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Russian underwear gnomes poisoned Alexey Navalny, a critic of Russia’s authoritarian kleptocracy.

In this case, the gnomes were agents in Russia’s FSB security service and their methodology was to put the lethal novichok nerve agent in Navalny’s boxer shorts in a hotel laundry, according to a report in The Guardian.

One of the would-be assassins, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, explained this to Navalny, himself, as he was posing a senior agent of the FSB. Navalny video recorded the call. “Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny dupes spy into revealing how he was poisoned,” CNN reports.

The stunning disclosure from an agent who belonged to an elite toxins team in Russia’s FSB security service came in a lengthy phone call following the unmasking of the unit by CNN and the online investigative outfit Bellingcat last week.

To recap, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent FSB assassins to kill . Putin’s agents poisoned Navalny on August 20, 2020 and he was taken to Germany for life-saving medical treatment.

Last week, Putin dismissed that Russia was involved in Navalny assassination attempt:

“But that absolutely does not mean he needs to be poisoned,” Putin added. “Who needs him? If somebody had wanted to poison him, they would have finished him off.”

Fast forward to today’s news and reports that Kudryavtsev confessed to the plot in a phone call with Navalny, who was impersonating a senior officer in Russia’s National Security Council. Navalny called Kudryavtsev from a phone number that spoofed its identity as coming FSV HQ and brusquely demanded a debriefing.

Despite Kudryavtsev wariness of communicating more than 45 minutes on an unsecured line, he answered Navalny’s questions. Navalny told him that he had been ordered to get “a brief understanding from the team members: what went wrong, why was there a complete failure in Tomsk with Navalny?”

And that’s why Kudryavtsev disclosed the poisoning method (CNN).

Navalny asked: “What item of clothing was the emphasis on? What is the most risky piece of clothing?”

Kudryavtsev replied simply: “Underpants.”

Navalny followed by asking exactly where the Novichok was applied — the inside or outside seams.

“The insides, the crotch,” replied Kudryavtsev.

While Kudryavtsev did not place the poison himself, he was sent to destroy evidence of the crime.

Navalny asked why he survived the poisoning and Kudryavtsev explained it was because the airplane Navalny was on made an emergency landing instead of flying another three hours to Moscow. Kudryavtsev explained there were “lots of unknowns and nuances.”

When he was airlifted to Germany, Navalny was completely naked and he has demanded the return of his clothes in September saying then the FSB was destroying evidence.

“Considering novichok was found on my body, and that infection through contact is very likely, my clothes are a very important piece of evidence,” he said. “I demand that my clothes be carefully packed in a plastic bag and returned to me.”

Sure enough, Kudryavtsev was dispatched to the Russian hospital that Navalny was taken to to “sanitize” the clothing and remove any traces of novichok. The clean-up mission was a success according to Kudryavtsev.

At the end of the call, The New York Times reports Kudryavtsev had one question:

“I’m sorry, I have a question,” the man identified as Mr. Kudryavtsev says at the end of the phone call with Mr. Navalny. “Is it OK that we talked on a normal phone line?”

Of course, the FSB is denying Navalny’s video of the call and saying it is a forgery according to the NYT:

There was no independent confirmation that Mr. Navalny had indeed spoken to Mr. Kudryavtsev. The F.S.B., in a statement, called Mr. Navalny’s video a forgery, according to the RIA Novosti state news agency. His investigation was a “planned provocation aimed at discrediting the F.S.B.,” the statement said, “which could not have been carried out without the organizational and technical support of international intelligence agencies.”

And there was any doubt this confession was true.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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