Human rights coalition presses UN over imprisonment of Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza

A coalition of 25 human organizations on Monday called on the United Nations to condemn Russia’s imprisonment of Vladimir Kara-Murza, a journalist, rights activist and Kremlin critic who is being held for speaking out against the war in Ukraine.

The Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to make public comments condemning Kara-Murza’s detention.

The UN has so far not released a public statement condemning the activist’s imprisonment last month.

“These charges are spurious and aim only to silence dissent inside Russia. They reflect the Putin regime’s fear of the truth,” the coalition said in its statement.

Russia jailed Kara-Murza in late April on charges related to a March 15 speech to the Arizona House of Representatives, in which he is alleged to have deounced the war in Ukraine. He is being held in pre-trial detention until June 12.

Arizona officials who met with Kara-Murza during that trip praised the dissident. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), called the charges against the Russian activist “abhorrent” and “disturbing.”

“A freedom fighter through and through, I was honored to meet Kara-Murza just last month,” Ducey tweeted last month.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, in what it called a “special military operation,” the Russian Parliament created a new law imposing up to 15 years of imprisonment for anyone who spreads “fake” news about the war in Ukraine or Russia’s army.

Russia also open criminal cases against against Ilya Krasilshchik and Maria Ponomarenko over similar charges.

Kara-Murza is a former associate of late Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. He has been an outspoken critic of the Kremlin for years and has survived being poisoned in both 2015 and 2017.

Before his arrest, Kara-Murza was speaking out actively against Russian disinformation and propaganda.

On April 10, the activist spoke to MSNBC about Russia’s “war of censorship” amid the ongoing offensive in Ukraine, saying independent news sites were being shut down en masse and all signs of dissent were being suppressed.

“This is the reality of [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s Russia in 2022. This is really George Orwell’s 1984 come to life,” Kara-Murza said in reference to the 1949 book about dystopian society. “It’s a total blackout, it’s a total iron curtain that has descended on us here.”

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