Prominent members of Russia’s liberal opposition – including Mikhail Kasyanov  have become targets of political intimidation in the days ahead of a march to commemorate Boris Nemtsov’s murder in Moscow.

RPR-PARNAS Party chairman Mikhail Kasyanov meets with his supporters at the Oktyabrskaya Hotel, St. Petersburg. Photo: Ruslan Shamukov/TASS

The article is first published at The Guardian's The New East network.

Pro-Kremlin protesters have thrown eggs at opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov in the Russian city of Vladimir just days after a cake was thrown in his face in Moscow, stepping up an intimidation campaign ahead of the anniversary of the murder of his ally Boris Nemtsov.

Chanting “Kasyanov is a traitor,” demonstrators targeted the politician, who was prime minister of Russia until 2004 and now heads the liberal People’s Freedom Party (RPR-PARNAS), as he arrived for a meeting with journalists.

Kasyanov was co-chairman of the party with Nemtsov before the latter’s assassination, and will lead it into parliamentary elections in September.

On Feb. 9, unidentified men called Kasyanov an “American agent” and threw a cake in his face in a Moscow restaurant.

Kasyanov 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 Federal Security Service (FSB).

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.”

Also read: Russia Direct Report "Mapping Russia's Political Landscape after Nemtsov"

On Feb. 11, 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 Feb. 11, 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 that supporters say is motivated by his criticism of Moscow and funding of the civil society NGO Open Russia.

On Feb. 10, 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.

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.”

The article is first published at The Guardian's The New East network.