08/16/2022, 10.17
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Moscow, litany of charges against new dissidents

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Oppositionist Vladimir Kara-Murza challenged in prison a panel discussion on the fate of political prisoners organized in December at the Sakharov Center. Arrested on pretexts, as happened to Naval'nyj any excuse employed to bury political opponents behind bars.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Opposition politician and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was arrested weeks ago at his home in Moscow for "suspicious behavior," has received a new charge in jail under Article 284.1 of the Russian Criminal Code for "organizing unwanted activities." He was charged with organizing a panel discussion at the Sakharov Center in Moscow last Dec. 27, 2021, on Memorial Day for political repressions in the USSR, and dedicated to supporting political prisoners in today's Russia.

Kara-Murza is said to have organized the meeting thanks to funding from Free Russia Foundation, an association deemed "undesirable." In fact, these kinds of meetings have been taking place for years thanks to Kara-Murza, together with Sergei Davidis and others, with the participation of activists, lawyers, journalists, relatives of political prisoners and a great many others interested in this issue. The Sakharov Center, which has been closed by the authorities, has always gathered "the most sensitive representatives of Russian society who were certainly not wanted or unwanted outsiders,"  recalls Vera Vasilieva, an activist who has worked with Kara-Murza over the years.

In a letter from prison, the politician recalls the importance of keeping attention high on the plight of political prisoners in Russia, stressing that "the best defense is information disseminated internationally." He had rejoiced when last June 21 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed a resolution with a clear formulation of the problem, which he himself had worked on in previous years.

After his arrest, a charge of fejk, the spreading of false news about the special military operation in Ukraine, had already been added to Kara-Murza for critical assessments he made during a liaison with an assembly in the U.S. state of Arizona. As we have already seen in the fate of Naval'nyj and many others, it is clear that the initial charges with which dissidents are arrested are mostly pretexts, to which more serious ones can be added, "on the horns" they used to say in Stalin's time, and indefinitely lengthen detention.

Official statistics confirm that absolute acquittals in Russian courts are less than 0.1 percent, a negative international record. "It doesn't matter much why you end up in the dock," Vasilieva comments bitterly, "you always find the hook to bury yourself in the lager. Kara-Murza himself, however, tries to instill hope from behind bars, stating that "my aim is for my work on behalf of political prisoners to become completely useless when there is not a single one left in Russia, and I am convinced that that day is not so far away: the night gets darker just before dawn."

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