Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza has disappeared from prison, colleagues say

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Vladimir Kara-Murza, a prominent opposition figure in Russia who is serving a 25-year sentence for treason, has disappeared from the Siberian prison he was held in, his colleagues said on Monday.

Activist and journalist Alexander Podrabinek wrote on Facebook that he tried to send a letter to Kara-Murza in the prison in the Omsk region, but the document was returned with a note saying the Kremlin critic was no longer there.

According to the Telegram news channel Agentstvo, Kara-Murza’s lawyer Vadim Prokhorov said that another lawyer tried to visit the political activist and journalist on Monday but was told he wasn’t in the prison.

Kara-Murza, 42, survived two poisonings that he blamed on Russian authorities. In 2022, he was arrested and later sentenced to 25 years in prison on charges stemming from a speech that same year to the Arizona House of Representatives in the US, where he denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He has rejected the charges against him, which he considers a punishment for standing up to Vladimir Putin. He likened the case against him to the show trials under Josef Stalin.

His family has expressed concerns over his disappearance.

“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,” his wife Evgenia Kara-Murza said.

“I demand that the Russian government provide us with information about my husband’s whereabouts.”

The transfer of inmates within Russia’s prison system is shrouded in secrecy. Recently, the whereabouts of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny were unknown for weeks as he was being transferred to a new location, a disappearance that greatly alarmed his supporters.

Navalny, who is serving a 19-year prison sentence, is now being held in a tiny punishment cell in an Arctic prison.

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