MOSCOW — A Russian documentary filmmaker was detained briefly by police after publicly expressing support for opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, who says the release of a phone conversation with a Russian agent shows how the country’s Federal Security Service (FSB) poisoned the Kremlin critic with a Novichok nerve agent.
Vitaly Mansky was picked up by police after he neared the FSB building in Moscow on December 22 while holding a blue pair of men’s underwear, a nod to the phone conversation where FSB agent Konstantin Kudryavtsev admitted Navalny’s underwear had been laced with poison in an apparent assassination attempt on the 44-year-old opposition leader.
Mansky, who later confirmed to the Interfax news agency that he had been freed, was one of several activists who held similar singe-person pickets in Moscow, demanding a probe to be launched into Navalny’s poisoning. Reports said several others were also detained.
Similar pickets were also held in front of FSB buildings in the Siberian cities of Omsk and Irkutsk on December 22.
The protests were sparked by Navalny’s December 21 release of a 49-minute phone conversation with Kudryavtsev. During the call, the FSB officer was duped by Navalny into giving the details, with the opposition activist posing as a high-ranking security official conducting a debriefing on the August attack in the Siberian city of Tomsk.
Navalny was airlifted to Germany for treatment several days after collapsing on a plane in Russia.
Laboratories in Germany, France, and Sweden later concluded that the anti-corruption campaigner was poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent.
The EU and Britain in mid-October imposed asset freezes and travel bansagainst six senior Russian officials and a state scientific research center for the “attempted assassination.”
Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have denied involvementin the poisoning.