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Russian police raid office of Putin foe’s NGO ahead of planned rally

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Russian authorities raided the central Moscow office of an organisation run by one of President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal opponents on Thursday ahead of planned protests this weekend across the country.

The organisation, Open Russia, run from abroad by businessman-turned-activist Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was blacklisted by the Prosecutor General’s Office earlier this week as “undesirable.”

“Officers who specialise in countering extremism in the country raided Open Russia’s office and seized documents’’, state media reported.

Open Russia said on its website that officers were taking computers, while the group also described the operation as state-sponsored theft.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned activists that any unauthorised rallies would be dispersed by authorities.

Open Russia has planned to hold protests in dozens of cities, including Moscow, on Saturday.

Khodorkovsky, a former oil tycoon, was Russia’s richest man until he was thrown in jail in 2003 on tax evasion charges that his supporters have denounced as an attempt to thwart his political ambitions.

Khodorkovsky was imprisoned for a decade until Putin pardoned him in December 2013 and he fled the country.

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