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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Jordan King

Two detained in Poland over attack on Alexei Navalny aide

Two people have been detained in Poland on suspicion of attacking an exiled top aide to late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Leonid Volkov suffered injuries from hammer blows in the attack on March 12 outside his home in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital.

Lithuanian counterintelligence said at the time that the attack was the work of Russian special services. The Kremlin declined to comment.

Polish police said on social media platform X they had arrested the two suspects in cooperation with Lithuanian police in response to a European arrest warrant.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on X that Poland had also detained a Belarusian citizen working for Russia who was suspected of ordering the attack, and that the attackers themselves were linked to football hooliganism.

The Belarusian foreign ministry did not immediately reply to an emailed request for comment.

A spokesperson for the Warsaw court that is dealing with the case said the two suspects suspected of carrying out the attack were accused of "acting in an organised group, executing the orders of the special services of a foreign country" and of damaging the health of a Russian citizen in Lithuania.

Police officers inspects the area near the house of Leonid Volkov (AP)

They will be held in pre-trial detention for 40 days and their lawyers have lodged an appeal, the spokesperson said.

The two suspects were detained on April 3 in Warsaw and are Polish citizens, the deputy head of Lithuania's criminal police, Saulius Briginas, told a press conference in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

Chief Vilnius prosecutor Justas Laucius told the same press conference that the two suspects had been charged in Lithuania with intentionally causing minor bodily harm to Volkov because of his beliefs, which is punishable by a fine or a jail term.

"At this time, the charge is that the crime was committed due to (Volkov's) beliefs and his political activities", Laucius said, adding that the suspects could be extradited to Lithuania by May.

Briginas said the two suspects were previously known to Polish police and had gone to Lithuania to carry out the assault.

Alexei Navalny (AP)

Mr Laucius said he did not know whether the detainees were connected to a Polish citizen arrested on Thursday on suspicion of planning to cooperate with Russian foreign intelligence services for a possible assassination attempt on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Mr Volkov, who has blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the March attack on him, thanked Lithuanian police on Friday for working "energetically and persistently" on the case.

Mr Navalny died in February in a Russian Arctic prison. Russian authorities say he died of natural causes. His followers believe he was killed by the authorities, which the Kremlin denies.

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