A senior aide to Russia’s opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested Friday after he considered an alleged security agent who had inadvertently revealed details of Navalny’s supposed poisoning with a Soviet-era nerve gas.
Lyubov Sobol, a key figure in the Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation, was held for 48 hours after a day of interrogation on charges of violent trespassing. The move came on the heels of Sobol’s attempt on Monday to enter the Moscow apartment of the alleged agent, previously tricked by Navalny into describing the details of the alleged poisoning.
Sobol denied the accusations and insisted that they did not violate any law by ringing the doorbell in the apartment. During Sobol’s interrogation, the state investigation committee released a statement accusing her of trespassing – charges that her colleagues rejected.
Earlier this week, Navalny released a recording of a phone call he said he had with a man he knew as Konstantin Kudryavtsev and described him as an alleged member of a group of Federal Security Service, or FSB, officers who allegedly poisoned him with a Novichuk Soviet agent in August and then tried to cover up on him.
Navalny, who is in recovery in Germany, said he called the man hours before investigative group Bellingcat released a report alleging that FSB agents with specialized chemical weapons training had followed him for years and were nearby when he was poisoned.
In the call, Navalny introduced himself as a security official and tricked his interlocutor into sharing details of the alleged poisoning and admitting that he was involved in “processing” Navalny’s underwear so that “there would be no traces” of the poison.
Navalny fell ill during an August 20 flight in Russia and was airlifted to Berlin while in a coma for treatment two days later. Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden, and tests conducted by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, demonstrated exposure to Novichok nerve agent from the Soviet era.
Russian authorities vehemently denied any involvement in the poisoning, and the Federal Security Agency (FSB) denied the recording posted by Navalny as fake.