Konstantin Kudryavchev spoke about others involved in the poisoning in the Siberian city of Tomsk and how he was sent to clean things up.
But the agent did not speak to a Russian National Security Council official as he thought. He was talking to Navalny, who died of poisoning in August.
Navalny has long been a thorn in the side of President Vladimir Putin, exposing corruption in high places and campaigning against the ruling United Russia party.
The Bellingat-CNN investigation found that an FSP toxic group of about six to 10 agents had been following Navalny for more than three years. After identifying most of the team, CNN and Bellingad tried to contact them and their superiors.
When CNN inquired, a man named Oleg Dayakin closed the door. Others did not respond.
At the same time, Navalny also made calls. To begin with, he told agents who he was, and those he contacted immediately ended the call. For the final call for Kudryavtsev, his team decided on a different approach: Operation Sting.
How Navalny did it
Navalny, still recovering in a secret location in Germany, conducted an analysis of the toxic activity as a senior official of Russia’s National Security Council. His phone number was in disguise at FSB headquarters, and Navalny’s team and the recording of the call were later passed on to CNN and Bellingad.
After Kudryavtsev confirmed his identity, Navalny said he had undertaken the task of gaining a brief understanding from team members: “What went wrong, and why did Tomsk fail completely with Navalny?”
Kudryavsev’s answers to the 45-minute call provide the first direct evidence that the unit was involved in poisoning Navalny.
Sometimes he is clearly afraid to speak on an insecure line, but Navalny, sometimes speaking in a brutal and urgent way, urges him that senior officials immediately demand a statement, “these are all very high levels to be discussed in the Security Council.”
Why underwear was targeted
Most dramatically Kudryavtsev gave a detailed account of how a nerve agent was applied to a pair of Navalny’s underwear.
Navalny asked: “Which dress was given prominence? Which dress was the most dangerous?”
Kudryavchev simply replied: “Underwear.”
Nawalik constantly asked where Novichok was used – inside or outside seams.
“Insides, crotch,” Kudryavtsev replied.
Toxicologists who have been consulted by CNN say that if used in the form of granules on clothes, Novichok will be absorbed through the skin when the victim begins to sweat.
The investigation by Bellinggate and CNN used thousands of phone records and flight revelations and other documents obtained by Bellinggad to monitor a team of toxicologists. When Novichok somehow entered Navalny’s hotel room, it was established that there was a ping from a cellphone belonging to Alexei Alexandro, one of the toxic team a few hundred yards away from the hotel.
Kudryavtsev acknowledged that he knew Alexandrov and praised his work.
CNN could not confirm that Kudryavtsev was also in Tomsk when the poison was used. But the call showed that he had a close knowledge of what had been done and that he was involved in a clean-up operation to ensure that there were no traces of Novichok after Navalny left the hospital.
Navalny suddenly fell ill at an airport in Moscow and was sent back to pilot Omes, where he received life-saving emergency treatment from paramedics.
Navalny would have been almost dead if the plane had flown to Moscow, according to CNN consulting toxicologists.
“The flight was about three hours, it was a long flight,” Kudryavtsev said. “The effect would have been different if you had not landed the plane. The result would have been different. So I think the plane played a decisive role.”
“[We] I did not expect all this to happen. I hope everything went wrong, “said Kudryavtsev, adding that the FSP’s goal was to kill Navalny, as many toxicologists familiar with Novi Chow have said.
When asked if he could manage the wrong amount of poison, Kudryavtsev confronted: “As I understand it, we added [a] Bit extra. “
Kudryavtsev’s background states that he was an expert in chemical and biological weapons. He graduated from the Moscow branch of the Russian Academy of Chemical Safety. Belling Gate later served at the Ministry of Defense’s 42nd Center – its Biosafety Research Center.
The Bellingat-CNN investigation, which also involved the German newspaper Der Spiegel and the Russian online publication The Insider, had already confirmed by plane that Kudryavtsev had flown to Oms on August 25, five days after the poisoning.
“When we arrived, they gave it to us, brought by local Omsk comrades [them] With the police, “Kudryavtsev said in the call, they used solutions, so there were no traces on the clothes.
“Then there will be no surprise in the clothes?” Asked Navalny.
“That’s why we went there many times,” Kudryavtsev replied.
Later, Kudryavtsev says, “I was told to work precisely with underwear, underwear.”
Navalny asked: “Who said that? Makshakov?”
“Yes,” Kudryavtsev replied.
Stanislav Makshakov is a scientist who has been identified as an officer in charge of a toxic group located in the FSP’s criminal unit on the outskirts of Moscow. He previously worked as a colonel at the Soviet and later at the Russian research firm Shikani on chemical weapons.
In an investigation released last week, the toxic team established communication and travel details that have shadowed Navalny on more than 30 trips outside Moscow since 2017. Neurological agents specialize in researching high-level interactions between data toxicity units and laboratories in Russia.
Bullin and other Russian officials have dismissed the Belling Gate-CNN investigation as part of a campaign planned by Western intelligence agencies. On Friday, Putin said it represented a kind of “information war” – an investigation that “spills everything out, pours in the hope of making an impression on citizens, causing distrust of the political leadership.”
The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged Navalny’s surveillance – because, as he puts it, “the growing ‘ears’ of foreign special services.”
What the agents and Navalny saw
Navalny told CNN on Monday that he did not believe the new revelations would lead to an investigation in Russia. “It is very clear that Putin was personally behind this,” he said.
He further added that he was shocked by the talks with Kudryavsev. “I was definitely surprised and couldn’t believe it,” he said. “At the same time because of my luck and the way he usually says phrases like ‘work done well’. He doesn’t consider himself a member of an assassination group, he’s just an ordinary employee.”
In the almost miraculous moment of the call, Navalny claimed to have survived with Kudryavchev.
He continued: “With Navalny – who made several trips to Grove in 2017 – how do you rate his personality?”
“Very careful, afraid of everything – on the one hand,” Kudryavtsev replied. “But on the other hand – he goes everywhere. Sometimes he changes rooms and is very careful about that.”
Navalny was asked if he had recognized any toxic team.
“It’s not possible, we’re very strict about it, changing clothes and everything,” he said, adding that the team took different flights while pursuing Navalny across Russia.
Kudryavchev seems to be proud of the team’s defense. “No one was filmed, no one else saw it, it will always be excluded.”
He is definitely right in that regard. Navalny told CNN earlier this month that neither Kudryavchev nor other members of the team had been identified. But in the course of this investigation, the FSP toxic team from the criminal company left ample evidence of their movements, communications and activities.
Among those sources was Kudryavtsev’s cell phone number – through which the Russian government inadvertently allowed Belling Gate and CNN to complete the film on Navalny’s poison.
CNN has approached Kudryavtsev, Makshakov and the Kremlin for comment.
CNN’s Anna Chernova, Mary Ilyushina and Darya Tarasova contributed to the story.
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