Tallinn, Estonia –
Lawyers for Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., who is serving a 25-year sentence for treason, revealed Tuesday that he was transferred to another prison in Siberia and placed back in solitary confinement for an alleged minor infraction.
The move comes amid relentless pressure on Russian dissidents at home and abroad, which has intensified significantly since President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine nearly two years ago.
Kara-Murza, 42, had been held in a penal colony in the Omsk region, but his supporters said Monday that he apparently was no longer there.
One of his lawyers, Maria Eismont, told the Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta on Tuesday that she received a letter from him saying he had been transferred to Penal Colony No. 7 in the city of Omsk and placed in a restricted housing unit. for at least at least four months. In the letter, a copy of which his other lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, posted on Facebook, Kara-Murza said prison officials accused him on Friday of disobeying an order he said was not even given to him. .
“So now I am in IK-7 (penal colony), also in Omsk,” Kara-Murza wrote. “It’s a special regime colony, there is a special restricted housing unit for ‘repeat offenders’ like me. I’m in solitary confinement, of course,” he wrote, adding that he was “fine,” had enough food and it was warm. on site.
Kara-Murza, who twice survived poisonings he blamed on Russian authorities, rejected charges against him as punishment for standing up to Putin and compared the proceedings to show trials under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
According to his wife, Evgenia Kara-Murza, he has spent the past four months in solitary confinement, a practice that has become common among Kremlin critics behind bars and is widely seen as designed to put additional pressure on them.
Kara-Murza was arrested in 2022 and later sentenced to 25 years on charges stemming from a speech that year before the Arizona House of Representatives, in which he denounced the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Memorial, Russia’s most prominent human rights group and winner of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, has declared him a political prisoner.
Measures to neutralize the opposition and suppress criticism intensified significantly after the start of the war, including the passage of a law that effectively criminalizes any public expression about the conflict that deviates from the Kremlin line. The legislation has been used against opposition politicians, human rights activists and ordinary Russians who criticize the Kremlin, and many of them have received long prison terms.
According to OVD-Info, another prominent human rights group that monitors political arrests and provides legal assistance, a total of 19,854 Russians have been arrested between February 24, 2022, when the war began, and January 28, 2024, for speaking or demonstrating against the invasion.
A total of 825 people have faced criminal charges for their anti-war stances, and nearly 8,700 faced minor charges of bringing the military into disrepute, punishable by a fine or a short jail term, OVD-Info reported.