Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called for the immediate release of Russian civil society activist Vladimir Kara-Murza.
A long-time democracy and human rights advocate and critic of Vladimir Putin’s unjustified war against Ukraine, Kara-Murza was detained by authorities in Moscow on April 11 and sentenced to fifteen days in jail.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price noted that Kara-Murza “is someone who has previously endured arrests and even near-fatal poisonings in connection with nothing more than his peaceful activities on behalf of the human rights and civil liberties of the Russian people.”
During a visit to the United States in March, Kara-Murza called the war against Ukraine “an unprovoked, unjustified, unlawful war that is deliberately targeting civilians.” He emphasized that “Russia and the Putin regime are not one and the same. There are many people in my country who are opposed to these crimes just as categorically as they are opposed by people here in America.”
Just hours before he was arrested in Moscow, Kara-Murza gave an interview to CNN in which he called the Putin regime “murderous,” and predicted that the war in Ukraine would lead to Putin’s downfall. By expressing his views, Kara-Murza ran afoul of new Russian laws which criminalize the spread of what the regime regards as "fake" information, including calling Russian military operations in Ukraine a war or an invasion.
“For the past decade, Russian authorities have used a web of vague laws and flimsy pretexts to intimidate and harass independent and dissenting voices,” said Hugh Williamson of Human Rights Watch. “Now they are bluntly imposing censorship combined with a false narrative that they demand everyone must parrot.”
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said the Putin regime is becoming “more aggressive beyond its borders and more repressive within its borders.” He pointed to the detention last year of thousands of individuals who peacefully took to the streets in protest over the arrest and detention of Russian opposition leader Aleksey Navalny. He also noted that in addition to the recent arrest of Vladimir Kara-Murza, this year more than 15,000 other Russian citizens have been detained for protesting their government’s brutal war against Ukraine.
“These are the actions of a government...that is fundamentally insecure,” Spokesperson Price declared, “that is not willing to allow its own people to do what is the right of people everywhere, to voice their protest, to march peacefully, to form associations, and to make their voices and their free will heard.”