Opinion | Vladimir Kara-Murza: I’m proud to have spoken out towards Putin

On April 3, the Russian Supreme Court docket will take into account a cassation attraction towards the sentence of Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was sentenced to 25 years in a strict-regime colony for 5 public statements he made towards the battle in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s regime. Kara-Murza, who’s being held in Jail Colony No. 7 in Omsk, was blocked from collaborating within the listening to by way of video hyperlink.

As a substitute, he despatched the court docket the next written assertion:

For the primary time in my life, I’m addressing the Supreme Court docket. This physique has carried out totally different features in numerous intervals of our nation’s historical past: There was a time when it permitted convictions for numerous harmless victims, sending them to camps and firing squads; later, it overturned these identical sentences for lack of grounds and issued choices on rehabilitation. Right now, we’re again within the first of those two phases — however we should always not doubt that the second is bound to return.

In its essence, cassation is a purely authorized process, and our cassation attraction cites various undisputed authorized irregularities, every of which might be sufficient by itself to overturn my conviction. I might write an awesome deal extra about these irregularities. I might tackle the difficulty that this complete case basically lacks any grounds or particular crime, as a result of I used to be convicted solely for publicly expressing my opposition to the Putin regime and the battle in Ukraine — that’s, for exercising my constitutional proper to freedom of speech. Or I might make the purpose that the textual content of the identical articles of the Legal Code based on which I acquired my 25-year sentence straight contradicts Russia’s worldwide human rights obligations, rendering my conviction invalid by advantage of Part 4 of Article 15 of the Structure. This isn’t merely my opinion; it’s an official discovering of the U.N. Human Rights Committee.

Or I might write about the truth that my sentence was imposed by a court docket of unlawful composition, because the presiding decide confronted an apparent battle of curiosity: He was personally topic to worldwide sanctions underneath the Magnitsky Act, which I helped to implement. This, after all, was organized intentionally and demonstratively. There may be way more I might write about.

However I can’t take up paper and your time with this argument. Initially, since you, skilled attorneys, perceive all of it completely nicely — and it’ll don’t have any impact on the choice you’ll put your signatures to. Secondly, as a result of it’s unusual and slightly ridiculous to offer examples of the illegality in a case that’s unlawful from starting to finish — simply because the circumstances of all Russian residents arrested for talking out towards the battle are unlawful from starting to finish. And, lastly, as a result of any arguments based mostly on legislation don’t have any relevance to the fact by which Russia exists underneath the regime of Vladimir Putin.

This actuality was as soon as described with startling, scary accuracy by George Orwell in his nice novel “1984”: “Struggle is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is energy.” This slogan on the facade of Orwell’s Ministry of Fact very precisely displays the precept of functioning of right now’s Russian authorities.

For the third yr now, my nation — or, extra exactly, an ageing, irremovable, illegitimate dictator who has arrogated to himself the best to talk and act on behalf of my nation — has been waging a brutal, unjust, invasive battle towards a neighboring impartial state. In the middle of this aggression, the invader has dedicated real battle crimes. In two years, tens of hundreds of civilians, together with kids, have been killed and wounded in Ukraine; hundreds of residential homes in addition to tons of of hospitals and colleges have been destroyed. These info are widespread data and have been documented intimately within the stories of worldwide organizations. It was on suspicion of battle crimes that the Worldwide Legal Court docket issued an arrest warrant for citizen Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

However in our Orwellian actuality, the legislation enforcement and judicial system is just not fascinated with those that commit battle crimes however in those that communicate out about them, who attempt to cease them. Right now, there are dozens of individuals in Russian prisons and penal colonies who’ve overtly spoken out towards the battle in Ukraine. These are very totally different individuals: artists and clergymen, politicians and journalists, attorneys and law enforcement officials, students and entrepreneurs, college students and pensioners — individuals of various views, ages and professions who didn’t need to grow to be silent accomplices to the crimes of the present Russian authorities. Right now, it’s common on this planet to berate and condemn all Russian residents, with out distinction, to say that we’re all chargeable for this battle. However I’m proud that on this darkish, despicable, horrible time in Russia, there have been so many individuals who weren’t afraid and didn’t stay silent — even at the price of their very own freedom.

This complete case is predicated on the denial of the very ideas of legislation, justice, legality. However it’s also based mostly on a crude, cynical forgery — an try to equate criticism of the authorities with hurt to the nation; to current opposition exercise as “treason.” However there may be nothing new on this, both; it’s what each dictatorship does. In Nazi Germany, anti-fascist college students from the White Rose motion had been tried for “treason”; in apartheid South Africa, civil rights activists had been prosecuted for a similar crime. Within the Soviet Union, one among our biggest compatriots, Nobel Prize laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn, was additionally charged with “treason.”

Historical past has set every little thing proper — has it not?

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