Members Of Congress Call On U.S. State Department To Designate Russian Dissident And U.S. Legal Permanent Resident As Wrongfully Detained
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) joined a group of more than 70 members of Congress, led by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) in sending a letter to the U.S. State Department urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate U.S. Legal Permanent Resident and Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza as “unlawfully and wrongfully detained” under the Levinson Act (22 U.S.C. 1741 et seq.). The legislators also called upon the U.S. government to use its resources to free Kara-Murza, who was arrested by Russian police in April 2022 and was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison. Kara-Murza is reportedly in poor health after suffering complications from two previous Kremlin-directed poisonings.
“Since his arrest in April 2022, Mr. Kara-Murza has suffered from unjust treatment. His health has declined, and he has lost 40 pounds. As a result of two poisonings President Putin inflicted on him during trips to Russia in 2015 and 2017, he had already been diagnosed with polyneuropathy. He has now lost feeling in both feet and one arm… It is very likely he will die soon unless he is released,” the legislators wrote.
The legislators cite Kara-Murza’s strong support of human rights and his anti-war speech in their call for his release.
“His only crime is using his voice to oppose Putin’s evil. It is in the U.S. national interest to save his life and liberate him from Russian captivity,” the legislators wrote.
In addition to Romney and Wicker, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), James E. Risch (R-ID), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Jack Reed (D-RI), John Thune (R-SD), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Rick Scott (R-FL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Ted Budd (R-NC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Joni Ernst (R-IA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Lee (R-UT), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Todd Young (R-IN), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Tim Scott (R-SC), John Cornyn (R-TX), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The letter was also signed by nearly 30 members of the House of Representatives.
See the legislators’ full letter to Secretary Blinken here or read it below.
Dear Secretary Blinken,
We are writing regarding the unjust detention of U.S. Legal Permanent Resident and Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was recently sentenced to a 25-year prison sentence in Russia. It is our desire that Mr. Kara-Murza, who has been wrongfully detained by President Putin’s regime for his anti-war speech, receive the official status of wrongfully detained under the Levinson Act (22 U.S.C. 1741 et seq.) and that the U.S. government use its resources, including those under the July 19, 2022, Executive Order, to free him.
A 41-year-old anti-Putin politician, journalist, and filmmaker, he was arrested on his trip to Russia because he used a series of speeches around the world to publicly oppose political repression in Russia and the invasion of Ukraine. After his arrest, he was charged with treason. His wife and three children remain in the United States, where the family has lived for years.
Since his arrest in April 2022, Mr. Kara-Murza has suffered from unjust treatment. His health has declined, and he has lost 40 pounds. As a result of two poisonings President Putin inflicted on him during trips to Russia in 2015 and 2017, he had already been diagnosed with polyneuropathy. He has now lost feeling in both feet and one arm. Even under Russian law, such a diagnosis should lead to his release. It is very likely he will die soon unless he is released. Unfortunately, yet predictably, the Russian courts have violated their own law to keep him detained.
As Mr. Kara-Murza faces his 25-year sentence, he remains steadfast in his beliefs. His only crime is using his voice to oppose Putin’s evil. It is in the U.S. national interest to save his life and liberate him from Russian captivity. As a first step to that end, we strongly urge that he be designated under the Levinson Act as “unlawfully and wrongfully detained.”