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Khodorkovsky: Open Russia Search Linked To Kadyrov Film

MOSCOW -- Exiled tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has condemned a police search of his Moscow-based organization and said he believes it was linked to a planned documentary about the Kremlin-backed leader of Russia's Chechnya region, Ramzan Kadyrov.

Police searched the offices of Otkrytaya Rossia (Open Russia) offices and confiscated computers on April 16.

Khodorkovsky's press secretary, Olga Pispanen, told RFE/RL on April 16 that police said they suspected Otkrytaya Rossia was producing "extremist leaflets and posters" and planned to distribute them at an opposition rally on April 19.

Khodorkovsky wrote on his website that the "real reason" for the search was the organization’s project to shoot a documentary about "Kadyrov's place" in Russian politics.

Pispanen said that the group never planned to take part in the April 19 rally.

Khodorkovsky served more than 10 years in prison, on financial-crimes convictions he said were politically motivated, before he was pardoned by President Vladimir Putin in December 2013 and whisked out of Russia. He lives in Switzerland.

Kadyrov publicly declared Khodorkovsky his personal enemy after Khodorkovsky urged international media to reprint French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo's caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to express solidarity with its staffers who were killed by Islamist gunmen in January.

Putin relies on Kadyrov to keep Chechnya under control in the wake of two devastating post-Soviet separtist wars. Critics say he flouts Russian law and employs abusive and repressive tactics in his rule over the North Caucasus province.

With reporting by