Human Rights First Recommends Sanctions For Vladimir Kara-Murza’s Detention and Poisoning

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First yesterday filed a formal recommendation to the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of the Treasury recommending Magnitsky sanctions and other targeted measures against 13 Russians involved in the arbitrary detention, harassment, and attempted murder of Russian activist, political opposition leader, journalist, and historian Vladimir Kara-Murza.

“Imprisoning Vladimir Kara-Murza is a violation of his human rights and part of a larger Russian government strategy of silencing all dissent. We continue to call for his release,” said Michael Breen, President and CEO of Human Rights First. “Vladimir has long been a champion of democracy and a key advocate for the creation of Magnitsky-style sanctions programs in the United States and elsewhere. Using the tools he advocated for to sanction those responsible for his arbitrary detention and poisonings would be a fitting response.”

“My husband often quotes Irwin Cotler’s saying that a political prisoner’s worst nightmare is to be forgotten,” said Evgenia Kara-Murza, Vladimir’s wife and a vocal advocate for his release and the release of all Russian political prisoners. “Targeted sanctions would send a clear message: the world will not let criminals get away with committing human rights abuses, and the men and women whom the Russian government has jailed on false charges are very much remembered.”

Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Senior Advisor for Human Rights First since 2020, has been a vocal critic of Vladimir Putin’s corrupt and abusive regime and its war on Ukraine. He has been arbitrarily detained in Russia since April 2022, and his detention follows two previous attempts to murder him with poison.

Human Rights First recommended sanctions on the following individuals:

  • Eight Russian officials and one private Russian individual involved in the ongoing arbitrary detention of Vladimir Kara-Murza;
  • One senior Russian official involved in the government’s legal harassment of Kara-Murza;
  • Three individuals involved in the 2015 and 2017 attempts to murder him using poison.

Human Rights First requested that sanctions be imposed under the Russia Magnitsky Act, the Global Magnitsky Act, and similar authorities that allow the U.S. government to impose asset freezes and visa bans on human rights abusers and corrupt actors. The recommendation builds on calls for sanctions from civil society groups, members of Congress, and others by providing the detailed information and analysis necessary for the U.S. government to impose sanctions.

Human Rights First has worked with other NGOs to submit more than 100 sanctions recommendations through its role coordinating a global coalition of more than 300 civil society organizations advocating for targeted sanctions to promote accountability. About one-third of all U.S. Global Magnitsky sanctions have had a basis in the coalition members’ recommendations.

Since Kara-Murza’s April arrest on a pretextual charge of disobeying the police, additional charges have been brought against him. He has been charged with spreading false information about Russian armed forces, involvement with an “undesirable” foreign organization, and “high treason,” for which he may face 20 years in prison if convicted. With each new charge, Moscow courts have repeatedly extended his pretrial detention.


Published on October 14, 2022


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