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'No other word than weak': Wife of Putin opponent jailed for 25 years slams UK government's response to husband's arrest

17 April 2023, 18:19 | Updated: 17 April 2023, 18:22

Wife of British Putin critic 'baffled' by UK govt's 'weak' response to Kara-Murza's sentence

Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The wife of a prominent Vladimir Putin opponent who has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for criticising the Ukraine war has slammed the UK government's response as "weak".

Evgenia Kara-Murza, who is married to Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr, said "expressions of concern" over her husband's arrest "are no longer enough".

Mr Kara-Murza, a dual British-Russian citizen, has been sentenced to 25 years in a Russian jail for criticising the war in Ukraine.

The UK government has summoned the Russian ambassador to Britain and said it is investigating the possibility of sanctioning everyone involved in the trial of Mr Kara-Murza.

Speaking to LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, Ms Kara-Murza said: "I am of course grateful for the presence of UK diplomats in my husband’s hearings throughout this year…and for summoning the Russian ambassador.

“But if we talk about sanctions, I am slightly baffled."

Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr
Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. Picture: Getty

Ms Kara-Murza continued: "I believe it is the duty...of the British government to stand with him and show to Russian authorities that they know who the perpetrators are and will not them let them get away with committing such atrocious human rights violations."

Ms Kara-Murza added that Canada has imposed sanctions on Russia following her husband’s case, despite the fact he is not Canadian.

The United States has done the same, as has Latvia.

“So far, I have not seen any response from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) on that matter and I am slightly baffled to tell the truth

“I cannot chose a different word…it is definitely a weak position. I need to see some real actions because Vladimir is a British citizen."

She added that she has concerns over her husband's health and called for his release so he can be given "proper care".

Ms Kara-Murza speaking to LBC's Andrew Marr
Ms Kara-Murza speaking to LBC's Andrew Marr. Picture: LBC

Read More: Putin opponent Vladimir Kara-Murza sentenced to 25 years in jail in Russia for treason

Read More: Putin's top generals plotting to ‘throw’ Ukraine war, according to rumour in leaked US spy documents

Following the sentencing of Mr Kara-Murza, the Conservative chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Alicia Kearns told the Commons that British nationals are not safe in Russia and the government should call for any remaining there to return home.

Speaking on Tonight with Andrew Marr, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Ms Kearns called on the government to introduce sanctions against 31 people complicit in crimes against Mr Kara-Murza.

Ms Kearns told Andrew: "The British government was given evidence about this over six months ago - it’s time for them to take action."

Asked whether the UK government should introduce sanctions, Ms Kearns added: "Absolutely, and that’s one of the things I called for today in my urgent question.

"The reality is we’ve only sanctioned two of the thirty-one people complicit in crimes against him [Kara-Murza]. And those both happen to be sanctioned because of their treatment of Magnitsky.

"There are twenty-nine people [involved] that the British government was given evidence about this over six months ago - and it's time for them to take action."

Vladimir Kara-Murza has been critical of Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine
Vladimir Kara-Murza has been critical of Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine. Picture: Alamy

Mr Kara-Murza Jr, a Russian-British former journalist and prominent Putin opposition activist who twice survived poisonings he blamed on the Kremlin, has been behind bars since his arrest a year ago.

He has denied the charges and has been critical of his trial - comparing proceedings against him to the show trials during the rule of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

His 25-year sentence was highest term sought by prosecutors.It is the longest sentence yet handed to an opposition figure critical of Russia's actions in Ukraine.

The charges against Kara-Murza stem from his March 15 speech to the Arizona House of Representatives in which he denounced Russia's military action in Ukraine and accused them of using cluster bombs in residential areas and “bombing maternity hospitals and schools.”

Russia adopted a law criminalising spreading "false information" about its military shortly after it sent troops into Ukraine on February 24 2022.

Authorities have used the law to stifle criticism of what the Kremlin calls "a special military operation".

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