MOSCOW -- A prominent Russian blogger and activist known for his open criticism of the government, Yegor Zhukov, says a physical attack on him earlier this week was politically motivated.
In a post on Telegram on August 31, Zhukov, who was severely beaten by unknown assailants on August 30, said he had escaped a similar attack near his home on July 24, adding that he believes both were “linked to my political activities."
"My professional activities frustrate many scoundrels and the same number of thieves.... This is about politics for sure. [It is] an example of real Russian politics in the year of 2020," Zhukov wrote.
Zhukov confirmed his earlier statements by his colleagues that he was attacked late on August 30 near his home after he took part in a live talk show with Maksim Kats on YouTube.
During the show, he shared his views regarding the ongoing protests in neighboring Belarus, where thousands of demonstrators have been challenging the official results of the August 9 presidential election that gave incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka a landslide victory.
Zhukov also wrote that the number of attackers was most likely two and that they assaulted him around 10 p.m. near his apartment block in Moscow, first hitting him in the head from behind.
"They beat me exclusively on my face. There were many punches and it was impossible to concentrate and remember what the attackers looked like," Zhukov wrote, adding that he was released from hospital earlier in the day as "no severe head injuries were uncovered" by medical personnel.
In a photo posted by his colleagues on Facebook on August 30, Zhukov appeared with deep bruises and lacerations on his face.
Moscow police said on August 31 that a probe has been launched into the attack.
Zhukov's lawyer Murad Musayev told RFE/RL that the two attacks against his client were linked to Zhukov's journalistic and political activities.
"There were no concrete and direct threats addressed to Zhukov lately. However, one must understand that he has no household or personal conflicts or some ill-wishers of that sort," Musayev said, expressing hope that police will find the attackers and those who ordered the assaults.
During the talk show with Kats, Zhukov called the protests in Belarus "a textbook example" that "should be thoroughly studied by those who want to achieve democratic change by peaceful means."
"A modern peaceful protest is a siege.... If there is a wall in front of you and you just keep hitting your head against that wall, then the wall will win.... The essence of peaceful protests is defeating Mike Tyson by chess," Zhukov said, in a reference to the former heavyweight boxing champion.
Russian political commentators have repeatedly said that the Kremlin's biggest fear is a popular, peaceful uprising.
Zhukov, 22, was handed a three-year suspended sentence in December 2019 on extremism charges which he and his supporters have called politically motivated.
The charges against Zhukov related to four videos he posted on his YouTube channel in October and December 2017 that included clips of demonstrations and commentaries by the blogger on the protest movement and Russian politics.
Zhukov was arrested in August 2019 amid protests in Moscow to demand free and fair municipal elections. Dozens of people have been fined or given jail sentences over the rallies.
In his final court appearance on December 4, 2019, before his sentencing the next day, Zhukov made a statement harshly criticizing Russia's current political system for creating economic inequality for its citizens.
Zhukov's statement resonated across the country and made him prominent in Russia.