Vladimir Vladimirovich Kara-Murza
|Born||Vladimir Vladimirovich Kara-Murza
7 September 1981
Moscow, RSFSR, Soviet Union
|Political party||Solidarnost (since 2008)
Republican Party of Russia – People's Freedom Party (since 2012)
|Alma mater||Cambridge University|
Vladimir V. Kara-Murza (Russian: Владимир Владимирович Кара-Мурза) (born 7 September 1981, Moscow) is a Russian politician, historian, and television journalist. He is an elected member of the Coordinating Council of the Russian Opposition, and serves on the federal council of the Republican Party of Russia – People's Freedom Party and of the Solidarnost pro-democracy movement. Since 2012, he has been the Senior Policy Advisor at the Institute of Modern Russia. Kara-Murza holds an M.A.(Cantab.) degree in History from Cambridge University (Trinity Hall).
Early life and education
From 1999 to 2001, Vladimir Kara-Murza was a member of the Democratic Choice of Russia party; from 2001 to 2008 he was a member of the Union of Right Forces. Between 2000 and 2003 he served as an advisor to State Duma opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. He has been in opposition to Vladimir Putin since 2000, backing liberal candidate Grigory Yavlinsky in the 2000 presidential election.
Kara-Murza was a candidate for the Russian State Duma in the 2003 parliamentary election, running in the Chertanovsky district in southern Moscow. His candidacy was endorsed jointly by the Union of Right Forces and Yabloko parties. During the campaign, United Russia candidate Vladimir Gruzdev attempted to remove Kara-Murza from the ballot; the lighting on Kara-Murza's campaign billboards and the sound during his televised debates were turned off; carousel voting was discovered on election day. In his book Inside Putin's Russia, British journalist Andrew Jack named Chertanovsky district as a case of electoral manipulation in Russia's 2003 vote. According to the official results, Gruzdev received 149,069 votes (53.8 percent); Kara-Murza, 23,800 votes (8.6 percent); and Communist Party candidate Sergei Seregin, 18,992 votes (6.9 percent).
In May 2007, Vladimir Kara-Murza initiated the nomination of writer and human rights leader Vladimir Bukovsky as a democratic opposition candidate for the Russian presidency in the 2008 election. “The opposition needs a candidate for president – strong, uncompromising, decisive, with irreproachable political and, more importantly, moral authority,” read the statement from Bukovsky's campaign committee, written by Kara-Murza. “Russia needs its own Vaclav Havel, not a new successor from [the KGB].”. From May to December 2007, Kara-Murza chaired Bukovsky's campaign committee that included, among others, Academician Yuri Ryzhov, writer Victor Shenderovich, columnist Andrei Piontkovsky, lawyer Yuri Shmidt, human rights activist Alexander Podrabinek, and political analyst Vladimir Pribylovsky. In October 2007, Kara-Murza was one of organizers of the "Rally of Free People" held on Moscow's Triumfalnaya Square in support of Bukovsky's presidential nomination.
On December 16, 2007, Bukovsky was duly nominated as a presidential candidate by 823 members of a voters' assembly in Moscow (the law required at least 500 people or a nomination). At the same meeting, Kara-Murza was elected as Bukovsky's plenipotentiary representative in Russia's Central Election Commission. On December 22, the Commission denied Bukovsky access to the ballot, refusing to register his candidacy.
At the founding convention of Solidarnost, Russia's united democratic movement, in December 2008, Kara-Murza was elected to the movement's federal council, placing second out of 77 candidates, behind Nemtsov. He was re-elected to the Solidarnost council in 2010 and 2013.
In June 2012, Kara-Murza was elected to the federal council of the Republican Party of Russia – People's Freedom Party, co-chaired by Boris Nemtsov, Mikhail Kasyanov, and Vladimir Ryzhkov.
Kara-Murza entered journalism at the age of 16. He was the London correspondent of Russia's Novye Izvestia newspaper from 1997 to 2000; The London correspondent of Kommersant from September 2000 to June 2003 and of Ekho Moskvy from September 2001 to June 2003; the Foreign Affairs correspondent of Kommersant from July 2003 to April 2004; and the Washington correspondent for the BBC from December 2004 to December 2005. In 2002 he was editor-in-chief of the London-based financial publication "Russian Investment Review".
