March 18, 2024

"Bandit Greetings" to the Oppositionist


"Bandit Greetings" to the Oppositionist
Leonid Volkov on a rally-concert in support of Alexey Navalny. putnik, Wikimedia Commons

On March 12 an unidentified assailant attacked Leonid Volkov, a former chairman of the Fond Borby S Korruptsiyey (Foundation for Combating Corruption) and a close ally of the late opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The incident occurred on the outskirts of Vilnius, Lithuania, near Volkov's residence.

Volkov reported that the assailant struck him with the hammer many times. The politician managed to fend off the attacker and fractured his arm in the process.

Following the assault, Volkov was admitted to the hospital, where he recounted the incident and urged Russians to participate in the Polden Protiv Putina (Noon against Putin) political action. The action calls for opposition-minded individuals to assemble at polling stations nationwide at noon on March 17, aiming to demonstrate widespread dissent within Russia.

The attack on Volkov garnered condemnation from various Western officials. U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania Kara McDonald was shocked at the news; Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis also labeled the assault "shocking."

The Lithuanian police's anti-terrorism unit is currently investigating the incident. Deputy Commissioner General of Police Saulius Tamulevičius said on radio station LRT that multiple theories about the attack are under consideration.

Volkov called the assault "a typical, gangster greeting from Putin." Just hours before the attack, in an interview with independent media outlet Meduza, Volkov discussed the threats faced by Navalny's associates, warning of the potential for lethal reprisals.

Volkov's ordeal is not an isolated incident; Russian opposition figures, activists, and journalists remain vulnerable even beyond the country's borders. Last year, Russian operatives abducted an activist in Georgia, and are believed to have been behind the poisoning of independent journalist Elena Kostyuchenko in Germany in 2022.

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