Open Russia facing investigation by the Prosecutor General’s Office

May 13, 2015

CCtslQQW8AAGa0t.png largeOn April 16 Open Russia office was stormed by armed Moscow police that searched the premises for “extremist” protest flyers in light of an opposition protest that Open Russia did not participate in. In his statement, Mikhail Khodorkovsky attributed the police raid to Open Russia’s documentary about the role of Ramzan Kadyrov in the current power structure.

Following the police raid, State Duma deputy Alexander Sidyakin addressed the Ministry of Justice to find out whether the Open Russia civil society movement is connected with Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s eponymous organisation. Sidyakin believes that the organisation may be receiving funds from foreign sources as well as engaging in political activity, and should therefore be recognised as a “foreign agent”. In response, the Ministry of Justice directed the inquiry to the Prosecutor General’s Office that will investigate whether Open Russia complies with the foreign agent law.

Open Russia was launched by Mikhail Khodorkovsky during an online conference held on September 20, 2014. The movement aims to bring together citizens living both inside and outside of Russia, who share the European values of a strong, dynamic, and forward-looking state founded upon effective democratic institutions and the rule of law.

Commenting on the talk of a possible investigation, Mikhail Khodorkovsy’s lawyer Anton Drel said that, “Open Russia meets regularly, and discusses ideas it wants to communicate to society. This isn’t forbidden by the constitution and does not require registration. If Open Russia begins to engage in activities that require state registration, it will do so, but for the time being it is not engaging in any such activities.”

“When a group of citizens gather on a bench outside a block of flats, you can’t shut them down,” he added. “You can only disperse them, but that’s not going to stop them gathering on another bench.”