Irrespective of Navalny’s health outcome, we can pretty well predict what will happen next: The Kremlin will cook up all kinds of alternative explanations for Navalny’s presumed poisoning. Almost certain will be charges that Navalny poisoned himself to get back at Putin, that the CIA slipped him the poison, or that it was those dastardly Ukrainians who did so. If necessary, Putin can raise the volume to blast the entire Russian Federation with the good news that their president (for life) is not to blame.
Perhaps the tried-and-true Putin playbook will not work this time; Russia already is sufficiently riled up — and Navalny is a sympathetic figure with a beautiful wife and daughters. Maybe Putin can no longer go to this well. But does he have other tricks up his sleeve? The smart money would bet that he does.