Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny mocked Putin for suggesting that he poisoned himself

Russian President Vladimir Putin told French President Emmanuel Macron in a phone call that his top opponent, Alexei Navalny, may have poisoned himself with the potentially deadly nerve agent Novichok, according to the French newspaper Le Monde.

Navalny mocked Putin over the reported suggestion in an Instagram post.

“Vladimir Putin told his French counterpart: ‘Navalny could have swallowed the poison himself,'” Navalny wrote in the caption.

“Good version. I believe that it deserves the most careful study. Cooked ‘Novichok’ in the kitchen. Took a small sip from my flask on the plane. Fell into a coma,” he said.

The anti-corruption campaigner was released from a German hospital on Wednesday after a 32-day stay. Navalny fell ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow in August. His aides immediately suspected he’d been poisoned.

Russian authorities initially barred Navalny from leaving the country as he received initial treatment at a Siberian hospital. But Navalny was ultimately transferred to a German hospital, where doctors detected the nerve agent Novichok in his system.

Novichok has been used to poison other Russian dissidents. Putin’s critics and opponents have routinely been poisoned and some have been killed.

World leaders have demanded answers from Russia over the incident, but the Kremlin has denied any involvement. President Donald Trump has faced criticism over his relative silence on the matter, and general refusal to stand up to the Russian government.

Navalny is one of Russia’s most prominent critics of Putin, and has faced harassment by the Russian government for years. In spite of this, and the recent poisoning that put him into a coma, Navalny’s aides have indicated he plans to return to Russia.