Apr 28 2023
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced a bipartisan Senate resolution urging the Biden Administration to designate Vladimir Kara-Murza as wrongfully detained under United States law.
Kara-Murza, a permanent resident of the United States, was arrested by Russia a year ago for condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine. Kara-Murza was charged with “spreading deliberately false information” about the armed forces of Russia, which was criminalized when Russia passed a law after their full-scale invasion of Ukraine. On April 17 of this year, Kara-Murza was convicted of treason and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.
Kara-Murza’s wrongful imprisonment is similar to those of other Americans, including Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. The senators demand the immediate release of Kara-Murza, Whelan, Gershkovich, and all other United States citizens wrongfully detained by Russia.
The senators noted that under the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act (22 U.S.C. 1741), the Secretary of State is required to review the cases of United States nationals detained abroad to determine if there is credible information that they are being detained unlawfully or wrongfully. If this determination is made, the Secretary is required to transfer responsibility for such cases from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA). Transferring the case to SPEHA provides the government with more tools to push for their release.
“Russia is only getting more aggressive and we need to up our game. This resolution urges the Biden Administration to designate Vladimir Kara-Murza as wrongfully detained under U.S. law in order to give us more tools in the toolbox to work to secure his release,” said Senator Graham. “The imprisonment of Kara-Murza, who is one of the leading voices against Putin’s authoritarian regime and Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, is yet another sign that Putin’s Russia is a terrorist state. I appreciate my colleagues working with me on this bipartisan resolution and urging the release of Kara-Murza and all other Americans wrongfully detained by Russia.”
“Vladimir Kara-Murza is a courageous Russian leader, an outspoken opponent of the dictatorship of President Putin, and a leader in the democracy movement in his home country,” Senator Wicker said. “His work is well known to this Congress, and decisive action is needed to save his life. Today we are imploring the Biden administration to support this Russian patriot and legal permanent resident of the United States.”
“Putin’s brutality in Ukraine is only matched by his vicious repression inside of Russia: Vladimir Kara-Murza, a longtime human rights advocate and opposition leader, will serve decades in prison after publicly condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine. The State Department should designate Kara-Murza as ‘wrongfully detained’ and designate Russia as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. These measures will allow the United States to more forcefully advocate for Kara-Murza’s release, respond to Russia’s unlawful war of aggression against Ukraine, and counter its global assault on freedom and democracy,” said Senator Blumenthal.
“One year ago, Putin cruelly detained pro-democracy champion Vladimir Kara-Murza for advocating for human rights in Russia. Mr. Kara-Murza should be designated as wrongfully detained, and I'm proud to join a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce a bipartisan resolution reaffirming our support for democracy and calling for his immediate release,” said Senator Coons.
“Vladimir Putin’s pattern of wrongfully detaining and mistreating American citizens and residents is appalling, and the U.S. will not stand for this. In fact, these blatant attacks on individual freedoms are even in violation of Russia’s own Constitution. I urge President Biden to heed our call, and to do everything in his power to bring Paul Whelan, Evan Gershkovich, and Vladimir Kara-Murza home,” Senator Capito said.
The resolution says the Senate:
- Calls on the US Government to designate Vladimir Kara-Murza as wrongfully detained under United States law.
- Condemns the wrongful detainment of all United States citizens and residents by the Government of the Russian Federation and demands their immediate release from such detention.
- Stands with the people of Russia in their desire to exercise freedom of speech and expression, without retaliation by an oppressive regime.
- Demands that the Russian leadership be held accountable for their inhumane and unjust actions against their own citizens who want nothing less than to be represented by a fair and just government.
- Calls on the United States Government to immediately designate the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism under United States law.