Tags: Russia | Mikhail Khodorkovsky | Putin | Open Russia | Tillerson

Dissident Urges Rex Tillerson to Meet With 'Open Russia'

Dissident Urges Rex Tillerson to Meet With 'Open Russia'
Mikhail Khodorkovsky stands behind a glass wall at a court in Moscow, Russia, in May 2011. (AP)

By Wednesday, 12 April 2017 11:13 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, anti-Putin head of the Open Russia movement, made clear the need for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to meet with dissident groups during his trip to Moscow.

Khodorkovsky told Newsmax: "It is important to meet with Kremlin officials and representatives of civil society. The more contacts the U.S. has in Russian society without Kremlin middlemen, the sooner U.S.-Russia relations will have a chance at normalization. This is precisely what the American and Russian people want."

As if on cue, Russian police launched a surprise crackdown of opponents to President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday morning.

Khodorkovsky's remarks came a day after Newsmax asked the White House whether Tillerson would meet with dissidents opposed to the regime during his Moscow trip. White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to say.

Khodorkovsky reached us as Tillerson was arriving in Russia and hours after a police raid was being conducted at the home of Olga Zhakova, a member of Open Russia's federal council and coordinator of the Irkutsk region.

According to an Open Russia spokesman, police investigators broke into Zhakova's home at 7:00 a.m., "confiscated all gadgets and information storage devices including computers, flash-drives and the video camera on which Zhakova recorded the raid. Investigators are reported to have said to Zhakova's husband: ‘You know what this is about. Your wife is a member of the opposition.'"

Once the wealthiest man in Russia (his fortune was estimated at $15 billion) and ranked as the 16th on the Forbes list of billionaires in 2003, Khodorkovsky was suddenly tried and convicted of fraud and embezzlement. During his trial, there was widespread concern among human rights groups that his civil rights were grossly violated by the Putin-controlled judiciary. Amnesty International considered him a "prisoner of conscience."

In 2013, after nearly a decade in prison, Khodorkovsky was pardoned by Putin and some of his assets were unfrozen. He has since lived in Switzerland and relaunched Open Russia.

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John-Gizzi
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, anti-Putin head of the Open Russia movement, made clear the need for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to meet with dissident groups during his trip to Moscow.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Putin, Open Russia, Tillerson
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2017-13-12
Wednesday, 12 April 2017 11:13 AM
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