Moscow police briefly detained Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer for Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, after she tried to meet an agent who has implicated the Federal Security Service (FSB) in the poisoning of the 44-year-old Kremlin critic.
Navalny wrote on Twitter that Sobol was detained late on December 21 when she arrived at the Moscow apartment of Konstantin Kudryavtsev, the agent who was duped by Navalny into revealing details of the FSB’s operation to poison him with a nerve agent earlier in August.
Kudryavtsev refused to open the door and talk about the poisoning incident with Sobol, and then called police, Navalny said.
Before her detainment, Sobol told Current Time that she knocked on Kudryavtsev’s door, but he did not open it. Current Time is the Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.
“I saw a light that appeared in the door hole [of Kudryavtsev’s apartment’s door], but nobody opened the door. In 10 minutes after the news broke on the news channel ‘Aleksei Navalny’, the video was watched by several million [people] in three hours, as far as I know. The [authorities] reacted very quickly; many police officers were deployed here. One car came first, then several more vehicles came. I saw civil cars with police officers inside. Police forced out all those who were inside the apartment block’s hall along the stairs and they blocked me in the car,” Sobol said.
Sobol tweeted several hours later that she was released without charge.
Sobol’s lawyer, Vladimir Voronin,said in a tweet that police initially wanted to question his client as part of a preinvestigation check into a criminal case on violating a person’s right to security in their home, but she refused to answer any questions.
Meanwhile, Sobol’s assistant, Olga Klyuchnikova, wrote on Twitter overnight that she, her colleague Konstantin Raspopov, and a member of Navalny’s team, Akim Kerimov, were detained and remanded at a police station in Moscow on a charge of disobeying police orders.
Sobol was among journalists and political activists who tried to meet with Konstantin Kudryavtsev late in the evening on December 21, the day Navalny published an audio recording of what appears to be a conversation with Kudryavtsev over the FSB’s role in the poisoning.
The FSB said late on December 21 that the audio recording of Navalny’s talk with Kudryavtsev is fake, adding that it has launched a probe into it.
Navalny, meanwhile, wrote on Twitter that the fact that Sobol and her team members were detained in Moscow is “the best answer to the question if Navalny really talked with a murderer from the FSB.”
Navalny was airlifted to Germany in an induced coma in August after falling ill during a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow.
Laboratory tests in three separate European countries, confirmed by the global chemical weapons watchdog, established that Navalny was poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent.
Some earlier investigative reports concluded that Navalny was most likely poisoned before he boarded the plane in Tomsk, and Navalny’s recorded conversation with Kudryavtsev appears to reveal that the FSB had laced the opposition figure’s underwear with the chemical agent.
Russia has rejected calls for an investigation into the poisoning and denies the involvement of state agents in the case, saying it has yet to be shown any evidence.
With reporting by Meduza, TASS, and Interfax