According to the chief of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, intelligence services in the West are aware that fascination around Russian opposition figurehead Alexey Navalny is waning, and they are already hunting for an alternative. Sergey Naryshkin, talking to the Moscow daily Argumenty I Fakty on Wednesday, said that Western powers were backing Navalny’s activities, but that their security agencies had given up on creating a huge opposition movement in Russia as a result of his detention.
“Today, the US and EU intelligence communities must acknowledge that public interest in the ‘Berlin patient’ is slowly dwindling. I’ll say more — they’re already looking for a substitute for Navalny as the symbol of Russian dissent,” he stated. “The Russian people proved to be considerably more rational and reasonable than Western propagandists are accustomed to thinking arrogantly,” he added. Navalny became unwell on a journey from Tomsk, Siberia, to Moscow in August of last year. He was brought to a hospital and kept in a coma after his jet made an emergency landing in Omsk, another Siberian city. Following pleas from his family and acquaintances, he was transported to Germany and treated at the Charite Clinic in Berlin.
On the instructions of the Kremlin, he was attacked with the nerve toxin Novichok, the opposition leader believes. Navalny blamed the assassination on Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of arranging it. The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the scheme. This isn’t the first time a Russian official has claimed the West is backing Navalny and his campaign. The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier this year that the suspected poisoning of Navalny was part of a Western plot to defame Moscow on the international stage. Navalny returned to Russia from Germany in January, fully aware that he would almost certainly be imprisoned for violating the terms of a suspended sentence he received in 2014 after being convicted guilty of misappropriating 30 million rubles from two firms. He was given a sentence of 32 months in prison.