Over the weekend, as Lev Parnas’ associates were pouring over purported passport and airport entry records of Andrei Lugovoi, the man who was convicted for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, it was Parnas who was bragging on WhatsApp about the undercover Putin adversary.
First, the damning portrait of Parnas emerged in The Atlantic. It detailed how the lawyer had sent half a dozen WhatsApp groups to his “alleged” Russian clients—men who had requested he spy on Lugovoi and those who had sought help in destabilizing Putin’s government.
The group he sent the most messages to, said the report, was The Other Side, a WhatsApp conversation among the sleuths, including Parnas, and Dima Litvinenko, the son of Alexander Litvinenko.
On October 30, according to a timeline from the Atlantic, the “Other Side” group went full tilt and sent a bombshell to the wider WhatsApp community in the form of an image that he included in a group post titled, “Request: get one of those Crimea state criminals deported or killed…Ships are due to leave next week. Send info on ships.”
The post included an image of a white van with a tag on it, allegedly suggesting Lugovoi was a passenger, that he was on the loose in Russia and was potentially armed.
The Atlantic report included screenshots of communications from the group in which the sleuths exchanged information about their investigation, including photographs of passports and information about visa requirements for Lugovoi and his family.
Parnas and his “other side” then set off for Lugovoi’s apartment building, the report said, sharing the information they had gathered with his associates and encouraging them to confront him. While in Lugovoi’s apartment, the group shared a photograph of Putin’s current partner, Svetlana Savitskaya, who, The Atlantic said, “has been described as the woman who killed Litvinenko and may have been involved in the drug trade that the Kremlin has named Lugovoi a drug trafficker.”
On November 14, according to The Atlantic, Parnas posted the group message with Lugovoi’s name and a number to a post on social media: “We got him. He’s one of the occupants at a war. Can you send me to his apartment? I’ll take out the sharpshooter that was set up.”
Seven days later, he posted a photo to his Instagram account, which the Atlantic identified as the image that had been sent to Lugovoi’s associates. The post included an image of Parnas with a pistol pointed at his head.
Just days later, the computer record of a German Air Force aircraft was intercepted—and could lend weight to The Atlantic’s reporting that the leak of the plane logs originated with Parnas.
It is unclear who leaked the pilot’s ID document or the gun.
The investigators’ exchange messages show that at least some of the information Parnas provided had been gleaned from a Russian investigation into Lugovoi’s alleged role in the killing of Alexander Litvinenko.
Their post includes an image of Lugovoi’s travel documents that Parnas had allegedly obtained from a law enforcement source. He posted an image of Lugovoi’s passport, along with documents identifying a home phone number for Putin’s girlfriend Svetlana, published in a daily tabloid.
According to The Atlantic, Parnas had been trying to get the material published in the media for some time, using a consultancy named “Talent Farm.” Talented Farm has earned notoriety in the Kremlin for providing tips on what sanctions and travel bans against Russia’s alleged enemy list to foreign reporters.