An imprisoned Russian opposition activist has dedicated an advocacy group’s award to the thousands of people arrested or detained in Russia for participating in protests against President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Vladimir Karamurza was presented with the award at a ceremony in Geneva late Thursday by UN Watch, which promotes human rights and seeks to ensure that the United Nations does as well.
Karamurza’s wife Evgeniya, who accepted the award on his behalf, read a letter from her husband and said that journalists, lawyers, artists, priests, politicians, and soldiers who refused to remain silent even at the cost of their personal liberty. We welcomed officers and others.
“Since February, more than 19,000 people have been detained by police across Russia for anti-war protests,” she quoted from the letter.
She said her husband wanted to dedicate this award to all of them.
He cited recent figures from Memorial, a Russian human rights group that shared this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, that Russia now has 497 political prisoners.
“During my own imprisonment, I had the opportunity to witness first-hand just how imperfect this figure really is.
“And the fastest growing segment of Russia’s list of political prisoners is against Putin’s war in Ukraine.”
Last month, Karamurza, 41, was awarded the Council of Europe’s Vaclav Havel Human Rights Award, just as a Moscow court extended his detention until December 12.
Karamurza was an associate of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered near the Kremlin in 2015.
He himself survived addictions he blamed on the Kremlin in 2015 and 2017.
Russian authorities deny responsibility for poisoning.
He was jailed in April for spreading “false information” about the Russian military.
Russia adopted a law criminalizing the spread of “false information” about its own forces shortly after Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Authorities have used the law against dozens of people to suppress dissent.
Russian authorities recently added treason charges to their other charges against Murza.
According to his lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, the charges stem from speeches he made in several Western countries criticizing Kremlin rule.
Kara-Murza denies committing treason, his lawyers say.
If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
The Morris Abram Prize awarded to Kara-Murza is UN Watch’s premier human rights award and honors the group’s founding civil rights advocate, diplomat and UN representative.
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