While Berlin’s Charité hospital did not identify the specific poison responsible for Navalny’s sudden illness on an internal Russian flight last Thursday, the substance was part of a group that affects the central nervous system, and includes nerve agents and pesticides, as well as some drugs.
The statement was the first medical corroboration of a poisoning attack on Navalny and marked him as likely the latest Kremlin opponent to face an attempt on his life.
Assuming that the report of the hospital’s statement is correct then the conclusion does not follow. It would appear that Andrew Roth too is joining Luke Harding’s “join the dots” school of journalism.
At this stage there is no evidence at all that Navalny didn’t drink some ant-killer in order to further his political career.
In general terms liberal journalists (at least some of whom are based in Russia) are showing how little they understand the Russian political landscape when they automatically, by a kind of reflex, attribute this supposed poisoning to the Kremlin. Of course, it is conceivable. But politically it is exceptionally unlikely. Navalany is not a huge threat to Putin and the current political establishment. He has a high-profile and a lot of people look at his YouTube videos. But he isn’t in fact massively popular – his appeal is focussed on a section of the middle classes; and then especially school students. Furthermore, he was being effectively contained – largely by a strategy of denying him the publicity and martyrdom he craves. And he has been blocked from standing in Presidential elections. Based on his showing in the Moscow 2013 Mayoral elections he does not present an electoral threat to United Russia even if he is able to stand. It is just unlikely that the Kremlin tried to assassinate Navalny. Conceivable but not the most likely explanation by a long stretch. Liberal journalists show a very significant lack of awareness of the political landscape Russia when they attribute this event to a Kremlin poisoning.
It is also worth pointing out that the pattern in UK liberal-progressive media outlets is to add this to the list of Litvinenko and Skripal – of “critics poisoned by the Kremlin”. However the idea that the Kremlin authorised an attack of Skripal is itself conjecture.
This BBC article is a neat example of Western Media misinformation. probably sponsored by the intelligence services or one of their ahem “charitable” proxies. “Several prominent critics of Kremlin policies – ex-spies, journalists and politicians – have been poisoned in the past two decades.”
If Litvinenko and Skirpal were poisoned by Russian intelligence services it was likely connected with their work as spies – Litvinenko was working for British Intelligence – and not as “critics of Kremlin policies”. It is misleading the way the Western media is mixing up Navalny with Litvinenko and Skirpal.