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NEW YORK (April 12, 2024) — On Thursday, the second anniversary of Russian pro-democracy advocate Vladimir Kara-Murza’s detention, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), Free Russia Foundation (FRF), McCain Institute, and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR) filed a request to the US Department of State, calling for it to designate Kara-Murza as wrongfully detained and transfer his case to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.


Kara-Murza is a prominent opposition leader, pro-democracy advocate, and human rights defender. He has been recognized for his relentless work promoting democracy in Russia over the past 20 years and for his crucial role in advancing the Magnitsky Sanctions programs in the US and several other countries.

Kara-Murza was arrested on April 11, 2022, while visiting Moscow. He was indicted under trumped-up charges of “dissemination of knowingly false information about the Russian Armed Forces,” “organizing the activities of an undesirable organization,” and “high treason.” The charges stemmed from his public speeches criticizing the Kremlin’s human rights violations and war in Ukraine, his alleged collaboration with the US-based FRF — an “undesirable” organization according to the Russian regime — and his “cooperation with a NATO country.”

On April 17, 2023, after a closed trial tainted by due process violations, the Moscow City Court sentenced Kara-Murza to 25 years in prison. This was the maximum possible sentence for the charges and the longest sentence imposed on an opposition figure in recent years.

Kara-Murza is serving his sentence in solitary confinement in the Siberian penal colony IK-7 in Segezha, with restricted access to his family and lawyers. During his detention, he has lost approximately 37 pounds and has started to feel numbness in his limbs. He has been denied necessary medical care for his polyneuropathy, a medical condition he developed as a result of 2015 and 2017 poisonings that were almost certainly perpetrated by President Vladimir Putin’s regime. Some experts and doctors estimate that, under the current circumstances, it’s likely he won’t survive another year.

“Kara-Murza is a US Green Card holder and therefore falls within the definition of a ‘United States national’ under the 2020 Robert Levinson Act. His detention meets all 11 factors enumerated in the Act: Kara-Murza is innocent, is detained for exercising his freedom of assembly, is detained in a country without an independent and impartial judicial system, and is being detained in inhumane conditions, to mention a few. And most importantly, US diplomatic engagement is necessary to secure his release,” the filing organizations said in a joint statement.

Following the recent murder of Russian dissident and opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Kara-Murza has become the Kremlin’s most high-profile target in its extensive crackdown on dissent, with an estimated 704 political prisoners currently in Russia.

As the Russian regime escalates its suppression of dissent, and considering his rapidly deteriorating health, HRF, FRF, McCain Institute, and RWCHR request that the US State Department urgently apply the Levinson Act in Kara-Murza’s case and engage in all possible measures to urgently secure his release and safe return to the US.