A Russian opposition leader says he was sitting in a Moscow restaurant when about 10 men burst in, threatened to kill him and then attacked him — with a cake.
Mikhail Kasyanov is co-leader of the opposition Republican Party of Russia-People's Freedom Party (Parnas), which is planning to put forward candidates to run in Russia's parliamentary elections later this year.
NPR's Corey Flintoff tells our Newscast unit that the Kremlin is downplaying the assault. Here's more:
"[Kasyanov] described the men as having 'a non-Slavic appearance,' a phrase that's often used to describe people from the Caucasus region.
"The leader of the Caucasus republic of Chechnya [Ramzan Kadyrov] recently released a video showing Kasyanov through the scope of a rifle.
"Kasyanov, a former prime minister of Russia, says he thinks the latest attack is directly linked to that video.
"A Kremlin spokesman told reporters that the incident must not be associated with the leadership of Chechnya, but should merely be seen as an act of hooliganism."
Corey says the attack could signal that "opposition figures like Kasyanov aren't safe in Moscow." He adds: "The men reportedly threw cake at him, but it could have just as easily been a bomb."
A Moscow police spokesman tells Reuters that "Kasyanov's complaint had been received and was being looked into."
You may recall that opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was shot dead a year ago near the Kremlin as he was walking with his girlfriend. As the Two-Way reported then, "Nemstov, 55, was the head of the opposition Republican Party of Russia-People's Freedom Party. He served as governor of the Novgorod region and as deputy prime minister in the 1990s."
Corey has reported that Nemtsov's family wants police to question Ramzan Kadyrov about the murder. That's the same Kremlin ally who released the threatening video of Kasyanov.