World Leaders Fail to Protect Rights of Vladimir Kara-Murza in Putin’s Russia

Vladimir Kara-Murza. Photo: CoE
Vladimir Kara-Murza. Photo: CoE

World Leaders Fail to Protect Rights of Vladimir Kara-Murza in Putin’s Russia

No international mechanism is available to get justice for Kara-Murza and thousands of others who are being punished by dictator Putin.

By Rakesh Raman

As usual, the so-called world leaders have been issuing hollow statements in favour of Russian activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, but none of them have the courage to get him released from jail.

A fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kara-Murza was sentenced on April 17 to 25 years in prison for his opposition to Putin and particularly Russia’s ruthless war against Ukraine.

Instead of putting military pressure on Putin to release his political opponents, the world leaders are releasing perfunctory statements which have no effect on Putin who is a merciless dictator.

UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk, for example, said in his carelessly written statement that the 25-year prison sentence handed down by a Moscow court against opposition politician and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza is another blow to the rule of law and civic space in the Russian Federation.

Instead of getting the Putin critic released from jail, Turk shamelessly said that he must be treated with humanity and respect in jail. Türk has repeatedly failed in his responsibility to protect human rights of people in all parts of the world.

Similarly, Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the 46-nation Council of Europe (CoE) issued a casual statement, “I strongly condemn the sentencing of Russian opposition leader, Vladimir Kara-Murza, to 25 years in prison following a sham trial. Mr Kara-Murza was imprisoned and prosecuted a year ago for speaking out on Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine.

“As he bravely stated in his final remarks to the court ‘This is the price of not remaining silent in Russia today.’ His case is another illustration of ongoing repression in the Russian Federation.”

“Despite Russia’s attempts to silence critics, their voices are being heard worldwide and will not be forgotten. The Council of Europe stands in full solidarity with Mr Kara-Murza and calls for his immediate release,” said Marija Pejčinović Burić.

But she could not elaborate how her meaningless words will persuade Putin to release Kara-Murza and protect his rights in the authoritarian regime.

According to a BBC report, the UK Foreign Office announced sanctions against one judge and two investigators involved in Kara-Murza’s trial. The sanctions will also impact two Federal Security Service (FSB) agents suspected of links to his sudden, critical illness in 2015 and 2017 caused by a toxin that has never been identified.

As a result of poisoning, according to the BBC report, Kara-Murza has again been losing feeling in both his feet and his left hand. A prison doctor has diagnosed polyneuropathy, which affects the nerves.

It is being observed that Putin’s opponents are mostly killed, die in mysterious circumstances, poisoned, or jailed in harsh conditions, and some have fled the country to save themselves from Putin’s fury.

They include oligarchs Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Boris Berezovsky, former FBK head Ivan Zhdanov, former FBK lawyer Lyubov Sobol, Leonid Volkov, Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, and others. 

It is alleged that Russia was also involved in the nerve-agent attack in Salisbury. After the incident, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the attack in Salisbury was the first use of a nerve agent on NATO territory.

Another Putin critic and political opponent Alexei Navalny has been languishing in jail since 2021 after surviving a poisoning attack allegedly ordered by Putin. 

He is not being provided proper medical treatment as Navalny continues to be sick in solitary confinement where he is kept by the Russian authorities. On 10 January 2023, over 400 doctors in Russia signed an open letter to President Putin demanding that prison authorities stop abusing Navalny. But Putin has no respect for such humanitarian appeals.

Now, Kara-Murza is being similarly tortured while his trial for treason was held secretly and after the fake trial Putin’s court pronounced the punishment largely for Kara-Murza’s political speeches that he delivered in Russia and abroad.

But no international mechanism is available to get justice for Kara-Murza and thousands of others who are being punished by dictator Putin. The useless condemnation statements by world leaders will never help persecuted communities in different parts of the world.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of the humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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