Leaders Call on Russia to Free Oxi Courage Honoree Kara-Murza


WASHINGTON, DC, April 22, 2022 — Today a Russian court charged Oxi Courage Award recipient Vladimir Kara-Murza with violating a newly-enacted law prohibiting citizens from criticizing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

He was arrested outside his home in Moscow last week following a CNN interview in which he said about Putin’s government: “It’s not just corrupt, it’s not just kleptocratic, it’s not just authoritarian. It is a regime of murderers. It is important to say it out loud.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez at the 2019 Oxi Courage Awards

In response to these new charges, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez and Ranking Member James Risch released a powerful statement demanding Kara-Murza’s release. They said:

Vladimir’s bravery inspires us as he uses his voice for the people of Ukraine, and offers a vision of what a free and democratic Russia might be. Though the Putin regime attempts to paint dissenters as anti-Russian, Vladimir has made clear through his efforts to bring truth and the rule of law to Russia that he is in fact the strongest advocate for the Russian people. We call on the Russian government to release Vladimir and all those detained for fighting on behalf of a better future for their country.”

Michael Psaros and Vladimir Kara-Murza at the 2018 Oxi Courage Awards

Kara-Murza has maintained his #OXIcourage from jail, publishing a column in The Washington Post saying: “There will be another window of opportunity — and this time we need to use it correctly. There will be a dawn. The night, as you know, is darkest just before the light…Russia will be free. I’ve never been so sure of it as I am today.”

Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan said in a statement today that Kara-Murza has “repeatedly risked his safety to tell the truth about Vladimir Putin’s heinous violations of human rights” and said the charges against him were for a “sham offense.” He added, “Americans should be infuriated by Putin’s escalating campaign to silence Kara-Murza. … And everyone who values press freedom and human rights should be enraged by this injustice and join in demanding Kara-Murza’s immediate release.”

Then-National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman and Kara-Murza

Yesterday, on the eve of the appeal hearing, the National Endowment for Democracy joined other International democracy and human rights organizations in calling for Kara-Murza’s release saying: “[We] call on Russian authorities to release Vladimir Kara-Murza and all imprisoned political and civil society leaders and activists who have been arbitrarily detained for exercising their rights…We express our solidarity with Vladimir Kara-Murza and all citizens of Russia imprisoned for their democratic aspirations. The international community must take all possible actions to ensure their immediate release.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when Kara-Murza was originally detained, called for his release tweeting:

Kara-Murza has survived two attempts on his life by Russian forces, and both times his wife was told he would not survive. Yet he returns to Moscow to fight for freedom. When he received the 2018 Courage Award, Foundation Advisory Board Member Michael Psaros introduced Kara-Murza as “a man who is changing the world.”  In his acceptance speech, Kara-Murza said:
Moral courage can be stronger than military might as the people of Greece showed in October of 1940 when the Axis ultimatum was answered with one short word: OXI!”  There is nothing despotic regimes hate more than hearing this word…We say NO to [Russia’s] cruelty, to its corruption, to its constant lying.  And we look forward to one day saying YES to a Russia that respects the rights and freedoms of its citizens and that plays a constructive role in international affairs.”

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