Will Navalny's phone coup pay off?

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has apparently obtained a confession from one of the agents involved in the poison attack against him. Last week the media reported a murder plot involving eight FSB agents. Posing as an advisor to the Russian Security Council chief on the phone, Navalny learned details of the attack and posted a recording of the conversation on YouTube.

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Polityka (PL) /

Now the wheat will be separated from the chaff

This matter is a test for Western governments, Polityka believes:

“For the time being they are silent. However, the weight of the evidence against the Kremlin is so overwhelming that the West must respond. Failure to react would be a sign of hypocrisy and approval of Russian terror, but also of support for other countries that are eliminating their opposition. ... All in all, the world's reaction will depend on the very specific political calculations of individual states, and perhaps also institutions. This matter is serious. We'll see who passes the test and who doesn't.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

The wind could soon turn

Radio Kommersant FM is mainly interested in the longer-term developments:

“The Western partners' reactions are interesting: there are none. This response may be more useful to them, especially since sanctions are already in place. ... But all this could change as soon as Biden moves into the White House and forms his administration. New tensions cannot be ruled out. The Kremlin regime has succeeded in pushing the Russian opposition out of the country, and those who remained have been adequately suppressed. But in the age of the Internet and globalisation there are no limits, and there are still plenty of ways to reach people and influence them.”

Strana (UA) /

Both versions have their followers

The Navalny poisoning story is increasingly becoming a question of faith, Ekaterina Terekhova writes on the Russia-friendly website strana.ua:

“Do people want to believe what the opposition figure says or not - also against the background that (at least currently) there is no direct evidence supporting his version? Many of Putin's opponents clearly do. At the same time, the Russian state media and official structures will use this investigation as a further argument to portray Navalny as a traitor who is working with foreign intelligence services against his country. And this version is also believed by many to be true.”

Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Time to abandon the sinking ship

Liberal former-politician Leonid Gozman asks in Echo of Moscow what consequences the revelation will - or won't - have:

“Putin isn't going to resign over this, and neither is [FSB director Alexander] Bortnikov or [Security Council Secretary Nikolai] Patrushev. ... However, another consequence could pose a threat to the system: people could start to abandon the sinking ship. Those who are younger or smarter could say to themselves that while it is honourable to belong to a gang, it's something else altogether to stick with it when the boss and his henchmen are demented, can't get anything right and are constantly putting their foot in it. Why should they stay on the losing side? Because Putin's elite guards have no better ideas than to grab as much as they can, or at least earn themselves a nice pension.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

A grotesque tragedy

Navalny's conduct will have consequences, comments Russia correspondent Fabrizio Dragosei in Corriere della Sera:

“On the phone, he posed as a senior official and thus obtained the confession of an agent involved in the attempt to kill him during a flight on August 20 of this year. If we weren't talking here about the attempted murder of Russia's leading opposition figure, the story would simply be grotesque. ... Apart from the media sensation it has caused, the affair will certainly also have political consequences - especially given that the attitude of the next US administration towards Putin will be very different from that of Trump. It's possible that the whole affair will end up triggering new sanctions.”