FSB agents who tracked Navalny before poisoning also tailed author – Bellingcat

Open-source investigations report that the agents shadowed Dmitry Bykov, who fell severely ill with similar symptoms in 2019

Dmitry Bykov speaking at a Moscow book fair in March. Dmitry Bykov speaking at a Moscow book fair in March. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/TASSDmitry Bykov speaking at a Moscow book fair in March. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/TASS

AP in MoscowWed 9 Jun 2021 15.55 EDT

Russian agents who had tailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny before his poisoning also shadowed a journalist who had earlier fallen severely ill with similar symptoms, according to the investigative organization Bellingcat.

Dmitry Bykov, an author and journalist who is an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, spent five days in a coma after he became sick aboard an aeroplane while on a lecture tour in 2019.

Doctors attributed the illness to bacterial food poisoning. But the illness and circumstances bore strong resemblance to the case of Navalny, who last year fell sick aboard a domestic flight and was hospitalised in a coma before being transferred to Germany for treatment, where doctors said he had been poisoned with a Soviet-developed nerve agent novichok.

A cup of tea, then screams of agony: how Alexei Navalny was left fighting for his life

Bellingcat, an Amsterdam-based international organization that focuses on open-source investigations, identified what it said were several alleged agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service who had trailed Navalny directly before his poisoning. In a report Wednesday, it said cellular phone records and airline ticket purchases showed that two of these agents had travelled to the same cities as Bykov and at the same time.

Navalny spent five months in Germany recuperating from the poisoning. He was arrested upon his return to Russia in January and subsequently ordered to spend 2 1/2 years in prison on the grounds that his convalescence in Germany violated a suspended sentence that had been handed in an embezzlement conviction.

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