LIVE UPDATES: Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr., journalist and activist in the Russian opposition remains in critical condition on life support with the same symptoms as his poisoning in 2015.
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Kara-Murza, who served as the federal program coordinator for Open Russia, was hospitalized February 2 after collapsing with symptoms similar to his 2015 poisoning.
Open Russia was founded by former political prisoner and businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky to promote democracy in Russia after he emigrated to Switzerland in 2013.
Opposition journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr. remains unconscious in critical condition on life support in a Moscow hospital since collapsing with symptoms similar to his poisoning in 2015.
His lawyer Vadim Prokhorov reported on Facebook at 18:00 yesterday February 5 that there was no change in the status of Kara-Murza.
He remains in a medically-induced coma on a ventilator with medication to support his heart functioning and other emergency procedures.
There was no update yet today. His wife Evgeniya Kara-Murza flew to Moscow and is now with her husband in the hospital.
Kara-Murza’s case is being watched closely by Western officials and supporters who fear he may have become another victim of the Russian state’s vicious practices against dissenters.
Just as in 2015, the Russian media has published contradictory and misleading information about Kara-Murza’s case.
His father, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Sr. has been tweeting regular bulletins about his son and photos from his past and links to his work. On February 4, he tweeted a link to a CNN broadcast titled “Poisoned Again?”
Yet Moskovsky Komsomolets, a tabloid often taking pro-government positions, reported on February 2 that Kara-Murza, Sr. said, in response to a query whether it was poisoning:
“The doctors don’t think so, and neither do I. If somebody wanted this time to ‘knock him off,’ they wouldn’t let him live long enough to take to the ER. It’s just that the poisoning two years ago did not pass without a trace. My son’s health was weakened, his immune system as well, and any ‘sneeze’ can turn out to be dangerous for him.”
In fact doctors have not made any statement yet.
Carl Schreck, a reporter from Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe who extensively investigated Kara-Murza’s case in 2015 and is following it closely now had this to say:
On her radio program Kod dostupa [Access Code], journalist Yuliya Latynina said she was shocked that Kara-Murza had collapsed again after surviving the poisoning of 2015, when he was given a 5% chance of survival. Despite not having recovered fully from his first attack, Kara-Murza insisted on returning to Moscow to resume his work. She hoped that if he survived this time, he would leave Russia.
As Latynina points out:
“I will remind you how Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr. poses a danger to the authorities. It’s not that he is such a leading Russian opposition member, let’s say, such as Navalny. But it’s that he is a person, like Nemtsov, who is very well received in the West. He is a person who took part, physically took part (as is known) in the compilation of the Magnitsky List. He is a person who together with Nemtsov spoke before the Canadian parliament requesting that Canada introduce a similar Magnitsky List. This is a person who was working on the Savchenko List. Well, we realize that Trump will not accept the Savchenko list under any circumstances but nevertheless, from the perspective of the Russian authorities, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr. is a person who could do a lot abroad.”
Kara-Murza took part in a Senate hearing in June 2016 chairedby Sen. Cardin on Russian human rights violations.
Human rights advocate Ellen Bork, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute, writes:
“The odds of such an event happening twice seem astronomically high. That it should happen just as Russian-backed separatists escalated their attacks in eastern Ukraine has raised concerns that these are deliberately timed challenges to a new American administration that looks weaker on Russian aggression abroad and repression at home than its predecessor.”
Kara-Murza’s attorney Prokhorov reported on February 3 on his Facebook page that an investigator from the Khamovniki District department of the Investigative Committee called him to ask about the circumstances of Kara-Murza’s hospitalization.
He emphasized that this was a low level within the Investigative Committee (IC) and did not yet mean it was taken seriously. He pointed out that this was the same department that he and Kara-Murza had approached in December 2015 to file a request for an investigation of his 2015 poisoning, after Kara-Murza returned to Russia.
In the year since, the department had only called a few times, and he and Kara-Murza submitted a new request addressed to Aleksandr Bastrykin, head of the IC. Prokhorov said he would do everything to cooperate with the IC, although he saw little point in it.
At this point, there simply isn’t enough information to assess what has happened to Kara-Murza, although we agree that the chances of a “mysterious illness” happening twice — and only in Moscow — are slim and Kara-Murza may have fallen victim to yet another attack of the Putin regime on its critics.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick