Just a few days after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Russian NGO Memorial, it was to Vladimir Kara-Mourza, another face of Russian civil society persecuted by Vladimir Putin’s regime, that the Council of the Europe awarded Monday, October 10 the prestigious Vaclav-Havel prize, which rewards exceptional actions for the defense of human rights. Imprisoned for his opposition to the invasion of Ukraine, the laureate was recently charged with “high treason” by Russian justice.
Born in 1981, Vladimir Kara-Mourza is a longtime figure in the liberal opposition to Vladimir Putin’s regime. This son of an influential journalist and opponent of Leonid Brezhnev decided at a very young age to follow in his father’s footsteps. He began a career in the media at the age of 16 and became involved in liberal political circles in the late 1990s, becoming a close friend and adviser to opponent Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated in 2015.
“ He is someone who has been around for a very long time, who has participated in all the parties of the right wing of Russian liberalism », declares Morvan Lallouet, doctoral student in political science at the University of Kent, and co-author of the book Alexei Navalny: The man who challenges Putin (Tallandier editions). In this universe, Vladimir Kara-Mourza stands out for his links with the United States, where he lived and was a correspondent for Russian media. ” He was very close to Senator John McCain, and he was instrumental in passing the Magnitsky Act », continues Morvan Lallouet. Passed in 2012, this American law led to the establishment of sanctions following the death in custody of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Linked to the middle of American think tanks, Vladimir Kara-Mourza was also close to the businessman and opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky, imprisoned from 2003 to 2013. Vice-president of the organization Open Russia since 2016, he continues the fight for the human rights, the rule of law and democracy, and has established himself over the years as one of the best-known personalities in the so-called “outside the system” opposition milieu – that which demands the end of the regime of Vladimir Putin – now dismembered by repression.
At only 41 years old, Kara-Mourza is a survivor in the ruined landscape of the Russian opposition. If he is not particularly close to Alexeï Navalny, he shares with the leader of the Russian opposition the sinister “honor” of having been tracked down by the same team of poisoners of the FSB, the Russian secret services, which would have twice attempted his life, in 2015 and 2017, as revealed by the investigative media Bellingcat (Alexeï Navalny will be close to death in 2021 after poisoning with the neurotoxin Novichok). Despite these assassination attempts, Vladimir Kara-Mourza will continue to reside regularly in Russia. ” He is one of those people who have earned great respect for their physical courage despite pressure and threats. », Comments Morvan Lallouet.
Arrested on April 11 by the Russian police, he was imprisoned for “disseminating false information” after having denounced the invasion of Ukraine. He will no longer come out of the jaws of Russian justice, which soon accuses him of having collaborated with undesirable NGOs, and charges him with “high treason”, a crime punishable by twenty years in prison. However, he continues his fight from his cell. In a text read by his wife in the hemicycle of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Vladimir Kara-Mourza denounced the other war launched by Vladimir Putin at the same time as the invasion of Ukraine: “ A war against the truth in our country. »