The Moscow City Court continues the process in the case of journalist and political scientist Vladimir Kara-Murza (recognized as a foreign agent) – this is the first case when a new, expanded version of the article on treason is applied, when not only the transfer of secret information can be recognized as such, but also simply the provision to a foreign state or organization of assistance in activities directed against the security of the Russian Federation. On Friday, Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov and Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky testified as defense witnesses. Both declined to discuss their appearances before the court, citing a non-disclosure agreement.
On March 31, Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov and Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky testified in court in the case of journalist and political scientist Vladimir Kara-Murza as defense witnesses. The process takes place behind closed doors, so they could not give details. Each spent about half an hour in the courtroom. As Mr. Yavlinsky said, the court removed all the questions that the accused asked him, but the judge himself found his own. The public prosecutor had no questions to the defense witnesses.
In addition, according to the defendant’s lawyer Vadim Prokhorov, on Friday the defense received a refusal to apply for a medical examination and to attach medical documents regarding the health of Vladimir Kara-Murza to the case. Previously, the process has already been postponed due to the fact that he is undergoing treatment for polyneuropathy of the lower extremities.
Vladimir Kara-Murza was arrested in April 2022 on charges under Part 2 of Art. 207.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (dissemination of deliberately false information about the Russian Armed Forces).
According to investigators, in March 2022, the oppositionist, speaking to lawmakers in the state of Arizona (USA), spread deliberately false information about the bombing of residential areas, social infrastructure facilities and the use of other prohibited means and methods of warfare by the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine.
Later, the accusation under Art. 284.1 (carrying out activities of an undesirable organization) and Art. 275 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (treason). The reason was the holding in Moscow in October 2021 of a “conference in support of political prisoners”, which, according to the investigation, was paid for by the Free Russia Foundation registered in the USA (it is recognized as an undesirable organization in the Russian Federation).
Three public speeches by Mr. Kara-Murza criticizing the Russian authorities – in Lisbon, Helsinki and Washington – were qualified as treason.
According to investigators, this was also done on behalf of the Free Russia Foundation. Vladimir Kara-Murza himself considers all speeches to be normal activities of an opposition politician, his defender emphasizes: everything was done openly and publicly.
According to Vadim Prokhorov, this is the first time that a new, expanded version of the article on treason is applied – now not only the transfer of secret information, but simply the provision of assistance to a foreign state or organization in activities directed against the security of the Russian Federation can be recognized as such.
At previous meetings, the prosecution announced the indictment and presented its evidence, now the latter is provided by the defense.
In addition, as it became known to Kommersant, the defense challenged the presiding judge Sergei Podoprigorov due to his conflict of interest: the judge fell under US sanctions as a defendant on the Magnitsky list and even tried to appeal such a decision in 2017-2018 , that is, he assessed it as unfair and unreasonable (on his behalf, relevant requests were sent to the US Treasury Department). Meanwhile, Mr. Kara-Murza is accused, among other things, of participating in lobbying for the Magnitsky Act.
Vadim Prokhorov confirmed to Kommersant that the defense challenged the judge on these grounds, and even twice, he clarifies, but both times they were refused.
Lawyer Robert Zinoviev says that the challenge declared by the defense is almost never satisfied by the court. And not even because of the lack of good reasons, just they are quite serious. The obviously flawed mechanism is to blame for everything, because the decision is at the mercy of the judge himself. And besides, this refusal cannot be appealed. The question of disqualification of a judge should be considered by the chairman of the court, or at least by independent judges, the expert is sure.