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Resistant Russian Journalist Faces Kremlin Persecution, Sentenced to Jail

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By Judy Perkins - - 5 Mins Read

Vladimir Kara-Murza, a vocal opponent of the Kremlin, was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Moscow court on Monday. He was found guilty despite denying the charges of treason and other offenses. Vladimir Kara-Murz, former journalist and father of three, A Russian politician, author, and historian, has been imprisoned in Moscow since April for his outspoken opposition to the war in Ukraine. 

Russian authorities apprehended him on the street outside his Moscow apartment. He was initially detained for an alleged administrative violation. Still, he was later accused of violating a law passed after Russia invaded Ukraine by "intentionally disseminating false information" about the country's armed forces. This charge was considered baseless, and Kara-Murza was held in pretrial detention. He could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.

Vladimir gave testimony at a Helsinki Commission hearing on propaganda and censorship in Russia two weeks before his arrest. During his testimony, he cautioned that speaking out against the war in Ukraine could result in prosecution in Russia. Despite this, he refused to remain silent. Although being deprived of his physical freedom and facing grave danger, Vladimir remained unbroken in spirit, unafraid, and steadfast in his belief that Russia would eventually become a democratic European state. He viewed the conflict in Ukraine as the final gasp of Putinism, marking the beginning of the end.

Vladimir Kara-Murza, the Russian journalist poses for a picture with Yulia Galyamina while holding a flower (Reuters)

He was a candidate for the Russian Parliament and served as deputy leader of the People's Freedom Party, working closely with opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. Kara-Murza was instrumental in leading diplomatic efforts to impose targeted Magnitsky sanctions on Russian human rights violations in the United States, European Union, Canada, and Great Britain. U.S. Sen. 

He dedicated years to opposing Mr. Putin's political agenda. He actively lobbied foreign governments and institutions to impose sanctions on Russia and individual Russians, citing alleged human rights violations.

According to Reuters, the state prosecutors had asked the court to imprison him for 25 years, alleging that he committed treason and undermined the reputation of the Russian military by speaking out against Moscow's so-called "special military operation" in Ukraine. This isn't the first time the Russian government went against reporters, even foreign ones.

Mr. Kara-Murza, arrested shortly after his CNN interview, accused Russia of being governed by a "regime of murderers." He had made similar allegations during speeches given in various locations across Europe and the United States, where he accused Moscow of bombing civilian targets in Ukraine, a claim that the Russian government has denied.  

His case adds to the increasing number of Russians who have been handed lengthy jail terms for speaking out against President Vladimir Putin or the invasion of Ukraine. Last week, during his concluding address to the court, Mr. Kara-Murza likened his trial, conducted in secrecy, to the show trials of Josef Stalin during the 1930s.

The verdict for his trial was set for April 17 and was being conducted privately. However, his spouse and lawyer released a copy of his closing statement to the court on Monday. He maintained a bold attitude in the statement, chose not to plead for acquittal, and expressed his unwavering support for everything he had previously expressed.