‘You can’t stop the future with bullets, poison or prison’

As Alexey Navalny is laid to rest, jailed opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza speaks from his prison cell

‘You can’t stop the future with bullets, poison or prison’

Photo: Robin Utrecht / Shutterstock / Vida Pres

On the day of Alexey Navalny’s funeral in Moscow, we are republishing a letter from jailed opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza to Novaya Gazeta Baltic. In it, Kara-Murza, who is currently in solitary confinement in a Siberian penal colony serving a 25-year sentence for “treason”, has answered questions about the future of the Russian opposition in light of Navalny’s murder.

Since January, Kara-Murza has been in a punishment cell in solitary confinement, the same type of cell to which Navalny himself was confined shortly before he was transferred to the Arctic penal colony where he died.

Intended for those who persistently violate prison rules, these cells are commonly used break political prisoners and the conditions here are the harshest within the Russian prison system. Novaya Gazeta Baltic was able to send questions to Kara-Murza before Navalny’s funeral via the Federal Penitentiary Service.

NGB: Do you think the murder of Boris Nemtsov will ever officially be solved?

VK: I know for a fact that it will be solved, in Russia, and that those involved will be held accountable in a court of law. That means those involved at the lowest level to the person at the top who ordered it. We all know who that is. We even know where and when he ordered the murder. It’s all in the 2020 report by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Obviously, nobody would launch an investigation into themselves. But for the first, post-Putin, democratic government, it will be a matter of honour to solve these opposition leaders’ murders and bring the perpetrators to justice. And it will happen much sooner than those currently revelling in their impunity think.

NGB: Do you think what happened to Navalny is connected to what happened to Nemtsov? Were the events of 16 February 2024 inevitable?

VK: The same person is behind both. And we all know who that is. A joint investigation by Bellingcat, The Insider and the BBC found that the same FSB officers who poisoned me twice were involved in the surveillance of Boris and poisoning Alexey, so there’s partial overlap there too. Most importantly, there was a common goal. The fear of losing power creates a desire to eliminate anyone who poses a threat. This literal destruction of any alternative is how they have held onto power all these years.

'But life is stronger than death, and change will surely come to our country, as will accountability for everything that has been done.'

NGB: Nemtsov was your friend. He was your daughter’s godfather. How do you survive the loss of close friends and associates? You’ve had a sad time of things on that front.

VK: I’m not the right person to ask. I didn’t survive Boris’s death. That February night forever divided my life into before and after. The pain never goes away, it just becomes a little less intense with time. But I know we owe it to our fallen comrades to continue working with even greater zeal. The best way to honour their memory will be Russia becoming, as Boris and Alexey liked to say, a normal European country.

NGB: Is a Russia of the future even possible without them both?

VK: You can’t stop the future, no matter how hard you try. Not with bullets, poison or prison. Even if none of us survive, others will take our place. Some of those young people who queued up in January to support Boris Nadezhdin, they’re the future. Russia will definitely be free. And happy too, of course.

Editor in chief — Kirill Martynov. Terms of use. Privacy policy.