Defiant Kremlin critic Kara-Murza shows price of speaking up in Putin’s Russia


Vladimir Kara-Murza has emerged as one of Russia’s most respected democratic opposition leaders and voice of conscience. He has been a major advocate for the adoption of Magnitsky-style sanctions in the United States, Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom to target those involved in human rights violations and corruption, rights advocate Ewelina U. Ochab writes for Forbes.

In a statement to a Russian court this week, he struck a defiant tone, declined to ask the court to acquit him, and said he stood by everything he had said, The Guardian reports:

The current environment, he said, was not so much like the 1970s – a period when the state faced off against Soviet dissidents – as the 1930s, when Stalin conducted a series of show trials and purges of his opponents.

“I only blame myself for one thing,” Kara-Murza said. “I failed to convince enough of my compatriots and politicians in democratic countries of the danger that the current Kremlin regime poses for Russia and for the world.”

“For me, as a historian, this is cause for reflection,” said Kara-Murza. “Criminals are supposed to repent of what they have done. I, on the other hand, am in prison for my political views. I also know that the day will come when the darkness over our country will dissipate.”

He’s been poisoned, jailed, denied proper medical care. But @VKaraMurza will not be silenced, the National Endowment for Democracy adds. #freeKaraMurza

On the anniversary of Vladimir Kara-Murza’s arbitrary arrest and detention in Moscow, the NED, the Free Russia Foundation, George W. Bush Institute, Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign, Human Rights First, McCain Institute, Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, and Ronald Reagan Institute released a joint statement:

Kara-Murza’s detention is part of a widespread campaign by the Putin regime to silence dissent and crack down on civil society and the media in Russia. An estimated 20,000 people have been detained in Russia for criticizing its war in Ukraine since February 2022, and an estimated 551 political prisoners are currently being held by Russia. This January, UN experts expressed alarm over Russia’s growing repression of civil society, human rights defenders, and media outlets.

In solidarity with Kara-Murza’s hope for a free and democratic Russia, our organizations actively support:

  • The immediate and unconditional release of Vladimir Kara-Murza and all political prisoners detained in Russia;
  • The protection of civil society, human rights defenders, media outlets, and journalists facing repression in Russia;
  • An immediate end to Russia’s war in Ukraine and respect for Ukrainian sovereignty; and
  • Accountability for Vladimir Putin and his regime for gross violations of human rights and other serious international crimes.

Vladimir Kara Murza (right) with former NED President Carl Gershman (center) and Senator John McCain

On Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at 3:00 pm ET, the above-named organizations will host an event in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, marking the anniversary of Kara-Murza’s detention.

A Year of Injustice: The One-year Anniversary of Vladimir Kara-Murza’s Wrongful, Unlawful, and Arbitrary Detention is open to the registered press. For more details and to RSVP, please visit the event page or contact the McCain Institute’s Pedro Pizano at

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