According to the German government, Swedish and French labs have confirmed a Novichok agent was in Alexei Navalny's system, and while it was originally thought to have been in Navalny's tea, Navalny's team have now found traces of Novichok in his hotel water bottle. Novichok is a family of Soviet-era nerve agents, and the use of such a poison is like a signature being left at the crime scene, that of the Kremlin, a chemical as specialised and difficult to synthesise as this is unlikely to have come from anywhere else. Critics have claimed that the Kremlin is rattled by civil unrest in Belarus, while recent presidential term limit changes have left Putin's approval in a slump. Navalny's poisoning is clearly Putin's attempt to stifle political dissent, he has extended his power indefinitely and is now trying to send a message by repressing the opposition, and Navalny is one of the most prominent voices of that opposition.
Furthermore the Kremlin are widely considered to be behind a string of such attacks on ex-spies, critics, and opposition political figures in recent decades: In 2006 ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko was killed with polonium; in 2015 journalist and opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza was poisoned twice, suffering kidney failure; also in 2015 opposition figure and Putin critic Boris Nemtsov, was shot and killed near the Kremlin. In 2018 Russian artist Peter Vetilov accused Kremlin of poisoning him; while the infamous attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and Daughter took place in Salisbury, UK in the same year using a similar Novichok nerve agent. An attack like this is a message to the Russian population, even Navalny is vulnerable to attack – Russian citizens cannot affect change in Russia.