Jailed Russian activist Kara-Murza wins Europe rights prize

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — A jailed Russian opposition activist was awarded a top European human rights prize on Monday, just as a Moscow court extended his detention until December.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, awarded its Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize to Vladimir Kara-Murza, whom Russian officials have accused of spreading “false information” about Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

According to the Council of Europe, Kara-Murza’s wife Yevgeniya accepted the award on his behalf. She read a statement from him dedicating the prize to the thousands of Russians who voiced their opposition to the military operation in Ukraine, and pledged that “a peaceful, democratic and Putin-free Russia” would return.

Kara-Murza, a 41-year-old journalist, was an associate of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was slain near the Kremlin in 2015. He himself survived poisonings in 2015 and 2017 that he blamed on the Kremlin. Russian officials have denied responsibility for the poisonings.

The 60,000 euro ($58,300) prize honors outstanding civil society actions in defense of human rights. Václav Havel was a Czech statesman, author, poet, playwright and former dissident.

In Moscow, a court on Monday extended Kura-Murza’s detention until Dec. 12, Russia’s state-run Tass news agency reported.

Kara-Murza was jailed in April on a charge of spreading “false information” about the Russian military. Russia adopted a law criminalizing spreading “false information” about its military shortly after Russian troops invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Authorities have used the law against dozens of people to stifle opposition.

Russian authorities recently added treason charges to other charges against Murza. The charges stem from speeches he gave in several Western countries that criticized the Kremlin’s rule, according to the activist’s lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov.

Kara-Murza denies committing treason, his lawyer says. If convicted, he faces a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years.

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