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Russia: Anti-war activist and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza sentenced to 25 years in jail Russia

© Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP

‘This verdict wrongly conflates human rights activism with high treason and is reminiscent of Stalin-era repression’ - Natalia Zviagina

Responding to news that the British-Russian political activist and former journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza has been sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Russian court for “high treason” and other politically-motivated charges for speaking out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Director, said:

“Vladimir Kara-Murza’s 25-year prison sentence is yet another chilling example of the systematic repression of civil society which has broadened and accelerated under the Kremlin since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

“The so-called ‘crimes’ Vladimir Kara-Murza was tried for – speaking out against the invasion and advocacy on behalf of victims of human rights violations – are in fact acts of outstanding bravery. This verdict wrongly conflates human rights activism with high treason and is reminiscent of Stalin-era repression.”

Last week, Vladimir Kara-Murza once again denounced the war in Ukraine in his closing statement to the court, saying:

“I know my verdict. I knew it a year ago when I saw in the mirror people in black uniforms and black masks running after my car. Such is the price for not being silent in Russia now. But I also know that the day will come when the darkness over our country will dissipate.

“This day will come as inevitably as spring comes to replace even the frostiest winter. And then our society will open its eyes and be horrified by the terrible crimes that were committed on its behalf.”

Sentenced for speaking out

Today, Moscow City Court sentenced Vladimir Kara-Murza, to 25 years in prison for high treason, after his participation in a human rights round table for “disseminating knowingly false information about the Russian Armed Forces” when making a speech critical of the invasion to the Arizona House of Representatives and for “carrying out of activities of an undesirable organisation”.

He was also charged for his “cooperation with a NATO country” following public speeches he made in Lisbon, Helsinki and Washington DC, in which he condemned Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian authorities have increasingly used these criminal charges to arrest, prosecute and convict human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents voicing their criticism of the invasion of Ukraine. 

Amnesty considers Vladimir Kara-Murza a prisoner of conscience as he has been convicted solely for his political beliefs. He should be immediately and unconditionally released.

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