Breaking his silence on the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin, on December 17 said that Navalny would have died, had state agents tried to assassinate him. His remarks came in reference to an investigative report which claimed, with substantive evidence, that Russia’s FSB poisoned him. The report by Bellingcat also revealed that the FSB spy agency had shadowed him for three years before poisoning the 44-year-old during a flight from Siberia to Moscow.

Speaking at his annual press conference, Putin described the report as the “legalization of materials from the American special services” and added that Navalny “has their support”. Justifying the tailing of the Kremlin critic, Putin said that Russia “of course” shadowed him, but did so because he was aligned with America.