Russian filmmaker Vitaly Mansky has been detained in front of the Russian secret service agency FSB for waving a pair of blue boxer shorts in protest at the alleged poisoning by the agency of Alexei Navalny. The Russian opposition leader was nearly fatally poisoned on a flight to Moscow with the lethal nerve agent Novichok reportedly planted in his underwear, according to a joint investigation by CNN and Bellingcat.
Mansky, whose unprecedented access to Russian president Vladimir Putin gave the first real look at his dictatorial dreams, was heard saying, “It’s so that they’re clean. I think that everything should be clean—clean conscience, clean underwear—this is my civic position” before police stopped him.
In a video clip released December 21, Navalny appeared to catch the FSB confessing to the assassination attempt. He posed as an agent discussing the poisoning with an FSB officer who appears to admit where the nerve agent was planted. It had been previously thought that Navalny was poisoned when someone slipped the drug into his tea. But it was actually sprinkled on his underwear, according to the confession.
The Kremlin has denied any involvement in Navalny’s poisoning and dismissed the video as “fake” and a “provocation aimed at discrediting the agency.” The FSB said that the phone conversation Navalny is shown having with the agent “would not have been possible without the support of foreign intelligence services.”
Mansky, 57, founded the film festival ArtDocFest and is the director of the film Putin’s Witnesses. Producing the movie, which used previously unseen footage from inside the Kremlin, was a huge risk for Mansky who had previously been employed to make pro-Putin propaganda films.
In 2018, Mansky told The Daily Beast that he had moved out of Russia to try and reduce his exposure to retaliation, but he said he was aware that he could one day be targeted by Putin’s FSB thugs. “I try to expel or get rid of this question completely—not to think about it,” he said.
With his one-man protest on Tuesday, the former Putin propagandist apparently decided that he’s remained in the shadows long enough.