Fears for leading anti-Kremlin activist after family says he was moved to a prison hospital

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(MOSCOW) — The family of prominent jailed Russian pro-democracy activist Vladimir Kara-Murza is sounding the alarm after he was moved to a prison hospital and his lawyers said they were being denied access to him.

Kara-Murza, whose family lives in the United States, is a veteran anti-Kremlin campaigner who was arrested in 2022 after he criticized President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine. He has campaigned against Putin for years and was nearly fatally poisoned twice, first in 2015 and again in 2017.

Last year, Kara-Murza, 42, was moved to a Siberian prison camp, where he is serving a 25-year sentence. Kara-Murza was convicted in 2023 on charges of allegedly spreading “false information” about the Russian army and being affiliated with an “undesirable organization” in a case widely condemned as a show trial.

There have been heightened fears for Kara-Murza’s safety following the death of Russia’s best-known opposition leader Alexei Navalny in prison in February.

Kara-Murza’s wife said his lawyers tried to visit him on Friday at the camp in Omsk but were told he had been moved to another prison hospital. At the hospital, his lawyers were told they could not see Kara-Murza, Yevgenia Kara-Murza wrote Friday on X.

She has warned that Kara-Murza’s health is fragile following the two poisoning attempts that, at the time, caused multiple organ failures and left him suffering from a neurological condition.

She also wrote that Russian officials refused to say what condition Kara-Murza is in.

Top Putin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza, who survived 2 poisonings, jailed for 25 years
Some U.S. senators, as well as European officials and human rights campaigners, have expressed concern for Kara-Murza, demanding Russia immediately provide access to him.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., chair of the Senate Relations Committee, wrote in a statement on X that he was “disturbed” by the reports that Kara-Murza has been moved to a hospital.

“Jail is no place for a man recovering from two poisonings. Russian authorities should know the world is watching,” Cardin said.

A dual British-Russian citizen, Kara-Murza — like Navalny — chose to return to Russia despite the two poisoning attempts on him.

The two assassination attempts on Kara-Murza were later linked by independent researchers to the same team of poisoners from Russia’s FSB intelligence service that nearly killed Navalny in 2018. The United Kingdom has sanctioned two FSB agents accused of involvement in Kara-Murza’s poisoning.

The State Department has previously called Kara-Murza “yet another target of the Russian government’s escalating campaign of repression.”

Virtually all of Russia’s leading anti-Putin activists have been jailed or driven into exile, as the Kremlin has moved to crush any opposition following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Supporters have warned of increased fears for the safety of opposition leaders in prisons in Russia, such as Kara-Murza and another high-profile leader Ilya Yashin, following Navalny’s death.

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