10 April 2023
‘What is in actual fact a life sentence, monstrous in its cruelty, for words he spoke against the war.’
Journalists and human rights defenders have demanded the immediate release of the politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, for whom the state prosecution, at a hearing in Moscow City Court on 6 April, asked for 25 years in a penal colony on three criminal charges – “discrediting” the army, activities of an “undesirable” organization, and treason.
We publish the statement in full:
The prosecutor has requested 25 years’ imprisonment for the politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, who is being held on remand on a number of unfounded charges.
Vladimir Kara-Murza is a true Russian patriot and from the first days of the war he has spoken out against Russian aggression, which has brought endless misery to the Ukrainian people and has devoured the lives of Russian soldiers and mobilized citizens. But today in Russia to advocate peace and an end to war it is a criminal offence.
However, in addition to this unlawful and shameful charge, Kara-Murza has been charged with one other – that of high treason. According to the prosecutor, his treason consists of the fact that he denounced the war and the persecution of dissidents in Putin’s Russia at international fora. These words and opinions are equated by the prosecutor in terms of their gravity with a charge of murder with many aggravating circumstances.
Today, Kara-Murza is being held on remand, awaiting what is in actual fact a life sentence, monstrous in its cruelty for words he spoke against the war. Within a short space of time, Vladimir Kara-Murza survived two attempts on his life by poisoning. Fortunately, these attempts failed, but they dealt a serious blow to his health. Despite the fact that even the prison doctors sounded the alarm because of the serious and progressive diagnosis (polyneuropathy, which threatens paralysis of the legs), the judge considers it possible to keep Kara-Murza in a remand prison, where full treatment is not available. At the same time, Vladimir’s diagnosis is included in the list of diseases that mean a convicted person would not serve their sentence.
We consider that all the charges against Vladimir Kara-Murza are politically motivated, and the accusation of treason is particularly cynical. It was Kara-Murza who made politicians in Western countries realize it is not “the entire country” that is guilty of the repressive actions and aggressive foreign policy of the Russian state, but specific people.
We see in the completely unfounded charges that have been laid and in the sentence that has been requested a vivid example of the return of today’s Russia to the practices of Stalinist political terror. Terror against dissent and its own people cost Russia many hundreds of thousands of lives in the last century. This terror began with show trials of political opponents and dissidents and ended with mass shootings and the imprisonment of ordinary citizens, including those who welcomed the first show trials and were involved in their organization.
We demand that the Russian authorities, law enforcement officials and judges return to the path of justice. They should prosecute murderers and criminals, not honest and responsible citizens who dare to think and speak the truth.
Stop Russia’s new slide towards Stalinism and a totalitarian system.
Free Vladimir Kara-Murza!
- Svetlana Anokhina, journalist
- Ilya Ber, Provereno
- Andrei Borzenko, Libo/Libo
- Irina Borogan, Agentura.ru
- Irina Vershinina, Redkollegiya
- Evgeniya Volunkova, journalist
- Aleksandr Gavrilov, literary critic
- Maksim Glikin, journalist
- Andrei Goryanov, journalist
- Mikhail Danilovich, Novaya vkladka
- Sarkis Darbinyn, RoskomSvoboda
- Tikhon Dzyadko, Dozhd
- Dmitry Durnev, journalist
- Andrei Zatirko, journalist
- Andrei Zakharov, journalist
- Boris Zimin, Zimin Foundation
- Maria Zonina, Editorial Board
- Mikhail Zygar, writer
- Tatiana Ivanova, Bumaga
- Mikhail Kaluzhsky, Redkollegiya
- Denis Kamalyagin, Pskovskaya Guberniya
- Pavel Kanygin, Prodolzhenie sleduet
- Mariya Karpenko, journalist
- Maksim Katz, politician
- Mikhail Klimarev, Internet Protection Society
- Dmitry Kolezev, Republic
- Ivan Kolpakov, Meduza
- Ekaterina Kotrikadze, Dozhd
- Ilya Krasilshchik, Sluzhba podderzhki
- Fedor Krasheninnikov, political analyst
- Maksim Kurnikov, Ekho
- Veronika Kutsyllo, Polygon Media
- Alexandra Livergant, Zimin Foundation
- Sergei Lukashevsky, Sakharov Centre
- Mariya Makeeva, OstVest
- Ivan Makridin, Novaya vkladka
- Alesya Marokhovskaya, Vazhnye istorii
- Kirill Martynov, Novaya Gazeta Evropa
- Ekaterina Martynova, DOXA
- Vasily Matenov, Aziaty Rossii
- Peter Mironenko, The Bell
- Olga Mutovina, Liudi Baikala
- Viktor Muchnik, Ochevidtsy, Govorit NeMoskva
- Zhanna Nemtsova, Nemtsov Foundation
- Elizaveta Osetinskaya, The Bell
- Arkady Ostrovsky, journalist
- Ivan Pavlov, lawyer
- Sergei Parkhomenko, journalist
- Anna Piotrovskaya, Zimin Foundation
- Alexander Pliushchev, journalist
- Kirill Rogov, Re: Russia
- Rita Roitman, journalist
- Ivan Rublev, It’s My City
- Petr Ruzavin, journalist
- Irina Samokhina, Govorit NeMoskva
- Yury Safronov, journalist
- Aleksei Sidorenko, Teplitsa sotsial’nykh tekhnologii
- Sabina Sile, Media Hub Riga
- Egor Skovoroda, Mediazona
- Sergei Smirnov, Mediazona
- Zhenya Snezhkina, journalist
- Liubov Sobol, politician
- Andrei Soldatov, Agentura.ru
- Maxim Solius, editor
- Lola Tagaeva, Verstka
- Iulia Taratuta, journalist
- Galina Timchenko, Meduza
- Elena Trifonova, Liudi Baikala
- Maksim Trudoliubov, journalist
- Tatyana Felgengauer, journalist
- Mikhail Fishman, journalist.
- Aleksandr Cherkasov, Memorial
- Viktor Chistyakov, Taiga.info
- Olga Shorina, Nemtsov Foundation
- Ilya Shumanov, “Transparency International-Russia
The first criminal charge against Kara-Murza was brought in connection with a speech in Arizona, where he said that ‘Putin’s regime is dropping bombs on residential areas, on hospitals and schools’ in Ukraine.
The second charge against the politician was for carrying out the activities of a foreign organization that had been designated as ‘undesirable.’ According to the investigation, Kara-Murza held a conference (this was an annual event) on the eve of the Day of the Political Prisoner at the Sakharov Centre in Moscow on 27 October 2021, funded by the US foundation Svobodnya Rossiya (Free Russia Foundation), designated in Russia as an ‘undesirable organization.’
On 6 October 2022, Kara-Murza was charged with state treason for making speeches in which he criticized the Russian authorities in Lisbon, Helsinki, and Washington.
In 2021, investigative journalists from The Insider and Bellingcat published materials alleging that FSB officers made two attempts to poison Vladimir Kara-Murza. Kara-Murza himself has said that he is certain he was poisoned for his opposition activity.
Translated by Simon Cosgrove