The team of imprisoned Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny has announced a reward of up to five million rubles ($68,100) for information on his alleged poisoners, it revealed on Thursday.
According to a brand new website created by his entourage, evidence is sought to prove Navalny’s theory that he was poisoned by people working for the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) while at a hotel in the Siberian city Tomsk.
In August of last year, Navalny fell ill on a flight to Moscow from Tomsk. After a forced emergency landing in Omsk, he was taken to hospital and placed in a coma. A few days later, after requests from his family, he was flown to Berlin, where he was treated in the city’s Charite Clinic.
According to Navalny, he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok on the Kremlin’s orders. Last year, a joint investigation by Russian-language outlet the Insider, along with CNN, Germany’s Der Spiegel, and the US- and UK-state-funded Bellingcat, claimed the FSB had been tailing him for several years, which eventually led to them trying to kill him.
The opposition figure pointed the finger at President Vladimir Putin, blaming the country’s leader for ordering the hit. Russian doctors denied that any poisoning took place, and the Kremlin has disavowed any knowledge of the plot.
In the time since, Bellingcat and The Insider have both been classified as foreign agents by Russia’s Ministry of Justice.
Now, a year on from the investigation – which included the use of open-source information and databases bought on the black market – Navalny’s team is looking for video evidence. The offered five million ruble reward ($68,100) is split up into three separate sections, which would give money in the form of cryptocurrency to anyone who can provide a “video from the hotel” or “verifiable information about the poisoning,” as well as details about what the accused are doing nowadays.
In January this year, Navalny returned to Russia from Germany, knowing that he would likely be put in prison for breaking the conditions of a suspended sentence handed to him in 2014, when he was found guilty of embezzling 30 million rubles ($415,000) from two companies, including the French cosmetics brand Yves Rocher. He was sentenced to a two-year and eight-month jail term.