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Kremlin rejects story about Russian agent revealing Navalny poisoning plot

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is pictured in a hospital bed in Berlin, Germany, on September 15 following his poisoning in August while on a flight over Russia. File Photo by Alexei Navalny/EPA-EFE
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is pictured in a hospital bed in Berlin, Germany, on September 15 following his poisoning in August while on a flight over Russia. File Photo by Alexei Navalny/EPA-EFE

Dec. 22 (UPI) -- The Kremlin on Tuesday rejected claims by opposition leader Alexei Navalny that he duped a Russian intelligence officer into admitting there was a plot to poison him several months ago.

Navalny said on Monday that he'd fooled the officer into revealing that he was poisoned with a toxin placed in his underwear. He also released a video of the conversation that's been viewed millions of times online.

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Navalny became ill in August while on a flight from Siberia to Moscow and ultimately fell into a coma. Doctors later said he'd been poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied involvement in Navalny's illness. At his traditional end-of-year new conference last week, he said Navalny would probably be dead if the Kremlin had tried to poison him.

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Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed Navalny's conversation with the intelligence officer.

"You can say that he has a severe case of delusions of persecution, and we can also detect clear symptoms of delusions of grandeur," Peskov said of Navalny, according to state-run news agency Tass.

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"Some say he even compares himself to Jesus. As for the rest they are Freudian-like symptoms, this relentless fixation over his own codpiece and so on."

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Peskov downplayed the taped conversation between Navalny and the intelligence officer, saying it was not an official statement from the Federal Security Service and that Navalny was attempting to discredit its intelligence work.

"You know that the Federal Security Service commented on this in a rather succinct and explicit manner," Peskov added. "So there is no point in adding anything to it.

"It was an attempt at discreditation but such attempts cannot compromise the Federal Security Service. Under the Constitution, the Federal Security Service plays a very important role, protecting us all from terrorism, extremism and other deadly threats, and it has definitely been very effective in that role."

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