Russian opposition activist jailed for 25 years for criticizing Ukraine war
Moscow, April 17 (EFE).- Russian opposition activist and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Monday on charges relating to his criticism of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Kara-Murza, 41, was found guilty of high treason, having “knowingly disseminated false information” by accusing the Russian military of shelling residential areas, hospitals and schools in Ukraine. He was also found guilty of cooperating with an NGO deemed ‘undesirable’ by the Russian government.
“Kara-Murza is sentenced to 25 years in a high-security penitentiary (…) with one year and six months of personal restraint,” Judge Sergei Podoprigorov said in a statement quoted by Russia’s Interfax news agency.
The conviction of the prominent dissident sparked a media frenzy at the Moscow Urban Court where journalists and diplomats gathered, according to the Zona Media digital portal.
Last week, Kara-Murza told the court that he “regrets nothing” and that he “loves Russia”, according to his lawyer Maria Eismont.
The court also fined him 400,000 ruble ($5,000) and barred him from practicing journalism for seven years.
Kara-Murza’s defense team has said that it will appeal the sentence.
The dissident has been a vocal critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin. During a March 2022 speech at the Arizona State House of Representatives in the US, he denounced the war in Ukraine and Moscow’s alleged bombing of civilians.
He later returned to Russia where he was arrested on April 11 accused of spreading false information about the army.
Dozens of independent journalists called for Kara-Murza’s release last week saying that the dissident was being punished for his opposition to the war in Ukraine.
“We demand that the Russian authorities, law enforcement officers and judges return to the path of justice,” the letter said.
“Prosecute murderers and criminals rather than honest and responsible citizens who dare to think and speak the truth,” it added.
The journalists also denounced “Russia’s return to the practices of Stalinist terror against dissenters.”
Kara-Murza’s lawyers recently reported that he had been diagnosed in prison with polyneuropathy as a result of two poisonings he suffered in 2015 and 2017.
According to the Bellingcat investigative journalism collective, Kara-Murza had been tracked by the same Federal Security Service unit that later poisoned prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny, currently serving eight years in prison.
In October 2022 he was lauded with the 2022 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize of the Council of Europe.EFE