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Kara-Mursa faces Stalinist 25 years sentence

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by Edward Steen, Vienna, April 18, 2023

Putin’s latest unendurably cynical blow to the human spirit was delivered yesterday by sentencing to 25 years the remarkable journalist, historian, and film-maker Vladimir Kara-Mursa, 41, depriving his wife Evgenia and his three children of a husband and father.

This is what Kara-Mursa himself had to say to the closed trial in Moscow:

“Members of the court: I was sure, after two decades spent in Russian politics, after all that I have seen and experienced, that nothing can surprise me anymore.

“I must admit that I was wrong. I’ve been surprised by the extent to which my trial, in its secrecy and its contempt for legal norms, has surpassed even the “trials” of Soviet dissidents in the 1960s and ’70s. And that’s not even to mention the harshness of the sentence requested by the prosecution or the talk of “enemies of the state.”

“In this respect, we’ve gone beyond the 1970s — all the way back to the 1930s. For me, as a historian, this is an occasion for reflection.

Ally Boris Nemtsov – murdered 2015

 “At one point during my testimony, the presiding judge reminded me that one of the extenuating circumstances was “remorse for what [the accused] has done.” And although there is little that’s amusing about my present situation, I could not help smiling: the criminal, of course, must repent of his deeds. I’m in jail for my political views. For speaking out against the war in Ukraine. For many years of struggle against Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship. For facilitating the adoption of personal international sanctions under the Magnitsky Act against human rights violators.

“Not only do I not repent of any of this, I am proud of it. I am proud that Boris Nemtsov brought me into politics. And I hope that he is not ashamed of me. I subscribe to every word that I have spoken and every word of which I have been accused by this court. I blame myself for only one thing: that over the years of my political activity I have not managed to convince enough of my compatriots and enough politicians in the democratic countries of the danger that the current regime in the Kremlin poses for Russia and for the world.”

Twice-poisoned, Kara-Mursa’s health has been damaged and is unlikely to improve in prison. Meanwhile, his friend and fellow-opposition leader Alexei Navalny is reported to be critically ill and rapidly losing weight. He reportedly had infectious prisoners put in his cell with him and may also have been given slow-acting poison. And he is also liable to have further sentences for imaginary crimes imposed on him.

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