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Russian Director Mansky Detained Over Navalny Poisoning Picket

Mansky stood outside the FSB headquarters with a pair of blue boxers, a symbol of the failed poisoning attempt on Navalny. Screenshot Askold Kurov / Facebook

Famed Russian documentary film director Vitaly Mansky has been detained outside the Federal Security Service (FSB) headquarters in central Moscow for staging a single-person picket with a pair of blue boxers, reports said Tuesday.

Mansky, 57, staged the protest after leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny published a viral video of his phone talks with whom he identified as an FSB agent tied to his poisoning. In the video, the purported agent says his colleagues had applied a deadly nerve agent on Navalny’s underwear during an attempt to poison him in Siberia this summer and that he was dispatched for the cleanup operation.

Video posted to social media by fellow director Askold Kurov showed several officers apprehending Mansky after initially letting him go following an identity check.

“I want everything to be clean,” Mansky told the officers who asked him the purpose of his protest.

He has been taken to the Meshchansky district police station, the Dozhd internet news channel reported.

Mansky is the founder of one of Russia’s largest documentary festivals ArtDocFest and the director of “Putin’s Witnesses,” a firsthand look at the president’s ascent to power at the turn of the century that was released in 2018.

The FSB late Monday dismissed Navalny's phone call as "fake" and a "provocation aimed at discrediting" the agency. It said that the phone conversation "about the alleged actions against" Navalny would not have been possible without "the support of foreign intelligence services." 

Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) said it planned to petition Russian investigators and the FSB itself to probe the allegations made in his video. The FBK's head Ivan Zhdanov told Dozhd late Monday that he does not expect the authorities to launch an investigation into Navalny’s August poisoning in Siberia with what European scientists identified as the Novichok nerve agent. The Kremlin denies that the poisoning took place and accuses its European counterparts of withholding evidence.

Zhdanov said “it will be interesting to observe them writing refusals, showing once again that the country’s top leadership and Putin are personally involved.”

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