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Khodorkovsky Launches Movement To Challenge Putin

Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky speaks during a news conference in Donetsk in April.

Russian ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has launched a movement to unite pro-European Russians in a bid to challenge President Vladimir Putin's grip on power.

Once Russia's richest man, Khodorkovsky, who is now in self-imposed exile, promised to stay out of politics after he was released from prison late last year following a decade behind bars.

Speaking at a ceremony broadcast online on September 20 from Paris as he unveiled his new Open Russia movement, Khodorkovsky said that "a minority will be influential if it is organized."

Khodorkovsky, who lives now in Switzerland, stressed that the project -- named after his eponymous charity that was shut down after his imprisonment -- would be an online "platform" for like-minded people, not a political party.

Russian activists and prominent emigres including Paris-based economist Sergei Guriyev and London-based businessman Yevgeny Chichvarkin -- both of whom fled the country under pressure from the security services -- joined the three-hour online ceremony.

With reporting by AFP