Russia says it will deny entry to several EU officials and institutions in retaliation for EU sanctions linked to Putin critic Alexei Navalny. Top diplomats from France, Germany and Sweden were summoned to Russia’s foreign ministry and notified.
Mr Navalny released a recording on Monday in which he apparently tricked a Russian FSB state agent into revealing details of an attack on him with the nerve agent Novichok.
He almost died in the August attack.
The 44-year-old anti-corruption blogger, still recovering after weeks in intensive care in Berlin, posted the long recording of his conversation with the FSB agent on his YouTube channel on Monday. By Tuesday morning more than 13 million people had viewed it.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any role in the attack on Mr Navalny and rejects the Western allegation that he was poisoned with Novichok, an extremely toxic chemical that, experts say, could only have come from a Russian state facility.
In the recording, Mr Navalny posed as a senior Russian security official on the phone, and got the FSB agent, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, to reveal that Novichok had been planted in a pair of Mr Navalny’s underpants.
Mr Navalny collapsed on a Russian airliner, and Mr Kudryavtsev told him the swift response of the pilot and emergency medical team in Omsk, Siberia – where Mr Navalny was first treated – could have been the reason for the failure to kill him.
The agent said he was sent to Omsk later to seize Mr Navalny’s clothes and remove all traces of Novichok.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov lashed out at Mr Navalny on Tuesday, saying he had “delusions of persecution”, “traits of megalomania” and “shows a Freudian fixation on his own groin area”.
Vladimir Putin – whom Mr Navalny has bitterly criticised for years – headed the FSB before becoming Russian president in 2000.
The recording was released a week after investigative group Bellingcat named several FSB agents who it said had tailed the Kremlin critic for years before the Novichok attack. President Putin blamed US intelligence and claimed if the FSB had wanted to kill Mr Navalny “they would have carried it through”.
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