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Spate of arrests shows how deeply Russia has infiltrated Europe

Insights from The Associated Press, CBS News, and The Economist


Two Polish men have been arrested in Poland on suspicion of having attacked a close ally of the late opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Warsaw officials said Friday. A Belarusian working for Russia who allegedly ordered the assassination attempt was also arrested.

Russian activist Leonid Volkov, a close aide of Navalny, was attacked by assailants wielding a hammer and pepper spray on March 12 near his home in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, where he lives in exile.

The suspects in the attack carried out “the orders of the special services of an alien country,” a spokesperson for a Warsaw court said Friday. Volkov has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “henchmen” of bearing responsibility.

The arrests are the latest in a string of incidents that show how deeply Russian interests have penetrated Europe. On Thursday, German authorities said they had arrested two men on suspicion of spying for Russia to collect information about potential attack targets.

And another Polish citizen was also arrested this week for allegedly helping to plan an attempt to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Attack underscored how dissidents are unsafe wherever they go

The attack on Volkov underscored the risks for dissidents of both Russia and Belarus who have sought safety in Lithuania, Poland, and elsewhere, The Associated Press reported. Pavel Latushka, a former Belarusian culture minister now in exile in Warsaw, told the outlet: “it is evident that all boundaries have been breached, and crimes can be committed within the territories of European Union member countries.”

“I think the aim of such attacks is to paralyze people, to paralyze democratic movements,” said Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who also lives in exile in Lithuania.



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