Former chief of staff of Navalny, Leonid Volkov, attacked with hammer in Lithuania

Russian opposition activist Leonid Volkov, the former chief of staff of Alexey Navalny, was the victim of a violent attack outside his home in Vilnius, Lithuania. The attack, which took place on Thursday, involved breaking a car window, spraying tear gas, and hitting Volkov with a hammer. Pictures shared on social media showed Volkov with a swollen face and bloodied leg, and he has been taken to the hospital for treatment.

Lithuanian authorities are currently investigating the incident, with Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis describing it as “shocking.” The attack comes just days before Russia’s presidential election, where Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win a fifth term. Volkov has been critical of the upcoming election, dismissing it as a “circus” meant to showcase Putin’s continued support.

Volkov has been living outside of Russia for safety reasons and is facing politically motivated charges in his home country. The attack on him comes just weeks after the death of another prominent opposition figure, Alexey Navalny, who died in a Russian prison, sparking accusations of murder.

The increasing repression by the Russian government has led many activists to flee the country in recent years. In 2021, a Moscow court labeled Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation as an “extremist” group, a move that was condemned internationally.

The attack on Volkov has raised concerns about the safety of opposition figures both within and outside of Russia. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the dangers faced by those who dare to speak out against the Russian government.

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