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Jailed British-Russian Kremlin critic sent to Siberian ‘punishment cell’

Journalist and activist Vladimir Kara-Murza was convicted of treason earlier this year for publicly denouncing Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Vladimir Kara-Murza

An imprisoned Russian opposition figure who has dual British nationality has been transferred to a maximum security prison in Siberia and placed in a tiny “punishment cell”, his lawyer has said.

Vladimir Kara-Murza, 42, was convicted of treason earlier this year for publicly denouncing Russia’s war in Ukraine and sentenced to 25 years as part of the Kremlin’s relentless crackdown on critics.

On Thursday, he arrived at IK-6 — a maximum security penal colony in the Siberian city of Omsk – his lawyer Vadim Prokhorov said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

Mr Kara-Murza, a journalist and activist, was an associate of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was killed near the Kremlin in 2015.

He survived poisonings in 2015 and 2017 that he blamed on the Kremlin. Russian officials have denied responsibility.

Mr Kara-Murza was jailed in April 2022 after rejecting the charges against him and calling them punishment for standing up to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He likened the proceedings to the show trials under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

In July, the British Government sanctioned six people following the “unjustifiable” decision to reject an appeal by the British-Russian dissident.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote on Twitter at the time: “Rejecting @vkaramurza’s appeal is unjustifiable. He should be released immediately. The United Kingdom stands with him and his family.”

Mr Prokhorov said the transfer from a detention centre in Moscow, where Mr Kara-Murza was being held pending further trial and appeals, took less than three weeks.

Russian prison transfers, usually done by train, are notorious for taking a long time, sometimes weeks, during which there’s no access to prisoners, and information about their whereabouts is limited.

Mr Prokhorov said his client was immediately placed in a “punishment cell” on arrival in Omsk, in a tiny concrete cell where inmates are held in isolation for violating prison regulations.

He called the news about Mr Kara-Murza’s extreme confinement “worrying” given his deteriorating health, undermined by the poisonings and the solitary confinement he had undergone in pre-trial detention.

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