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Russian spy agents found to be near Navalny before poisoning: report

Russian spy agents found to be near Navalny before poisoning: report
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Russian spies with knowledge of poisons were near opposition leader Aleksei Navalny when he was exposed to toxins, according to a report from Bellingcat, an investigative journalism group that specializes in open source information, The New York Times reported.

In partnership with CNN, German news site Der Spiegel and Russian news site The Insider, Bellingcat discovered an operation to trail Navalny led by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

Bellingcat found telephone records with geolocation data, passenger manifests and residential data that indicated communication between SC Signal, an entity believed to be involved in the development of nerve agents, and the FSB.

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As The New York Times notes, the report indicates that three officers from the FSB followed Navalny to Siberia in August. Telephone records show that they trailed him to the city of Tomsk, where further data indicated one of the agents was not far from the hotel where Navalny and his team were staying on Nov. 20.

Later, Navalny would begin screaming in pain while on a plane, forcing it to land. He would fall into a coma soon after.

Navalny was allowed to travel to Germany for treatment in August and released from the hospital the following month. Physicians at the hospital indicated that a full recovery was possible for Navalny, but the long-term effects of the poison were not yet known.

A senior German security official confirmed to the Times that the information in Bellingcat’s report was accurate. The same official said the German government has long known who the culprit in Navalny’s poisoning is.

Putin has reportedly suggested to other world leaders that the poisoning was staged by Navalny. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested that Navalny had been poisoned in Germany or while on the plane to Berlin to receive treatment.