Thursday, October 5, 2023

Russian opposition activist’s health worsens in Kara-Murza prison, his wife says


Kara-Murza, who suffers from a nervous disorder, was sentenced last month to 25 years in prison for, among other things, treason.

Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza’s health has deteriorated behind bars, his wife says.

– I am frankly worried, says Evgenia Kara-Murza in an interview with the news agency AFP.

His health has really deteriorated.

Vladimir Kara-Murza already had serious health problems before he was arrested last year. He suffers from a nerve disease, polyneuropathy, which he has said was caused by the poisoning attempts in 2015 and 2017. His health had deteriorated significantly during the previous year while awaiting trial in prison.

Evgeniya Kara-Murza warned that the situation would only get worse now that her husband had been severely punished.

Evgenia Kara-Murza.

Evgenia Kara-Murza. Credit: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Vladimir Kara-Murza, 41, was sentenced last month to 25 years in prison on charges of treason, spreading false information about the Russian armed forces and belonging to an undesirable organization.

Kara-Murza has appealed the sentence, which is the longest sentence handed down to a Russian opposition figure in recent years. Of course, his wife says she’s confident the appeal will be dismissed.

He explained that Russian law prohibits the imprisonment of people with polyneuropathy, but Russian authorities are not interested in it.

Evgenia Kara-Murza commented on her husband’s position in Geneva during the Summit on Human Rights and Democracy.

During the interview, she expressed her dismay at her husband’s conviction, which she described as a cynical reprisal by the Russian regime. Evgenia Kara-Murza underlined that the director of her husband’s prison and the judge overseeing the trial are the same people against whom Vladimir Kara-Murza tried to impose sanctions on Western countries.

The opposition activist played a key role in bringing about the so-called Magnitsky Law. The law is named after jurist Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison under unclear circumstances. The law prohibits people who have committed human rights crimes from entering the United States and allows for the freezing of their assets. At first, the law sought to punish those involved in Magnitsky’s death, but has since expanded to a more general level.

Since then, similar laws have been enacted in other countries, including the European Union, although the name of the European version does not mention the Russian lawyer.

– The (Russian) regime clearly views my husband as its personal enemy, said Evgenia Kara-Murza.

He said that his children had almost lost their father twice before. Evgenia Kara-Murza pointed to the poisoning attempts and said they were assassination attempts, not threats.

Credit: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Despite the threats, Vladimir Kara-Murza did not hesitate to return to Russia, according to his wife. She says that she supports her husband’s decision.

Of course I fear for his life, she said with tears in her eyes.

– For me, the only option is to stand by his side and fight with him and fight for him, said Evgenia Kara-Murza.

She was also asked whether she believed others would follow her husband’s example. He answered the question by referring to the nearly 20,000 people who have been indiscriminately detained in Russia since the mass crackdown began in Ukraine in February last year.

According to Evgenia Kara-Murza, the regime of Vladimir Putin has been able to operate with impunity for more than two decades. However, according to Kara-Murza, Ukraine’s victory could ultimately send a message to the Kremlin that it cannot get away with committing similar crimes.

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