An astonishing documentary has shown a member of a hit squad ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin to kill a political opponent being tricked into revealing the details of the plan to the man he had tried to assassinate.
Alexei Navalny is currently imprisoned in Russia for violating the terms of a suspended sentence after he failed to report to police while in a coma after being poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.
The 45 year-old had been taken ill after collapsing on a flight over Serbia. It was later revealed that he had been poisoned by novichok – the same nerve agent used in the failed attempt to kill former Russian spy Sergie Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.
Now, a BBC documentary on Navalny, that followed the politician shortly after his poisoning has revealed his extraordinary attempts to contact the team that nearly killed him.
After working with open-source research group Bellingcat to track down the team of assassins, Navalny tracked down the members one-by-one, hoping to find out more details about how and why they had tried to kill him.
At first, the opposition leader tried the brazen approach of identifying himself immediately.
“Do you recognise me? This is Alexei Navalny calling, and I was hoping you could tell me why you wanted to kill me? What specific problem do you have with me?” he asked.
Unsurprisingly, this was met with silence on the other end of the phone. So, Navalny switched up his approach, pretending to be working as the member of a squad gathering details on why the assassination plot failed.
And, after calling a scientist Konstantin Kudryavstev, who had been involved, Navalny finally hit the jackpot.
Attempting to explain why the assassination plan had failed, the man described: “We did it just as planned , the way we rehearsed it many times. But in our profession, as you know, there are lots of unknowns and nuances.”
The first failure, Konstantin suggested, was caused by Navalny’s flight making an emergency landing after the realisation that he had fallen ill, allowing him to receive medical care quickly.
In fact, the scientist was even convinced to describe the dosage of Novichok they had used, admitting that they had “applied extra” to be sure of killing Putin's critic.
In an astonishing revelation, Konstantin even revealed where the poison had been placed after Navalny asked which garments had the highest risk factor.
“The underpants,” he said. “The inner part, where the crotch is.”
Navalny then pushed the prank to its limits, asking the failed assassin what he thought of Putin’s most infamous opponent.
“He never makes any unnecessary moves, careful and meticulous at all times,” Konstantin replied. “Perhaps he had a hunch our guys were following him.”
After the tense phone call had finished, Navalny and his team were visibly shocked at the level of detail they had been able to receive from the scientist.
“He spilt the whole story… Poor guy, they will kill him,” Navalny said.
Putin has consistently denied the plot, and even refuses to identify Navalny in public.
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