Leonid Volkov: Navalny ally blames Putin's followers for attack in Lithuania

  • Written by Sarah Rainsford
  • Eastern European correspondent

Image source, Ivan Zhdanov

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Leonid Volkov was hit with a hammer and pepper sprayed

A long-time ally of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been attacked outside his home in Lithuania.

Leonid Volkov said his arm was broken and his leg was hit 15 times with a hammer.

The alleged attacker is unknown, but Mr Volkov said he was politically motivated.

He said it was a “clear and typical greeting from Putin's gangster, from the St Petersburg bandits”, but did not provide further details about his attacker.

The police launched an investigation into the attack, which occurred while the activist was arriving at his home in Vilnius in his car.

“Many theories have been put forward, and when it becomes clearer, we will be able to provide more information,” Deputy Police Commissioner Solijos Tamulivicius told LRT Radio.

Another member of Navalny's team, Ivan Zhdanov, posted photos on social media showing Volkov with a bloody left leg and bruises on his head.

Asked whether the attacker had shouted anything, Zhdanov said: “Everything happened in silence… Of course this is a clear political attack, there is no doubt here.”

Volkov's wife, also part of Navalny's team, said her husband came home from the hospital with a broken arm, adding that he was unable to walk due to hammer blows to his leg.

“We will all work harder. And with more anger,” Anna Biryukova wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Navalny was serving a 19-year prison sentence after being convicted on politically motivated charges.

Volkov also faces various politically motivated charges in Russia.

He was head of Navalny's anti-corruption foundation until last year, when he resigned after it was revealed that he had signed letters calling on the European Union to drop some sanctions on Russia.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that “the perpetrators will have to answer for their crime.”

In a video posted on social media upon his return home, Volkov complained that his attacker had used a meat mallet and “literally wanted to make a steak out of me.”

He pledged that the attack would not stop his political activism and called on voters in Russia to join a peaceful protest on Sunday, the last day of voting in the Russian presidential election, in which no genuine opposition candidate was allowed to run.

He urged Russians to go to the polls at the same time to carry out an action that his supporters described as a “backstroke against Putin.” “We have to do something, right?” He finished.

Despite living outside Russia, Volkov made sure that Navalny and his team's activity could continue.

This has included anti-corruption investigations, YouTube videos, and live broadcasts during protests and major events in Russia.

Many activists moved to join Volkov abroad in 2021 after Navalny's entire political organization was labeled “extremist” and banned in Russia.

Several members of Navalny's former team are now in prison, as well as some of his lawyers.

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