Kara-Murza: the Last Great Opponent of Vladimir Putin Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison

Since April 2022, Kara-Murza had been detained pending a decision on his release or deprivation of liberty. A year later, a Moscow court sentenced him to two and a half decades in prison for high treason and false information about the Russian army.

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Photo: Michal Siergiejevicz

LatinAmerican Post | David García Pedraza

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Leer en español: Kara-Murza: el último gran opositor de Vladimir Putin condenado a 25 años de prisión

The Russian political opposition, or specifically towards the government of Vladimir Putin, has not had it easy in the last decade. With the powerful force that the Russian president has in the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary, it could be said that he is untouchable, and his orders can be given as a fact. Putin's power this time becomes tangible with the imprisonment of one of his best-known detractors, his namesake Vladimir Kara-Murza.

A member of the People's Freedom Party, Kara-Murza has been a staunch opponent of the war between Moscow and Kiev, the actions taken by Putin to exercise control over Russian society and the lack of guarantees of democratic freedom from the Kremlin. This opposition has been forging it since the year 2000, when Putin was elected for his first presidential term.

Kara-Murza also served as the coordinator of the organization Open Russia, a community dedicated to defending and protecting human rights in that nation. Currently, it is inactive because in 2017 the Russian Prosecutor's Office categorized it as 'undesirable', for which it had to cease its activities in the nation.

Politician and journalist, Kara-Murza was arrested in April 2022 for disobeying a police officer. When he was arrested, he was charged with further charges such as collaboration with NATO and disseminating false information against the Russian Army and high treason. For these, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison, a radical sentence, according to public opinion.

Kara-Murza: The New Face of the Oppression of the Russian Opposition

In the two chambers of the Russian Federal Assembly, which is the nation's legislative body, the ruling party enjoys an overwhelming majority, both in the upper chamber with 142 out of 178 legislators, and in the lower chamber with 326 out of 450. It is impossible to come to consider that the Russian opposition would even be taken into account to file laws. In addition to being a minority, political persecution is evident, so much so that parliamentarians opposed to Putin must think twice about what they will say and how they will say it.

The Russian government has been known for arresting, imprisoning and even attacking opponents of Putin's Russia, so much so that Kara-Murza is one more on the list of detractors of the Russian president trapped in the judicial system.

Being close to death twice, due to poisonings attributed to Putin's orders, Kara-Murza was left with physical injuries and neuromuscular pathologies, for which prison would be more difficult to face in this situation. Also, according to expert lawyer Vadim Prokhorov, imprisonment in a maximum security prison could end Kara-Murza's life.

It may interest you: How Likely is it that the International Criminal Court will Try Putin?

The Names of Putin's Opposition that Remain in the Memory of Impunity

Before Kara-Murza, other prominent opponents of Putin's government became famous worldwide for both their efforts against the Russian regime and their fatal endings.

One of them was the one who inspired Kara-Murza to defend Russia from Putin and turn the largest nation on the planet into a true democracy, his name: Boris Nemtsov. A politician and former deputy prime minister, he was a strong opponent of the 2014 annexation of Crimea to Russian geopolitics, as well as being a familiar face in anti-government protests. For these actions, he was assassinated in 2015 in the middle of the streets of Moscow.

The world-renowned activist, Alexei Navalny, was poisoned in 2020 on Russian territory, when he found himself on a plane and was transferred to Berlin for treatment and recovery. In 2021, he returned to Russia and was detained by federal authorities. Currently, he is convicted of alleged fraud. Recently, his supporters have denounced that he has been admitted to poison while in prison.

Journalists also have their Russian martyr. Anna Politkovskaya, a reporter of Russian and American nationality, was murdered in the elevator of the building where she lived while in Moscow. Her reports and opinions on the actions of the Russian army in the midst of the war in Chechnya sealed her death on October 7, 2006. Several characters point out that this crime was a birthday present for Vladimir Putin, since that day the president was celebrating his 54 years. Politkovskaya had been poisoned with mercury some time ago, which concludes that this practice is not new.

An atypical case is that of the opposition Yevgeny Roisman, former mayor of Yekaterinburg, who is currently free, and who is listed as a 'foreign agent' by the Russian Ministry of Justice. Along with Kara-Murza, a detractor of the Ukraine-Russia war, Roisman has also been accused of discrediting the Russian military. So far, there has been no attempt on his life.

Russia's authoritarianism becomes more visible with the passing of the hours. The list of opponents to Putin's government is growing in the world to the point of restricting political, economic and social ties with Moscow. With the ruling of the court that ordered the imprisonment of Kara-Murza , the United States, Germany, and the UN have already ruled against him.

With the current war against its neighbor Ukraine, Russia in the near future will have to face not only its global and diplomatic position, but also its financial and social position. As the foremost country in Eastern Europe, Russia has a wealth of history that books cannot take away. However, the Putin government could be creating a shadow, which is very difficult to erase and amend.

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