Moscow: Armed cops raid offices of Putin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Armed Russian police on Tuesday raided the offices of a pro-democracy movement founded by outspoken Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, less than two weeks after investigators accused him of organising a contract killing.
Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia movement said police had also searched some of its employees’ apartments in Moscow and St Petersburg and had taken away documents.
Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the raids were related to a legal case first launched in 2003 against Khodorkovsky and his allies relating to what the state regarded as the illegal privatisation of a mining and fertiliser company called Apatit.
Khodorkovsky, 52, once Russia’s richest man thanks to his then control of the Yukos oil company, likened the raids to repression in the Soviet era, suggesting they were linked to critical comments he had made about President Vladimir Putin.
“The decay had entered its final stage,” Khodorkovsky told the Ekho Moskvy radio station. “”We are all familiar with this from the time of (Soviet leader Leonid) Brezhnev.”
“Everyone who collaborates with Open Russia perfectly understands and understood from the very start that such pressure was not only possible but inevitable.”
Russian authorities arrested Khodorkovsky in 2003 after he fell out with Putin. He was later convicted of tax evasion and fraud in a trial he always said was politically-motivated.
Released in 2013, he now spends a lot of time in London.
Earlier this month, Russian police said they had uncovered evidence suggesting Khodorkovsky had ordered the 1998 contract killing of the mayor of an oil-producing town in Siberia and wanted him to stand trial for the alleged crime.
Khodorkovsky denied any involvement.