Germany has officially stated that traces of poison from the novichok group has been found in the body of Alexei Navalny, who is being treated in a Berlin clinic.
Therefore, the statement goes beyond the level of allegations and rumors, and clears things up a bit.
Firstly, it is already obvious that Navalny did not overdose on some drug, as some Russian pundits suggested, and secondly, it is obvious that Russian security agencies are indeed involved in the poisoning. Of course, given that novichok is a brainchild of GRU military intelligence lab rats, I'd like to state unequivocally: "Yes, Alexei Navalny was poisoned by the GRU, but my confidence is perhaps 5% short of being full. And that's why.
First of all, let me remind you why the GRU had a million reasons for eliminating Alexei Navalny.
I won't go back to chewing on the fact that Alexei Navalny is the FSB's pocket opposition figure. Let me immediately focus on the fact that his main function has been to tone down the Russian protest potential, which from time to time surfaced and even flared up in the Russian capital Moscow and the informal northern capital of St. Petersburg.
Thanks to his efforts, the Russian protests did not plunge into an uncontrolled spin with unpredictable, uncontrollable consequences. Therefore, the FSB could sleep peacefully, with their pocket opposition man always keeping his finger on the pulse of events. But, everything changed dramatically when protests broke out in the distant Khabarovsk Territory in connection with the arrest of local governor Sergei Furgal.
In the early days of the Khabarovsk rallies, federals planned to traditionally disperse protesters, but the scythe found a stone as it turned out that the local protest was in fact supervised by the GRU. The forceful intervention, which was planned in the very first days of the protests, had to be postponed and the FSB guys at their Lubyanka HQ decided to infiltrate their man into the Khabarovsk protest movement.
Therefore, it's no surprise that Alexei Navalny, usually skillfully regressive, has become so persistent in wedging himself into the Khabarovsk unrest – if not to become its informal leader, then at least take a fairly comfortable place on the rostrum to control some part of the enraged audience – of course, aiming to eventually withdraw them from the game, which he's keen on doing well.
Besides, Navalny has secured an entirely pro-Western legend that automatically draws the "mean hand of the West" for the Russian-speaking audiences in almost any protest action, from Khabarovsk to Belarus, where Alexei also featured, albeit figuratively. The curators of the Khabarovsk project, however, don't need any "western trace" as the riots are supposed to be perceived by masses as those of a primordially Russian, traditional nature.
So, assume the GRU knocks Alexei Navalny out of the game.
Of course, this significantly benefits the GRU, because the rival FSB's main striking force gets leveled. But besides this, the GRU gets a number of major gains in the long-lasting interagency rivalry.
First of all, the poisoned Navalny may well become a symbol of new protests, and while the mob's pulsations in Moscow are under the control of security forces, the regional ones – not quite so if we talk about the FSB. The GRU has better capacities in regions, so any regional protest moods they could easily put to own advantage, which was evidenced in the Khabarovsk Territory.
It goes without saying that both Navalny's poisoning and the protest moods will not only affect Putin's rating but also bring in another negative element – new sanctions.
In general, these incidents will further exacerbate interagency confrontation, with mutual leaks and reshuffling of traditional zones of influence. However, they could also completely redraw Russia's modern map.
What is noteworthy, the Far Eastern group of influence today has focused on rapprochement with the China, which is a very serious counterbalance to the center.
Thus, the "poisoned hero" Navalny could radically change the balance of power in modern Russia, with a difficult change of elites, but a complete redrawing of the zones of influence. Of course, in the context of these global changes, the GRU influence group will benefit more off of these phenomena.
And this is why my confidence stands at 95% that it was the GRU who poisoned Navalny, but still... there's another 5%.
The involvement of the FSB can't be ruled out either. After all, sacred victim Alexei Navalny makes it possible to bring out his "clones" amid the scandal – someone also completely controlled by the FSB. And then, to the dance on the bones of the useful guy Alexei, with the right agenda, Lubyanka will try to seize leadership in protest supervision from the GRU.