Navalny murder plot revealed

Several media have published extensive research into the poison attack on Russian opposition figure Navalny. According to their investigation a group of eight FSB agents - all identified by name - had been preparing the attack since 2017. They were identified using data from mobile phone connections and passenger lists. What do the revelations say about Russia?

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VTimes (RU) /

Russia's agents not the brightest

Writing in VTimes, economist Nikolai Kulbaka looks for reasons why Russian security agents are so often exposed on truly delicate missions:

“The best university graduates go abroad, to international corporations, good doctoral positions or at least large state corporations. Those left for the security services are not exactly prime material. ... But even among these agents there are hierarchies: nobody will be willing to send a promising specialist on a dangerous mission ... That's why mishaps are inevitable in every security service. They're due to the human factor - and even more to the poor preparation of those who execute the plans. And the stronger the state bodies grow and the more people they pull into their orbit, the worse the individual agents' qualifications will be.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

Time for sanctions against Moscow

The attack on Navalny must finally have consequences for Russia, Ilta-Sanomat demands:

“Now at the latest, Finland and the European Union must wake up and recognise that Moscow is engaged in state terror, and has no qualms about torturing or killing political opponents. Putin will give a big press conference on Thursday. ... But we shouldn't expect any major confessions or remorse. Neither the European Union - which acts according to Western legal concepts and the principle of consensus - nor even the entire international community can stop Putin, and that is exactly what he's counting on. Nevertheless, more effective sanctions must now be quickly imposed, because Russia's attacks will not end here.”

The Moscow Times (RU) /

Illusion of real politics has been shattered

The case shows how the scope for opposition activity has been narrowed even further, writes Russia expert Mark Galeotti in The Moscow Times:

“Maintaining the appearance of genuine politics, of not just the zombie 'systemic opposition' parties but also a degree of grassroots activism and civil society, has been an integral aspect of how the state manages the country. This is no Stalinism, not even a Chinese-style one-party state. ... Maybe there was a belief that Navalny was being groomed or supported by Western intelligence agencies, which may have made him a 'traitor'. However, it could simply be that the red lines of permissible opposition had changed, and the adroit operator who until then had always managed to stay on the right side of those lines (such as by not going after Putin or his family), was suddenly fair game.”

Novaya Gazeta (RU) /

Private researchers make Big Brother look old

Novaya Gazeta identifies a new quality of digital transparency in the revelations:

“The leftists and the Snowdens of this world have never stopped their cries about Big Brother and the terrible digital world in which the state monitors us all. But the research done by the terrific Christo Grozev from Bellingcat as well as earlier Bellingcat investigations into the Boeing downing and Khodorkovsky's research on the murder of journalists in Africa tells the opposite story: thanks to the digital revolution, society - and not the state - has been given the opportunity to solve crimes in a way that was impossible ten or twenty years ago. It is particularly pleasing that this would not have been possible without Russia's law on mandatory storage of telephone data and its uniformed big-data dealers.”