Alexei Navalny and the long history of poisoned Kremlin critics | Alexei Navalny | The Guardian

he Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny is merely the latest Kremlin critic suspected to have been poisoned in murky circumstances. Over the past century a series of political opponents have fallen mysteriously ill. Many have died. All have seemingly been victims of Moscow’s secret poisons laboratory, set up by Vladimir Lenin in 1921.

Its function was to deal efficiently and mercilessly with enemies of the state. Some were domestic, others troublesome exiles. According to Stalin’s former spy chief Pavel Sudoplatov, the KGB concluded long ago that poison was the best method for eliminating unwanted individuals. The KGB’s modern successor – the FSB – appears to share this view.

In the 1990s under Boris Yeltsin, exotic murders stopped, at a time of cooperation between Russia and the west. Once Vladimir Putin became president in 2000, however, political killings stealthily resumed. There was speculation that the poisons factory – identified as a squat, gloomy, beige research building on the outskirts of Moscow – was back in business.

Alexei Navalny and the long history of poisoned Kremlin critics | Alexei Navalny | The Guardian