Press Release

April 11, 2024
Cardin Vows to Continue Fighting for Vladimir Kara-Murza’s Freedom on the Second Anniversary of his Unjust Imprisonment in Russia
“We speak not only for Vladimir Kara-Murza, but for all those that are being imprisoned today for speaking truth to the Putin government,” said Chair Cardin. “We are going to work to set him free and to set Russia free.”

WASHINGTON – Today marks two years since Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian opposition leader, historian, and journalist, was unjustly imprisoned by the Russian government for opposing the Putin regime’s attacks on Russian democracy and unprovoked war against Ukraine. To commemorate this dark milestone, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hosted a bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers, human rights groups, and policy organizations this week to call for Kara-Murza’s immediate release.

Joined by Kara-Murza’s wife, Evgenia, and their children, Chair Cardin pledged to continue fighting for Kara-Murza’s freedom, as well as others who have been similarly imprisoned in Russia on unjust grounds, and provided speakers the opportunity to write and read from personal letters that will be sent to Kara-Murza in his penal colony in Omsk, Russia.

“I am also very heartened to hear all of your support to my compatriots, who are fighting against the regime both inside and outside of the country,” said Evgenia. “I am so proud of being able to call these people my compatriots. These are the people we are fighting for, and will continue fighting for…. These are the faces of that Russia that we all want to see. And I thank you for your unwavering support and solidarity in standing with me, and making sure that their voices do not go silent.”

Chair Cardin was also joined by Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Congressmen Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Damon Wilson, President and CEO for the National Endowment for Democracy, Sonata Coulter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and representatives from the McCain Institute, the Free Russia Foundation, Freedom House, the Center for European Policy Analysis, the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights, the Global Justice Magnitsky Campaign, the Human Rights Foundation, the Ronald Reagan Institute, the George W. Bush Institute, and Human Rights First.

Click here to watch the event.

Click here to read Chair Cardin’s letter to Kara-Murza.

Click here to watch Chair Cardin speak on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on the two year anniversary.

Below are excerpts from letters drafted and shared during the event:

“I know that everyone in Washington will want to make your return here a welcome one,” wrote Chair Cardin. “Until that day, you are in the thoughts and prayers of myself and my wife Myrna. I promise you: We will not stop fighting for you until you are free. One day, Russia will be the land you dream of, where justice is fair, where you can speak your mind without fear, and where elections are genuinely democratic. A Russia at peace. Stay strong, Vladimir.”

“The support for you, Paul Whelan, Evan Gershkovich, and Alsu Kurmasheva go well beyond the walls of the United States Congress — the American people are with us in demanding your release,” wrote Ranking Member Risch. “My family and I will continue to pray for your health and your strength. I hope to meet you again face-to-face when you finally return home to your family.”

“You came to see me two years ago, just before returning to Russia. I will never forget asking you about this decision—you were unequivocal—you had to return.  You wanted and believed in a better future for the Russian people—one in which so many talented people could live in a free society and at peace with their neighbors,” wrote Senator Durbin. “You saw through the folly of Putin’s narcissism and false patriotism, as did Alexei Navalny and so many other brave everyday Russians who have spoken out.  Well, let me say clearly and loudly among so many who admire you—you will not be forgotten. We will continue to work for your release and your vision of a more open and peaceful Russia.”

“Vladimir – I am often reminded of what you told me – that the worst thing for a political prisoner is to be forgotten, wrote Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-9), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s Special Representative for Political Prisoners. “I have not forgotten and I never will. Stay strong, my friend.”

“You have already changed the world for the better, with your dedication, moral compass, and refusal to give up,” wrote Dr. Alina Polyakova, President and CEO, Center for European Policy Analysis. “And there is much more for you to do and for us to do together to hold human rights abusers to account. Your name, your work, and your bravery are not forgotten.”

“We think of you every day. We continue to do everything we can for your and Russia’s freedom. Senator McCain would expect nothing less,” wrote Pedro Pizano, Assistant Director for Democracy Programs at the McCain Institute.

Chairman Cardin is proud to have twice joined a group of bipartisan colleagues in calling on the Secretary of State to label Vladimir Kara-Murza as wrongfully detained, and is committed to continuing this advocacy effort at the highest levels. He has co-led a resolution calling for the release of wrongfully detained American Evan Gershkovich, and supported resolutions in Committee on behalf of wrongfully detained American Paul Whelan.