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 Khodorkovsky: “It Is Not Just Putin that Needs to Be Replaced. The Entire System Needs to Be Changed.”

Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky, ex-oil tycoon, plans to lead political movement.

The New York Times writes about his first public visit to Washington, DC, Censor.NET reports.

"Russia has been wasting time these past 10 years," Khodorkovsky told an audience of American admirers at a dinner sponsored by the advocacy organization Freedom House on Wednesday night, in his first speech in the United States since being released from prison last year. "Now is when we must begin to make up this lost time."

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Khodorkovsky's visit signals a re-emergence after a period of staying largely out of sight. Now living in Switzerland, with much but not all of his fortune gone, Khodorkovsky announced last month that he was re-establishing Open Russia, his foundation supporting civil society in his home country. In recent days, he has positioned himself as the leader of a renewed opposition intent on replacing Putin and bringing European-style democracy to Russia.

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"It's not just Putin that needs to be replaced," he told a small group of journalists and foreign policy specialists over lunch this week. "The entire system needs to be changed."

He said only a fraction - he estimated 12 percent - of Russians are currently European-oriented, but he hoped to convince many of the rest that they should be, too. "I see that I might be able to offer myself to the European-oriented part of the population as its political representative," he said. "I don't know whether it will work out or not, but I'm going to give it a try."

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