The 40-year-old Putin critic survived two poisonings in 2015 and 2017, which he said the Kremlin orchestrated in response to his call for Western sanctions against the Russian government.
Russia denied it was the source of the poisonings that left Kara-Murza in a coma on both occasions. But investigations by independent organizations found that he was followed by members of the same federal agency that allegedly poisoned imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and at least three other opposition figures.
His wife, Yevgenia Kara-Morza, demanded his immediate release in a tweet late Monday. She wrote: “The Russian authorities twice tried to kill my husband for calling for punishments for thieves and murderers, and now they want to throw him in prison because he called their bloody war a war.”
Kara Morza is a longtime colleague of the late Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated outside the Kremlin in 2015. Kara Morza is a writer, documentary director and former candidate for the Russian parliament, and served as the deputy leader of a political organization, the People’s Freedom Party.
He played a key role in persuading the United States, the European Union, Canada and Britain to adopt penal laws in 2012, known as the Magnitsky Act, that target individuals in Russia and elsewhere who are complicit in human rights abuses.
Kara Morza has He wrote dozens of columns criticizing the Russian government For The Post’s Global Opinions section over the past few years – including one recently critical of the Kremlin suppression of independent media and opposition. Russia’s parliament last month enacted a law imposing prison sentences of up to 15 years for spreading what it considers “false” news about the military, including calling the invasion of Ukraine an “invasion”.
“One by one, the media that dared to honestly report Putin’s attack on Ukraine were cut off and their websites were blocked,” Kara Morza wrote on March 7.
The Post’s publisher, Fred Ryan, released a statement Tuesday praising Cara Morza’s bravery. “Following the poisonings and other serious threats, this disgraceful arrest is the latest step in Vladimir Putin’s ongoing efforts to silence Kara Morza and hide the truth about the atrocities that Putin is committing in the name of the Russian people,” Ryan said. “No one should be deceived by the trumped-up charges and defamation of the Russian government, and Kara-Murza must be released immediately.”
Kara-Murza was one of the few dissidents who remained in Russia after the war and media repression. “The biggest gift … we can give the Kremlin will be to those of us who oppose Putin’s regime, and we can give in and run,” he said Monday in an interview on CNN Plus, the network’s new broadcast service. “That’s all they want from us.”
The Russian human rights organization OVD-Info said Kara-Murza was arrested on the same day and was being held in an “administrative prison” for 15 days.
He was reportedly accused of “behaving inappropriately in front of police officers, changing the direction of his movement, speeding up his pace, and trying to hide when asked to stop”. OVD-Info quoted Kara Morza’s defense team, who said he was only getting out of a car near his home.
Kara Morza is the third writer associated with The Post to face arrest and persecution at the hands of a foreign government in recent years.
Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi writer and dissident, was also a contributor to world opinions when he was murdered in October 2018 by Saudi agents at that country’s consulate in Istanbul. The CIA concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of Khashoggi, a conclusion later confirmed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights after a six-month investigation.
Jason Rezaianthe Washington Post correspondent in Tehran from 2012 to 2016, spent 544 days in prison in Iran without trial before being released in early 2016. Rezaian is now a writer for Global Opinions.
CNN, which aired the interview with Kara Morza, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This article has been updated with new information and comments.
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