(Foreign Policy) In the three weeks since Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny fell violently ill on a flight to Moscow, any pretense that this was anything other than a state-sponsored assassination attempt has worn increasingly thin. After Navalny was airlifted from the Siberian city of Omsk to Berlin for treatment, German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week announced that he had been poisoned with Novichok, the same military-grade nerve agent used by Russian intelligence operatives to poison Sergei Skripal in England in 2018.
And Russia is upping the ante: Navalny appears to have been poisoned by a previously unknown and deadlier strain of the nerve agent in an attack that could have only been ordered by the Kremlin, according to a report in the German weekly Der Zeit. [...]
“With the killing of Nemtsov, Russia became a country where members of the opposition die violently,” said Sam Greene, the director of the Russia Institute at King’s College London. “I think if you see [Navalny’s poisoning] as a major shift, you haven’t been paying attention." [...]
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