Police Disrupt Founding Gathering Of Open Russia Group In Vladivostok

Police in Russia's Far Eastern city of Vladivostok have disrupted the founding gathering of a regional branch of a civil society group established by exiled Kremlin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky and detained several activists, the organization says.

In a Facebook post on June 12, Open Russia said police used force and detained activists Andrei Pivovarov, Natalya Gryaznyevich, Andrei Yarotsky, and Maria Zinchenko, as well as the coordinator of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's office in Vladivostok, Vladimir Dubovsky.

It is not clear what charges the activists may face.

In April 2017, the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office declared Open Russia "undesirable” under a controversial law signed by President Vladimir Putin in 2015 and accused the nongovernmental organization of conducting antigovernment activities.

Once Russia's wealthiest tycoon and the head of its biggest oil company, the now defunct Yukos, Khodorkovsky served 10 years in Russian prisons after being convicted of tax evasion and other charges widely seen as politically motivated.

He and supporters say he was the victim of a Kremlin-orchestrated campaign to punish him for challenges to Putin and to increase state control over the oil revenues.