The European Union has imposed sanctions against FSB agents involved in poisoning opposition leader Alexei Navalny in 2020, according to a document posted in the Official Journal of the EU on November 14.
“The Union reiterates its strong concerns that the Russian Federation has not reacted to international calls for a thorough and transparent investigation into the assassination attempt against Alexei Navalny,” the document reads. The regulation notes that, given the continued threat accompanying the proliferation and use of chemical weapons, ten individuals and one entity have been added to the sanctions list.
In December 2020, The Insider, Bellingcat and CNN released an investigation that concluded that at least eight FSB officers were involved in poisoning Alexei Navalny with the Novichok chemical agent. All of them, according to unofficial sources, were from the FSB's Institute of Forensic Science (aka: FSB Research Institute-2 or military unit 34435), an undercover lab that produced secret poisons for special operations.
The investigation was based on phone billings, among other sources. It turned out that employees of the FSB Institute of Forensic Science and the Second Service of the FSB (the “Office for the Protection of the Constitutional Order”) had been following Navalny since early 2017, after he announced his participation in the presidential election. They made 47 trips to the same destinations where Alexei Navalny was flying or traveling on the same days, taking parallel flights to the politician.
Following the release of the investigation, Navalny called one of the FSB officers featured in the investigation, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, who introduced himself as the Assistant Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev. During the conversation, Kudryavtsev provided details of Navalny's poisoning.
The Russian authorities do not acknowledge that Navalny was poisoned. No criminal investigation has been opened in the past year and a half. Instead, security officials began pursuing those who may have passed information on the FSB flights to investigative journalists.
In early March 2021, a criminal case was initiated against two St. Petersburg police officers: Major Roman Gladyshev and Captain Konstantin Golubev. They were suspected of transmitting data from the departmental database about Alexei Navalny's fellow passengers on a plane from Tomsk to Moscow. After that, the head of the Department of Internal Affairs for St. Petersburg’s Vasileostrovsky district, where the suspects worked, resigned.
In January, Kirill Chuprov, a police officer from a Samara police department, was also suspected of transmitting data on the flights of FSB officers who had been following Navalny.