In April 2004 he became the Washington bureau chief of RTVi television network. After being removed from this position on September 1, 2012, he was hired by the Institute of Modern Russia as a senior policy advisor on 1 November 2012. “It is an honor for me to join this distinguished institute and contribute to its mission of keeping the spotlight on the situation in Russia and advocating for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law”, said Kara-Murza, “These values should remain at the forefront of international relations.” network.
In October 2013 he participated, along with Pavel Khodorkovsky and others, in a similar discussion under the auspices of the National Endowment for Democracy.
In a February 26, 2014, op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Kara-Murza warned that Putin, who had soft-pedaled oppression of dissidents during the Sochi Olympics, had now, in the wake of the Olympics, returned to oppsressive behavior. Only hours after the closing ceremony in Sochi, he noted, a Moscow court had sentenced a group of Bolotnaya Square protesters to prison. He also noted that Russian TV, for several weeks, had been broadcasting “hate-filled appeals to crush the protesters in Kiev,” and maintained that for Putin “maintaining the status quo in Ukraine was not primarily about preserving a post-Soviet sphere of influence or recreating a Moscow-led empire” but about the fear “that a democratic, pro-European Ukraine...will set a 'dangerous' precedent for Russia, and that it will be only a matter of time before Russian citizens begin to demand a similar level of political and economic freedom.”
"They Chose Freedom"
In 2005 Kara-Murza produced a four-part TV documentary, "They Chose Freedom", dedicated to the history of the Soviet dissident movement. The documentary was based on interviews with prominent Russian dissidents, including Vladimir Bukovsky, Elena Bonner and Sergei Kovalev. It was first aired in November 2005.
It has since been screened at various places in Europe and North America. On March 24, 2014, Kara-Murza, Anne Applebaum, and Vladimir Bukovsky took part in a discussion following a London screening of the film.
"Reform or Revolution"
In 2011, Kara-Murza published his first book, "Reform or Revolution: The Quest for Responsible Government in the First Russian State Duma", which recounts the unsuccessful attempt by the Constitutional Democratic Party to form a government during the short existence of the first Russian Parliament in April–July 1906. The book was launched in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
“Spotlight on Russia”
Since 2010 Kara-Murza has been writing a weekly blog, "Spotlight on Russia", for World Affairs Journal. In late 2014 and early 2015, he wrote on his blog about Putin's resumption of the Soviet practice of stripping dissidents of citizenship, urged the Council of Europe to continue denying a vote to Russia (whose voting rights had been suspended following the annexation of Crimea), reported that Kremlin SWAT teams were breaking up opposition meetings, and described Putin's word as “void of value,” citing in support of this claim many false statements and broken promises by Putin.
Kara-Murza reported in July 2012 that he had been denied access a few days earlier to the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., on the orders of the ambassador, because he was “no longer a journalist.” He found this curious, because the ambassador gave the order before the news of his dismissal from the Washington bureau chief of RTVi effective on September 1 was made public. He added that according to several sources he was now on a “blacklist” that rendered him unemployable as a journalist by Russian media, and that the reason for this ban was his advocacy for the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act which was then being considered in the US Congress.
The law, named for Sergei Magnitsky, a Moscow lawyer who uncovered a massive tax-fraud scheme involving several law-enforcement officials and who died in 2009 in the custody of those same officials after being tortured and denied medical care, banned the issuance of U.S. visas to, and the freezing of U.S.-based assets belonging to, persons “responsible for the detention, abuse, or death of Sergei Magnitsky,” and for “extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” in Russia. The law also sanctioned Russian officials involved in broader acts of corruption and in violations of basic civil liberties. Kara-Murza explained his support for the law by saying that “The prospect of losing access to the West and its financial systems...may well be, for now, the only serious disincentive to corruption and human rights violations by Russian officials.”
Also in July 2012, Mark Adomanis warned in the National Interest that the Magnitsky law, then close to final passage, had “potential downsides,” and that it was already worsening “Russia’s already precarious human-rights situation” and driving away “some of the ever-dwindling number of effective opposition journalists in that country.” He cited in particular the firing of Kara-Murza, stating that although Kara-Murza's employers had described his dismissal as part of “a long-planned reorganization,” some observers attributed it to Kara-Murza's support of the Magnitsky law and considered it “a signal to others: don’t step out of line, or you’ll be out of a job.” Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, reported Adomanis, “suggested the decision to fire Kara-Murza may have come from an extremely high-ranking official: Alexei Gromov, the deputy head of the presidential administration.”
