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by Karen Pecota

Daniel Roher, USA 2022

Filmmaker Daniel Roher presents an incredible timeline of the poisoning of the most aggressive critic of Russian's President Vladimir Putin in his latest documentary NAVALNY.

While working on another project in Europe, Roher is introduced to a renown Bulgarian investigative journalist, Christo Grovez who spends his time dealing with crimes around the world--specializing in solving Russian poisoning cases. Just prior to the Navalny incident there were two other recent Russian poisonings where one was not so lucky to escape death. Poisoning is the go-to source for getting rid of Putin's opposition.

Grovez is the lead Russian investigator for Bellingcat, an independent global organization of researchers, investigators, and citizen journalists, who use open source and social media sources to stop worldwide crime. They access both open-source (information that is willingly published) and closed-source data (information that you have to buy illicitly in corrupt economies).

Grovez says to Roher, "You know that Alexei Navalny guy? I might have a lead on who tried to poison him." Roher recalls, "As soon as he said the words, I saw the next year of my life flash before me." Adding, "Christo is probably the only human on the planet who could have written to Alexei and said, 'I have a lead on who tried to poison you' and Navalny would take it very seriously."

Alexei meets Christo and Roher along with their team in Germany while still recovering from being poisoned and eventually gives the allowance to proceed with the investigation and the documentary.

A true story, unimaginable! A documentary well worth your investment of time and energy that will garner deep conversation as the questions arise as to how, and by whom was Alexei poisoned; and why would he return to his homeland of Russia. But, not included in the documentary is Navalny's view of Ukraine.


In August 2020, Alexei Navalny, one of the leaders of Russian opposition to Putin, was traveling from Siberia to Moscow making a documentary film about his passion to fight crime in his homeland. Navalny's plane was diverted to Omsk because he became deathly ill. Navalny's wife Yulia panicked because of the constant threat put on her husband's life for his refusal to be silent. Their co-workers did not feel it was in Navalny's best interest, nor safe, if he were admitted into a Siberian hospital. Time was of the essence! The group quickly flew to Omsk to meet Navalny's flight in order to evacuate him to Germany. They were met with hard-fought resistance, but a successful evacuation occurred. It was the German authorities who confirmed that Navalny had been poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent, Novichok.

Roher's NAVALNYunfolds a remarkable story of a beloved Russian political leader, Alexei Navalny, whose own government leadership wanted him dead, yet he survived after a painstaking recovery. After a hot pursuit of his assassins Navalny returns to his homeland.