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Leonid Volkov, former right-hand man of Navalny, violently attacked in Lithuania

Photo: Team Navalny via Associated Press This photo showing Leonid Volkov's swollen face was published on Team Navalny's Telegram channel.

France Media Agency to Vilnius


  • Europe

Leonid Volkov, Russian opponent in exile and former right-hand man of Alexei Navalny, was violently attacked Tuesday evening in front of his home in Vilnius, an attack described as “shocking” by the Lithuanian government.

Mr. Volkov said on Wednesday that he was attacked by a man who hit him “about 15 times” with a blunt object, and suffered a broken arm.

“They literally wanted to turn me into a schnitzel,” he said on Telegram, congratulating himself on being “alive.”

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis condemned a “shocking” attack and assured, in a message on the social network

Aged 43, Leonid Volkov is one of the main figures of the Russian opposition and was one of the lieutenants of Alexei Navalny, who died on February 16 at the age of 47 in an Arctic penal colony where he was serving a 19-year prison sentence for “extremism.”

A Lithuanian police spokesperson, Ramunas Matonis, confirmed to AFP that a Russian citizen was attacked near his home in the capital Vilnius at around 10 p.m. local time.

No suspect has been identified at this stage and more details on this attack must be communicated on Wednesday morning, said the spokesperson.

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“We will not give up”

During the night, Mr. Navalny's former spokesperson, Kira Iarmich, indicated that the opponent had been the subject of a real ambush. He was “attacked outside his house. Someone broke a car window and sprayed tear gas in his eyes before starting to hit Leonid with a hammer.”

Taken to the emergency room, Mr. Volkov was finally able to return home. ” We are at home. Leonid’s arm is broken and he can’t walk yet,” his wife Anna Biryukova wrote on X.

She released photos showing the injuries suffered by the opponent, including a black eye, a red mark on his forehead and blood on one of his legs.

Mr. Volkov ruled on Wednesday that the attack on him was “typical” of the modus operandi of Russian President Vladimir Putin's henchmen, but that it would not dissuade him from continuing to campaign for democracy.

“We will work and we will not give up,” he stressed on Telegram.

This attack comes almost a month after the death of Alexeï Navalny in a Russian prison in the Arctic and a few days before the presidential election in Russia, organized from Friday to Sunday, which should mark a new triumph for Vladimir Putin, due to lack of real opponents.

“Putin killed Navalny. And many other people before that,” Leonid Volkov, who was the opponent’s former chief of staff, wrote on social media on Monday. He also chaired the anti-corruption foundation founded by Mr. Navalny until 2023.

A NATO member country, Lithuania hosts many Russians in exile and has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.

Risk of being “all killed”

Russian dissidents who have spoken out against the Kremlin often complain of being the target of threats and attacks.

A few hours before his attack on Tuesday, Leonid Volkov told the independent Russian-language media Meduza that he was worried about his safety since the death of Alexeï Navalny.

“The main risk now is that we will all be killed. Why, it’s a pretty obvious thing,” he said according to Meduza.

Leonid Volkov went into exile in 2019 like other allies of Alexeï Navalny after the Russian authorities opened a criminal investigation targeting the opponent's anti-corruption foundation. The multiple lawsuits filed against Mr. Navalny had been widely denounced as a way of punishing him for his opposition to the Russian president.

Since 2021, Moscow has been searching for Leonid Volkov for his role in organizing, jointly with Mr. Navalny, protests against Russian power.

After the death of Vladimir Putin's number one opponent, regarding which around forty countries including the United States and those of the European Union requested an international investigation, Leonid Volkov promised that the Russian opponent's team “would not give up” because “good always triumphs over evil.”

He called on Alexei Navalny’s supporters “not to be discouraged”. “That’s what he expects of us now. What he has dedicated his life to must win. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116