A July 2012 article by Peter Baker of the New York Times was devoted largely to the arguments by critics of the Magnitsky law, but Baker did quote Kara-Murza's comment that the bill would hit corrupt officials and human-rights violators “where it hurts, closing access to their ill-gotten gains in the West.”
On July 25, 2012, Kara-Murza testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress about human-rights abuses in Russia and described the proposed Magnitsky Law as “a pro-Russian bill which provides a much-needed measure of accountability for those who continue to violate the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens.” He added: “The Kremlin’s reaction to this legislation shows that it hits them precisely where it hurts. I want to take this opportunity to thank Co-Chairmen McGovern and Wolf for their leadership on this issue. I hope the Magnitsky Act is signed into law before the end of this year.”
In a December 2012 article co-written with Nemtsov, Kara-Murza reiterated his support for the legislation, which he and Nemtsov called “a pro-Russian law that strikes at the heart of the Kremlin’s mafia-like system,” and noted that “Russian opposition and civil society leaders and cultural figures, as well as a plurality of Russian citizens, are in favour of the Magnitsky law.” Kara-Murza and Nemtzov called on Canada to pass a similar piece of legislation that was, at the time, under consideration by the Canadian House of Commons's International Human Rights Subcommittee.
In a December 2012 article for Macleans, Michael Petrou reported that Kara-Murza had just been in Ottawa to urge the passage of the proposed Canadian version of the Magnitsky law, a private member’s bill introduced by Liberal MP Irwin Cotler. Petrou quoted Kara-Murza's statement that while it was the task of Russian opposition leaders, not foreigners, “to bring democratic change to Russia,” Western democracies could still help the cause of Russian democracy through legislation.
The Russian abusers of Magnitsky “rule in the style of Zimbabwe or Belarus,” wrote Petrou, paraphrasing Kara-Murza, “but prefer the West as a safe place to store their money, buy second homes, and send their children to school. And it is in the West where they are most vulnerable.” Kara-Murza himself stated: “If a police official has a choice between dispersing a peaceful demonstration and losing access to his Western bank account, maybe he will think twice....If these people begin to understand that even Putin, with all his oil money, with all his patronage, with all his billions, will no longer be able to protect them when they commit crimes, and he will no longer be able to protect their access to the fruits of their crimes — they’ve all got money in Western bank accounts — that’s going to strike at the heart of the system. And that’s why we think it’s a very pro-Russian law.”
In a June 2013 interview on France 24 television, Kara-Murza discussed the proposed version of the Magnitsky law then being debated in the European Parliament, spoke up for the value of these laws, and noted that the list of persons covered by the U.S. law was being expanded. He distinguished between “friends of Russia” and “friends of Putin” in the European Parliament.
In March 2014, noting that the average Russian opposes intervention in Ukraine by the Putin government, Kara-Murza stated that the world “should respond to Putin’s aggression by sanctioning its perpetrators.” He called for “the list of Russian human rights abusers banned from traveling to and keeping assets in the United States under the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act” to “be dramatically expanded to include senior Kremlin officials responsible for the attack on Ukraine and the crackdown against Russian citizens.” He also expressed the hope that “the European Union would soon follow with its own version of the Magnitsky sanctions,” stating that “Those who commit acts of aggression and abuse the rights of their own citizens should not be entitled to the privileges and comfort of the democratic West.”
Vladimir Kara-Murza is married, with three children. He is the son of Russian television journalist Vladimir A. Kara-Murza, great-grandson of Latvian revolutionary Voldemārs Bissenieks (1884–1938), and great-grand-nephew of Latvia's first Ambassador to Great Britain Georgs Bissenieks (1885-1941), and of Latvian agronomist and publisher Jānis Bissenieks (1864-1923).He is also related to Sergey Kara-Murza (born 1939), a Soviet/Russian historian, chemist and philosopher. (See also details about the Tatar name Kara-Murza).
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