Vladimir Putin critic survives two poisonings only to be imprisoned: 'I’m in jail for my political views'

A prominent critic of Vladimir Putin who survived two separate poisonings has been jailed for 25 years by a Moscow court.

Vladimir Putin critic survives two poisonings only to be imprisoned: 'I am proud'
© Julia Reinhart / Getty Images
Vladimir Putin critic survives two poisonings only to be imprisoned: 'I am proud'

Vladimir Kara-Murza is a Russian opposition politician, British dual national, and outspoken critic of the Kremlin. Today, 17 April, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Moscow court after finding him guilty of treason and other offences.

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The sentence of a quarter of a century is thought to be the longest handed downto one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's critics, who have frequently been turning up dead, since his invasion of Ukraine.

State prosecutors accused Kara-Murza of treason, spreading 'false' information about the Russian military and being affiliated with an 'undesirable organisation' following his criticism of the country’s war in Ukraine.

Who is Vladimir Kara-Murza?

Kara-Murza, 41, is a father of three who holds both Russian and British passports. He studied at the University of Cambridge.

In both 2015 and 2017, Kara-Murza suddenly fell ill with symptoms that doctors said were consistent with poisoning. Kara-Murza said he had been poisoned by the Russian security services, which Russian authorities deny.

On both occasions, he fell into a coma before eventually recovering. Consequently, Kara-Murza's lawyers say that he now suffers from a serious nerve disorder called polyneuropathy.

Such incidents are not uncommon in Russia, with Putin critics Alexei Navalny and Elvira Vikhareva both suffering from poisonings.

Kara-Murza was initially arrested in April 2022, only hours after a CNN interview in which he condemned Putin’s 'regime of murderers'. In speeches in the United States and across Europe, he also accused Russia of bombing civilian targets in Ukraine, an allegation Moscow denied.

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What did Kara-Murza say about his sentence in court?

In his final speech to the court last week, Kara-Murza remained defiant, refusing to ask the court to acquit him or admit any wrongdoing. He said:

I’m in jail for my political views. For speaking out against the war in Ukraine. For many years of struggle against Putin’s dictatorship. For facilitating the adoption of personal international sanctions under the Magnitsky Act against human rights violators. Not only do I not repent of any of this, I am proud of it.

He admitted:

I blame myself for only one thing: that over the years of my political activity I have not managed to convince enough of my compatriots and enough politicians in the democratic countries of the danger that the current regime in the Kremlin poses for Russia and for the world.

And finally, Kara-Murza expressed optimism for Russia's future:

But I also know that the day will come when the darkness over our country will dissipate... When a war will be called a war, and a usurper a usurper; and when those who kindled and unleashed this war, rather than those who tried to stop it, will be recognized as criminals... And then our society will open its eyes and be horrified by what terrible crimes were committed on its behalf.

After hearing his sentence today, Kara-Murza declared 'Russia will be free', a well-known opposition slogan.

The court said he would serve his sentence 'in a strict regime correctional colony', perhaps similar to where Navalny is currently imprisoned. His lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, told CNN that Kara-Murza will appeal the sentence.

Sources used:

The Telegraph: 'Watch: British dual national who criticised Putin jailed for 25 years'

Reuters: 'Putin critic jailed in treason case for 25 years'

BBC: 'Vladimir Kara-Murza: Russian opposition figure jailed for 25 years'

The Guardian: 'Moscow jails activist for 25 years for opposing Ukraine war'

CNN: 'Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza given 25 years in prison for condemning war in Ukraine'

Vladimir Putin critic survives attempted poisoning that may have targeted her appearance Vladimir Putin critic survives attempted poisoning that may have targeted her appearance