A court in Moscow has convicted a top Kremlin opponent on charges of treason and denigrating the Russian military and sentenced him to 25 years in prison.
Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr, a prominent opposition activist who twice survived poisonings he blamed on the Kremlin, has been behind bars since his arrest a year ago.
He has rejected the charges against him as political and likened the judicial proceedings against him to the show trials during the rule of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
In his final statement last week, Kara-Murza said he remains proud of standing up to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “dictatorship” and his decision to send troops into Ukraine.
“I know that the day will come when the darkness engulfing our country will clear,” he said in remarks posted on social networks and Russian opposition media.
“And then our society will open its eyes and shudder when it realises what terrible crimes were committed in its name.”
Amnesty International denounced the sentence as “yet another chilling example of the systematic repression of civil society, which has broadened and accelerated” after the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine.
“This verdict wrongly conflates human rights activism with ‘high treason’ and is reminiscent of Stalin-era repression,” Amnesty’s Russia director, Natalia Zviagina, said in a statement.
The group declared Kara-Murza a prisoner of conscience convicted solely for his political beliefs and demanded his immediate and unconditional release.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on the sentence.
The charges against Kara-Murza stem from his March 15 speech to the Arizona House of Representatives in which he denounced Russia’s military action in Ukraine.
Investigators added the treason charges while he was in custody.
Russia adopted a law criminalising spreading “false information” about its military shortly after it sent troops into Ukraine on February 24 2022.
Authorities have used the law to stifle criticism of what the Kremlin calls “a special military operation”.
Kara-Murza, a journalist, was an associate of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was killed near the Kremlin in 2015.
Kara-Murza survived poisonings in 2015 and 2017 that he blamed on the Kremlin. Russian officials have denied responsibility.
Another prominent opposition figure, Ilya Yashin, was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison late last year on charges of discrediting the military.
Published: by Radio NewsHub