The Moscow City Court sentenced opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was accused of state treason, of spreading fakes about the Russian army and of cooperating with an undesirable organization, to 25 years in a strict regime colony. An Interfax correspondent reported this from the court.
The Moscow City Court announced the introductory and substantive parts of the sentence on 17 April. The trial against Kara-Murza Jr. began at the Moscow City Court in March and was held behind closed doors since the criminal case files were classified.
Only state agencies were allowed into the courtroom to hear the verdict, while all of the other journalists (about 50 people) were sent to a broadcasting room, according to “Mediazone”. When the defendant was brought into the courtroom, the sound was turned off in the room for broadcasts.
On April 6, the state prosecution asked for 25 years in prison for Kara-Murza. This is more than the maximum sentence under the treason article (20 years), made possible by the politician’s accusations of other crimes.
Judge Sergei Podoprigorov, who is on the U.S. Magnitsky List, judged the politician. Vladimir Kara-Murza actively lobbied for the adoption of the Magnitsky List. Participation in its drafting is part of the charges against the opposition activist.
On April 10, Kara-Murza made his final statement. He declared his innocence and said that he was proud of what he did. In the speech, which was published in full on the oppositionist’s Twitter, he described the legal situation in Russia as similar to the 1930s of the twentieth century. Kara-Murza said that he subscribes to every word of the accusation, which deemed state treason in statements about the state of affairs in Russia in Western countries, but that he was proud of his actions.
He only blames himself for not being able to convince his fellow citizens enough over the years that the Kremlin regime is dangerous. The politician expressed hope that sooner or later, Russian society will change. He stressed that he continues to believe in the country and its people.
As he was leaving the Moscow City Court, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynn Tracy declared that “prosecuting regime critics is a symbol of weakness, not strength”, and stressed that the United States will continue to call on the Russian authorities to release Kara-Murza.
According to the British Ambassador in Moscow, Deborah Bronnert, this is a verdict “for bravely speaking out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”. Vladimir Kara-Murza has a British passport in addition to a Russian one.
Vladimir Kara-Murza has been in pre-trial detention since April 2022. In early March, the court extended his arrest for another six months. Three criminal cases were opened against the politician: for high treason, for fakes, and for conducting activities of an undesirable organization for working with “Open Russia”.
According to Kara-Murza’s defense, he lost 17 kilograms while in pre-trial detention. In mid-March, the politician was unable to attend one of the court hearings due to his worsening state of health. Prior to that, he reported that his health had significantly deteriorated in custody.
Independent journalists and human rights activists demanded that the criminal prosecution of Vladimir Kara-Murza be stopped and that he be immediately released from jail. The petition was signed by more than 70 people: journalists, human rights activists, political scientists, activists, writers and opposition politicians.