Above: Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza addresses the United Nations opening session of the 10th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, February 19, 2018. (Oliver O’Hanlon)

GENEVA, May 2, 2022 –Today, a coalition of 25 human rights organizations called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, along with all other relevant UN human rights mandate-holders and special procedures, to condemn Russia’s imprisonment of leading Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza and to demand his immediate release, along with all other prisoners of conscience detained for speaking out since the start of Putin’s war in Ukraine.

On April 11, 2022, Kara-Murza was arrested outside his Moscow home following a news interview where he criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On April 22, he was prosecuted under a draconian new legislation that criminalizes the spreading of “fake news” about the Russian military.

“These charges are spurious and aim only to silence dissent inside Russia. They reflect the Putin regime’s fear of the truth,” said the coalition, which includes United Nations Watch and the Human Rights Foundation.

Vladimir Kara-Murza, a long-time regime critic and a close associate of Boris Nemtsov — the opposition leader murdered in 2015 — has survived two near-fatal poisoning attempts for his activism. Despite this, Kara-Murza refused to stay away from Russia and to give up his fight for democracy. “In Russia, the biggest gift that opponents of the regime could give the Kremlin would be to leave. This is what they [the Kremlin] want from us” explained Kara-Murza at the 13th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy last year. 

On March 4, 2022, Russia’s parliament passed a law imposing a jail term of up to 15 years for disseminating intentionally “fake” information about the army. “If the fakes lead to serious consequences then imprisonment of up to 15 years threatens,” the lower house said in a statement.