Writer Dmitry Bykov was poisoned by FSB officers in 2019 – the same ones who later poisoned Navalny Main from Bellingcat and The Insider investigation

Behind the poisoning of writer Dmitry Bykov in 2019 is the same secret group of FSB officers that poisoned politicians Alexei Navalny and Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. This is stated in a joint investigation by Bellingcat and  The Insider .

Dmitry Bykov was hospitalized on April 16, 2019 after he flew from Yekaterinburg to Ufa to give a lecture. He got sick on the plane. At the hospital, he was put into a drug-induced coma, and then transported to Moscow. Five days later, the writer regained consciousness. The media suggested that the reason for Bykov’s hospitalization was an exacerbation of diabetes mellitus.

As the investigative journalists found out, at least a year before the assassination attempt, Bykov was under surveillance, in which employees of the Institute of Forensic Science of the FSB and the Service for the Protection of the Constitutional System (Second Service of the FSB) participated . In particular, they were Vladimir Panyaev and Valery Sukharev, who used a passport in the name of Nikolai Gorokhov. Their routes of movement coincided with Bykov’s travels around the country. They were simultaneously with the writer in Ufa in May 2018, where they even flew on the same flight. In November of the same year, FSB officers followed him to Rostov, six months later in April 2019 – again to Rostov, and then to Novosibirsk. 

Bellingcat and The Insider believe that they tried to poison Bykov on April 13, 2019 in Novosibirsk, where the writer read the text of Total Dictation. The scheme could be exactly the same as later in the case of Navalny’s poisoning: the poison was applied to personal belongings in the hotel room of the Domina hotel, while Bykov was dictating in the nearby Pobeda cinema. According to billing and flights, the journalists established that at that time there were FSB officers Vladimir Panyaev and Ivan Osipov in the city (under the names Vladimir Alekseev and Ivan Spiridonov, respectively). They were also mentioned by investigators as participants in the operation to poison Navalny in Tomsk in August 2020.

The writer and his wife Ekaterina Kevkhishvili also spent the day of April 14 in Novosibirsk and did not complain about the deterioration of their health. On April 15, they flew to Yekaterinburg, from where they left for Ufa the next day. Journalists suggest that it was on that morning that Bykov put on clothes that had been poisoned. 

The writer became ill about three hours later, during a flight from the airport. On the plane, he started vomiting, breathing heavily and covered in large drops of sweat. He then lay down on the floor in the aisle, passing out from time to time, but not completely losing consciousness. After arriving in Ufa, he himself could not move. In the ambulance, his speech was disturbed, he also became hot, and he took off his T-shirt. Later Bykov said that his feelings on the plane were very similar to those described by Navalny after the Novichok poisoning.

Bykov spent several days in a coma. Doctors have not been able to give him an unambiguous diagnosis. He himself later stated with confidence that it was poisoning, food or infectious, but did not associate it with “some villainous intentions.”

According to Bellingcat and The Insider, when Dmitry Bykov emerged from his coma after being transported to Moscow, a fist-sized crimson spot was found on his back near the top of his shoulder blade. The skin in this place peeled off, covered with crusts, itched and healed for about a month.

“If the stain really is a trail of poison, then the fact that Dmitry Bykov took off his T-shirt in an ambulance could save his life by reducing the time of interaction with the substance,” writes The Insider.

Comparing the picture of the symptoms, the investigative journalists came to the conclusion that “all this clearly points to the organophosphates of nerve-paralytic action (to which the Novichok belongs)”. Bykov himself said that he had no guesses about the possible motives of the poisoners.

(C)MEDUZA 2021

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