An “isolated” Vladimir Putin does not have enough poison to kill all his critics, a former Russian state TV journalist has said.
Marina Ovsyannikova made global headlines last year when she sprinted onto a live show on Channel One Russia, where she had been employed since 2003, with a sign that read “Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, here you are being lied to.”
Now Ms Ovsyannikova hopes Putin could be forced from power by members of the Russian elite.
She cited criticism of Putin and the Russian army’s performance by supposed Putin loyalists including the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and the leader of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.
“I think that Putin doesn’t have enough Novichok for all his opponents,” she told Sky News. “Because actually when the war started, many more people started speaking against the regime and many more will do that.”
Novichok is a poisonous chemical weapon developed in the Soviet Union. It was used in the 30 June 2018 Salisbury poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and British double agent, and Yulia Skripal, his daughter. Both Skripals spent weeks in hospital in a critical condition.
Briton Dawn Sturgess died after she was given a fake perfume bottle that contained the poison, found by her partner Charlie Rowley.
The British government accused the Russian government of being responsible for the poisonings and expelled 23 Russian diplomats it said were spies. UK allies followed suit with 342 Russian diplomats expelled worldwide.
On 20 August 2020 Novichok was used to attack the Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, known for his investigations into Russian government corruption.
Mr Navalny fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow and was hospitalised in Omsk after the plane made an emergency landing.
He was later evacuated to Germany where he received further treatment. In September the German government announced that Mr Navalny had been poisoned with Novichok.
Despite his brush with death on 17 January 2021, he returned to Russia where he was arrested and imprisoned.
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