There was stunning news from Russia Wednesday night that President Vladimir Putin’s arch-foe Alexei Navalny was poisoned on a flight from Siberia to Moscow.
Almost immediately, this news raised the question among Putin-watchers: Was the poisoning organized by supporters of Russia’s president to distract attention from a strike into Belarus to help that country’s embattled President Alexander Lukashenko?
One who thinks just that and says so is Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once the wealthiest man in Russia and a prisoner under Putin for eight years.
“The poisoning of Navalny is a classic ‘distraction’ method,’” he wrote, noting that fellow dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza “went through this ordeal twice.”
The head of the London-based Khodorkovsky Center then noted that "after sending in the military and civilian propagandists into Belarus, it’s logical of the regime to carry this out, on the eve of an operation [emphasis added]."
Since elections two weeks ago that opponents have branded fraudulent, Lukashenko has had more than 7,000 protesters arrested after often bloody conflicts with security police. The Belarusian president has reportedly sought military assistance from Russia to help quell the demonstrations.
Navalny, arrested multiple times for leading mass anti-Kremlin demonstrations and described by The Wall Street Journal as “the man Vladimir Putin fears most,” became ill on the flight Wednesday after drinking tea.
He was subsequently hospitalized in Moscow and his condition is described as “stable but critical.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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