Russia, dissident Kara Murza sentenced to 25 years in prison

The ‘enemy of the people’ Vladimir Kara-Murza was sentenced to 25 years in prison for treason, spreading false news about the military and for having worked for an organization deemed undesirable by the authorities. Kara-Murza’s defense said they would appeal the ruling. The convicted opponent, who holds Russian and British citizenship and studied at Cambridge University, was arrested in April 2022 and charged with spreading false information about the Russian military in Ukraine. He was also subsequently charged with “high treason” for a series of public speeches he made in which he criticized Kremlin policies and the war in Ukraine (UKRAINE RUSSIA WAR, FOLLOW LIVE UPDATES)

The judge who sentenced him was sanctioned by the Magnitsky Act

The judge who pronounced the sentence today, Sergey Podoprigorov, has been included in the list of people affected by the sanctions provided for by the Magnitsky Act, the law introduced in 2012 in the United States to individually strike those responsible for human rights abuses, starting from who was involved in the death in prison in 2009 of Sergei Magnitsky, a tax expert arrested as part of an investigation set up by the same officials who he had accused of being involved in a fraud worth tens of millions of euros.

The Kara-Murzas, many dissidents in the family: from great-grandfather to father

It was Kara-Murza, who is now 41, together with Boris Nemtsov, the oppositionist killed in front of the Kremlin in 2015 with whom he had worked since he was 18, to lobby the US for the adoption of the law that they had created themselves. The prison in which he is held, among other things, is directed by Dmitry Komnov, also affected by the Magnitsky Act, after having directed the prison in which Sergei died as a result of abuse. To describe Kara-Murza, one can also talk about the history of his family, a family of historians, journalists and victims of repressions. Grandfather Aleksei, war historian and journalist who survived the Battle of Stalingrad, deported before the war. Great-grandfather, Sergey Kara-Murza, jurist, commentator. His maternal grandfather, Voldemārs Bisenieks, Latvian revolutionary, killed during the Terror. Great-uncle Georg Bisenieks, Latvian diplomat, accused of being involved in the assassination of Sergei Kirov and spying for Latvia and Great Britain in 1934, also sentenced to death. His father, Vladimir, was a historian and journalist, just like his son who studied history at Cambridge.

Poisoned twice a few months after the assassination of Nemtsov

In 2010, together with Nemtsov and others, opponent Kara-Murza writes the appeal “Putin must go” which reads: “We believe that it is not possible to introduce any real reforms in Russia while Putin holds power. Eradicate the Putinism is the necessary first step for a new and free Russia”. She recently wrote for Novaya Gazeta Europe: “To say Boris Nemtsov has had an impact on my life is an understatement. I wouldn’t be who I am now. I wouldn’t have done many of the things I’ve done in my life if it weren’t for him He was my mentor, master”. And a few months after the assassination of Nemtsov, Kara-Murza is poisoned for the first time. The second time will be in 2017. On both occasions he had been followed previously by a team of agents of the FSB He will report a polyneuropathy that worsened in prison, where he has been since April last year.

After sentencing he said: “Russia will be free”

“I am sure that the verdict will be the worst possible. This is a show trial and the outcome will be equally emblematic. But I also know that the verdict will have little to do with reality. Political prisoners do not serve their time in prison in the framework of formal sentences, but according to the political situation. And in our country it has a tendency to change and to change unexpectedly”, he commented in recent days. “Russia will be free: tell everyone,” he declared today, after his conviction at the end of the closed-door trial held in Moscow.

The most serious sentence since the beginning of the conflict with Ukraine

That in Kara-Murza is the most serious sentence ever handed down in the country in trials deemed “politically motivated” since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Since the start of what the Kremlin has called a “special operation”, Russian courts have increased prison sentences in political cases, using them as real tools of repression in a wider campaign to silence dissent. The opposition Telegram channel Verstka recalled the most striking cases: Ivan Safronov, 22 years in prison: on September 5 last year, Ivan Safronov, a former journalist for Kommersant and Vedomosti, was found guilty of “high treason” and sentenced to 22 years in a strict regime penal colony. The prosecutor had asked for 24 years in prison, the FSB accused him of having passed “secret information” to foreign intelligence. Safronov pleaded not guilty. According to information from independent Russian media outside the country, the information that the FSB classified as state secrets was virtually all in the public domain.