Final Plea in CourtPolitics

‘Not only do I not repent, but I am also proud’

The final plea of Vladimir Kara-Murza who is facing 25 years in prison per prosecutor’s request

Vladimir Kara-Murza has been under arrest since last April. There are three criminal cases against him: for treason, “fake news” about the Russian military, and working for Open Russia, an “undesirable organisation”.

On 6 April, the prosecutor requested 25 years in prison for Kara-Murza. Today he gave his final plea before the Moscow City Court which will now recess for the deliberation of his verdict.

Novaya Gazeta Europe shares the full transcription of Kara-Murza’s speech.


Dear judges! I used to be certain that nothing would surprise me after the two decades I spent in Russian politics, and after all I’ve seen and experienced. I must admit that I was wrong. It was surprising to me that my trial which took place in 2023 left the trials over Soviet dissidents in the 1960s-1970s far behind in terms of how closed and discriminating towards the defence it was,

let alone the requested prison term and words used such as “the enemy”: things like this were present in the 1930s, but not 1970s.

This leads me, a historian, to go through some self-reflection.

The chief judge told me as I was providing my testimony that “repentance” is a mitigating factor. Although there is very little fun in what is going on around me, I couldn’t help but smile.

It is criminals who should repent for what they do. But I am in jail for my political views. For speaking out against the war in Ukraine. For a years-long fight against Putin’s dictatorship. For contributing to personal international sanctions against violators of human rights, via the Magnitsky Act.

Not only do I not repent any of these deeds, but I am also proud.

I am proud of having been welcomed into politics by Boris Nemtsov. I hope he wouldn’t be ashamed of me. I admit to having said everything I am charged with. The only thing I blame myself for is that after years of my political work I failed to convince enough of my compatriots and politicians from democratic countries what kind of threat the current regime in the Kremlin is for Russia and the entire world. It is obvious to everyone these days, but this understanding came at the cost of a terrible war.

When people give their final plea, they normally ask for a non-guilty verdict. For a person who never committed any crime, a non-guilty verdict would be the only legitimate option. But there is nothing I ask from this court. I know what my verdict will be. I knew it a year ago when I saw people wearing black uniforms and black masks chasing my car. This is the price you pay in today’s Russia for not remaining silent.

But I know that there will be a day when this darkness clears away in our country. When the colour black will be called black, and the colour white will be called white. When the officials finally admit that 2 multiplied by 2 is 4, when the war is called war, the usurper is called usurper, and when people who started and waged this war are proclaimed criminals instead of those who tried to stop it. This day is inevitable, same as when there is spring even after the coldest of winters.

And on that day our society will open its eyes and will be terrified when it realises what horrible crimes were committed on its behalf.

This realisation will pave a long and difficult, yet a very important way for Russia towards restoration and recovery as it would be returning to the society of civilised countries.

Even today, in this darkness that surrounds us, even in this cage — I love my country, and I believe in our people. I am certain we’ll manage to walk this path to the end.

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