She’s uncomfortable: Russian opposition activist Yevgenia Kara-Murza (40) fights for her husband’s freedom and against the regime of Kremlin dictator Vladimir Putin (69).
Her husband, journalist and politician Vladimir Kara-Murza (40), is considered one of Russia’s leading opposition figures. He had already survived two poisonings. But leaving his homeland permanently to escape Putin was never his choice.
In March he criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He was arrested shortly after. Now he is in a prison camp for 15 years!
Outwardly, Putin has always tried to project an image of unity. The whole Russian people stand behind him and the attack on Ukraine – that’s his message.
That is why opposition figures like Yevgenia and Vladimir Kara-Murza are so dangerous to the Kremlin ruler. They remind us that a Russia without Putin is possible and that not everyone agrees with his war drive. In short, you question Putin’s omnipotence.
Yevgenia Kara-Mursa works Free Russia forum, an exile organization for Russian dissidents founded by chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov (59). Since her arrest, Yevgenia has spoken out at several conferences and in international media about the Russian regime and her husband’s fate.
Since the arrest, Yevgenia has been able to reach her husband only through her lawyer: “She tries to visit Vladimir in prison as much as possible, but he is harassed by the authorities and has to wait more than seven hours to see him.”
A bad situation, even if it is not easy, she does not give up: “It is difficult to do both at the same time: fight for someone I love, for someone imprisoned by this inhumane regime, and at the same time for mother. I have to have three children.” Yevgenia currently lives in America with her children.
Solitary confinement must break him
Putin’s regime tries to isolate her husband as much as possible, but he continues his work even in prison: “Vladimir is strong, four walls cannot break him. He still tries to give a voice to all the prisoners. There are innumerable cases, many unknown, inmates helpless.
When the decision on his detention was made, five ambassadors, his relatives and some journalists gathered for the hearing. “The authorities made her wait for three hours and then they announced the verdict, there was no trial. They want to sweep her case under the rug.
Vladimir Kara-Murza has been fighting for a democratic Russia for more than two decades and was a close confidante of opposition politician Boris Nemsov, who was shot dead in public in Moscow in 2015. Three months after killing his companion, Kara-Murza fell into a coma, doctors suddenly diagnosed him with acute kidney failure, and months of treatment in the United States saved his life. Nevertheless, he returned to his home country – and was poisoned again in 2017, and survived.
Putin fears the opposition
“He didn’t allow himself to be intimidated into power,” says his wife. “As a Russian politician, he fights like any other Russian citizen who wants a free country. He has always argued that he cannot expect others to take that risk if he does not do the same.
Ever since the regime arrested him, she has been her husband’s voice: “On the one hand, I try to stand up for political prisoners. But I also raise my voice for my husband.”
Gara-Murza emphasizes that the public is the greatest weapon in the struggle for human rights. “During the West’s negotiations with the Soviet Union, regime critics such as Sakharov and Sharansky were repeatedly brought up.” Even now, the West has to show the regime time and time again that the prisoners’ names are known and demanded. their liberation.
The regime’s greatest weapon is suppression of advertising and freedom of speech. “They say the Russian people are united in support of the war against Ukraine,” says Kara-Murza.
“For two decades they have been motivating the Russian people with their propaganda, but despite this, more than 16,000 people have been arrested for demonstrating against this war, even though they face up to 15 years in prison.”
Shortly after the offensive began in February, the last major media outlets – the Echo of Moscow radio station, the Doshted TV station and the Novaya Gazeta newspaper – were closed, and some of their journalists fled abroad and now continue their work there. .
Young Russians want free media
“Even with Putin’s propaganda machine in charge, there is a huge demand for independent information, especially among the younger generation,” says Kara-Murza. Many have tried to avoid government censorship through VPN applications.
Conversely, Kara-Murza says, it is difficult to assess how effective the campaign will be. “Although opinion polls show high approval ratings for the regime, opinion polls are always questionable in authoritarian regimes.”
However, in many regions of Russia, television is the only source of information. “Putin’s propaganda machine has been able to establish itself for two decades, hammering their message into people’s heads through all channels.” She herself does not always watch the regime’s channels: “It is physically repulsive, and an ordinary person cannot continue to watch it without suffering. Damage.”
The ubiquity of regime propaganda is a sign of weakness, Kara-Murza believes: “They should block all independent reporting because they are afraid of the Russian people.”
The responsibility of the West
Putin’s war against Ukraine is also a result of Western appeasement policy, Kara-Murza says: “Western politicians have long seen Putin as a partner. My husband warned her years ago, and he was right.
Putin views compromises as a sign of weakness, and the West’s reluctance to confront his regime’s crimes has continued to embolden him: “He invaded Georgia in 2008 and nothing happened. In 2014 he invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea with few sanctions. In 2015 he began bombing Syria, which bombed No reaction,” says Kara-Murza.
“If I can kill civilians in Syria without consequence, I can kill civilians in Ukraine – that’s what Putin thinks.”
Putin only understands toughness
Western politicians should under no circumstances pressure Ukraine to cede territory to appease Putin, Kara-Murza says. “He will continue to inspire and strike again in a few years, perhaps Moldova or the Baltic states.”
She could not understand why some Western politicians were looking for a “face-saving” solution to avoid humiliating Putin: “He should not be humiliated, he should be brought to justice.”
Without crimes unpunished, there can be no new beginning for a free and democratic Russia. “We must not repeat the big mistake of the 1990s, focusing only on the economy and not coming to terms with the past,” says Kara-Murza.
“No one is held accountable for human rights violations. But this time the perpetrators must answer for their actions, otherwise there is always the risk of ex-KGB agents turning Russia back into a gulag.
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