Britain sanctions Russian judges over Vladimir Kara-Murza’s unjust appeal rejection

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Britain on Monday sanctioned Russian judges and prosecutors for their roles in what it called a “politically motivated conviction” of Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, calling for the British dual national’s release.

Kara-Murza, who holds Russian and British citizenship, lost an appeal against his 25-year jail sentence on Monday, the RIA state news agency reported. The 41-year-old was jailed in April for treason and other offenses.

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“This is desperate and unfounded,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter. “Rejecting @vkaramurza’s appeal is unjustifiable. He should be released immediately.”

Britain said it has imposed asset freezes and travel bans on Moscow City Court Judges Vitaly Belitsky and Ekaterina Mikhailovna Dorokhina.

Kara-Murza is one of a small number of prominent opposition figures who stayed in Russia and continued to speak out against President Vladimir Putin after Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

The British government, which previously sanctioned some others connected to his case, said it also sanctioned Basmanny District Court Judge Natalia Nikolaevna Dudar, who it says further extended Kara-Murza’s pre-trial detention.

“Kara-Murza, a dual British national, is being persecuted by the Russian regime for his anti-war stance,” Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said in a statement.

Others who were targeted in the sanctions include two prosecutors and an “expert witness” whom Britain said had provided false justification for Kara-Murza’s detention.

Kara-Murza was arrested two months after the war in Ukraine began, accused of spreading false information about the armed forces and declared a “foreign agent”. His detention came hours after CNN broadcast an interview with him in which he said Russia was run by “a regime of murderers”.

Kara-Murza was later charged with treason over speeches he had made about the war, including one to the Arizona House of Representatives in March 2022 in which he said Putin was bombing Ukrainian homes, hospitals and schools.

Moscow says it does not deliberately target civilians, but thousands have been killed in Ukraine.

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