Putin's alibi on Navalny hit: Hey, we would have "finished it"

Maybe Vladimir Putin doesn’t realize that bragging about his superior assassination skills doesn’t dunk on suspicions surrounding the poisoning of his most prominent political opponent. Alexey Navalny has fled Russia after one and possibly two attempts on his life, which fits a pattern of “suicides,” poisonings, and falls out of windows for those who criticize Russia’s pseudo-tsar.

CNN and Belingcat published claims on Monday that Putin himself directed the attempted murder of Navalny. Nonsense, Putin responded today when asked about the allegation. If he’d ordered it, Putin said with a chuckle, his superior assassins would have “finished it.”

Thanks for clarifying, tovarisch!

“Listen, we know very well what this is… this is a legalization, not some investigation but the legalization of the materials of American special services,” Putin said Thursday.

“What, we don’t know that they are tracking location? Our special services know this perfectly well, the FSB officers and officers of other agencies know it. They use their phones where they deem necessary not to conceal their location. And if it’s like that — and it is — it means this patient in the Berlin clinic is enjoying the support of the US special services in this,” Putin said.

“And if that’s correct, then that’s interesting, then of course [our] special services need to keep an eye on him. But that doesn’t mean he needs to be poisoned, who needs him anyway? If [they] wanted to, they would’ve probably finished it,” Putin added.

“But in this case, his wife asked me, and I immediately gave the order to let him out of the country to be treated in Germany… This is a trick to attack the leaders [in Russia].”

In the first place, Russia’s botched these hits in the past. Russian intel informant Sergei Skripal managed to survive a nerve-agent attack in 2018, and Russia’s assassins manage to bungle their operation enough to get exposed in the aftermath. Putin’s bravado on this score is nothing more than a cover for a brutal gangster government that manages to measure up to its KGB/communist predecessors — frequently competent at best, and mostly filled with thugs and bureaucrats whose main talent is in brown-nosing. Unfortunately for dissidents, “frequently competent” is bad enough.