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Wife of Russian-British citizen locked up in Siberia says UK could have been ‘more vocal’

The wife of a dual Russian-British citizen locked up in Siberia has told Sky News the UK government could have spoken out more about his detention.

Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was arrested near his Moscow home in April 2022, was convicted of treason by a court in the Russian capital in April 2023.

The political activist and prominent opposition figure, who claims he has twice survived poisonings which he blamed on the country’s authorities, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The charges stemmed from a speech he gave in March 2022 to the House of Representatives in Arizona, where he denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking to Sky’s Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips programme, Evgenia Kara-Murza said: “The British government could have been more vocal about his unlawful illegal arrest and detention for two years now.”

She also said the “UK’s policy with regard to hostages and political prisoners” was “not acceptable anymore”.

“By saying that we do not engage, the UK government sends a very bad signal to its citizens all over the world that if you end up in a situation like this, [then] sorry, you’re on your own,” Ms Kara-Murza said.

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She said such a position was not acceptable in the 21st century “in a civilised world”.

And she called for a “different approach” because “the number of hostages and political prisoners around the world is on the rise”.

Evgenia Kara-Murza, wife of Vladimir Kara-Murza
Image: Evgenia Kara-Murza has spoken to Sky’s Trevor Phillips

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Mrs Kara-Murza also said she was “very grateful” for a recent meeting she had with the foreign secretary Lord Cameron about the matter.

After the 1 March meeting, she said she was “very happy” that it had taken place after a lengthy campaign and regarded it as “a sign of goodwill on his part”.

She said: “He assured me of his support and his willingness, his preparedness, to fight for Vladimir’s release and to make sure that Vladimir’s case is always publicised. So I think, all in all, it went well.”

Lord Cameron called for Mr Kara-Murza to be released for “urgent medical treatment”.

In a statement, the foreign secretary said the “politically-motivated conviction” was “deplorable”.

“Imprisoned on false charges by the Russian regime, Mr Kara-Murza is being persecuted for his anti-war stance and defence of human rights,” the peer said.

The 42-year-old opposition figure has rejected the charges against him as punishment for standing up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and likened the proceedings to the show trials under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Pic: Reuters
Image: Mrs Kara-Murza in Switzerland in 2023. Pic: Reuters

Last month, he appeared in court via videolink and claimed a state-backed hit squad is “physically eliminating” Putin’s opponents.

Mr Kara-Murza is urging Russians not to give up following the sudden death of Alexei Navalny.

Mr Kara-Murza was an associate of Russian opposition leader and fierce Putin critic Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated near the Kremlin in 2015.

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Since September 2023, he has been serving his sentence in solitary confinement in the Siberian city of Omsk.

In January this year, he was moved to another penal colony in the city and was put in solitary again.

That move has been widely seen as an attempt to pressure a man who, even behind bars, remained a vocal critic of the Kremlin and its war in Ukraine.

Amnesty International has said it considers him a prisoner of conscience “as he has been convicted solely for his political beliefs”.

“He should be immediately and unconditionally released,” Amnesty says.

Also on Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips from 8.30am will be Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, and Commonwealth secretary general, Baroness Scotland.

Sky News Source