PARIS, Oct 10 —The Council of Europe awarded detained Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza the Vaclav Havel Human Rights prize today for what it called his bravery in standing up to Russia’s leaders.

Kara-Murza, who holds both British and Russian citizenship and was a pallbearer at the 2018 funeral of US Senator John McCain, worked as a close aide to opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead in central Moscow in 2015.

Twice, in 2015 and 2017, Kara-Murza became suddenly ill and fell into a coma in what he said were poisonings by the Russian security services. Moscow denied involvement.

He is now in pre-trial detention on suspicion of spreading false information about the armed forces under new laws passed eight days after the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine began.


“It takes incredible courage in today’s Russia to stand against the power in place,” Tiny Kox, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said in a statement.

“Today, Kara-Murza is showing this courage, from his prison cell.”

The prize was handed to Kara-Murza’s wife, Yevgenia Kara-Muza, at a ceremony in Strasbourg, France, where the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly is based.


In March, Russia quit the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights watchdog, pre-empting an expected expulsion over its attack on Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Kara-Murza’s lawyer was quoted as saying said he was being investigated for treason, as the authorities step up their case against him for speaking out against the war in Ukraine.

Treason carries a sentence of up to 20 years in jail. — Reuters