Former journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, outspoken opponent of Vladimir Putin’s Kremilin, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison—the maximum punishment sought by prosecutors—for criticizing Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Kara-Murza was found guilty of treason, spreading “false” information about the Russian military, and for being affiliated with an “undesirable organization.”
His is the longest sentence imposed by Moscow for speaking out against Russia’s war in Ukraine so far.
“Based on the results of the trial, for Vladimir Vladimirovich Kara-Murza, by partial addition of sentences, to be sentenced to a final sentence of imprisonment for a term of 25 years to be served in a strict regime correctional colony. The verdict of the Moscow City Court has not yet entered into force,” said a court statement.
Kara-Murza was arrested a year ago for criticizing Russia’s invasion that February, and charged with sharing “fake news.” That was shortly after he spoke in the U.S., before the Arizona House of Representatives, against the war.
International human rights organizations have denounced Kara-Murza’s detention, which prompted sanctions by the Biden Administration last month under the Magnitsky Act, named for whistleblowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian jail in 2009 after alleging fraud by officials.
Kara-Murza was deputy chairman of Open Russia, a leading pro-democracy group set up by fugitive former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky—who himself spent nearly nine years in prison on tax fraud charges that were later pardoned.
Open Russia was officially designated as an “undesirable organization” in Russia and finally closed in 2021. Open Russia’s head, Andrei Pivovarov, is serving a four-year jail sentence imposed for his involvement in the organization.
Kara-Murza’s prison sentence comes just days after imprisoned Russian opposition Leader Alexei Navalny has fallen ill and has accused officials of poisoning him.
Kara-Murza has denied all the charges, and his lawyer has said he will appeal the sentence.