife were vacationing there.
Amid a "phone wave" between the alleged conspirators, Navalny's wife Yulia felt weak and struggled to get up while walking on the beach.
Navalny said her symptoms were similar to the "feeling of impending death" he later felt on board the plane where he fell ill.
& # 39; I couldn't connect these dots. Now I can see how bad she was, what it was, what a terrible, terrible feeling she had at the time, 'said Navalny.
The inconspicuous building near Moscow, where a secret FSB unit is supposed to work, employing specialists with backgrounds in chemical and biological warfare
The alleged head of an FSB subunit works for a high-ranking official who reports to FSB director Alexander Bogdanov (pictured), who in turn reports to Putin
Navalny's allies pointed at his archenemy Vladimir Putin (pictured), but the Kremlin has denied any involvement in the opposition leader's illness
Yulia recovered, but the following month the suspected FSB killers were still on Navalny's tail when he and his entourage booked a flight to Siberia.
The three agents were identified by Bellingcat as Alexey Alexandrov (40), Ivan Osipov (44) and Vladimir Panyaev (40).
They followed him to Novosibirsk and then on to Tomsk, it is alleged, with another agent who is chasing Pevchikh on her flight from Moscow.
FSB agents followed Navalny and his adjutant Maria Pevchikh (pictured) on their trip to Siberia
According to Bellingcat, the three employees used burner phones, but one of them switched on his real phone, ill-advised, and took him to Novosibirsk.
This revealed that he was near a hotel that Pevchikh was staying at and another hotel that Navalny and others later checked in to.
Unaware of Navalny's exact plans, the staff booked one-way flights and did not arrange their return to Moscow until shortly after Navalny did the same. This can be seen from the booking details of the airline.
The night before Navalny fell ill, there was a "surge in communications" among alleged conspirators, partly due to Tomsk, where Navalny was staying.
At the hotel, Navalny had a drink he did not enjoy – which may have been the source of the poison, although it is also speculated that the novichok may have been administered in a bottle, pillowcase, or some other way.
On August 20, Navalny fell ill on the plane that made an emergency landing in Omsk, where he was treated before being flown to Germany.
"I went to the flight attendant and said," I was poisoned, I'm going to die. "And then I lay under his feet to die, you knew the worst at that moment," said Navalny.
As the news of Navalny's illness spread, calls were allegedly made between high-ranking FSB officials.
Bellingcat claims his findings "directly linked the Navalny poisoning in August 2020 to the Russian security services".
The three men who followed Navalny are said to be part of a "secret sub-unit" of the FSB that officially works against terrorism and high-tech crime, but as cover for one of the security services.
The unit is said to be led by a military scientist named Stanislav Makshakov, who was in contact with his boss Vladimir Bogdanov, an FSB major general, at the time of Navalny being poisoned.
Bogdanov works for FSB director Alexander Bortnikov, who has headed the agency since 2008 and reports to Vladimir Putin.
When Moscow was suspected of being poisoned by Navalny, the Kremlin evaded calls for a full investigation and accused Germany of failing to provide medical evidence.
Navalny was treated in the Charite hospital in Berlin and even visited by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
A German military laboratory found "clear evidence" of Novichok poisoning, a finding supported by laboratories in France and Sweden.
Navalny's allies initially speculated that he was poisoned at the Siberian airport shortly before his illness.
However, his aides later said that Novichok was found on a water bottle in his hotel room in Tomsk.
Navalny is taken to an ambulance in Omsk (left) after falling ill on an airplane after a trip to an airport cafe (right) in Siberia
Navalny arrives in Berlin, where he was flown for treatment after the alleged FSB attempt in his life in Russia last August
Navalny poses with his wife Julia and their children in the German hospital, where he was treated with Novichok after being poisoned
Navalny was treated in the Charite hospital in Berlin (picture), where he was visited by Chancellor Angela Merkel
Novichok was the same substance used to poison Sergei Skripal in Salisbury almost three years ago. An attack that was also blamed on the Russian authorities but rejected by them.
Navalny supporters pointed the finger directly to Putin, saying that only the Russian government could use a military-grade nerve agent like Novichok.
Russian traffic police said they interviewed 200 people in a basic investigation, but the Kremlin defied calls for a more comprehensive investigation.
Moscow tried again last week to cast doubt on the case when Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested that Navalny could have been poisoned in Germany.
"We have every reason to believe that anything that happened to him regarding toxic military-grade substances entering his system could have happened in Germany or on an aircraft that he was loaded on and into Charite clinic was brought, "Lavrov said.
"There are questions about who, besides doctors, were on board this aircraft," Lavrov was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.
The UK-based Pevchikh has also been the subject of Russian allegations that she was involved in the conspiracy against Navalny that she denies.
Navalny is still in Germany, despite Putin's spokesman saying he could return to Russia in the future.
Navalny, one of Putin's most prominent critics in recent years, has been arrested several times for critics claiming that the raids are politically motivated.
Navalny was also sued for his anti-corruption investigations and was banned from running in the 2018 election, which Putin won.
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Nachrichten (t) Germany (t) Russia