A Russian court sentenced Vladimir Kara-Murza, a longtime opposition politician and Washington Post Opinions contributor, to 25 years in prison Monday on charges of treason for criticizing Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Amid a draconian crackdown on dissent, it was the harshest penalty yet for an opponent of the war, in a case that Kara-Murza condemned as “unfounded, illegal and politically motivated.”
The closed trial further highlighted Russia’s isolationist path, as President Vladimir Putin has disregarded Western criticisms of Russia’s human rights abuses and moved to brutally destroy any remnants of his country’s pro-democracy opposition.
The sentence was strongly condemned by Western governments, international human rights organizations and Russian activists and rights groups.
The State Department has described the charges as false and has sanctioned Russian officials involved in the case for “gross violation of human rights.”
Kara-Murza, who has been an outspoken critic of Putin, defiantly denounced the charges against him at a hearing last week in which he was allowed to make a final statement in the case.
“I’m in jail for my political views. For speaking out against the war in Ukraine. For many years of struggle against Putin’s dictatorship,” he said. “Not only do I not repent of any of this, I am proud of it.” He declined to request an acquittal. [Continue reading…]