UK ‘deeply concerned’ as jailed British activist goes missing from Siberian prison

Kara-Murza’s wife says his disappearance is ‘frightening’ as he is at mercy of Russians who tried to kill him twice

Arpan Rai
Tuesday 30 January 2024 04:39 GMT
Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin critic found guilty of treason

Foreign secretary David Cameron said he was “deeply concerned” by the disappearance of British-Russian journalist and activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, who is reportedly missing from a jail in a Siberian city where he is serving a 25-year sentence.

The 42-year-old Kremlin critic was lodged in a prison in the Omsk region where he being held in solitary confinement. Efforts by his wife and lawyers to reach him in person and through letters failed, and jail authorities have now said Mr Kara-Murza is no longer present in the facility.

A letter sent to him by political journalist and activist Alexander Podrabinek was returned with a note saying that Mr Kara-Murza was no longer being held there.

Mr Kara Murza’s lawyer said a legal representative who tried to meet the Russian opposition figure on Monday was also told that he was not present in the prison, reported Telegram news channel Agentstvo.

Russia must urgently provide Vladimir Kara-Murza’s lawyers with his whereabouts, following reports that he has been moved from Omsk to an unknown location. I’m deeply concerned for Mr Kara-Murza – a British national imprisoned in Russia for speaking out against the invasion of Ukraine,” Mr Cameron said on Monday.

“I stand with his wife @ekaramurza and plan to meet her soon,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Evgenia Kara-Murza, the activist’s wife, has demanded information and said Mr Kara-Murza is at the mercy of “the same people who tried killing him twice”. She said she did not know where the authorities had taken him.

"There are no grounds for his transfer and that makes it even more frightening as my husband is in the hands of the same people who tried to kill him twice, in 2015 and 2017. I demand that the Russian government provide us with information about my husband’s whereabouts," she said.

Mr Kara-Murza suffers from a nerve disorder after surviving two poison attacks and was sentenced to 25 years in jail last April on charges of treason and spreading "false information" about Russia’s war in Ukraine.

He has denied the charges and said that it is punishment for opposing Vladimir Putin, comparing the proceedings to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s show trials of the 1930s.

Officials from Russia’s prison service have not commented publicly on Mr Kara-Murza’s whereabouts.

Discreet prison transfers without any information being provided to family members is the norm in Russia. This often results in prison inmates disappearing from contact for several weeks. A similar wave of concern was sparked when Russia’s top opposition figure Alexei Navalny could not be found in December.

He resurfaced weeks later, confirming he had been sent to a prison colony above the Arctic Circle, 230km (140 miles) from his previous prison in central Russia’s Vladimir region.

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