Estonia calls for release of Russian journalist jailed under draconian law

Vladimir Kara-Murza in-studio with ETV.
Vladimir Kara-Murza in-studio with ETV. Source: ERR

The Riigikogu foreign affairs committee has joined its counterparts of nearly 20 other national legislatures in issuing a joint statement calling for the immediate release of Russian activist, journalist and politician Vladimir Kara-Murza.

Kara-Murza was arrested earlier this month in Moscow after giving an interview to western news channel CNN which was critical of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Riigikogu's foreign affairs committee chair, Marko Mihkelson, gave his signature to the joint statement, alongside those of 17 other heads of foreign affairs committees, primarily from European countries,

The statement was initiated by Estonia, and calls on all democratic nations and allies to oppose what it calls criminal behavior such as that encountered by Kara-Murza, with the aim of upholding human rights in Russia and worldwide.

The statement reads: "Together with the free world, we stand in solidarity both with Ukraine and with Russian civil society in these difficult times. We condemn the Putin regime's brutal repression of free speech and independent media in Russia and demand the immediate release of Vladimir Kara-Murza and all the prisoners of conscience whom the Russian government has detained."

Kara-Murza, 40, was arrested outside of his Moscow home on April 11, following an interview given to CNN in which he criticized Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The following day, Kara-Murza was sentenced to 15 days imprisonment, on charges of disobeying police orders, while on April 22, a court charged him under a new law which bans the spreading of "false" information about the Russian military.

The offence carries with it a potential prison term of up to 15 years.

The foreign affairs committees' statement adds that the charges against Kara-Murza are an attempt to distract attention from Russia's conduct in the war since the invasion started over two months ago.

"These latest charges against Vladimir Kara-Murza are a blatant fabrication meant to distract attention from Putin's war crimes and deter other courageous Russians from speaking out against the Kremlin," the statement continues, according to a Riigikogu press release.

Kara-Murza had already been the victim of two assassination attempts over the past seven years, the statement adds.

"In 2015 and 2017, Vladimir Kara-Murza survived two near-fatal poisonings, traced by investigative journalists to Russian authorities. Consequently, we are deeply concerned about Vladimir Kara-Murza's safety," the missive adds.

Over 15,000 Russian people have been detained for opposing, criticizing or peacefully demonstrating against the war, over the past two months, the committee chiefs say, many of them as a result of the same law mentioned above. "In addition, hundreds of Russians have been charged under the same Orwellian law that Vladimir Kara-Murza is accused of contravening. Putin and his regime have shown themselves to be willing to break any law, domestic or international, to suppress political opposition at home and subjugate neighboring countries."

The Joint Statement was initiated by Estonia and has been signed by the foreign affairs committees chairs of the national parliaments of the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, the U.K. and the U.S.

The Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the European Parliament also joined the Statement.

The full statement is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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