Russian Dissident To Send Message From Prison on Receiving Geneva Human Rights Award

GENEVA, November 17, 2022 – The wife of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza — who was taken away from his Moscow home on April 11, 2022, hours after he appeared on CNN and criticized Putin’s war on Ukraine — will be in Geneva today to receive a human rights award from the independent non-governmental human rights organization UN Watch.

“Both Vladimir and I are deeply touched by the UN Watch’s decision to bestow on him this high distinction,” said Evgenia Kara-Murza, the Advocacy Coordinator at the Free Russia Foundation.

She will read a special acceptance message sent by her husband from prison at the UN Watch award ceremony, before an audience of UN diplomats, human rights activists, students and journalists.

After receiving the award, Ms. Kara-Murza will be meeting with United Nations human rights officials, and in a special meeting with ambassadors who sit on the UN Human Rights Council.

“Most Brilliant and Courageous Dissident I’ve Ever Met”

“Russian opposition leader, renowned journalist, historian, filmmaker, and now political prisoner, Vladimir Kara-Murza is the most brilliant and courageous dissident I have ever met,” said Hillel Neuer, UN Watch Executive Director.

“He was chosen for this award on account of his courageous defense of freedom, liberal democracy and universal human rights,” said Neuer.

“His mission to free the Russian people from dictatorship, and to end Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine, has never been more vital.”

“Vladimir and I spoke weeks before he was arrested, and he accepted my invitation to address the United Nations — if, he hinted, he would still be free. He never got to speak.”

“He is being honored by UN Watch for persevering against overwhelming odds, and at great personal sacrifice, in opposing the cruel dictatorship of Vladimir Putin, and for pursuing the dream of a free and democratic Russia,” said Neuer.

Returned to Moscow After Two Assassination Attempts 

Kara-Murza is a contributing writer at the Washington Post, and has worked for the BBC and other media. He directed three documentary films, and served as a visiting fellow at the University of Chicago.

A fierce critic of the Russian dictator, Mr. Kara-Murza successfully mobilized numerous democracies to sanction Putin’s cronies for their corruption and human rights abuses.

He has testified in parliaments around the world, and, on behalf of UN Watch, before the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Because of his dissent, he was poisoned in May 2015 and February 2017, leaving him in a coma and on life support.

“Despite the danger, he refused to give up his fight for democracy. And now, once again, he is paying the price,” said Neuer.

On April 11th, hours after he appeared on CNN and criticized the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine, agents arrested Vladimir outside his Moscow home, and took him away. He has been detained ever since.

”Last month, Vladimir was charged with high treason. If convicted, he could face 20 years in prison,” said Neuer.

”We appreciate that his wife Evgenia is now going around the world to fight for his freedom, and that she is making the trip to Geneva to receive this award. Our goal is to highlight his case among the international community, and the plight of other Russian political prisoners as well.”

Partner With UN Watch

A longtime partner of UN Watch, Mr. Kara-Murza has testified for the organization before the United Nations to call out Russia’s abuses.

He has twice been a featured speaker at UN Watch’s annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights.

When Russia ran for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, Kara-Murza joined UN Watch in trying — unsuccessfully — to stop Putin from winning.

However, earlier this year, after the war on Ukraine provoked an international backlash, UN Watch spearheaded the campaign that ultimately saw Russia ousted from the council.

On May 12, 2022, speaking on behalf of UN Watch, Evgenia Kara-Murza addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council, at a special session on Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, where she appealed for her husband to be freed.

“We salute Evgenia for her courageous, eloquent and tireless campaign to free her husband,” said Neuer

Call for UN Leaders to Speak Out

Neuer addressed the United Nations in May to urge top UN officials to end their silence on Kara-Murza’s arrest and imprisonment, a call he reiterated today.

“We call on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk to speak out immediately, and demand that Russia release Vladimir Kara-Murza and all prisoners of conscience whose only crime was opposing this war. Their intervention would certainly be heard in Moscow, and so it is vital that they speak out.”

Joint Appeal by 25 NGOs

On May 2, UN Watch led a coalition of 25 human rights groups to issue a joint appeal calling on the UN Human Rights Council’s 55 independent investigators to demand the release of Vladimir Kara-Murza, along with all other prisoners of conscience jailed for protesting Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Morris Abram Award & UN Watch

The award, which is UN Watch’s highest human rights distinction, commemorates the legacy of UN Watch’s founder, the late Ambassador Morris Abram, a pioneering civil rights advocate, diplomat and UN delegate, who in 1963 helped win the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that granted equality to the votes of African-Americans. Morris Abram was also a key drafter of the UN’s convention against racism.

Previous winners of the prestigious prize include Cuban dissident Rosa María Payá; Turkish journalist Yavuz Baydar; Chinese dissident Yang Jianli; Antonio Ledezma, the Mayor of Caracas and former political prisoner; Russian dissident and world chess champion Garry Kasparov; Dr. Massouda Jalal, Afghanistan’s first Minister for Women’s Affairs; and Esther Mujawayo, an activist for victims of the genocide in Rwanda.

UN Watch organizes the annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, a key gathering for dissidents, and brings victims to testify before the United Nations Human Rights Council, including victims from China, Cuba, Egypt, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Sudan and Venezuela.

UN Watch