Putin critic jailed for 25 years in harshest sentence since Ukraine invasion

One of Vladimir Putin’s biggest critics has been jailed in Russia for 25 years after being found guilty of treason.

Vladimir Kara-Murza, 41, a father of three and former journalist who holds Russian and British passports, spent years as a politician opposing the Russian president.

He was accused of treason and of discrediting the military by prosecutors after he criticised the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, Mr Kara-Murza, who has stood by his words throughout the trial, has criticised his prosecution.

The opposition leader, who claims to have twice been poisoned by Russian operatives, has previously compared his trial to one of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s show trials in the 1930s.

Ukraine war latest – Kremlin critic jailed

He declined to ask the court to acquit him and said: “Criminals are supposed to repent of what they have done. I,
on the other hand, am in prison for my political views.”

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“I also know that the day will come when the darkness over our country will dissipate,” he said during his trial.

His 25-year sentence, which matches the sentence requested by prosecutors, is the harshest of its kind since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Under censorship laws, introduced in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “discrediting” the army can currently be punished by up to five years in prison.

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Spreading information deemed deliberately false about the Russian military can attract a 15 year jail sentence.

Mr Kara-Murza had used speeches in the United States and across Europe to accuse Moscow of bombing civilian targets in Ukraine – which the Kremlin has denied.

He also claimed Russia was being run by a “regime of murderers” in a CNN interview, broadcast hours before his arrest.

The charges against Mr Kara-Murza relate to a speech given to the Arizona House of Representatives in March, in which he denounced Russia’s military action in Ukraine.

Investigators added the treason charge, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in Russia, while he was in custody.

Mr Kara-Murza was an ally of the late Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead near the Kremlin in 2015.