International calls for information about the location of opposition activist Kara-Murza in Russian custody News
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International calls for information about the location of opposition activist Kara-Murza in Russian custody

On Monday, the wife of the imprisoned Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza announced that Russian authorities removed him from the maximum security prison in Siberia and his current whereabouts are unknown.

Following this announcement, the British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs David Cameron urged the Russian authorities to provide Kara-Murza’s lawyers with his whereabouts, and the German Foreign Office equally called for the disclosure of his whereabouts and the immediate release of all political prisoners. Relatedly, the European Council has approved additional sanctions against four persons and one entity under the EU’s Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime. Three of them are Russian judicial officers who were allegedly responsible for the arbitrary arrest and detention of Kara-Murza. The sanctions involve an asset freeze and the prohibition to provide them with funds and economic resources, as well as a travel ban to the EU against the listed natural persons.

In April 2023, a Russian court passed a 25-year sentence on Kara-Murza for various charges of treason, the spreading of fake information and affiliation with an “undesirable organisation.” These charges were based on his criticism of the Ukraine-Russian conflict and his sentence was the longest since the beginning of the conflict. The Russian authorities later conducted a three-week transfer, moving him to a maximum security penal colony in Omsk, Siberia. Currently, there is no official press statement from the Russian Federal Penitentiary Services.

Shortly after Kara-Murza’s conviction, Amnesty International claimed that he is a prisoner of conscience because his conviction was solely based on his political beliefs and demanded an unconditional immediate release. In addition, incommunicado detentions are impermissible under international human rights laws. Incommunicado detention itself constitutes a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and facilitates the perpetration of torture. The states bear a legal duty to provide with prisoners access to family and lawyers.