Lithuania Blames Russia for Hammer Attack on Exiled Navalny Aide

vilnius, lithuania — Lithuania blamed Moscow on Wednesday for an overnight attack by a hammer-wielding assailant on an exiled top aide to late Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny outside the aide’s home in Vilnius. 

President Gitanas Nauseda said the attack on Leonid Volkov was clearly planned and tied to other provocations against Lithuania, which is a member of NATO and the European Union. 

“I can only say one thing to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin: nobody is afraid of you here,” Nauseda said. 

Lithuania’s State Security Department counter-intelligence agency said the attack was probably carried out to stop the Russian opposition from influencing Russia’s presidential election.  

Russia’s embassy in Vilnius declined to comment on the accusations.  

Putin, in power for nearly a quarter of a century, is expected to extend his rule by a further six years in the March 15-17 election. 

The Kremlin views Navalny’s team as “the most dangerous opposition force capable of exerting real influence on Russia’s internal processes,” the Lithuanian security agency said. 

Volkov himself pointed the finger directly at Putin. In a post on Telegram, he said he had returned home on Wednesday morning after a night in a hospital, having suffered a broken arm and injuries from about 15 hammer blows to the leg. 

“This is an obvious, typical criminal ‘hello’ from Putin, from criminal Petersburg,” Volkov wrote. 

“We will keep on working and we will not surrender,” he added. “It hard but we’ll handle it. … It’s good to know I’m still alive.” 

Navalny, Putin’s most prominent critic, died last month in an Arctic prison. Russian authorities say he died of natural causes. His followers believe he was killed by the authorities, which the Kremlin denies. 

In an interview with Reuters hours before Tuesday night’s assault, Volkov said leaders of Navalny’s movement in exile feared for their lives. 

“They know that Putin not only kills people inside Russia, he also kills people outside of Russia,” Volkov said in the interview. “We live in very dark times.” 

Former Navalny spokesperson Kira Yarmysh posted images of Volkov with a bruise on his forehead, blood coming from a leg wound, and a vehicle with damage to the driver’s door and window. 

A lone police car could be seen on patrol on Wednesday afternoon outside Volkov’s house, in a pine forest on the outskirts of the Lithuanian capital. 

Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said the perpetrators must “answer for their crime.” 

Lithuania’s police commissioner Renatas Pozela said police were investigating the assault. 

He said the attack did not mean that Lithuania was no longer safe. The Baltic nation of 2.8 million people, which borders Russia and Belarus, has become a base for Russian and Belarusian opposition figures. 

“This is a one-time event which we will successfully solve. … Our people should not be afraid because of this,” Pozela said. 

The U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania, Kara McDonald, condemned the attack on Volkov. 

“His resilience and courage in the face of recent attempts to silence and intimidate him are inspiring. The Navalny team remains an outspoken voice against Kremlin repression and brutality,” she said on X. 

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