MOSCOW: Russian opposition political activist Kara Murza has been sentenced to 25 years in prison on charges of treason and criticizing the Ukraine war. Murza, who is Russian-British and a former journalist, is among those who have been jailed or fled Russia for criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the Moscow report, Moscow City Court sentenced Kara-Murza to a penal colony for spreading “fake news” about the army and “cooperation with an undesirable organization,” as Russian President Vladimir Putin steps up his crackdown on dissent and Russian civil society. But the bulk of his sentence had to do with another, third charge: treason, in the first time anyone has been convicted on that count for making public statements containing publicly available information
A prominent Russian opposition figure has said 'Russia will be free' after being convicted of treason and discrediting the Russian military. Vladimir Kara-Murza was charged over public speeches he made in Lisbon, Helsinki and Washington https://t.co/YNqDMtAzDK pic.twitter.com/TECZgWm4k8— Reuters (@Reuters) April 17, 2023
Murza has denied the allegations leveled against him and has condemned the trial. Last week, he stated, “Whatever I said is true. I don’t regret a single word. I am proud.” The charges against Murza include criticizing Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine war, which the Russian government views as an act of treason.
The activist, who is 41 years old, is known for his advocacy of democratic reforms in Russia and his work to persuade Western governments to impose sanctions on Russian officials for human rights violations and corruption. He has been a vocal critic of Putin and his government, which he believes is increasingly authoritarian and repressive.
According to the report, Murza was arrested a year ago in Moscow.
At that time, he was arrested for merely disobeying a police officer, but when he was taken into custody, serious charges were leveled against him.
Murza’s sentence has been met with outrage from human rights groups and political leaders around the world. Amnesty International called the verdict “a travesty of justice” and urged the Russian government to release Murza immediately.
The trial going on against him is mainly based on the speech given in America last year. Where he said that Russia is committing war crimes by bombing residential areas, “maternity hospitals and schools” in Ukraine. However, Russia has been denying these allegations.
Kara-Murza continued to speak out against the Kremlin despite mounting personal risks, including what he described as poisonings by the Russian security services in 2015 and 2017, where he suddenly became ill, falling into a coma before eventually recovering.
Neither journalists nor high-ranking diplomats were allowed into the courtroom to witness the ruling and instead followed the sentencing on a screen.