FPI Bulletin: Vladimir Kara-Murza’s Fight

May 28, 2015

Vladimir Kara-Murza, a leader of the democratic opposition in Russia, fell seriously ill on May 26.  So far, doctors have not been able to explain why a healthy 33-year old man became so ill.  That fact, along with his high profile as a critic of the Putin regime, immediately gave rise to concerns about the cause of the illness.  For now, the most important thing is for him to receive the best possible medical care.  That is why a team of physicians is en route from Israel to Russia to conduct a complete toxicology test and administer treatment.

The situation for Russia’s democratic opposition sometimes seems to grow bleaker by the day.  Mr. Kara-Murza’s close friend and colleague, Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and a leader of the opposition party RPR-Parnas, was assassinated on February 27.  In April, Kara-Murza and Mikhail Kasyanov, a former prime minister and a co-chairman of RPR-Parnas, submitted to the U.S. Congress a list of Russian journalists they hope will be targeted with visa and financial sanctions for inciting violence against Nemtsov while carrying out a state-sponsored campaign propaganda against the opposition. 

At a time when some civic and political activists are leaving the country, fearing for their safety and burdened by increasing restrictions, Kara-Murza, returned to Russia from Washington D.C., where he had worked as a journalist and an unofficial liaison to the democratic opposition.  He now works for Open Russia, a civic initiative launched by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the oligarch-turned political prisoner who was released in 2013, after a decade of incarceration.  Open Russia itself has been the target of harassment.  A meeting of Kara-Murza’s political party in Novosibirsk to prepare for regional polls was disrupted this week.

Despite all this, in his public speaking and articles, Kara-Murza always rejects the notion that his country is fated to be undemocratic or hostile to the West.  In his excellent blog for the World Affairs Journal and elsewhere, he often challenges the idea of Putin’s monolithic, immutable popularity, writing about his fellow citizens’ embrace of democratic values and rejection of the war in Ukraine.  Above all, Kara-Murza has been adamant that Americans resist the inclination to conflate Russia with Putin. 

Speaking at a tribute to Boris Nemtsov, Vladimir insisted that Russians themselves will bring about freedom in their own country, but he asked that America and other democracies remain true to their principles in support of human rights and democracy.  We look forward to Vladimir continuing to press us to do so when he is back on his feet. 

Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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