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Kremlin Critic Vladimir Kara-Murza Is ‘Stable’ in Prison Hospital, Lawyer Says

A lawyer for the jailed Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza said his client is in “stable” health after being moved to a Russian prison hospital last week without explanation and out of contact for six days.

Mr. Kara-Murza, 42, is one of Russia’s most prominent dissidents. He was sentenced last April to 25 years in prison for treason after condemning the war in Ukraine. It was the longest sentence given to any opposition politician in modern Russia, part of a widespread crackdown on those who dare to publicly oppose the Kremlin and its war on Ukraine.

His wife, Evgenia Kara-Murza, said last week that lawyers who had been trying to meet with him were told he had been taken to a prison hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk where he has been serving his sentence — and that they were denied access to see him. That raised alarm bells, coming just months after the death of the opposition politician Aleksei A. Navalny in an Arctic penal colony.

After six days without contact despite repeated efforts to see Mr. Kara-Murza, one of his lawyers was able to visit him on Wednesday, a member of the legal team said.

“Vladimir Kara-Murza’s condition is relatively stable at the moment,” the lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, wrote on Facebook, adding that his client “suffers from a severe chronic disease — polyneuropathy” that is incompatible with the conditions inside a penal colony.

Ms. Kara-Murza welcomed the news.

“The reason for his transfer to the prison hospital are still unclear, but he is alive and, as always, alert,” she wrote on Facebook on Wednesday afternoon. “The most terrible things happen in silence and behind closed doors, so a huge thank you to everyone who worried and demanded that the lawyers be given access.”

Mr. Kara-Murza, an opposition activist and a journalist, survived what he characterized several years ago as two state-sponsored attempts to poison him — in 2015 and 2017.

He comes from a family of Soviet dissidents, and obtained British citizenship as a teenager.

Mr. Kara-Murza played a key role in lobbying Washington more than a decade ago for the Magnitsky Act, which punished officials deemed responsible for the death of a tax lawyer in a Russian jail.

The human rights organization Memorial counts him as a political prisoner, one of hundreds that it says are subjected to harsh treatment and inadequate medical care. It currently counts 769 political prisoners behind bars in Russia.

From the maximum security prison where he is held, Mr. Kara-Murza has been writing an opinion column for The Washington Post and won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary this year.

In a recent column, titled “I am proud to have spoken out against Putin’s crimes in Ukraine,” he compared Russia today to the dystopia in George Orwell’s novel “1984.”

“‘War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is power,’” he wrote. “This slogan on the facade of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth very accurately reflects the principle of functioning of today’s Russian government.”

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Last modified: 11 July 2024
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