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Russian prosecutors request 25 years for politician accused of treason

2023-04-06T16:13:30Z

Russian opposition figures Yulia Galyamina and Vladimir Kara-Murza place flowers at the site of the assassination of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov while marking the 6th anniversary of Nemtsov’s death, in central Moscow, Russia February 27, 2021. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva/File Photo

Russian prosecutors on Thursday requested a 25-year prison sentence for opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, who is on trial in a closed court on charges including treason, his lawyer said.

The 41-year-old is one of a small number of prominent opposition figures who stayed in Russia and continued to speak out against President Vladimir Putin after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Kara-Murza was arrested a year ago, accused of spreading false information about the armed forces and declared a “foreign agent”, a term with connotations of spying that Russian authorities have applied to numerous activists and journalists.

Hours before, the U.S. news channel CNN had broadcast an interview with him in which he said Russia was run by “a regime of murderers”.

In October, his lawyer said he was also being investigated for treason, which alone carries a maximum term of 20 years, in connection with three public speeches.

They included an address to the Arizona House of Representatives in which he said Putin was bombing Ukrainian homes, hospitals and schools. Moscow says it does not deliberately target civilians, but thousands have been killed in Ukraine.

Kara-Murza is also accused of involvement with an “undesirable organisation” over his alleged ties to two foreign-based opposition forums.

In a statement on March 13, he said he would fight all the charges, saying they were based on “political vengeance”. He compared their wording with that used by Stalin’s NKVD secret police in the 1930s, when Kara-Murza’s own grandfather was sent to a Gulag prison camp in Russia’s far east.

Kara-Murza holds both British and Russian citizenship and was a pallbearer at the funeral of U.S. Senator John McCain in 2018. He was a close aide to Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead in central Moscow in 2015.

Kara-Murza’s lawyer, Maria Eismont, told reporters, in comments broadcast by the online outlet SOTA, that the trial had advanced to the closing stages more rapidly than expected.

She was quoted as saying that he had lost more than 17 kg (37 lb) in detention.

Kara-Murza’s lawyers have previously said he has polyneuropathy, a nerve disorder resulting from two alleged poisonings that caused him to fall into a coma in 2015 and 2017.

Russian authorities denied his allegations that the security services were responsible for both incidents.

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