Request for targeted sanctions related to the imprisonment of Vladimir Kara-Murza

With this letter, we ask the Norwegian government to cooperate with like-minded governments to impose sanctions/restrictive measures against 13 individuals that have violated the internationally recognized human rights of the Russian politician and human rights activist Vladimir Kara-Murza.

The Canadian government has decided to impose such sanctions, and there are currently initiatives within the EU to impose similar measures.

In the case that the EU’s member states fail to reach an agreement on such sanctions, we request that Norway join forces with a group of like-minded states to impose similar sanctions as Canada has decided to put in place. This will be in line with the requirements of the Norwegian Sanctions Act, which in Section 2 stipulates that the Norwegian government can impose sanctions or restrictive measures against individuals if there is “broad international support” for such measures.

Kara-Murza has an impressive track record of political and human rights activism, including many visits to Norway and cooperation with Norwegian parliamentarians and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. He has been a frequent participant at the Oslo Freedom Forum and co- organized with Norwegian Parliamentarians and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee several events in the framework of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. In November 2021 he was the keynote speaker at the Norwegian Helsinki Committees Sakharov Freedom Award event in the Oslo City Hall. The speech he gave here about the legacy of Soviet persecution in today’s Russia to an audience of Norwegian politicians, human rights defenders, and media representatives constitutes now one of three counts in the charge against him for treason.

According to former Canadian Justice Minister, Irwin Cotler, Kara-Murza is “the quintessential democrat”, always advocating for democratic values and respect for human rights to prevail. According to conservative estimates, there are hundreds of political prisoners in Russia, but Kara-Murza’s case stands out. His case is unique in that he is charged with ‘treason’ only based on speeches criticizing Russian authorities. In his own words, “My case marks the first moment in post-Soviet Russia when public criticism of the authorities is officially clarified as “treason”.

In short, sanctioning those who are responsible for the imprisonment of Vladimir Kara-Murza will send a strong signal of support to political prisoners in Russia and beyond (and can be followed up with sanctions against those responsible in other cases of political imprisonment), as well as underline the special character of his case.

Read the whole letter here.