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Opinionista

A day of reckoning will come and the darkness over Russia will dissipate

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Vladimir Kara-Murza is a Russian political activist, journalist, author and filmmaker.

In their last statements to the court, defendants usually ask for an acquittal. For a person who has not committed any crimes, acquittal would be the only fair verdict. But I do not ask this court for anything. I know the verdict. I knew it a year ago when I saw people in black uniforms and black masks running after my car in the rearview mirror. Such is the price for speaking up in Russia today. 

 

NB. This is the final statement to a Moscow court on 10 April by Vladimir Kara-Murza, who faces up to 25 years in jail on treason charges over comments critical of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

 

I’m in jail for my political views. For speaking out against the war in Ukraine. For many years of struggle against Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship. For facilitating the adoption of personal international sanctions under the Magnitsky Act against human rights violators. 

Members of the court: I was sure, after two decades spent in Russian politics, after all that I have seen and experienced, that nothing can surprise me any more. I must admit that I was wrong. I’ve been surprised by the extent to which my trial, in its secrecy and its contempt for legal norms, has surpassed even the “trials” of Soviet dissidents in the 1960s and 1970s. And that’s not even to mention the harshness of the sentence requested by the prosecution or the talk of “enemies of the state.” In this respect, we’ve gone beyond the 1970s — all the way back to the 1930s. For me, as a historian, this is an occasion for reflection. 

At one point during my testimony, the presiding judge reminded me that one of the extenuating circumstances was “remorse for what [the accused] has done”. And although there is little that’s amusing about my present situation, I could not help smiling: The criminal, of course, must repent of his deeds. I’m in jail for my political views. For speaking out against the war in Ukraine. For many years of struggle against Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship. For facilitating the adoption of personal international sanctions under the Magnitsky Act against human rights violators.  

Not only do I not repent of any of this, I am proud of it. I am proud that Boris Nemtsov brought me into politics. And I hope that he is not ashamed of me. I subscribe to every word that I have spoken and every word of which I have been accused by this court. I blame myself for only one thing: that over the years of my political activity I have not managed to convince enough of my compatriots and enough politicians in the democratic countries of the danger that the current regime in the Kremlin poses for Russia and for the world. Today this is obvious to everyone, but at a terrible price — the price of war. 

In their last statements to the court, defendants usually ask for an acquittal. For a person who has not committed any crimes, acquittal would be the only fair verdict. But I do not ask this court for anything. I know the verdict. I knew it a year ago when I saw people in black uniforms and black masks running after my car in the rearview mirror. Such is the price for speaking up in Russia today. 

But I also know that the day will come when the darkness over our country will dissipate. When black will be called black and white will be called white; when at the official level it will be recognised that two times two is still four; when a war will be called a war, and a usurper a usurper; and when those who kindled and unleashed this war, rather than those who tried to stop it, will be recognised as criminals. 

This day will come as inevitably as spring follows even the coldest winter. And then our society will open its eyes and be horrified by what terrible crimes were committed on its behalf. From this realisation, from this reflection, the long, difficult but vital path toward the recovery and restoration of Russia, its return to the community of civilised countries, will begin. 

Even today, even in the darkness surrounding us, even sitting in this cage, I love my country and believe in our people. I believe that we can walk this path. DM

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  • Beyond Fedup says:

    What an incredibly brave man! May God bless you and give you strength! 🙏We can only know from a distance what the evil, murderous, bestial and bloodthirsty the current regime in Russia is under that mass-murdering monster KGB thug Putin. It fills one with total contempt, revulsion and terrible retribution. Equally so for our hypocritical and vile ANC, who subserviently licks Putin’s backside and is only too keen to do his bidding. Good will always triumph over evil and I cannot wait to see all these devil’s disciples burn in hell forever 🔥🔥🔥

  • Richard Bryant says:

    These words are so similar to those uttered by Nelson Mandela at his Rivonia trial. But if that were in SA today, the ANC would be outside the court cheering on his judgement.

    There is nothing moral left of the ANC. It has veered so far from its founding principles that it cannot see anything wrong about the atrocities perpetrated by putin. Ironically it is the clamber for materialism which guides it despite its hatred for anything ‘west’. Quite appropriate then to have a billionaire as its leader who says nothing about anything to inspire anybody.

  • Biff Trotters says:

    May Putin’s friends inside Russia and elsewhere be judged together with Putin. I’m hoping for a firing squad but let’s not stoop to his level.

  • Pet Bug says:

    Haunting; I have you and the thousands of other jailed Russians in my thoughts.
    And we will vote out this now off the rails ANC government next year.

    Does anyone have Cyril’s and Naledi’s email?
    This must be forwarded to them for reflection.

  • norman mokone says:

    The torture and subsequent murder of Sergei Magnitsky was an atrocious act the perpetrators. During this never ending ordeal Sergei remained resolute and stood firmly by his principles and values and refused to be corrupted even when he was staring death in the face. The Magnitsky act which was fiercely lobbied for by Bill Browder, a friend/colleague of Sergei Magnitsky, and extensively documented in the book “Red Notice,” is the legacy that Sergei has left behind. I believe that Vladimir Kara-Murza has also already left a legacy because of his advocacy for justice and human rights. Let us celebrate Vladimir while he is still with us…You are a hero and a very brave man Mr Vladimir Kara-Murza.

  • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

    It is dreadful to realize that expressing your personal opinion can land you in jail, while the author of this rule, which is against all civil principles, can make an armed invasion of an innocent democracy without any (almost) consequences.

  • Jon Quirk says:

    Mr Kara-Murza,

    I salute you for your extraordinary courage. It takes exceptional courage to speak out when the guns of rage and silencing are pointed at you, and it’s converse, going along the easy route, with the flow, but against all countervailing currents of decency and integrity.

    It is trite to talk about about the Robert Frost choice and the taking of the road less travelled – that is an easy choice, but to make such a choice, knowing as you do, the consequences of this, is real bravery.

    The sort of bravery that seemingly no-one in the ANC, our ruling party here in South Africa, is willing to take – to call out our Emperor’s – we have very very many – standing there naked, who have drained our country, not only financially by the most egregious draining of state assets and resources to the extent they have beggared our country, but also our spirit as we now stand, in the dock with the Putins of this World, decidedly on the wrong side of morality, of history, with the braggarts and bully-boys of the modern World.

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    Just remember that Madiba’s final words to the the judge/s were … “.. if needs be, it is cause for which I am prepared to die.” Long before his 27 years in a quite notorious prison for his bravery are up, Putin will be food for the worms (wonder if even they would feast on such abominable flesh ?) ! Hopefully you will still be around then, to take your tribute. In the meantime … let the world know about the name/s of the judge/s who presided over your so-called ‘trial’ . These butchers need to be reckoned with also … for they are complicit in this dereliction of ‘duty’.

  • Jon Quirk says:

    Sadly now just sentenced to 25 years by the butcher Putin ….

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