Thugs have attacked volunteers working for Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny in the east of the country. Several election workers were taken ill and hospitalised after a noxious chemical was thrown into an office of Coalition Novosibirsk 2020 on Tuesday.

Olga Guseva, Navalny’s team project manager in the city, said a man threw a bottle containing the pungent yellow liquid while the other kept the door open for his escape. The attackers, wearing masks, were caught briefly on CCTV.

Fifty people were in the office at the time of the attack, including people attending a lecture for election observers.

Elections are due to be held in the region later in September and there is a growing consensus that support for opposition candidates is growing. Whether the poll will be free and fair, or follow the example of Belarus on August 9, remains to be seen.

PHOTO: Demonstrators march in support of the Governor of Khabarovsk Province, arrested earlier this year and taken to Msocow for trial for allegedly ordering a contract killing. Protests have continued at weekends all summer, and the Kremlin can not rely on the blind loyalty of local security forces