(CNN) Vladimir Kara-MurzaA prominent Russian human rights lawyer and Kremlin critic has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after publicly condemning Moscow’s war in Ukraine, Russian state news agency TASS reported on Monday.
Kara-Murza was initially detained a year ago, hours later Interview with CNN In it he criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “reign of assassins”.
He was under investigation for criminal offenses including treason, spreading fake news about the Russian military and aiding and abetting the activities of an unsavory organization. Russia criminalized criticism of the military following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. The court said he would serve his sentence in a “strict regime reform colony”.
Kara-Murza will appeal the sentence, her lawyer Vadim Prokhorov told CNN on Monday.
The activist’s detention has been condemned by international human rights organizations and sanctions were imposed by the Biden administration last month.
Monday’s ruling draws further attention to Putin’s brutal crackdown on freedom of expression, which has intensified since his invasion of Ukraine last February.
Kara-Murza has long been critical of Putin and has survived two poisonings.
In March 2022, he spoke against the war in the Arizona House of Representatives. Interview with CNN In April 2022, the political dissident condemned Putin’s regime for targeting critics. According to his wife, he was soon arrested for “failing to obey the orders of law enforcement.”
The conviction will bring further international condemnation for Putin. Last week, Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia director, Hugh Williamson, said in a statement that “the dissident faces jail time for raising his voice and raising the voices of others who disagree with the Kremlin in Russia.” Its war in Ukraine and increasing repression within Russia.”
The British government criticized the sentence as “politically motivated”. “Vladimir Gara-Murza has boldly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — a flagrant violation of international law and the UN Charter. Russia’s lack of commitment to protecting basic human rights, including freedom of expression, is troubling,” said Secretary of State James. Wisely said Monday.
The charge of treason in Russia was expanded in 2012 to include providing advice or any other assistance to a foreign government or international or foreign organization. It was used against Kara-Murza for condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In March, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on several Russian individuals linked to what it called Kara-Murza’s “arbitrary detention” and called for his “immediate and unconditional release.”
At the closing hearing of his trial last week, Kara-Murza said he was “proud” of his political views.
“I’m in prison for my political views; for speaking out against the war in Ukraine, for years of fighting against Putin’s dictatorship, for accepting personal international sanctions under the Magnitsky Act against human rights abuses. Not just me. I don’t regret any of it, I’m proud of it,” Kara-Murza said. .
The original Magnitsky Act, signed into law in December 2012, barred entry into the United States and froze the assets of certain Russian government officials and businessmen accused of human rights abuses. The law was later expanded to give the Russia-centric law global scope.
Kara-Murza said she blamed herself for not being able to adequately convince her “comrades” and politicians of democracies of the danger the current regime in the Kremlin poses to Russia and the world.
He also expressed hope that “the day will come when the darkness will disappear in our country”.
“Even today, even in the darkness around us, sitting in this cage, I love my country and believe in our people,” he added. “I believe we can walk this way.”
CNN’s Darya Tarasova, Ratina Kikova and Ulyana Pavlova contributed reporting.