Vladimir Putin is a ‘monkey with a grenade’: Navalny aide says it is time to get tough with Russian leader

Leonid Volkov tells Oliver Carroll in Moscow that the Russian leadership will only start listening when its cash is under threat

Saturday 06 February 2021 21:30
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Leonid Volkov
Leonid Volkov
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ust like his boss, Leonid Volkov knew what he was getting into. Alexei Navalny’s return to Russia meant his arrest, court, prison, and the start of a protracted struggle. For his right-hand man, it meant a period of voluntary exile in Europe to be out of the reach of the Kremlin’s long arms.

With the Kremlin critic jailed, this week it fell to Mr Volkov to unveil Team Navalny’s updated game plan from his new home in Lithuania. The group was calling a pause to rallies until the spring, he announced. The battle to release Russia's prisoner No 1 would now switch to “foreign policy tools".

Speaking with The Independent, the Navalny aide said the surprise change in strategy was the inevitable result of a “demonstratively cruel crackdown” from the Kremlin. But he insists it was neither a “capitulation” or “wholly unplanned”. Mr Navalny’s team was still operating according to a “manual” agreed with him before he left for Moscow — and they had already scored “many moral victories”.

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