Kremlin critic jailed over denouncing Ukraine war

Apr 22, 2022, 6:24 PM | Updated: Apr 23, 2022, 5:28 am

Russian authorities have opened a criminal case against a prominent opposition activist and remanded him in pre-trial detention Friday for allegedly spreading “false information” about the country’s armed forces.

A court in Moscow ordered Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. held in detention until June 12. Lawyer Vadim Prokhorov told reporters that the false information case against Kara-Murza cited a March 15 speech to the Arizona House of Representatives, in which he denounced the war in Ukraine, as the basis for the latest charges. The activist rejects the accusations.

Russian media reported that similar charges were being drawn up against outspoken tech executive Ilya Krasilshchik, the former publisher of Russia’s top independent news site, Meduza. The moves against the two Kremlin critics are part of a widening crackdown against individuals speaking out against Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Russia adopted a law criminalizing spreading false information about its military shortly after its troops rolled into Ukraine in late February. The offense is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Human rights advocates so far have counted 32 cases targeting critics of the invasion.

Kara-Murza is a journalist and a former associate of late Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated in 2015, and oligarch-turned-dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was jailed for years in Russia. Kara-Murza himself was hospitalized with poisoning symptoms twice, in 2015 and 2017.

Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers denounced the Russian government’s moves against Kara-Murza.

“I am deeply disturbed over news reports regarding the arrest and political persecution of Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza,” Bowers said in a statement. “Don’t forget about these freedom fighters, like Vladimir Kara-Murza. We must remember names!”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted: “Kara-Murza’s brave opposition to Putin has inspired us all. Arizona will always stand for freedom. And we will support those like Kara-Murza who take a stand against oppression.”

Krasilshchik, the tech executive who left Russia in early March, told Meduza that he had learnt about the case against him from news reports, which by Friday evening remained unconfirmed. Russian media have linked the charges to an Instagram post, featuring what Krasilshchik said was the photo of charred human remains in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.

“You can’t recover after seeing the images from Bucha,” the photo caption read. “You feel that the army of this country of ours, it’s capable of anything … and so is the country. That we’re just an order away from mass executions.”

Also Friday, veteran Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov said in an online statement that he was “temporarily” leaving the country.

Ponomaryov, a former State Duma lawmaker who had helped found Russia’s oldest human rights organization in the 1980s, has been a vocal opponent of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, and initiated multiple public petitions against it.

In his statement Friday, he claimed to be “allowing himself to take a vacation” to “look after my health …, but also think through the difficult situation in which we all find ourselves, and plan further (campaigning) activities, which we cannot stop by any means.”

“I doubt my time away will be long,” he added.

In a separate move Friday, the Russian justice ministry added Kara-Murza and several other prominent Kremlin critics to the registry of “foreign agents.” The designation implies additional government scrutiny and carries strong pejorative connotations that can discredit those on the list.

The new additions to the registry included Leonid Volkov, top ally of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Alexei Venediktov, former editor-in-chief of Russia’s oldest critical radio station, Ekho Moskvy. The station was taken off the airwaves shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine.


Associated Press writer Bob Christie in Phoenix contributed to this report.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine:

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
3 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
11 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
11 days ago
Tom Brundy points to a newly built irrigation canal on one of the fields at his farm Tuesday, Feb. ...
Associated Press

Southwest farmers reluctant to idle farmland to save water

There is a growing sense that fallowing will have to be part of the solution to the increasingly desperate drought in the West.
18 days ago
A young bison calf stands in a pond with its herd at Bull Hollow, Okla., on Sept. 27, 2022. The cal...
Associated Press

US aims to restore bison herds to Native American lands after near extinction

U.S. officials will work to restore more large bison herds to Native American lands under a Friday order from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
18 days ago
Children play in a dried riverbed in Flassans-sur-Issole, southern France, Wednesday, March 1, 2023...
Associated Press

Italy, France confront 2nd year of western Europe drought

ROME (AP) — Bracing for Italy’s second consecutive year of drought for the first time in decades, Premier Giorgia Meloni huddled with ministers Wednesday to start mapping out an action plan Wednesday, joining France and other nations in western Europe grappling with scant winter rain and snow. Meloni and her ministers decided to appoint an […]
20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...
Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
Kremlin critic jailed over denouncing Ukraine war