(FILE) Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza attends a press statement prior to a faction meeting of the German Free Democratic Party (FDP) at the German parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, 08 September 2020. EFE/EPA/CLEMENS BILAN

Russian opposition leader ‘regrets nothing’ week before sentencing for treason

Moscow, Apr 10 (EFE).- Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza, who has been in custody for a year on charges that include high treason and is due to be sentenced next week, told a Moscow court on Monday that he “regrets nothing.”

His lawyer, Maria Eismont, told the press that he had said “he regrets nothing” and that he “loves Russia”, according to the online portal Mediazona.

She said that the Moscow city court will issue the verdict against the opposition leader on 17 April. The prosecution wants 25 years in prison.

Lawyer Maria Eismont (R) speaks with journalists after the court hearing against her client Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza in the Moscow City Court, in Moscow, Russia, 10 April 2023. EFE/EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

The trial is taking place behind closed doors and without the defendant being present. He has lost 17 kilos in the last 12 months in prison due to ailing health stemming from two attempted poisonings.

He is also accused of cooperating with Nato countries and spreading false information about the Russian army in Ukraine.

According to the indictment, Kara-Murza “knowingly disseminated false information” by accusing the Russian military of shelling residential areas, hospitals and schools in Ukraine during a March 2022 speech at the Arizona State House of Representatives in the US.

He is also accused of high treason, a charge punishable in Russia by up to 20 years in prison, and of working for an NGO that was declared “undesirable” by Russian judicial authorities.

Journalists gather in the hall after the court hearing against Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza in the Moscow City Court, in Moscow, Russia, 10 April 2023. EFE/EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

In an open letter on Monday, dozens of independent journalists called for Kara-Murza’s release, calling the accusations “unfounded” and “cynical” and described the legal proceedings against him as political.

“Vladimir Kara-Murza, an outspoken critic of the Russian aggression that’s causing endless devastation and suffering in Ukraine, is a true patriot who stood up to a senseless war that also consumes the lives of Russian citizens in the military. But to speak out for peace and for ending this war is a crime in today’s Russia,” they said.

They denounce the current trial as evidence of “Russia’s return to the practices of Stalinist terror against dissenters”.

Recently, the opposition leader’s lawyers reported that Kara-Murza had been diagnosed in prison with polyneuropathy in his lower limbs as a result of the two poisonings attempts he survived in 2015 and 2017.

Despite his precarious state of health, the Russian judiciary has extended the pre-trial detention of the 41-year-old opposition leader, who was arrested in April 2022, until August.

According to the research collective Bellingcat, he had previously been followed by the same Federal Security Service unit that later poisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who himself is serving eight years in prison.

In October 2022 he was awarded the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize 2022 by the Council of Europe.EFE