Letter Sent To Foreign Secretary James Cleverly by 34 Parliamentarians urging him to build on his support for imprisoned British citizen and Russian pro-democracy and anti-war activist, Vladimir Kara-Murza.
The letter urges that he places targeted sanctions on the persons involved in the arrest, detention and ongoing prosecution of Mr Kara-Murza. We will follow up this letter with a list of names to be considered for such targeted sanctions, currently being finalised by Mr Kara-Murza’s legal team.
The Rt Hon James Cleverly
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office 1 King Charles Street
London, SW1 2AH
23 September 2022
Dear Foreign Secretary,
We write to urge you to seek the immediate release of Vladimir Kara-Murza, a British citizen who has been arbitrarily detained in Russia. We welcome your Department’s commitment to provide him with consular assistance, and request that you urgently sanction those involved in his arrest, detention and on-going persecution.
As you are aware, on 11 April Mr Vladimir Kara-Murza was arrested in Moscow. A day later he was sentenced to 15 days imprisonment for false allegations that he “changed the trajectory of his movement” after seeing police.
The police denied Mr Kara-Murza’s initial requests for a lawyer and forbade him from contacting his family. On 22 April and then 3 August further charges were presented, with Mr Kara-Murza facing up to 14 years imprisonment in total for comments he made condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and for earlier holding an event in support of political prisoners in Moscow in October 2021.
He has further been designated as a “foreign agent” in Russia for his work with international human rights organisations and advocacy for Magnitsky sanctions on various international platforms. Mr Kara-Murza has been held in pre-trial detention since April, and the Russian authorities are attempting to prevent the public attending court proceedings, with UK and other nations diplomats prevented from entering the court.
Mr Kara-Murza has long fought for a democratic Russia that respects human rights, and has been a leading advocate for the use of Magnitsky Sanctions around the world. For this, he has been a victim of two suspected poisonings by the Kremlin and has faced continuous harassment and persecution in Russia.
Mr Kara-Murza has been designated a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. His arrest is in direct breach of the OSCE Vienna Concluding Document, to which Russia is a signatory, which explicitly prohibits such arbitrary arrest and detention.
Mr Kara-Murza has been denied justice for his poisonings, and is now being held as a political prisoner for seeking to advance the aims shared by the UK and its allies: to end the war in Ukraine and provide accountability for the gross human rights violations committed by Russian forces.
Given the previous attempts on his life, and the widespread use of torture within Russian prisons, Mr Kara-Murza’s detention constitutes a clear risk to his health and life.
We welcome the commitment that you made to Mrs Kara- Murza on 26 May that the FCDO would provide consular assistance to Mr Kara-Murza as a British national and your recognition that raising the profile of Mr Kara-Murza’s case is important in mitigating the risk of torture and further attempts on his life. We urge you to continue to raise Mr Kara-Murza’s case with the Russian authorities, and urge international partners to do the same. This should start with ensuring UK and other diplomats have access to the court.
Vital to the FCDO’s effort to secure Mr Kara-Murza’s release is also the use of targeted sanctions on those involved in his arrest, persecution and ongoing detention.
Targeted sanctions can serve as a tool to secure Mr Kara-Murza’s release and deter further action by those enacting the will of the Kremlin by persecuting and silencing opponents of Russia’s war. The arrest and detention of Mr Kara-Murza as punishment for his condemnation of the war directly supports the Russian government and facilitates the continued destabilisation of Ukraine. As such, there is a clear basis upon which those involved in Mr Kara-Murza’s arrest, detention and persecution, should be sanctioned under the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2009. We urge you to continue to coordinate with international partners on such sanctions.
One day, when Russia is free, Vladimir Kara-Murza, like both Navalny and the late Boris Nemtsov, will be recognised as a true Russian patriot. Until then we must stand with those willing to speak out against the invasion of Ukraine and for democracy and human rights in Russia. We must also take every step possible to secure the release of British citizens facing political persecution. Mr Kara-Murza must immediately be freed, and until that happens all those involved in his political imprisonment must be subject to targeted sanctions.
MP for Aberavon
MP for Rhondda
Lord Austin of Dudley
MP for Glasgow Central
MP for Reigate
MP for Bedford
MP for Exeter
MP for Gordon
MP for Harrow East
Lord Knight of Weymouth
Ros Altmann CBE
MP for Rutland and Melton
MP for Chingford and Woodford Green
Dame Margaret Hodge
MP for Barking
MP for Basildon and Billericay
MP for East Antrim
MP for The Wrekin
Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick
Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle
Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws