April 24, 2024

Evgenia Kara-Murza has been surviving on autopilot ever since her husband, Vladimir, was convicted of treason for his public criticism of President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s war on Ukraine.

On Monday, the Russian opposition politician was sentenced to 25 years in a high security prison and his wife has no idea when she or the couple’s three children will ever see him again.

She’s been so outspoken herself, she can’t risk travelling to Russia in case she too ends up in jail.

“I’m afraid they might detain me to put pressure on Vladimir, and I can’t afford him losing my voice as well, or leaving our kids without both parents,” Evgenia explained over the phone from the US, where the family live for safety.

She says she’s “heartbroken” – she hasn’t even been allowed to speak to her husband since his arrest over a year ago – but for now she’s numbed herself against the enormity of the verdict to focus on rallying international support.

believes the treatment of her husband is payback.

“I think it’s for a combination of things, including how he continues being unequivocal in his opposition to the regime and its crimes,” she says. “But 35 or 36 countries have the Magnitsky legislation now, which shows that Vladimir is very effective in his work. It’s why they hate him so much.”

Sergei Podoprigorov, the chief judge who sentenced Kara-Murza to prison, was one of the earliest targets of the list.

But Kara-Murza’s “Last Word”, his speech to a small, wood-panelled court in Moscow, was more than a denunciation of tyranny and a terrible war. It also conveyed his own dream, of another Russia. A country he still believes can one day be truthful, democratic and free.

“That day will come as surely as spring comes after even the iciest of winters,” he insisted from the dock, addressing anyone who might hear, against all the odds.

It’s that vision that has carried Vladimir Kara-Murza this far. It’s now the faith he must cling to in the solitude of his prison cell.

 

 

 

 

Credit: By Sarah Rainsford
BBC Eastern Europe correspondent

 

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