Vladimir Putin on brink as Alexei Navalny ‘can overthrow his regime’

Vladimir Putin appears to laugh after question on Navalny

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Channel 4’s new documentary titled ‘The Man Putin Couldn’t Kill’, airing at 10pm tonight, follows the story of the Russian plot to kill rival politician Alexei Navalny via poisoning. Mr Navalny who has provided the biggest challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s undemocratic leadership, was the target of a second assassination attempt last year. Mr Putin denied ordering the attack, but The Times reported last year that the move was sanctioned by the Kremlin. In June, Mr Navalny returned to a Russian prison after going on a hunger strike.

He was sentenced to three and a half years for violating probation in a 2014 embezzlement case.

The opposition leader was sentenced to serve two years and eight months due to time already spent under house arrest.

At the time, he called the trial an effort to “intimidate” the public by stifling dissent.

The Kremlin has tried to stifle his criticism for years, but some feel this will fail, as many critics of Mr Putin have argued Mr Navalny is the biggest threat to the current regime in Moscow.

Zhanna Nemtsova, the daughter of the murdered opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, wrote in an article for Bild in January: “Putin is no longer afraid of western sanctions, critical statements and the demands of European and American politicians for further isolation.

“For him the stakes are too high – he knows that Navalny is capable of overthrowing his regime.”

Mr Navalny, having already been imprisoned, launched another attack on Mr Putin during a court hearing in April.

He said President Putin was a “king with no clothes”, someone who was “robbing the people” and depriving Russians of a future, and added that Russian were being “turned into slaves”.

The hostility was reciprocated in June, when Mr Putin himself said he could not guarantee that his political opponent will survive jail.

Asked whether he could guarantee that Mr Navalny would be released alive, President Putin replied: “Look, such decisions in this country are not made by the President. They’re made by the court whether or not to set somebody free.

“As far as the health, all individuals who are in prison, that is something that the administration of the specific prison or penitentiary establishment is responsible for.

“And there are medical facilities in penitentiaries that are perhaps not in the best condition. And they are the ones whose responsibility it is.”

The Russian President also stood by his apparent rule of not referring to Mr Navalny by his name.

During the interview, he used the phrase “that person”.

US President Joe Biden commented on the feud, saying: “Navalny’s death would be another indication that Russia has little or no intention of abiding by fundamental human rights.”

Russia’s aggression against its opponents was also felt in the UK in 2018 following the Salisbury attack.

The attack saw Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, and his daughter Yulia poisoned by Russian nationals via the use of the Novichok nerve agent.

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Yulia regained consciousness and was able to speak. She was discharged from the hospital a month later, while Sergei was also in a critical condition until he regained consciousness after the attack.

The violent act which took place on British soil saw Russia-UK relations severed.

Then Prime Minister Theresa May expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the UK 10 days after the attack, laying down a statement of defiance to the Russian President.

While the Kremlin distanced itself from the attack, the UK Government asserted the poisoning was carried out by Russian military intelligence officers, adding that the culprits must be “brought to justice”.

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