Former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been collecting information in order to expose corrupt Russians. In the last three months, a number of prominent Russian citizens have noticed that their secrets have been leaked online, Voice of America reports.
This was the case with an official from the Russian Interior Ministry, whose electronic correspondence was published online in April. This month, the Guardian published details on a former senior Kremlin official’s investments in the US energy sector.
Earlier, an Associated Press investigation uncovered connections between Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump’s son during the election campaign, and a high-ranking Russian official.
The person behind these exposés promises that new ones are soon to follow.
“We have no shortage in the materials we are currently assessing,” Russian oppositionist Mikhail Khodorkovsky said in a TV interview from his office in the center of London.
Khodorkovsky’s new project, the Dossier Center, was launched in November. The website’s homepage is an interactive diagram which shows connections between numerous prominent Russians who supposedly make a tidy profit from corruption in the country. Users can click on any of the figures to be redirected to investigative articles on that person.
According to Khodorkovsky, the center, which he is financing out of his own pocket, was born out of his frustration that journalist investigations have not led to real changes in Putin’s Russia. The former oligarch wants the Dossier Center not only to tell a story, but also to collect information which will make it possible to prosecute corrupt individuals.
“We understand that this is a long-term ambition,” he admitted with a smile.
As Khodorkovsky explained, the center receives information from a number of anonymous cloud repositories. He believes that the collected data will serve as evidence not only of high-level corruption, but also of illegal attempts by the Kremlin to influence the opinion of the public and politicians in the West.
Although Khodorkovsky’s business model – collecting anonymously transmitted information and forwarding it to journalists – resembles the early stage of WikiLeaks, Dossier Center staff members reject this comparison.
They claim that the Dossier Center does not accept the disorderly information contributions that WikiLeaks became famous for. The five permanent employees check the received information to ensure its authenticity, and examine the material carefully for aspects that could be used in a court case or news article.
Khodorkovsky stresses that his organization’s mission is fundamentally different from that of WikiLeaks.
“Our task is not simply to disclose information in general, but to use materials about Putin’s close circle and allies to bring them to justice in Russia,” he explains.