Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza detained in Moscow: NPR


Russian activist Vladimir Kara-Murza is attending a conference of Russia’s leading rights group Memorial in Moscow in October.

Alexander Nemenov / AFP via Getty Images


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Alexander Nemenov / AFP via Getty Images


Russian activist Vladimir Kara-Murza is attending a conference of Russia’s leading rights group Memorial in Moscow in October.

Alexander Nemenov / AFP via Getty Images

Western officials are urging Russian authorities to release a prominent opposition activist and critic of the invasion of Ukraine after reports of his arrest surfaced on Monday. The activist, Vladimir Kara-Murza, has since been sentenced to 15 days in prison on charges of violating a police order.

Police detained Kara-Murza on the street near his home in Moscow, according to the Helsinki Commission, a US government agency focusing on security and human rights. His lawyer told the independent news media Sota that he had been detained, and activist Ilya Yashin also confirmed the news of Kara-Murza’s arrest on Twitter.

Kara-Murza’s lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, said his client was arrested on charges of violating police orders and risking up to 15 days in jail or a small fine. The Guardian reports.

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken tweeted Monday that the United States is “uneasy” about Kara-Murza’s detention.

“We are closely monitoring this situation and urge his immediate release,” he added.

His lawyer promises to appeal the verdict

The Khamovniki district court in Moscow sentenced Kara-Murza to 15 days in prison at a court hearing on Tuesday, according to Prokhorov.

Prokhorov wrote on Facebook that police say Kara-Murza “behaved erratically after seeing police officers, changed the course of his movement, increased his pace and responded to the demand to stop by trying to escape,” according to an English translation. .

He denies the allegation, saying instead that police were waiting for Kara-Murza at the entrance to his home and detained him as soon as he got out of his car.

Prokhorov promised to appeal the verdict.

Both it Free Russia Foundation and the Helsinki Commission claim that the authorities denied Kara-Murza access to legal advice – in violation of his rights – while he was detained at a Moscow police station prior to his hearing. They are among those demanding his immediate release.

“Vladimir is not a criminal, but a true patriot motivated by the potential of a democratic future for Russia and freedom for its people. He must have access to his lawyer and should be released immediately,” the joint statement from the Helsinki Commission chairman said. Late. Ben Cardin, Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen and ranking members Sen. Roger Wicker and Rep. Joe Wilson.

The longtime Kremlin critic has spoken out against censorship and the war

Kara-Murza is a vocal critic of the Kremlin, which had leadership roles in Open Russia and the Free Russia Foundation, organizations that the Russian government has considered “undesirable.”

Kara-Murza also hosts a weekly program on the since closed Echo of Moscow radio station and writes columns for Washington Post.

In particular, he became seriously ill in Moscow in 2015 and 2017 in case of suspicion of poisoning, which he blames the Russian authorities.

“Given the sophisticated type of poison, I think it’s people who have been or are associated with the Russian special services,” he told NPR in 2017.

Kara-Murza was also close friends with Boris Nemtsov – a former Russian deputy prime minister who became vocal Kremlin critic who was shot in Moscow in 2015 – and the late US Senator John McCain, at whose funeral he served as pallet bearer.

Kara-Murza has spoken out against Russia’s war in Ukraine in recent weeks. He testified at a hearing in the Helsinki Commission on March 29, describing in his introductory remarks what he called two parallel wars launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin the previous month.

“One that continues to this day was his unprovoked and illegal aggression against Ukraine,” he said. “The second that ended effectively and quickly was his blitzkrieg against what was left of independent media in Russia.”

As Kara-Murza noted, Russians who speak out against the war – and even use that term to describe it – could risk up to 15 years in prison under a restrictive new law that has prompted the deportation of independent journalists and foreign media from the country. fear of prosecution.

Kara-Murza has continued to do interviews with Western businesses and talked to CNN for only a few hours before his arrest. In that conversation, he referred to the Russian government as “a regime of murderers” and explained why he stayed in Moscow despite the risks.

“Look, I’m a Russian politician – I have to be in Russia, this is my home country,” he said. “I think the biggest gift … those of us who are in opposition to Putin’s regime could give to the Kremlin would just be to give up and run. And that’s all they want from us. “

This story originally appeared in Morning edition live blog.

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