Liberal Opposition and human rights groups targeted ahead of march to commemorate Boris Nemtsov’s murderKasyanov linked the attack to threats by Chechnya head Ramzan Kadyrov, who posted a video earlier this month showing Kasyanov in the crosshairs of a gun.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denied the attacks could be connected to Kadyrov, but the cake-throwers were reportedly heard speaking Chechen. Three Chechen policemen were detained outside the restaurant after the attack.
Kasyanov has filed a complaint against the Chechen leader with the country’s top investigative agency and the FSB security service.
Speaking to the Guardian, Kasyanov accused the local authorities of a “special operation” to disrupt his event in Vladimir by blocking traffic, piling snow in front of the building entrance and allowing the pro-Kremlin protestors to gather and throw eggs.
“Putin isn’t stopping Kadyrov, he isn’t stopping the threats, and they’re growing,” he said. “The Kremlin is encouraging this hounding of me.”
On Thursday, Dmitry Gudkov, Russia’s only remaining Liberal Opposition MP, wrote a letter to the interior ministry calling for the cake-throwers to be identified. He said the incident came amid threats similar to those that Nemtsov received before his death, “which weren’t given due attention by law enforcement organs”.
Gudkov told the Guardian that the threats and attacks represented the authorities “loss of control” over hardliners.
“The authorities have been demonstrating that you can egg the opposition, kill them, do whatever you want with them, and everyone has thrown aside all restraint,” he said.
The attacks on Kasyanov come amid a wider clampdown on opposition groups ahead of a march to commemorate the death of Nemtsov, who was gunned down near the Kremlin in February 2015. A high-ranking Chechen officer has been charged with the murder.
On Thursday, the Russian office of Interpol requested an international search for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former oligarch and Putin critic who fled to Switzerland after he was released from prison on a presidential pardon in 2013.
Khodorkovsky is wanted in connection with a 1998 murder case, an accusation which supporters say is motivated by his criticism of Moscow and funding of the civil society NGO Open Russia.
On Wednesday, the supreme court of Russia’s Tatarstan republic ordered the closure of human rights group Agora, whose lawyers have represented opposition figures such as Pussy Riot, for violating the “foreign agents” law that prohibits foreign-funded NGOs from engaging in allegedly political activities. Agora said it was the first instance of a court banning an NGO.
Who killed Boris Nemtsov? We will never know
Russian analyst Gleb Pavlovsky said the recent crackdown showed that the economic crisis had become a political crisis for the Kremlin, with groups ranging from Kadyrov to law enforcement agencies emboldened to wield more authority because “there’s no money to buy loyalty