CNN is set to air the documentary on Russian President Vladimir Putin's foe Alexei Navalny and the assassination attempt against him. The film was awarded "Best Documentary" at the Sundance Film Festival in January and was nominated for the "Grand Jury Prize."
Set to air Sunday, the network has been promoting it with interviews of Navalny's wife and filmmakers. Navalny is currently behind bars after returning to Russia following the assassination attempt by a Novichok nerve agent poisoning. Other Putin foes have suffered their own poisoning attacks over the past 20-plus years.
Discussing the attempt on Navalny, international reporter Clarissa Ward explained that the government takes issue with him after spending years revealing Russian corruption. He's followed money his group says is being funneled by Russian citizens directly to Putin. One accusation, confirmed by other media outlets, detailed the massive 190,000 square foot palace built on the shore of the Black Sea.
The Panama Papers, a collection of financial data, revealed details about how many of the Russian oligarchs are funneling their money into shell companies and LLCs around the world to try and hide their ownership. Navalny's group alleges that Putin is doing the same thing.
This is one of the many reasons Navalny thinks that he has become a target of Putin's and why he's now in jail. His popularity among Russians, particularly younger Russians, is another reason. But the assassination attempt has done more to elevate Navalny's work to a global audience.
Ward explained that the one thing she found from the investigation and subsequent documentary about it, is just how truly inept the Russian spies at the FSB were.
"I think the most surprising thing, honestly, was to see how Russian security services, the FSB, were, in many ways, very sloppy in their trade-craft," she said. "I mean, the extraordinary moment of this documentary is when Navalny actually calls one of his would-be assassins on an open line posing as a senior aide to the national security council. And this man who he speaks to actually ends up spilling the beans! Believing Navalny, this would-be senior administration official, and telling the details of how the poisoning was done. A sprinkling of the poison in his underwear."
She said that at one point your jaw simply drops because the poorly organized and conducted spy agency maintains a kind of power simply by being Putin's government.
"You realize sometimes there's an aura of invincibility around Putin's Russia and this sort of Machiavellian slick image that he has cultivated. But in actual fact, we found time and again, multiple instances where they were doing things that other security services would be shocked at," said Ward.
See the clip below: