A Russian court on Monday convicted top opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. of treason for publicly denouncing Moscow's war in Ukraine and sentenced him to 25 years in prison as part of the Kremlin's relentless crackdown on critics of the invasion.
The political activist and journalist, who twice survived poisonings he blamed on Russian authorities, has rejected the charges against him as punishment for standing up to President Vladimir Putin and likened the proceedings to the show trials under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Human rights organizations and Western governments denounced the verdict and demanded his release. Amnesty International declared the 41-year-old to be a prisoner of conscience.
Kara-Murza reacted calmly as the judge read the verdict and sentence in a quick monotone. His lawyer, Maria Eismont, later quoted him as telling her: “My self-esteem has risen: I realized that I have done everything right. Twenty-five years is the highest appraisal that I could get for doing what I did and what I believed in, as a citizen, a patriot and a politician.”
Kara-Murza’s wife, Evgenia, who lives in the U.S. with their three children, tweeted after the verdict: “A quarter of a century is an ‘A+’ for your courage, consistency and honesty in your years-long work. I am infinitely proud of you, my love, and I’m always by your side.”
The charges against Kara-Murza, a dual Russian-British citizen who has been behind bars since his arrest a year ago, stem from a March 2022 speech to the Arizona House of Representatives in which he denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as other speeches abroad.
“There are millions of people in my country who fundamentally reject and fundamentally disagree with everything that the Putin regime represents and stands for, from the kleptocracy and thievery to the abuses and the repressions and the crimes against humanity that are being committed,” Kara-Murza said in his 17-minute speech to lawmakers in Arizona, which he visited at the invitation of the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations.
“It was an absolute honor for me to witness his courage last year when he addressed" the House, said state Rep. Marcelino Quiñonez, a Democrat and House Minority Whip. “Obviously this sentence is a travesty for justice all around the world.”
Days after the invasion, Russia adopted a law criminalizing spreading “false information” about its military. Authorities have used the law to stifle criticism of what the Kremlin calls its “special military operation."
Kara-Murza was initially only charged with spreading “false information” about the military, but later the authorities added charges of working with an “undesirable” organization — also a criminal offense — and treason.
The sweeping campaign of repression is unprecedented since the Soviet era, effectively criminalizing independent reporting on the conflict and any public criticism of the war.
Another prominent opposition figure, Ilya Yashin, was sentenced to 8½ years in prison last year on charges of spreading false information about the military.
Last month, a Russian court convicted a father over social media posts critical of the war and sentenced him to two years in prison. His 13-year-old daughter, who drew an antiwar sketch at school, was sent to an orphanage. Days later, Russia's security service arrested Evan Gershkovich, an American reporter for The Wall Street Journal, on espionage charges.
A recent report by the Russian Supreme Court said that in 2022, courts ordered citizens to pay fines for discrediting the military 4,439 times, for the equivalent of about $1.8 million in total, according to Russia's independent news site Mediazona.
In a statement at the end of his trial, Kara-Murza said he was jailed for "many years of struggle against Putin’s dictatorship,” his criticism of the war in Ukraine and his long efforts to champion Western sanctions against Russian officials involved in human rights abuses.
“I know that the day will come when the darkness engulfing our country will dissipate,” he told the court in remarks posted on his Twitter account. “This day will come as inevitably as spring comes to replace even the frostiest winter."
Kara-Murza was an associate of Russian opposition leader and fierce Putin critic Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated near the Kremlin in 2015.
In 2011-12, Kara-Murza and Nemtsov lobbied for passage of the Magnitsky Act in the U.S. The law was in response to the death in prison of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who had exposed a tax fraud scheme. The law has enabled Washington to impose sanctions on Russians deemed to be human rights violators.
The judge in Kara-Murza’s trial, Sergei Podoprigorov, was among those sanctioned after ordering Magnitsky’s arrest in 2008. Podoprigorov had petitioned U.S. authorities in 2018 to lift the sanctions against him, according to Kara-Murza’s lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov. During Kara-Murza's trial, Prokhorov twice asked Podoprigorov to recuse himself, to no avail, Russian media reported.
Kara-Murza had been a friend of Sen. John McCain and was a pallbearer at his 2018 funeral. McCain’s choice of the Russian dissident as a pallbearer was widely seen as a slap at then-President Donald Trump, a fellow Republican who was often criticized by the senator for what he saw as having a cozy relationship with Putin. Kara-Murza had worked with McCain on pushing anti-Putin measures through Congress.
The politician and activist survived poisonings in 2015 and 2017 that he blamed on the Kremlin. Russian officials have denied responsibility.
Amnesty International denounced Kara-Murza's sentence as “yet another chilling example of the systematic repression of civil society, which has broadened and accelerated under the Kremlin since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year."
The group declared Kara-Murza a prisoner of conscience, convicted for his political beliefs, and demanded his immediate and unconditional release.
Memorial, one of Russia’s oldest and most prominent human rights organizations that was named a co-winner of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize along with human rights defenders from Ukraine and Belarus, also has named Kara-Murza as a political prisoner.
Memorial's head Yan Rachinsky described the sentence as “monstrous,” adding that it reflected the authorities' fear of criticism and “marked a difference between today's Russia and civilized countries.”
British and U.S. ambassadors to Russia called for Kara-Murza’s immediate release, speaking to reporters on the steps of the Moscow courthouse. Western governments strongly condemned the conviction.
“Vladimir Kara-Murza bravely denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for what it was — a blatant violation of international law and the U.N. Charter,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.
The Foreign Office said it summoned Russian Ambassador Andrey Kelin over the conviction. The U.K. previously sanctioned the presiding judge for human rights violations in another case and said it would consider taking further action to hold people accountable in Kara-Murza's case.
The U.S. State Department praised Kara-Murza along with jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Yashin and “many others who serve their country and their fellow citizens at great personal cost by boldly standing up for human rights and fundamental freedoms.” It renewed its call for the release of Kara-Murza and more than 400 other political prisoners in Russia.
The U.N. Human Rights Chief Volker Türk called the sentence “another blow to the rule of law and civic space in the Russian Federation."
Former Arizona state Rep. César N. Chávez, a Democrat who was vice chairman of international affairs committee to the legislature when Kara-Murza gave his speech, called the sentence “appalling and sad to those of us who live in a free society.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment.
Kara-Murza's health has deteriorated in custody, leading to the development of polyneuropathy — disease of or damage to nerves — in both his feet, according to his lawyers.
Lawyer Prokhorov told German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle on Monday that the politician was handed “in essence, a death sentence.”
Follow AP's coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine-war
Associated Press writer Anita Snow in Phoenix contributed.
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
A Russian court on Monday convicted top opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. of treason for publicly denouncing Moscow's war in Ukraine and sentenced him to 25 years in prison as part of the Kremlin's relentless crackdown on critics of the invasion.What is the 25 year sentence for Russia? ›
Russian opposition activist given custodial sentence for treason and other claimed offenses. MOSCOW — A Russian court on Monday slapped opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza with 25 years in prison for treason and other claimed offenses.Who is Putin's top critic? ›
Top Putin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza, who survived 2 poisonings, jailed for 25 years. The sentence for Kara-Murza is the lengthiest ever for a Putin opponent. Vladimir Kara-Murza, one of Russia's most high-profile Kremlin critics, was convicted on charges of treason.Who was the Russian activist sentenced to 25 years? ›
A Moscow court sentenced on Monday Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza to 25 years in prison over his criticism of the war in Ukraine — the harshest prison term delivered yet to a government opponent since the Kremlin launched its invasion in February 2022.Who was the most feared Russian criminal? ›
Between May 2001 and September 2005, Pichushkin attacked thirty-six victims; three of his victims survived their injuries.Who was the most notorious criminal in Russia? ›
|Radkevich, Nikolay||1909||Known as "Vadim the Bloodsucker"; killed prostitutes in St. Petersburg because he wanted to rid the world of depraved women|
|Saltykova, Darya Nikolayevna||1756–1762||Tortured and killed serfs on her Moscow Oblast estate|
Less than 6 grams qualified as an administrative offense punishable by a 5000 ruble fine or 15 days detention. The following penalties apply to conviction for large-scale possession: Fine of 40,000 rubles. 480 hours of compulsory labor or 2 years of corrective labor.What is the maximum sentence in Russia? ›
Thus, multiple life sentences are concurrent. Prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment are held in maximum security prisons (e.g. VK-240/2 White Swan (prison) in Solikamsk).How much longer did the Russian arms dealer have on his sentence? ›
Bout was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Now 55 years old, he had not been due to be released until August 2029, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.Who are Putin's closest allies? ›
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, with Vladimir Putin in 2002. Despite a number of economic disputes in the mid-2000s, Belarus has remained one of Russia's closest allies.
|Location||Gelendzhik Urban Okrug, Krasnodar Krai, Russia|
Vladimir Putin's approval rating in Russia monthly 1999-2023. In April 2023, over 80 percent of Russians approved of activities of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The popularity level was six percent higher than in September 2022, when it stood at 77 percent.Which famous Russian journalist and human rights activist was killed in 2006? ›
On 7 October 2006, Russian journalist, writer and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in the elevator of her apartment block in central Moscow.What journalist was killed by Russian? ›
Most of them were Ukrainian. In May 2022, the French journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, 32, was killed after an armoured evacuation vehicle in which he was travelling was hit by shrapnel from a Russian shell in the city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine.Who was a famous Russian freedom fighter? ›
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (22 April [O.S. 10 April] 1870 – 21 January 1924), better known as Vladimir Lenin, was a Russian lawyer, revolutionary, politician, and political theorist.Who is the most violent criminal of all time? ›
The most prolific modern serial killer is arguably doctor Harold Shipman, with 218 probable murders and possibly as many as 250 (see "Medical professionals", below). However, he was actually convicted of a sample of 15 murders.Who was the worst serial killer in Russia? ›
Andrei Chikatilo, in full Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo, byname Rostov Ripper, (born October 16, 1936, Yablochnoye, U.S.S.R. [now Ukraine]—died February 14, 1994, Moscow, Russia), Soviet serial killer who murdered at least 50 people between 1978 and 1990.Who is the most famous Russian gangster? ›
- Semyon Mogilevich. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
- Alexander Solonik. ...
- Sergei Mikhailov. ...
- Vladimir Kumarin. ...
- Vyacheslav Ivankov. ...
- Evsei Agron. ...
- Boris Nayfield. ...
- Marat Balagula.
|Anatoly Slivko Анатолий Сливко|
|Span of crimes||2 June 1964 – 23 July 1985|
|Date apprehended||28 December 1985|
1. United States — 3,204. When it comes to the sheer volume of serial killers, the United States leads by a vast margin.
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In Russia, there's been at least four American private citizens who've been wrongfully detained in recent years - the two we've just spoken about, who are still being held, and two who were released last year, including basketball star Brittney Griner, who was freed in December in a prisoner swap.Is hash oil against the law in Russia? ›
Penalties If Caught
The use, possession, sale, cultivation, and transportation of cannabis are illegal under Russian law. Penalties for these offenses can range from a monetary fine to up to 15 years in prison.
Is hash oil legal in the US or Russia? In the US, hash and hash oil — like marijuana — are Schedule 1 drugs. It's still illegal to use and possess hash under federal law, and its legality varies state by state. In Russia, cannabis is illegal.What is the most common crimes in Russia? ›
|Characteristic||Share of crimes|
|Misappropriation or embezzlement||0.6%|
a child reaches the age of eighteen – the age of majority under Russian law (Art. 61 (2) Russian Family Code); a child acquires full legal capacity by entering a marriage before the age of majority after being granted dispensation (Art.Is there a death penalty in Russia? ›
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Russia regards Germany as its foremost European partner; conversely, Russia is an important trading partner for Germany. Germany and Russia are cooperating in building the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline. Many former East Germans have a good command of the Russian language and considerable knowledge about Russia.Is Japan allies with Russia? ›
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1. About three-quarters of Russia's landmass lies on the Asian side of the Urals.Where does Russia lies in the world? ›
|Continent||Europe and Asia|
|Region||Eastern Europe (European Russia) Northern Asia (Siberia)|
|Coordinates||recognised] as a part of Ukraine.60.000°N 100.000°E]|
Russia has one of the world's largest economies. Top industries include oil and natural gas production, with agriculture, forestry, fishing and manufacturing serving as other economic drivers.What is Russia's new rank? ›
Russia's armed forces have introduced a new military rank of sergeant major, “experimenting” with 370 of the new recruits in the southern district. Plans to add the new rank as part of Russia's military reform have been considered since the early 2010s.Who were the Russian leaders that killed millions? ›
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American journalist Brent Renaud shot and killed by Russian forces in Ukraine.Which famous journalist son killed his wife? ›
According to sources, Sara and Shahnawaz had an altercation over a domestic issue on Thursday night which led to her death as the accused had hit her in the head with an iron dumbbell. According to the sources, after killing his wife the accused put her body in a bathtub.
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Vira Hyrych, a journalist working for Radio Liberty in Ukraine, was killed during a Russian missile attack in Kyiv, the station has said. The United States-funded news organisation said rescue workers found her body on Friday morning amid the wreckage of the residential building where she had lived.Who was the best Russian ruler ever? ›
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Georgy Zhukov, in full Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov, (born December 1 [November 19, Old Style], 1896, Kaluga province, Russia—died June 18, 1974, Moscow), marshal of the Soviet Union, the most important Soviet military commander during World War II.Who was the greatest Soviet admiral? ›
Kuznetsov is now recognized as one of the most prominent men in the history of the Soviet and, today, of the Russian Navy. In token of this recognition, the Russian Navy's largest surface warship and service flagship, its only aircraft carrier, is named in his honor.Who was the prosecutor in the Moscow trials? ›
The Prosecutor General was Andrei Vyshinsky, a former member of the Menshevik Party who in 1917 had undersigned an order for the arrest of Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin), according to the decision of the Russian Provisional Government, but the October Revolution quickly intervened, and the offices which had ordered the ...Who took over from Nikita Khrushchev? ›
Leonid Brezhnev, a close companion of Khrushchev, was elected the first secretary the same day of Khrushchev's removal from power. Alexei Kosygin became the new premier, and Anastas Mikoyan kept his office as chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.Who was the head of the Russian secret police under Stalin? ›
The NKVD is known for its role in political repression and for carrying out the Great Purge under Joseph Stalin. It was led by Genrikh Yagoda, Nikolai Yezhov, and Lavrentiy Beria.Who died in London an enemy of the Kremlin? ›
|Alexander Litvinenko Александр Литвиненко|
|Litvinenko in 2002|
|Born||Aleksandr Valterovich Litvinenko 30 August 1962 or 4 December 1962 Voronezh, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union|
|Died||23 November 2006 (aged 43–44) Bloomsbury, London, England|
|Cause of death||Radiation poisoning (murder)|
The Battle of Moscow (Russian: Битва за Москву, Bitva za Moskvu) refers to the Soviet defense of Moscow and the subsequent Soviet counter-offensive that occurred between October 1941 and January 1942 on the Eastern Front of World War II against German forces.Who was the alleged spy for the Soviet Union? ›
Alger Hiss (November 11, 1904 – November 15, 1996) was an American government official accused in 1948 of having spied for the Soviet Union in the 1930s.What did NKVD stand for? ›
abbreviation for. (formerly) People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs: the Soviet police and secret police from 1934 to 1943: the police from 1943 to 1946. Word origin. from Russian Narodny komissariat vnutrennikh del People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs.Did Nikita Khrushchev like Stalin? ›
Khrushchev greatly admired the dictator and treasured informal meetings with him and invitations to Stalin's dacha, while Stalin felt warm affection for his young subordinate.Why did Russia give Crimea to Ukraine? ›
On 19 February 1954, the oblast was transferred from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR jurisdiction, on the basis of "the integral character of the economy, the territorial proximity and the close economic and cultural ties between the Crimea Province and the Ukrainian SSR" and to commemorate the 300th anniversary ...Why was Khrushchev against Stalin? ›
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The Cheka was the secret police of the Bolsheviks in the early period of the Soviet Union. Following the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Bolshevik party, a far-left revolutionary party led by Vladimir Lenin, founded the Cheka to aid itself in subduing enemies during the Russian Civil War.What is the secret police in Russia? ›
What is the KGB? The KGB was the foreign intelligence and domestic security agency of the Soviet Union.What was the tsar's secret police called? ›
The Okhrana was created in 1881 in response to the assassination of Alexander II. Its primary mission was to protect the tsar, the royal family, and the Russian autocracy itself.Who lost the battle of Moscow? ›
Nazi Germany had lost its chance for a quick victory. German losses during the Battle of Moscow totaled 250,000–400,000 dead or wounded, and the Red Army suffered 600,000–1,300,000 dead, wounded, or captured.
LONDON (Reuters) - Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, whose body was found in the locked bathroom of his luxury mansion near London over the weekend, died by hanging, British police said on Monday.Which Russian leaders were killed? ›
|Nikolay Vtorov||Russian industrialist.||Bolsheviks|
|Nicholas II||last Tsar of Russia||Cheka|
|Francis Cromie||British naval attaché||Bolsheviks|
|Alexander Dutov||Russian Cossacks||Bolsheviks|