Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Monday that he had tricked a Russian secret agent into revealing details of the devastated plot to kill him and was told that poison had been placed in his underpants.
Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critics, was flown to Germany for treatment in August after collapsing on a plane in Russia. Germany has said he was poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate him, a claim that many Western countries accept.
Navalny declared his case of poisoning solved earlier this month when a joint media investigation stated that a team of killers from Russia’s FSB security service had been identified.
In a video published on his website on Monday, Navalny said he had called some of his alleged poisoners before the joint investigation was released and posed as an assistant to Russia’s Security Council secretary.
One of the men, who was appointed by Navalny as an employee of Russia’s FSB security service, spoke to him for 49 minutes and appears to have been part of the decontamination team, he said. Navalny published a recording and transcript of the conversation.
Reuters could not independently verify the fact of the telephone call or the identity of Navalny’s interlocutor.
The Kremlin has repeatedly rejected all proposals that Russia tried to kill Navalny.
“The video with the phone call is false,” the FSB said, according to the state-run TASS news agency, calling Navalny’s investigation into his alleged poisoning a “planned provocation.”
In the video, Navalny can be heard asking for a voice on the phone. “Why did nothing work?”
“Well, I’ve asked myself this question more than once,” the voice replies.
When asked why Navalny survived, the voice says that it was probably because the plane he was on at the time made an unplanned emergency landing and he was treated professionally and quickly by Russian doctors.
“If it had gone a little further, it is possible that everything … would have ended differently,” says the voice.
Putin last week dismissed media reports of Navalny’s poisoning, saying they consisted of information from the US intelligence services and were an attempt to smear Putin himself and make Navalny appear more important than he really was.
Navalny is recovering in Germany, but has said he plans to return to Russia at an unknown date.