For the second time in less than two years, Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza was suddenly stricken ill and hospitalized in Moscow this morning. At this moment, he is unconscious, in intensive care, and on life support. His symptoms today are identical to those of two years ago when he was hospitalized under highly suspicious circumstances with many believing he had been poisoned. His wife and three children live in a suburb of Washington D.C.
Vladimir is perhaps the most authentic, articulate, informed, reasoned, effective, and persistent advocate for reform and decency in Russia. He has carried his message to audiences in Washington, and across Europe and his own country. He played a key role in the passage of the Magnitsky Act which restricts travel to the US and freezes the assets of designated Russians whose violations of human rights standards have been especially pronounced. Vladimir is also courageous beyond words. After his friend and colleague Boris Nemtsov was murdered outside the Kremlin almost exactly two years ago, Vladimir chose to return to Moscow to advocate for reform in Russia. He did so at considerable personal risk and sacrifice.
Vladimir works at Open Russia, and is a frequent contributor to World Affairs. He blogs at Spotlight on Russia.
We do not know the cause of VKM's illness. However, there is ample reason to suspect that Kara-Murza is a victim of the Kremlin given that so many other high profile advocates for decency and reform in Russia have been eliminated, imprisoned, or stigmatized. We cannot know if the Kremlin's recent attacks in Ukraine and Mr. Kara-Murza's illness are early signs that President Putin feels a free hand to ramp-up his attacks abroad and at home. But, we are certain that blissful silence and weakness from the Trump Administration, or any administration, sends a foolish and dangerous signal to the Kremlin that will serve only to invite more of the same.
We express our solidarity with Vladimir and his family, and for all those who sacrifice and suffer to advance the cause of freedom in Russia.
-James S. Denton, Publisher and Editor
Photo Credit: Lalekseev - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0