Has Putin poisoned another critic?


The U.S. ambassador to Moscow says the United States is monitoring the condition of Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., a Kremlin critic who is in hospital with symptoms similar to those he suffered in a mysterious illness in 2015, RFERL reports:

In a tweet, the U.S. Embassy quoted Ambassador John Tefft as saying, “Our thoughts are with Vladimir Kara-Murza and his family.” “We’re monitoring his condition, and wish him a full and speedy recovery,” the tweet posted by embassy press officer Maria Olson said.

Chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom and coordinator of the Open Russia Foundation, which promotes civil society and democracy, Kara-Murza was taken to an intensive care unit in Moscow, The Independent notes.

A writer and civil- society activist with many supporters in Washington, is believed by his family to be the victim of a poisoning attack — the second they believe he has suffered since 2015, The Washington Post adds:

Mr. Kara-Murza first suffered from an apparent poisoning attack in May 2015, shortly after he testified in Congress in favor of expanding human rights sanctions on Russia. Suddenly taken ill during a meeting, within hours he was in a Moscow hospital’s intensive care unit, his organs failing. Doctors there saved his life but were unable to explain what had afflicted him; tests in France later detected an unusual level of metals in vital organs.

Last year, he participated in the democratic opposition coalition’s campaign for the September 2016 Duma elections, notes Ellen Bork, an analyst with the Foreign Policy Initiative:

The ticket performed very badly after a season of dirty tricks and election rigging by the government. Kara-Murza resigned from the party at the end of the year over the inclusion of an anti-Semitic nationalist on the ticket. Recently Kara-Murza toured Russia with a documentary he made about Nemtsov, and was preparing for a march marking the second anniversary of Nemtsov’s assassination at the end of this month.

Commenting on the situation, head of the Open Russia movement Mikhail Khodorkovsky (left) said: “I’m not surprised that the Investigative Committee is not taking any measures in cases when there is no direct order from [Russia’s] leadership.” Even “if there is a direct order from the country’s leadership, the actions undertaken by the Investigative Committee are not directed at investigating the crimes, but at implementing that order.”

“Nothing can be done about it,” noted Khodorkovsky. “Many were unhappy with Kara-Murza’s work on the Magnitsky list,” he said, acknowledging that Kara-Murza was under “certain pressure” for his political activity.

“Kara-Murza is the sort of freedom fighter that the United States has always defended,” the Post adds. “He walks in the footsteps of Andrei Sakharov and Natan Sharansky, the Soviet-era dissidents whom President Ronald Reagan fought to save.”

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