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Opposition Leader Navalny Targeted In Cake Attack

  • Tom Balmforth

Aleksei Navalny described the attack as puerile retribution for his corruption-fighting work.

Aleksei Navalny described the attack as puerile retribution for his corruption-fighting work.

MOSCOW -- In the latest in a string of incidents targeting opposition politicians in Russia this month, two men hit Kremlin foe Aleksei Navalny in the face with cakes on February 25 as he entered the Moscow offices of his anticorruption foundation.

Navalny posted a photograph of himself standing with office workers, his face and shoulders smeared with cake following the attack, video of which was published by the pro-Kremlin TV station LifeNews.

Describing the incident as puerile retribution for his corruption-fighting work, he accused the Russian authorities of being behind the attack and mocked them for stooping so low.

"Of course, the authorities have such high ratings and such powerful support that the only retort that Putin and Medvedev see to the opposition's claims is the throwing of cakes," he wrote on Instagram.

Navalny angrily summed up the level of public discourse in the country, imagining dialogue between anticorruption activists and the Russian authorities:

"Why did you steal a billion?" he describes activists as asking.

"Here, have a cake in your face, ha ha ha. Look, he's all covered in cake, ha ha ha."

Opposition activist and Navalny ally Leonid Volkov claimed that a member of the National Liberation Movement (NOD) -- an ultranationalist, pro-Kremlin group headed by United Russia lawmaker Yevgeny Fyodorov -- was behind the attack.

Volkov wrote on Facebook that a man named Gosha Tarasevich, whom he described as a NOD member, was praised on social networks for carrying out the attacks. Volkov also noted that Tarasevich had been accused of defacing a memorial to slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Tarasevich has been reported to be the nom guerre of Igor Beketov, an actor who leads apro-Kremlin activist group calling itself Liberation Movement SERB.

The cake incident amid an escalating war of words between the opposition and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has labeled the Russian opposition "traitors" and "enemies of the people."

It marked the second confectionary-throwing incident this month.

On February 9, Mikhail Kasyanov, leader of the opposition Parnas party and a former prime minister, was approached by a group of men while he was dining and had a cake thrown in his face.

The incident came after Kadyrov posted an video on Instagram depicting Kasyanov in the crosshairs of a gun scope, and Kasyanov supporters have suggested that the cake-throwing men were from Chechnya.

Nearly one year ago, on February 27, opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was shot dead on a central Moscow bridge, in view of the Kremlin. Five Chechens have been arrested for the attack.

Navalny wrote on Twitter of the cake incident: "I've washed both my head and my beard with soap and I still smell like vanilla, cream, and other confectionery stuff. It's impossible to work."

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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