DESPITE being poisoned and then sent to a modern gulag, Vladimir Putin’s arch-critic is not being silenced.
Hours before he was due to appear in court this week, Alexei Navalny revealed a £500m superyacht moored off Italy, secretly belonged to the Russian tyrant.
It was a typically courageous move by Navalny, who has every reason to fear the war monger who had gone haywire. 2020, Kremlin spies nerve gas Novichok in his boxer shortsalmost kill him.
The revelation that Putin was the one probable owner of the bling yacht Scheherazade came in video from Navalny’s investigators, who found it was largely manned by members of Russia’s elite FSO intelligence agency.
On Tuesday, Navalny – who had already served a two-and-a-half-year sentence – was sentenced to an additional nine years – in a “strict regime penal colony”.
The next day the sun was shining exclusive pictures from inside the Scheherazade – an obscene monument to the excess of a kleptocrate. Across six decks, the opulence includes gold toilet paper holders and a tiled dance floor that becomes a swimming pool.
Navalnys The Adjutant-run Twitter account later retweeted our front page — headlined Gold-Plated Monster — to its 2.8 million followers.
While Putin’s Troops bomb pregnant women and children in the rubble of Mariupol, crushing resistance at home.
Father-of-two Navalny, 45, was “convicted” last month on trumped-up allegations he stole £3.5million in donations from his political organisations.
He looked gaunt and folded his arms in disdain as his nine-year sentence was handed down. His Wife Yulia Navalnaya, 45, later wrote on Instagram: “The number nine means nothing at all.
“I love you, my dearest person in the world, and I haven’t stopped being proud of you for many, many years.”
Calling on Russians to rise up against their tyrannical president, Navalny tweeted: “That toad sitting on an oil pipe won’t throw himself.”
Despite Navalny’s mock trial, his Right-hander Vladimir Ashurkov50, told The Sun the activist remains “belligerent”.
The executive director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) also described the grim penal colony where Navalny shares a cell with up to 50 other prisoners.
Ashurkov said the food was “terrible” and Navalny was subjected to a “form of psychological torture”. The activist explained: “Inmates were handpicked by the prison authorities and instructed not to speak to Navalny. It’s a kind of solitary confinement.”
Navalny is allowed to see his lawyer for an hour a day, during which he can “scribble notes to pass on to his team and family.”
Ashurkov added: “Phones are not allowed and in order to get into the briefing room where he sees the lawyer he is strip searched on the way there and back.”
But Navalny is far from broken, and Putin has certainly never faced an adversary with such moral conviction.
He was born in the village of Butyn, just over 50 km west of Moscow, and his Ukrainian-born father and Russian mother own a basket-weaving business.
The law graduate rose to prominence when he began blogging about rampant corruption and garish wealth among the Russian elite.
This toad sitting on an oil pipe isn’t going to fall.
Alexei Navalny on Vladimir Putin
FBK founder Navalny’s 2011 description of Putin’s United Russia as a “party of crooks and thieves” became an opposition rallying cry.
The state tried to silence him. He was given suspended sentences on two counts of embezzlement in what was widely seen as an attempt to prevent him from running in national elections.
Navalny met his wife Julia, a former bank employee, on a Turkish beach 24 years ago. She and her two children lived in a Moscow apartment under strict state surveillance.
Yulia once said, “For many years, our family has lived in such a way that searches, arrests and threats have been the order of the day.” Navalny continued to lead street protests, but was barred from challenging Putin in elections in 2017 because of his fraud conviction.
A Russian general threatened in 2018 that the activist would be “made into juicy minced meat”.
Then, in August 2020, Navalny went to Siberia to shoot a video debunking corruption.
On his return flight he became seriously ill, a fellow passenger said: “Alexei started to moan and scream.”
He had been poisoned.
After two days of public pressure, Putin had Navalny flown to Germany for treatment. Tests in Berlin revealed he had been administered Novichok – the same Cold War chemical weapon used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.
When he awoke from an induced coma after three weeks, he had difficulty recognizing his wife and children. Nowichok had attacked his nervous system.
It would be weeks before he learned to walk, write, and hold silverware again.
Nursed back to health, Navalny hatched a plan to catch his poisoners that could have come straight out of a spy novel.
Golden toilet brushes
Investigative journalist collective Bellingcat compiled evidence that Navalny was pursued for years by a “poison squad” working for the security services of the FSB.
Brazen Navalny then called one of the attackers, claiming to be an adviser to a senior FSB official who was conducting an internal investigation. The agent told how FSB colleagues applied Novichok to the “internal seams” of Navalny’s boxers while he was in Siberia.
Dubbed “the man Putin couldn’t kill,” Navalny then made the valiant decision to return to Russia from Berlin.
When he landed in January last year, he was arrested for failing to report to his Russian probation officer in Germany.
From a dock he said of Putin: “Murder is the only way he knows how to fight.”
Two days after his arrest, his team released video of a £1billion palace on the Black Sea coast that they said belonged to Putin.
It came with jewellery, including gold-colored toilet brushes for £600 a time – while the average Russian wage is just over £430 a month. Tens of thousands of Russians – many waving “gold” toilet brushes – marched in more than 100 cities while chanting “Putin is a thief!”
The tyrant then ordered a crackdown and described Navalny’s foundation as an extremist group.
But behind bars, his campaigning continued – this week branding Putin’s inner circle a “war criminal.”
In Putin’s high-security prison, he is at the mercy of a despot who has tried to kill him before.
But if there is justice, it will be the butcher of Mariupol rather than brave Navalny who will end his days in a stinking prison cell.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/4972203/alexei-navalny-vladimir-putin-poisoning/ How Putin tried to kill his arch-rival Alexei Navalny by poisoning his PANTS