MOSCOW (AP) — Hackers broke into a prominent Russian opposition leader's Twitter and email accounts, sending his followers abusive messages.
Alexei Navalny's spokeswoman, Anna Veduta, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Navalny is not going to create new accounts, and warned his quarter of a million Twitter followers that the stream of abuse is fake.
Among the many changes, hackers wrote "Alexei Navalny is a crook and thief 2.0" in his profile.
"I'm disbanding my sect, but I'm not going to give you your money back because I need it to party in Mexico, so you can all go to hell," one tweet read.
Veduta said Navalny "hopes to regain access to his accounts" eventually.
The 36-year-old opposition leader has been at the forefront of protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin. His home and office were raided and he was interrogated several times as part of a probe into violence at a May 6 opposition rally.
Navalny linked the hackings to his personal computer and iPad being seized by police in a raid on his apartment on June 11.
The Investigative Committee on Tuesday brushed off Navalny's accusations of being instrumental in the hacking, describing them as "an attempt to discredit the investigators."
Navalny reiterated in a message posted on Facebook, verified by the AP, that he is "sure that the hacking was performed with the help of seized hardware" and pledged to demand that the hackers be found and charged.
Faced with a choice of unfollowing the opposition leader or putting up with a flood of abusive tweets, Navalny's followers seem to be opting for the former. Their number dwindled from over 258,000 early Tuesday morning to under 254,000 late afternoon Moscow time.
The hacking of Navalny's account follows the lawyer's election to the board of directors of Russia's largest airline, Aeroflot, on Monday.
Navalny was nominated by tycoon Alexander Lebedev, whose holdings include 15 percent of Aeroflot. Navalny's nomination was also supported by proxy advisory firms who work for minority shareholders.