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NEW YORK, NY (June 17, 2024) — On June 3, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) submitted an individual complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) in the case of Russian opposition leader and pro-democracy advocate Vladimir Kara-Murza, along with the Centre de la Protection Internationale (CPI), Freedom House, Free Russia Foundation (FRF), Global Justice Advisors, McCain Institute, and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR).

The groups requested the UNWGAD declare Kara-Murza’s detention arbitrary under international law and urge Russia to immediately and unconditionally release him. This request follows another address to the US State Department, in which HRF and three other groups urged the agency to designate Kara-Murza, a lawful permanent resident of the US, as wrongfully detained and facilitate his release and safe return to America.

For the past 20 years, Kara-Murza has tirelessly promoted democracy and human rights in Russia. In 2015 and 2017, he survived two near-fatal poisonings, almost certainly perpetrated by the Russian regime. As a result, he developed a medical condition called polyneuropathy. He was arrested on April 11, 2022, while visiting Moscow. In April 2023, he was sentenced to 25 years for “public dissemination of knowingly false information about the Russian Armed Forces,” “carrying out 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.”

The groups state that Kara-Murza’s detention resulted from the exercise of fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression. The complaint also lists numerous violations of the right to a fair trial, such as restricted access to a lawyer, denial of family visits, denial of a public hearing before an independent and impartial court, and denial of necessary medical care, among others.

“Kara-Murza has been detained solely for exercising his fundamental human rights, including his right to freedom of expression and his vocal opposition to the Russian regime,” HRF Chief Advocacy Officer Roberto González said. “The numerous violations of international law in the proceedings against him clearly demonstrate that his detention is an attempt to punish him for his relentless opposition to Vladimir Putin and his allies, aiming to silence one of the last remaining voices of dissent in Russia.”

Kara-Murza is serving his sentence in a Siberian penal colony in Omsk. Under these severe conditions, his health has deteriorated significantly; he has lost more than 50 pounds (22 kilograms) and experiences numbness in his limbs. As Russian officials continue to deny Kara-Murza vital medical attention, experts fear he may not survive another year in these conditions.

Supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

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