The investigation into the circumstances of Navalny's poisoning, as you know, was called "journalistic", but many readers had a reasonable question: could journalists, even the most qualified and well-informed, of this kind of work be carried out without the help of special services? After all, it is impossible to find out such a number of nuances using billing alone. Is the Western intelligence community behind all this?
Here is the most influential American newspaper, The New York Times, bluntly:
“A senior German security official with knowledge of this confirmed the accuracy of the details in the Bellingcat report. “It covers everything we knew”, - the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, given the sensitivity of the issue.
According to the official, the German government has known for several months exactly who was involved in the poisoning. (...)
However, there are other opinions on this score, and they are quite reasonable. So network analyst Maxim Mironov strongly doubts the fact of the participation of Western intelligence services in this investigation, in his opinion, everything was much simpler:
“For a common man in the street, these versions seem plausible. After all, there are special services with multibillion-dollar budgets. The special services have special capabilities. They can recruit the best of the best, introduce agents. And how is it that several people with penny budgets regularly furnish them as small children?
Perhaps this will be a revelation for many, but the idea of the power and analytical capabilities of civil servants is greatly overestimated, and what data is now easily accessible to an ordinary person is underestimated.
I have extensive experience in analyzing different merged databases. In 2005, when the Central Bank posting database appeared on the market, I decided to write a dissertation on the basis of it (I was then studying for a doctoral program at the University of Chicago). I identified several tens of thousands of fly-by-night firms and calculated how much each company in Russia (including Gazprom, Russian Railways, RAO UES) underpays taxes and steals from shareholders. When I presented my results for the first time, the very first question of my scientific supervisors was: "If you alone could do this in a few months, being in Chicago, why can't the Russian Tax Service and the Central Bank do it?" I didn't have an answer to this question. When the results of my work were published by several Russian media, I was invited to speak at a state conference on taxes. I was also invited to meet by Andrey Kozlov, the first deputy chairman of the Central Bank, so that I could share my methodology. Unfortunately, he was killed a month before our supposed meeting. But the fact remains that the Russian Central Bank has been accumulating data since at least 1999 that in real time make it possible to identify all fly-by-night firms and calculate the amount of tax evasion by each Russian company to the nearest penny. The Russian state does not do this, although hundreds of people with budgets work in the analytical departments of the Central Bank, the Ministry of Finance, and the tax department.
After that, I did several more research projects, analyzing individual data on “white” salaries, driver's licenses, traffic violations, accidents, registrations, company shareholders, etc. Based on these data, one can identify bribes to governors, bribes to the gibbets, the amount of black salaries, etc. Some of my research has been published in the world's leading scientific journals.
I didn't write this to brag about how smart I am. My goal is to show that even one person with minimal resources (it cost me $ 1,500 to buy all this data) can do very detailed investigations. For example, from the bases I bought in 2005-2008. I knew about every Muscovite his date of birth, registration, driver's license, all the cars that he ever owned, all his places of work, monthly salary, traffic violations, road accidents in which he participated. I used this data in this article.
There is even more data on the market today than when I started my research. Therefore, I am one hundred percent sure that all the analytical work described in the investigation could be done by one or more people, for several thousand dollars. With 15 years of experience in analyzing various government databases, I do not see a single moment in the investigation that they could not do on their own, and they would need the help of special services. You just need creativity and analytical thinking.
We have long entered an era when human brains play a much more important role than budgets and administrative resources. Navalny and the FBK employees have great brains. Bellingcat and The Insider do too. And the Russian and foreign intelligence services are doing much worse with high-quality brains. They are enough only to when they screw up again, to dismiss vague hints that in fact they have been investigating everything for a long time and understood, you just understand yourself, it was secret information..."
Mironov's version can be indirectly confirmed by figures, as was done by Russian journalists a few months ago:
“In connection with the investigation into the poisoning of Navalny, our October text about how much information about any person in the Russian Federation costs on the black market is again relevant. You will be surprised at the prices. And this is an answer to those who believe that such an investigation could have been done "only by Western special services".
For 12 thousand rubles, information is available about all passengers of the flight or railway carriage.
For 10 thousand rubles - data on crossing the border with a photograph at the border.
For 10 thousand rubles, you can check whether there are "flags" for this or that person at the border (for example, that when crossing the border he should be detained).
For 15 thousand rubles, you can get data from surveillance cameras from Moscow and the Moscow region - from the entrance, near the house, etc.
For 700-1500 rubles - get data on a person's credit history.
For 2500 rubles - get detailed cellular calls from a mobile operator in one day.
For 4500 rubles - get detailed information with base stations, that is, the geography of movement.
For 40-45 thousand rubles, the service “SIM card recovery” is available - you can replace the SIM card and thus be able to receive SMS or make / receive calls on behalf of another person. This can be used to hack accounts linked to a phone number.
For 10 thousand rubles, they offer to get a login from the Internet bank.
For 6 thousand rubles - provide a complete list of LLC employees with their salaries.
For 10 thousand rubles - to provide information on all movements on the account of any company, individual entrepreneur or LLC for several months.
For 20-30 thousand rubles - get any tax declarations of any companies.
In the "exclusive services" block, customers are offered to identify a person by a photo (10 thousand rubles), find a public person's phone number (10 thousand rubles), set a number by nickname in Telegram (15 thousand rubles).
For 45 thousand rubles, they offer to issue a bank card, SIM card, electronic wallet to any third party.
Finally, for an amount of 60 to 180 thousand rubles, within 10 days you will be provided with a complete dossier on a person and three of his relatives, taking into account information from all databases. They will also compose an analytical report..."