Kremlin Critic Gets 25 Years for Treason: The Impact on Russian Politics

by Joshua Brown
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A court in Russia has found Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. guilty of treason because he spoke out against the Russian war in Ukraine and gave him a sentence of 25 years in prison. The government is punishing anyone who disagrees with their actions.

A political activist and journalist has been found guilty by the Russian authorities. He believes that they tried to poison him twice, as punishment for speaking out against President Vladimir Putin. He thinks these proceedings are similar to how people were falsely judged during Soviet leader Josef Stalin’s time.

Human rights groups and some governments expressed outrage over the decision, calling for him to be freed, and Amnesty International declared him a ‘Prisoner of Conscience’.

When the judge read out his verdict and sentence, Kara-Murza remained calm. After the judgement, his lawyer Maria Eismont quoted him as saying: “I am very proud of myself. Getting a 25 year sentence is like getting rewarded for doing what I know is right and patriotic.”

Kara-Murza’s wife Evgenia, who lives in the USA with their 3 children, celebrated after Kara-Murza received his verdict. She tweeted how proud she was of him for his bravery, faithfulness, and honesty over all these years. She also said that she stands by him no matter what.

Kara-Murza, who is both Russian and British, has been in prison for one year after he gave a speech to the Arizona House of Representatives about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He also spoke about this issue at other places overseas.

Kara-Murza visited Arizona to speak with lawmakers at an event hosted by the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations. He talked about the many people in his home country who don’t like what President Putin is doing there, like stealing money and treating people really badly – sometimes even to the point of breaking human rights laws.

It was an amazing experience for me when I saw him speak to the House last year, said Marcelino Quiñonez, a state representative and leader of the Democratic House. He also added that it is really unfair how things turned out.

After Russia took over an area, they passed a law making it illegal to share false information about their military activities. They seem to be using this law to stop people from criticizing their “special military operation”.

At first, Kara-Murza was accused of giving out false news about the military. Later though, the officials said he had joined a bad group and even committed treason. This kind of treatment towards people who give information on the war or who speak against it is something that hasn’t been seen since Soviet times, and it’s meant to stop anyone from doing either.

Ilya Yashin, a famous opposition person, was given a 8½ year jail sentence last year due to sharing inaccurate facts about the army.

Last month in Russia, a dad was sent to jail for two years just because he wrote mean things about the war on social media. His 13-year-old daughter was taken away from him to an orphanage because she had made a drawing at school that showed she didn’t like the war either. Later, an American Journalist named Evan Gershkovich got arrested by security agents and accused of being a spy.

The Supreme Court in Russia recently said that people have been ordered to pay fines as punishment for dishonoring the military 4,439 times. These fines add up to around $1.8 million.

At the end of his trial, Kara-Murza said he was locked up for speaking out against Putin and for trying to push for punishing Russian officials who have done bad things to people. He did this through campaigns like backing Western sanctions and protesting against the war in Ukraine.

“He told the court that he believes one day our country will be out of darkness, just like how Spring comes after Winter,” said Kara-Murza, who was a close friend to Boris Nemtsov. Nemtsov was an important figure who opposed Putin and was killed near the Kremlin in 2015.

Back in 2011-2012, Kara-Murza and Nemtsov wanted the American government to pass something called the Magnitsky Act. It was created in response to a Russian lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky who died in prison after he spoke up about a tax cheating scheme. The law allowed the US to put punishment on people from Russia who were doing bad things against other people’s human rights.

The judge in Kara-Murza’s court case was put on a list of people losing certain rights after deciding to arrest Magnitsky back in 2008. This judge asked the United States government to let him off this list in 2018. During Kara-Murza’s hearing, Vadim Prokhorov, who is helping her, twice asked this judge to step down from the trial but he didn’t do it. Russian news talked about this.

Kara-Murza and Sen. John McCain were friends and Kara-Murza was chosen to be a special pallbearer at his funeral in 2018. This gesture is seen as a way for McCain to criticize then President Donald Trump as he thought that the president had too close of a relationship with Russia’s president, Putin. Furthermore, McCain also worked with Kara-Murza on pushing through laws designed to challenge Putin.

The politician and activist said that he was poisoned twice in 2015 and 2017. The people from the Kremlin deny this accusation. Amnesty International mentioned that these events are an example of how Russia is repressing civil society since they invaded Ukraine last year.

A group said that politician Vladimir Kara-Murza was not free because he was jailed for his ideas. Memorial, an organization in Russia that won a Nobel Peace Prize with Ukrainians and Belarussians who fight for human rights, also calls Vladimir Kara-Murza a political prisoner and are asking to let him go.

The head of Memorial, Yan Rachinsky, said the court’s decision was unfair and showed that the government is afraid of criticism. The British and US ambassadors to Russia went to a Moscow court and asked for Kara-Murza to be freed. Western governments also said they do not agree with the conviction.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has spoken out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He believes it is wrong and violates international law. The British government expressed its disapproval by summoning the Russian Ambassador to their country, Andrey Kelin. They have also placed sanctions on the judge responsible for this case because of other human rights violations he committed, and may take further punitive measures soon.

The U.S. State Department praised some special people in Russia – like Alexei Navalny and Yashin – who work hard to make sure human rights are respected, even if it means they might get in trouble for it. They also asked for Kara-Murza and around 400 other people, who were arrested because of their beliefs, to be set free.

The head of the United Nations, Volker Türk, said the sentence was bad for law and freedom in Russia. César Chávez, a former Arizona politician who listened to Kara-Murza’s speech, called it “really sad” because we have freedom in our society. Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on it.

Kara-Murza’s condition has become worse while he’s in prison, resulting to the onset of a sickness that affects both his feet called ‘polyneuropathy’. His lawyer Prokhorov stated that this “is essentially like getting a death sentence”.

For more latest news on the war between Ukraine and Russia, visit https://bigbignews.net/russia-ukraine-war. This report was further verified by Associated Press journalist Anita Snow from Phoenix.

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