Lithuania has rejected orders issued Wednesday from a Moscow court calling for the arrest of Leonid Volkov, an exiled ally of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.
The court orders, sent via Interpol, charge Volkov with encouraging minors to participate in unauthorized rallies, which potentially carries jail term of up to three years in Russia.
“Using international tools for politically motivated prosecution is a wrong practice," said Lithuanian interior minister Agne Bilotaite, referring to Interpol, the government-funded international police network that coordinates cross-border police operations across 194 member states.
The Volkov warrant “raises serious doubts about Russia‘s membership in these organizations,” Bilotaite added.
The Russian court, which said Volkov will be held in Russia for two months if and when he is extradited, said the warrant was issued under the Commonwealth of Independent States, an organization of former Soviet republics to which Lithuania does not belong.
The arrest warrant comes after the rise of demonstrations demanding the release of Russian opposition leader Navalny, who has been jailed since January 17.
In a separate development on Wednesday, Navalny's wife, Yulia Navalnaya, who was recently detained for taking part in unsanctioned rallies in support of her jailed husband, left Russia for Germany according to a source quoted by Interfax.
Volkov, a strategist who manages Navalny’s regional headquarters, fled Russia in 2019 when authorities opened a criminal probe of suspected money laundering by Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. Navalny's group has repeatedly called that criminal probe, among the latest of many, politically motivated.
From his base in Lithuania, Volkov has been organizing protests demanding the release of Navalny, with the most recent one being planned for this Sunday.