Imprisoned Russian activist Kara-Murza wins European rights prize

STRASBOURG, France — A jailed Russian opposition activist received a European human rights award on Monday, as a Moscow court extended his detention until December.

The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg, France, has awarded its Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize to Vladimir Kara-Murza, whom Russian officials have accused of spreading “false information” about the Russian military operation in Ukraine.

According to the Council of Europe, Kara-Murza’s wife, Yevgeniya, accepted the award on his behalf. She read a statement from him dedicating the award to the thousands of Russians who voiced their opposition to the military operation in Ukraine and pledged that “a peaceful, democratic Russia without Putin” would return.

Kara-Murza, a 41-year-old journalist, was close to opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was killed near the Kremlin in 2015. He himself survived poisonings in 2015 and 2017 that he blamed on the Kremlin. Russian officials have denied any responsibility for the poisonings.

The prize of 60,000 euros ($58,300) recognizes outstanding actions by civil society in favor of human rights. Václav Havel was a Czech statesman, author, poet, playwright and former dissident.

In Moscow, a court on Monday extended Kura-Murza’s detention until December 12, Russian news agency Tass reported.

Kara-Murza was imprisoned in April for spreading “false information” about the Russian military. Russia passed a law criminalizing the dissemination of “false information” about its military soon after Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24. Authorities used the law against dozens of people to stifle opposition.

Russian authorities recently added treason charges to other charges against Murza. The charges stem from speeches he gave in several Western countries that were critical of the Kremlin regime, according to the activist’s lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov.

Kara-Murza denies committing treason, her attorney says. If found guilty, he faces a prison term of up to 20 years.