6 March 2023
by Aleksandr Podrabinek
So, the start of the trial in the case of Vladimir Kara-Murza will begin in Moscow City Court on Monday, 13 March, at 4 p.m. Main building, room 421.
Today, Vladimir was remanded in custody for a further six months. At the court hearing, Judge Podoprigorov rejected all the petitions by the defence including the request that he, the judge, be recused. The court session was closed – journalists were only permitted to attend the reading of the decision.
Volodya is skinny, like any normal convict (who has ever seen a fat convict?) and pale, like any cell prisoner. He does not look sickly, but tense, I would say. You notice that he is not doing well in prison – both physically and mentally. Although his family members are safe, they are far away from him, and the investigator has even forbidden him to speak with his children over the phone. So this is how these crazy oprichniks [members of a notorious security force established by Ivan the Terrible – translator’s note] protect their master and the state that is subordinate to him.
The judge also rejected Vladimir’s petition to authorize me as a second defender. Such attorneys used to be referred to as ‘public.’ The judge said that he did not see any need for the involvement of another defender. Big shots decide on other people’s affairs according to their own needs.
It’s a pity. I was involved in trials as a defender on three separate occasions and always got a good result. In 2004, I defended Anna Alchuk in Moscow’s Tagansky court. She was among the three accused in the case of the ‘Beware of Religion!’ exhibition (Samodurov, Vasilovskaya, Alchuk) and was the only one of the three to be acquitted. True, it is not I who deserves credit for this, but the inexorable course of time – the case was closed because of the statute of limitations. And real lawyers were also involved in the case: Yury Schmidt, Anna Stavitskaya, Ksenia Kostromina and others.
Then I defended Masha Alekhina from Pussy Riot, who was imprisoned in a Perm penal colony and appealed against four penalties imposed upon her in the colony. Three of them were dismissed. In 2017 in Crimea I defended one of the leaders of the Crimean Tatars, Ilmi Umerov, who was accused of calling for the violation of the territorial integrity of Russia (he said that Crimea is Ukraine!) Of course, there were also serious lawyers acting in that case: Mark Feigin, Emil Kurbedinov and others, and I was a kind of public accessory to the professional company. Ilmi was still sentenced to two years in a settlement-type penal colony, but the sentence did not have time to enter into force, as he, along with several other Crimean Tatars, was exchanged for some Chekists whose cover had been blown, and our client safely departed for Turkey, and from there to Kiev.
In all these cases, those I was acting for and I were lucky. It turns out that I’m something of a lucky talisman in political trials. That is why I wanted so very much to be involved in the Kara-Murza trial. This wonderful man is worth every effort to defend him. The lawyer Vadim Prokhorov promises to repeat the petition on 13 March, when the hearing of the case is set to begin.
Translated by Tyler Langendorfer