Manitoba

Twice-poisoned journalist who opposes Putin to share how democracy is possible for Russia

This week, Russian journalist and political activist Vladimir Kara-Murza is in Winnipeg, where he’ll be speaking about how Russians can bring about democratic change and how the West can best help.

Russian journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza says he's inspired by young people protesting Russian leader

Russian journalist and political activist Vladimir Kara-Murza is in Winnipeg this week to deliver a lecture at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

He is on the front lines of opposition to Russian president Vladimir Putin, was poisoned twice and had to deal with his close friend being gunned down.

Russian journalist and political activist Vladimir Kara-Murza is in Winnipeg this week to speak about how Russians can bring about democratic change and how the West can best help. His talk will be live streamed on YouTube.

Despite the poisonings and loss of his friend, Kara-Murza continues to live in both Russia and Washington, D.C., where he is a columnist for the Washington Post.

Kara-Murza said he has no doubt that the poisonings are a result of being part of the Russian democratic opposition for many years.

"Unfortunately… I hate to use the word normal, but we've known for a long time this is a pretty dangerous vocation, to engage in active opposition to the corrupt and authoritative regime of Vladimir Putin that is in power in our country," he told Information Radio host Marcy Markusa, pointing out that there have been several prominent poisonings of Putin's opponents in recent years, even in Great Britain.

"If they can do this in England, they can do this in Russia quite easily," he said.

Kara-Murza was close friends with opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was gunned down on a bridge near the Kremlin three years ago.

Putin not untouchable, activist says 

Still, he vows to keep fighting, and says he's inspired by the thousands of people, many of them young people who have spent their entire lives under Putin, who have taken to the streets over the last year to protest Putin's autocratic regime.

"He's not untouchable," Kara-Murza said.

"They've been going out despite the threats and arrests and possible consequences. I think it's a very worrying sign for the Kremlin, but I think a very hopeful sign for our country."

In the West, Kara-Murza is encouraged by laws passed in the U.S. and Canada that target the property — the assets, the holdings, the wealth — of corrupt Russian officials.

General sanctions that target a whole country are usually less effective, Kara-Murza said, but these types of laws target specific people and prevent them from enjoying the luxuries of the west while violating the rights of Russian people in their home country, he said.

"There's been this enormous hypocrisy and this astonishing double standard at the heart of the Putin administration," he said.

"Because you have the same people who attack and abuse and undermine the most basic norms of democracy and rule of law in our country, then coming to the West, and enjoying the privileges of the West, because it's in the West where they spend their holidays, keep their families and their bank accounts."

Kara-Murza's lecture will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Corrections

  • We initially reported that Vladimir Kara-Murza's lecture is on Thursday. In fact, it is on Tuesday.
    Oct 29, 2018 11:35 AM CT

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