Someone is blinding Russian opposition activists with chemicals

Moscow Times reports: Two Russian opposition activists have partially lost their sight after unidentified assailants hurled liquid chemicals in their eyes. In both cases, the activists and their doctors are concerned that the damage may be irreparable.

On April 27, an attacker hurled a caustic green antiseptic known as zelyonka in opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s face as he was leaving the office of his Anti-Corruption Foundation.

Doctors subsequently diagnosed Navalny with a “chemical burn in his right eye.” Navalny later stated that there was a risk his vision would not recover.

The next day, Natalya Fyodorova, a Moscow-based activist from the Yabloko opposition party, was hospitalized after an attacker hurled a “chemical solution” in her eyes. Several days later, she can still only see out of one eye and “feels poorly,” says Sergei Mitrokhin, head of the Moscow branch of Yabloko.

Zelyonka attacks have become part and parcel of Russian politics in recent months. Since February, at least eight opposition activists and journalists have been targeted. However, the most recent incidents suggest the attackers are moving on to harsher chemicals.

In Fyodorova’s case, the liquid appears not to have been zelyonka. And, according to Navalny, his doctors believe the zelyonka that damaged his eye was “mixed with something else” because “simple zelyonka would not burn the eyes seriously.”

In both cases, activists allege that police investigations have been languid or deceitful.

After the attack on Navalny, police declined to confiscate security camera footage that could have identified the assailant. Security guards in the Anti-Corruption Foundation’s office building also told one of Navalny’s colleagues that none of the security cameras were working that day, the site reported.

Later, however, an employee of the Anti-Corruption Foundation released a photo of the attacker taken from security camera footage. [Continue reading…]

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