Photo Credit: screenshot
Vladimir Kara-Murza (Right) during an interview

There is an old Jewish legend that in every generation there are 36 just men upon whose righteousness the fate of the world depends. Vladimir Kara-Murza is surely one of those men.

Kara-Murza is a Russian dissident- a writer, political activist, and spokesman for Russia’s beleaguered democrats. He was a close associate of Boris Nemtsov, the Russian opposition leader whom the regime murdered near the Kremlin in 2015. Twice Kara-Murza was poisoned by the regime, nearly killing him.


Kara-Murza, whom I have the honor of knowing because he lived with his family in Virginia after his 2017 poisoning, is now in prison in Russia. He was initially charged with a minor offense, but now Putin’s prosecutors are charging him with “deliberately disseminating false information about Russian military forces” and that charge can bring a sentence of 15 years.

Needless to say, Kara-Murza knew the dangers of continuing the fight against Putin and his brutal dictatorship.  Vladimir was a close friend and associate of Alexei Navalny, the Russian democratic leader who Putin had poisoned in 2020– but who returned to the fight when he recovered. Navalny was sent to prison first for two and a half years and more recently for nine more.

Yet knowing these risks, Kara-Murza returned to Russia again this year; he did not think the struggle for freedom in Russia could be carried on from exile. This is courage on an almost superhuman level, yet Vladimir is human: a man, with a wife and children. The United States and every other democracy should be pressing for his release, and anyone who cares about the fate of democracy in Russia—and indeed, the fate of Russia—is forever in his debt.

{Reposted from the CFC site}

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Elliott Abrams is senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor under Pres. George W. Bush.