Free Vladimir Kara-Murza

Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian activist, politician, Washington Post columnist, and documentary filmmaker, is our Senior Advisor for human rights accountability. 
Kara-Murza was arrested in Russia in April 2022 for speaking out against the Russian government’s brutality in Ukraine and at home. He was convicted in a sham trial of “high treason” and sentenced in April 2023 to 25 years in prison.  He remains arbitrarily imprisoned today.
Since he was first arrested in 2022, through his sham trial, and into his imprisonment, Human Rights First has campaigned for Kara-Murza’s safety, protection, and release.
The State Department can designate Vladimir Kara-Murza as “wrongfully detained” as a step toward seeking his release.  Please urge your representatives to request State take this action to #FreeKaraMurza.

“There will be a dawn. The night, as you know, is darkest just before the light.”

- Vladimir Kara-Murza

Human Rights First Efforts

Since the beginning of Kara-Murza’s wrongful imprisonment in 2022, Human Rights First has campaigned for his safety, protection, and release.

We have worked to keep international focus on Kara-Murza’s situation, including speaking at public events, producing social media, communicating to the public in the United States and elsewhere, and advocating for his release to governments around the world. 

Other Efforts in the United States

Human Rights First has joined allied civil society organizations and congressional leaders to advocate for Kara-Murza’s safe release from arbitrary detention and raise international attention around Kara-Murza’s case.

At right, Vladimir Kara-Murza’s wife, Evgenia Kara-Murza, urges action on her husband’s behalf.

Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin’s Personal Prisoner – U.S. Helsinki Commission, Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe hearing, September 2023

A Year of Injustice: The One-year Anniversary of Vladimir Kara-Murza’s Wrongful, Unlawful, and Arbitrary Detention – U.S. Capitol event, April 2023

International Sanctions Efforts

Kara-Murza played a key role in the U.S. Congress’ 2012 passage of the original Magnitsky legislation, which imposed targeted sanctions on Russian human rights violators.  He then urged other countries to pass similar targeted sanctions legislation.  

In both 2015 and 2017, he was poisoned and survived the resulting comas. These attempts on his life were widely viewed as the Russian government’s retribution for his work on Magnitsky sanctions. 

Since Kara-Murza’s imprisonment in 2022, governments around the world have imposed Magnitsky sanctions on his persecutors.

Vladimir Kara-Murza’s work

Beyond his work on Magnitsky sanctions and advising Human Rights First, Kara-Murza advocated for democracy and human rights in Russia, worked as a journalist and commentator, and directed documentary films, among other work.

Kara-Murza addresses the Arizona House of Representatives on democracy in Russia and Putin’s aggression toward Europe and the West. This is the speech that was the pretext for Kara-Murza’s arrest.  

Kara-Murza’s final interview before his arrest.  

60 Minutes profile of Kara-Murza

A previously unseen interview where Kara-Murza speaks on being poisoned and why people in the West shouldn’t take their freedom for granted.

Vladimir Kara-Murza moderated, led, or spoke at a number of events hosted by Human Rights First.

Kara-Murza spoke on a panel, moderated by Human Rights First, on corruption and human rights crises in Afghanistan, Russia, and Ukraine.  

Kara-Murza moderates discussion on international adoption of targeted sanctions with U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Australian Senator Kimberley Kitching, Japanese Representative Shiori Yamao, and New Zealand MP Simon O’Connor.  

Kara-Murza moderates a panel with Bill Browder, Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign; Annie Boyajian, Freedom House; Kizito Byenkya, Open Society Foundations; and Irwin Cotler, Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.

Vladimir Kara-Murza directed a range of documentaries about freedom and dissent in Russia.  

  • They Chose Freedom – 2005

Part 1– The Awakening

Part 2- Society against the State

Part 3 – Defeat and Victory

Part 4 – History Repeats Itself


Ask your representatives to urge the State Department to designate Vladimir Kara-Murza as “wrongfully detained” under the Levinson Act and immediately prioritize securing his release.