Putin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza jailed for 25 years

Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza, accused of treason and of discrediting the Russian army, stands behind a glass wall of an enclosure for defendants during a court hearing in Moscow, Russia, April 17, 2023.—Reuters
  • Politician Kara-Murza was accused of treason.
  • Denied wrongdoing, and said he stood by his actions.
  • Spoke out strongly against the Ukraine war, Putin.

Russian opposition activist and a harsh critic of President Putin Vladimir Kara-Murza has been sentenced to 25 years in jail for charges linked to his criticism of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The court found him guilty of treason, spreading “false” information regarding the Russian army and having connections with an “undesirable organisation”.

The Russian-British former journalist and politician are the latest of several Putin opponents to have been arrested or forced to flee Russia.

He has denied all of the charges.

Mr Kara-Murza, 41, has spent years articulating against Russian President Vladimir Putin and, alongside the war in Ukraine, has also been critical of the government’s crackdown on dissent.

In a statement last week, Kara said that he stood by “every word that I have said… Not only do I not repent any of this, but I am also proud of it.”

In the remarks posted online, he added, “I know that the day will come when the darkness engulfing our country will clear.”

“Our society will open its eyes and shudder when it realises what crimes were committed in its name.”

Mr Kara-Murza’s 25-year sentence was the maximum sought by prosecutors and is the longest sentence an opposition figure has received since the war in Ukraine began. The verdict has been widely condemned.

The delivery of verdicts and announcing sentencing can take a long time in Russian courts but the verdict on Kara’s case was announced within minutes.

The judge also fined Kara-Muza 400,000 roubles ($4,900; £4,000).

Talking outside the court after the sentencing, his lawyer Maria Eismon, said the ruling was “terrifying” but also a “high appreciation” of her client’s work.

She said: “When [Mr Kara-Murza] heard it was 25 years, he said: my self-esteem even rose, I realised I’d been doing everything right!”

Mr Kara-Murza played a key role in convincing Western countries to sanction Russian officials for human rights abuses and corruption.

He was arrested a year ago in Moscow, initially for disobeying a police officer. More serious charges were levelled at him once he was in custody.

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