Vladimir Kara-Murza: I looked at the faces of my failed killers

VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA | RUSSIANS ARE READY FOR FREEDOM | OFFinNY

Vladimir Kara-Murza: I looked at the faces of my failed killers

Chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation – on the journalistic investigation of those who tried to poison him twice

On February 11, the Bellingcat investigation group and The Insider published data from which it follows that the employees of the Russian Federal Security Service, who, according to journalists, are involved in the poisoning of Alexei Navalny by Novichok, may be the “authors” of two poisonings of Vladimir Kara-Murza – junior.

Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom and one of the initiators of the Magnitsky laws, was twice, in 2015 and 2017, literally two steps away from death due to exposure to an unidentified poisonous substance. Investigators discovered that a group of alleged poisoners from the FSB followed Kara-Murza Jr. in the same way as the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation..

A close friend of Boris Nemtsov and the son of the famous Russian journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza Sr., Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. appealed to the law enforcement agencies of Russia and the United States with a demand to make available the information they knew about these poisonings. In the United States, he sued the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which he said did not disclose the information about the poisonous substance, although it did have it..

In an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America, Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. spoke about his reaction to the investigation of those who tried to poison him twice.

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Danila Galperovich: When you heard about the results of the investigation by Bellingcat and The Insider, what was your reaction?

Vladimir Kara-Murza-Jr .: I can hardly describe in words the range of emotions that I experienced today. I did not have the slightest doubt from the very beginning that these were precisely intentional assassination attempts, and precisely as a response to my many years of work to promote personal Western sanctions against corrupt officials and human rights violators from Mr. Putin’s inner circle. But it’s one thing when you understand this with your head, and another thing is when you are shown photographs, they name the names and positions of people who did it, and even when you hear a voice in the receiver. Today we called together with Hristo Grozev and Roman Dobrokhotov, co-authors of the Bellingcat and Insider investigation, to Mr. Mezentsev. Mezentsev Roman Mikhailovich is the highest-ranking FSB official who, as follows from all Bellingcat poisoning investigations, traveled personally to organize these operations. I have to say that I am even somewhat flattered by this level of attention. We called him today, I heard his voice on the phone. This is the “everydayness of evil.” You look at the photographs – ordinary, normal faces. I’ll just get out of the car and walk along a Moscow street – such a person can pass towards me. Many thanks and deep bows to Bellingcat for doing the work of both the Investigative Committee of Russia and the American FBI. Because the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation has still not even answered me about whether or not a criminal case has been initiated into two attempts to murder a Russian citizen on Russian territory, and the American FBI classified the results of analyzes of the materials that my wife gave them. Therefore, in this case, Bellingcat did the job for these two government agencies, real investigative journalism, as it should be..

D.G .: You are now in Russia, they tried to poison you there, you think that you are safe enough?

V.K-M .: And what can be my further actions? I am a Russian politician, I have to be in Russia, there are no options here. When Alexei Navalny woke up from a coma in Berlin in September, the first thing he said was that he would definitely return to Moscow as soon as he could. Then I was literally inundated with calls from Western journalists with a request to comment on this sensation, as they put it, to which I replied that I did not see not only sensations, but also news. It is absolutely obvious that a Russian politician should be in Russia. The biggest gift we could give to the Kremlin is if we all just left the country, there would be nothing better for them. Ever since the days when Andropov headed the KGB in the 1970s, the Soviet government came to the conclusion that the most effective way to deal with dissidents was not to put them in prisons, camps or psychiatric hospitals (they all did this too), but to send them away for the border of the leading representatives of the then opposition. How Solzhenitsyn was exiled, how Bukovsky was exiled, how Ginzburg and Orlov were exiled, this method was simply put on stream. Because the authorities understand: as soon as a dissident, a politician finds himself outside the country, he loses, firstly, not only very important connections (by the way, this is not so important in the conditions of current information technologies), but, above all, moral authority and moral the right to continue this activity. Therefore, I’m not going to leave and quit..

D.G .: But you are going to take some security measures?

V.K-M .: The only security measure I can take is that my family, my wife and children are not in Russia. But this, in fact, was the case before. I say again – today I did not learn anything new, except that I looked at the faces of my failed killers, and even heard the voice of one of them on the phone. I have the impression of some kind of absolute Orwellianism. In 1984, there was a Ministry of Truth, which was engaged in propaganda, and a Ministry of Peace, which was waging wars. So, as we now know exactly and reliably, with facts and surnames in hand, in our country the FSB service for the protection of the constitutional order is organizing political assassinations. And the Institute of Forensic Science of the FSB, which is supposed to oppose the use of chemical weapons, itself uses these chemical weapons in order to kill the political opponents of the Kremlin. Orwell just returned to our lives in all its glory.

D.G .: What are you going to do about what you have learned?

V.K-M .: Literally in the coming days, my lawyer Vadim Prokhorov and I will once again personally go to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, where we have already been both in 2015 and in 2017, but so far we do not even have an answer from them. Navalny received a refusal last year, and we don’t even have a refusal, we don’t have anything at all! Anyone who is even a little familiar with how the Russian bureaucracy works will be amazed by this very fact – in our country, if a neighbor takes out garbage on the staircase in the wrong place, and someone writes a complaint, then there will be no end to this correspondence with officials. And here are two attempted murders – and just zero, silence in response. So, in the coming days, Vadim and I will once again go to the Investigative Committee, but only this time with facts, with dates, with surnames, with the specific movements of those people who organized both attempts on my murder, the FSB of the Russian Federation, we will demand interrogate them. We will demand, finally, to give us an answer regarding the initiation of a criminal case. There are no illusions, we all perfectly understand in what reality we exist. Therefore, in all likelihood, it will be necessary to challenge the refusal to initiate a criminal case, the refusal to interrogate these citizens in court. We are ready to go to the European Court of Human Rights, because in this case we are talking about the most important right guaranteed by the European Convention – the right to life..

D.G .: What do you think will be the reaction to this information in the United States, including the FBI, with whom you were suing?

V.K-M .: I assume that there are already quite a few people in Western countries who are involved in making decisions on the introduction of personal sanctions, have read Bellingcat’s investigations today. I think that the corresponding conclusions can well be drawn. As for America, let’s see if anything changes with the coming of the new administration. As I understand it, at the end of February, the Senate will begin consideration of the candidacy of the new Minister of Justice, Merrick Garland, who was introduced by the new president, Joe Biden. The FBI is subordinate to the Department of Justice. Therefore, the Minister of Justice has the formal right to cancel the decision to classify those materials that are now classified – these are several hundred pages that, following the results of the trial with the FBI, we did not manage to get. Moreover, about ten pages were classified at once, and about 250 more were sent for approval to other federal departments – moreover, we are not told which ones, we are not told the timing of these approvals. I do not know how one can explain the persistence with which the FBI continues to refuse to declassify, obviously, the most important materials in these hundreds of pages, that is, the very results of the analyzes on the results of my poisonings. Let’s see if anything will change with the arrival of the new administration, firstly, and with the publication of these detailed data from the Bellingcat investigation, and secondly.

  • Danila Galperovich

    Reporter for the Russian Voice of America Service in Moscow. Collaborates with Voice of America since 2012. For a long time he worked as a correspondent and host of programs for the BBC Russian Service and Radio Liberty. Specialization – international relations, politics and legislation, human rights.

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