Jailed Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza moved to prison hospital, wife says

Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian opposition politician serving a lengthy jail sentence for treason, has been transferred to a prison hospital, his wife Evgenia said Friday.

Kara-Murza, 42, was moved from the maximum-security IK-6 penal colony in the Siberian city of Omsk to a prison hospital in another part of the region, she said in a series of posts on X. His lawyers have not been allowed to see him and have been given contradictory information by hospital staff, she added.

After arriving at IK-6 from Moscow, Kara-Murza’s lawyers were made to wait for five hours before being told they could not see him, she said. They were later told to come back the next day.

When the lawyers returned Friday morning, they were informed he was still being examined by doctors and had not yet been fully processed. They were told later Friday that they still could not see Kara-Murza, and that the correctional facility would be closed over the weekend, she said.

“The lawyers were never able to see Vladimir and make sure that everything was okay with him,” she wrote, saying that Kara-Murza has been suffering from polyneuropathy, “a disease caused by two severe poisonings.”

Kara-Murza has claimed he was twice poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok – in 2015 and in 2017 – which caused him to suffer multiple organ failure and fall into a coma. The Kremlin has denied any involvement in his illness, but Kara-Murza has long maintained there was “no other possible reason” for it than a politically motivated attack.

In an interview with CNN shortly before his arrest in 2022, Kara-Murza criticized the Kremlin for its persecution of its political opponents and invasion of Ukraine.

“These people have a literally decades-long track record of going after their political opponents. Poison has been a particularly favored method because it gives them – or at least it did until all of these media investigations came out – plausible deniability,” Kara-Murza told CNN.

“This regime that is in power in our country today, it’s not just corrupt, it’s not just kleptocratic, it’s not just kleptocratic, it’s not just authoritarian – it is a regime of murderers. And it is important to say it out loud,” he said, adding it was “tragic” that it took the invasion of Ukraine for Western countries to “open their eyes” to the danger of Putin’s regime.

He was arrested shortly afterward and later sentenced to 25 years in prison, in a decision condemned as politically motivated and draconian by the international community.

Asked by CNN why he had chosen to return to Russia after recovering from his poisoning – and knowing the risks faced by Kremlin critics – he said: “I’m a Russian politician. I have to be in Russia. It’s my home country. I think the biggest gift we could give – those of us who are in opposition to Putin’s regime – to the Kremlin, is to give up and run. I mean, that’s all they want from us.”

Since the death of Alexei Navalny in an Arctic prison in February, Kara-Murza has been the most prominent Russian opposition figure persecuted by the Kremlin.

A joint investigation by CNN and the group Bellingcat implicated the Russian Security Service (FSB) in poisoning Navalny during a trip to Siberia in August 2020. The investigation found that the FSB toxins team of about six to 10 agents trailed Navalny for more than three years before poisoning him via his underpants.

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