Navalny’s former chief of staff attacked with hammer outside Lithuania home

Navalny’s former chief of staff attacked with hammer outside Lithuania home

Leonid Volkov, the longtime chief of staff of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was attacked with a hammer and tear gas outside his home Tuesday, Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said. Volkov has lived in Lithuania in self-imposed exile from Russia for at least four years.

The reported attack comes less than a month after the death of Navalny in a Russian prison colony.

“Someone broke a car window and sprayed tear gas in his eyes, after which the attacker started hitting Leonid with a hammer,” Yarmysh wrote late Tuesday on X. “Leonid is now at home, police and ambulance are on their way to him.”

Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, of which Volkov once served as chairman, posted photos on X of Volkov with a bloodied leg and swollen face. The organization also posted a photo of a car’s smashed window. His associate Ivan Zhdanov posted photos of Volkov being brought into an ambulance on a gurney.

For many young Russians, dreams of democracy died with Alexei Navalny

Volkov was Navalny’s longtime top political adviser and helped run Navalny’s campaigns. He fled Russia under threat of persecution and has faced various charges brought against him in Russia. In 2021, a Moscow court ordered his arrest for encouraging minors to participate in unauthorized rallies — in what Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite condemned as “politically motivated prosecution,” according to VOA News.

Volkov has also served as chairman of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which Navalny founded in 2011 to investigate alleged corruption by high-ranking Russian officials, increasingly including those within the Kremlin elite. The foundation was outlawed by Russia. Navalny was jailed in 2021 and, in August, a Russian court handed him a 19-year sentence on extremism charges. He died suddenly on Feb. 16 while in an Arctic penal colony.

For Russian political prisoners, Navalny’s death is reminder of peril

Russia’s crackdown on dissent has been expanding for years, and political cases have snowballed since the country invaded Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has criminalized antiwar protest and has suppressed war critics, political dissenters and independent journalism.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that relevant authorities are working on Volkov’s case. “News about Leonid’s assault are shocking,” Landsbergis wrote on X. “Perpetrators will have to answer for their crime.”

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