Russian investigators raid homes of Kremlin foe's employees

Dec 24, 2015, 00:08
Russian investigators raid homes of Kremlin foe's employees

Russia's top investigative body on Wednesday declared Mikhail Khodorkovsky as arrested in absentia, two years after the Kremlin critic and former oil tycoon was pardoned after serving 10 years in prison.

Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee, said Khodorkovsky's motive for allegedly ordering the official's murder was related to Petukhov's demands for Yukos to pay local taxes he said it was evading.

Open Russia was established by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was charged in absentia earlier this month with the 1998 murder of a mayor in Siberia.

When investigators announced earlier this month they planned to press new charges against Khodorkovsky, he openly challenged the Kremlin, calling a news conference in London and saying that revolution in Russian Federation was inevitable. Once Russia's richest man, Khodorkovsky has dismissed the accusations and ramped up his anti-government rhetoric, accusing President Vladimir Putin of flouting the Russian constitution and leading the country to ruin.

Mr Khodorkovsky spent a decade in prison on tax evasion and embezzlement charges after falling out with Mr Putin. Prosecutors have alleged he was the mastermind behind the assassination of a Siberian mayor in 1998 in the town of Nefteyugansk, where Yukos was headquartered.

Former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky

"This is rather amusing, especially taking into consideration that none of Open Russia's current employees and activists worked at Yukos", he said on Echo of Moscow radio, noting that some of his staff were children in the 1990s.

Defence lawyer Pavel Chikov said the apartments of at least seven people had been searched including that of Saint Petersburg-based Open Russia coordinator Natalya Gryaznevich.

Khodorkovsky denies any involvement. A French court last week rejected Russia's request to suspend the seizures.

"After considering the petition of the Russian Investigative Committee's department on investigating particularly important cases, the court has chosen detention as the measure of restraint against Mikhail Khodorkovsky".

Khodorkovsky left Russian Federation immediately after being released in 2013, and now spends his time mostly in London and Switzerland.

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