Lithuanian State Security attribute Navalny ally attack to Russia on local media

Police officers patrol near the house of Leonid Volkov, a close associate of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in Vilnius, Lithuania, Wednesday, March 13, 202
Police officers patrol near the house of Leonid Volkov, a close associate of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in Vilnius, Lithuania, Wednesday, March 13, 202 Copyright Mindaugas Kulbis/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Tamsin Paternoster with AP
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Lithuanian State Security Department has said the attack on Leonid Volkov in his car yesterday in Lithuania's capital Vilnius was 'Russian-organised'.

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The attack on Leonid Volkov in Vilnius on 12 March was likely a Russian-organised and implemented operation, Lithuania's State Security Department claimed on local television.

The organisation said it was aimed at stopping Volkov’s projects in connection with the forthcoming undemocratic Russian presidential elections.

Leonid Volkov, a top ally and strategist of Alexey Navalny, was reportedly assaulted near his home in Vilnius.

According to Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmish, an assailant smashed through a window of Volkov's car and sprayed tear gas into his eyes before hitting him with a hammer.

Gabrielius Landsbergis, Lithuania's Foreign Minister, called the attack "shocking" on X. 

The attack in Vilnius comes nearly a month after Navalny was pronounced dead in a remote Artic penal colony. 

The fierce critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin was there serving a 19-year prison term on charges of extremism. The cause of his death has been widely contested, with opposition figures and many international leaders blaming the Kremlin.

Putin and his government have denied any involvement.

Volkov was previously in charge of Navalny's regional offices and election campaigns when Navalny ran for mayor of Moscow in 2013. He left Russia several years ago under increasing pressure.

He also launched a project called "Navalny's Campaigning Machine" aiming to talk to as many Russians as possible in order to turn them against Putin for the upcoming presidential election.

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