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Russia accuses opposition figure of high treason

October 6, 2022

Moscow has opened a case against Vladimir Kara-Murza over a speech in which he accused Russia of bombing Ukrainian homes, schools and hospitals. Kara-Murza was arrested in April.

Vladimir Kara-Murza being escorted by two Russian police officers
Vladimir Kara-Murza is facing charges of high treason over comments he made in three speechesImage: Anton Novoderezhkin/Tass/picture alliance

Russian opposition activist and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza has been charged with high treason, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday.

Kara-Murza already had two criminal cases open against him. If convicted of treason, he could face a 20-year sentence.

Why has Kara-Murza been charged?

"Our client has been charged after speaking out critically against the Russian authorities three times — at public events in Lisbon, Helsinki and Washington," Kara-Murza's lawyer Vadim Prokhorov told Russian state-owned TASS news agency.

"These speeches did not pose any threat. This was public, open criticism," Prokhorov argued in comments to TASS.

Russia's state-owned RIA news agency also reported that the case had been opened over three of Kara-Murza's speeches. One of the speeches was held to the US state of Arizona's House of Representatives, in which he accused Russia of bombing Ukrainian residential areas and civilian infrastructure.

Who is Vladimir Kara-Murza?

Kara-Murza was arrested in April on charges of dissemination of deliberately misleading information. Moscow then declared the opposition figure a "foreign agent."

In August, Moscow accused him of taking part in the activities of an "undesirable organization" over the activist's role in organizing a conference in support of Russian political prisoners.

Kara-Murza, a British citizen and graduate of Cambridge University, was a close associate of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. Nemtsov was shot dead in 2015 near the Kremlin, and Kara-Murza claims to have been poisoned twice.

The journalist and opposition figure works for the Open Russian opposition group, founded by anti-Putin oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

sdi/sms (AFP, Reuters)