Leonid Volkov: Alexei Navalny ally attacked in Lithuania

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 was assaulted with a hammer and tear gas while in his car in Vilnius on Tuesday night, Navalny spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said.

The alleged assailant is unknown, as is their motive.

Lithuanian police have been informed of the incident and are investigating, according to the Reuters news agency.

Another member of the Navalny team, Ivan Zhdanov, posted pictures on social media of Mr Volkov with a bloodied lower left leg and what looked like bruising to his temple.

Asked whether the assailant had shouted anything, Mr Zhdanov said: “Everything happened in silence.”

“Of course this is a clear political attack, there is no doubt here”.

Mr Volkov’s wife said he had returned home from hospital with a broken hand or arm, adding that he was unable to walk because of the hammer blows to his leg.

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

Mr Volkov, 43, has lived outside Russia for some years for his own safety and served as Navalny’s chief-of-staff until the opposition leader died suddenly in prison in the Russian Arctic last month while serving a 19-year sentence after being convicted of charges that were politically motivated.

Mr Volkov also faces various politically motivated charges in Russia.

He served as chairman of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation until last year when he resigned following the revelation he had signed letters calling for the European Union to drop some Russian sanctions.

Despite living outside Russia he has also made sure that the activism of Navalny and his team could continue.

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

Many more activists moved to join Mr Volkov abroad in 2021 after Navalny’s entire political organisation was labelled “extremist” and banned in Russia.

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

With presidential elections this weekend, Navalny’s widow Yulia Navalnaya has called on opponents of Vladimir Putin to turn up at polling stations across Russia at midday on Sunday in an act of peaceful political protest.

It was an idea supported by Alexei Navalny before he died.

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