Which Russian dissidents are still imprisoned following the death of Alexei Navalny while in custody?

Which Russian dissidents are still imprisoned ?

The month of Vladimir Putin’s fifth term in power is anticipated, following the passing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in prison. This event has caused great distress among Russian dissidents and raised worries about the well-being of other detained dissidents.

Throughout his 24-year reign, Putin has shifted from tolerating dissent to actively suppressing Russian dissidents who dares challenge him.

According to reports, a majority of the political adversaries have been either imprisoned or forced into exile, leaving the 71-year-old Russian leader as the sole prominent candidate in the upcoming election in 2024.

Some Russian Dissidents

Among those currently incarcerated, there are a number of notable individuals who openly oppose the government.

Vladimir Kara-Murza

Vladimir Kara-Murza, who has been in service for 25 years.

In April 2023, Vladimir Kara-Murza, a well-known opposition figure, was found guilty of treason and given the harshest punishment ever seen in modern Russia for a critic of the Kremlin, as reported by this AP News article.

Kara-Murza, who has been in custody since his detention in 2022, is facing accusations for a speech he gave to the House of Representatives in Arizona that same year, in which he condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

At the age of 42, the political activist began his career as a journalist and was closely connected with Boris Nemtsov, a Russian opposition leader and outspoken critic of Putin. In 2015, Nemtsov was killed near the Kremlin.

During 2011 and 2012, Kara-Murza and Nemtsov actively advocated for the implementation of the Magnitsky Act in the United States. This legislation was a result of the demise of Russian attorney Sergei Magnitsky while in jail, who had uncovered a fraudulent tax scheme. As a result, this law has empowered the American government to enforce penalties on Russian individuals who are identified as perpetrators of human rights violations.

On two occasions, Kara-Murza has managed to survive poisoning attempts which he attributed to the Russian government. He has refuted the accusations made against him, claiming they are retribution for his defiance against Putin. He has also compared the trials against him to the publicized hearings during the rule of Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

Kara-Murza has been in solitary confinement in the Siberian city of Omsk since September 2023. However, in January, he was transferred to a different penal colony in the same city, where he was once again placed in solitary. This transfer has been viewed as a way to intimidate a man who, despite being imprisoned, continued to openly criticize the Kremlin and its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.

Ilya Yashin

With a sentence of 8 ½ years, ILYA YASHIN is currently serving his time.

At the beginning of the war, Ilya Yashin, a prominent critic of the Kremlin, was one of the few who chose to remain in Russia. In June 2022, while taking a walk in a park in Moscow, the 40-year-old was detained. He was later found guilty of disseminating false information about Russian soldiers and sentenced to 8 and a half years in prison.

The accusation was a result of a YouTube live broadcast where he discussed the deaths of civilians in the Bucha neighborhood of Kyiv. Following the withdrawal of Russian forces in March 2022, numerous bodies were discovered, many of which had been bound and shot from a short distance.

Yashin, a Moscow municipal council member, was known for his strong support of Navalny and his close ties to Nemtsov. Currently, he is imprisoned in the Smolensk region of Western Russia.

Yashin’s vocal condemnation of the Kremlin was not silenced by the severe punishment he received. While in prison, Yashin’s colleagues consistently post his messages on his social media accounts. With over 1.5 million followers, his YouTube channel continues to thrive with regular updates.

In a letter to The Associated Press in September 2022, he stated that the authorities have been unsuccessful in silencing him while he is in prison.

Andrej Pivovarov

Andrej Pivovarov is currently serving a four-year term.

At the age of 42, Andrei Pivovarov was the leader of Open Russia, an opposition group that was deemed an “undesirable” organization by authorities and subsequently disbanded in 2021. Just days after this disbandment, Pivovarov was stopped from boarding a flight from St. Petersburg to Warsaw as he tried to leave the country.

According to the authorities, he was charged with engaging in the activities of a group deemed “unwanted.” However, he refuted the accusations, stating they were driven by political motives due to his intention to run for a parliamentary seat in the 2021 election. Despite being held in pretrial detention, he was able to continue his campaign, although he was ultimately not included on the ballot. In July 2022, during the height of the Ukrainian conflict, Pivovarov was convicted and sentenced to four years in jail.

During a written interview in December 2022 while he was incarcerated, Pivovarov informed the AP that he was not surprised by his sentence.

Pivovarov wrote that by the summer of 2022, the political landscape had undergone a thorough cleansing. Those who chose not to depart found themselves imprisoned, just like Pivovarov himself.

Serving time in isolation, he has been imprisoned in a remote penal colony located in the northwestern Karelia region of Russia.

Lilia Chanysheva

Lilia Chanysheva has been serving a sentence of 7 and a half years.

In November 2021, Lilia Chanysheva, who previously held a leadership position in Alexei Navalny’s office in the Russian Bashkortostan region, was detained. This followed a court decision made a few months prior to label Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption and its regional branches as “extremist organizations.”

After a trial held behind closed doors, Chanysheva was convicted in June 2023 and received a prison sentence of 7 ½ years. She was found guilty of inciting extremism, creating an extremist group, and establishing an organization that violates rights. Additionally, she was ordered to pay a fine of 400,000 rubles (approximately $4,700).

According to Russian media, Chanysheva denies the allegations, claiming they are driven by political motivations. It has been reported that the authorities are currently pursuing a stricter punishment of 10 years for the ex-activist.

Oleg Orlov

Oleg Orlov is currently serving a sentence of 2 and a half years.

In February, Oleg Orlov, a long-standing advocate for human rights, was found guilty by a Moscow court of consistently defaming the Russian military. He was subsequently given a 2 ½ year prison sentence. This ruling came after a crackdown by Russian authorities and the imprisonment of another activist, Alexei Navalny. Orlov’s conviction adds to the ongoing suppression of dissenting voices in the country.

The human rights group Memorial’s co-chair, who is 70 years old and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was accused for an article he penned condemning Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.

Orlov, a human rights activist, was one of the people who volunteered to be held hostage in exchange for the release of civilians during the 1995 siege of Budyonnovsk by Chechen rebels.

In October 2023, Orlov was found guilty and ordered to pay a fine of 150,000 rubles (equivalent to about $1,500 at the time). This sentence was much shorter compared to the severe prison sentences given to other Russians who have spoken out against the war. This further highlights Putin’s intolerance for any criticism of the Ukraine invasion. As a result, the prosecution appealed the fine and requested for a more severe penalty.

According to a statement issued by Memorial, Orlov’s punishment is seen as an effort to silence the human rights movement and any form of dissent against the Russian government.

Alexei Gorinov

Alexei Gorinov has been serving a sentence of 7 years.

According to a news article, Alexei Gorinov, a Moscow municipal council member, became the initial individual to receive a prison sentence for violating the law against disseminating “false information” about the Russian military following the invasion of Ukraine.

In April 2022, he was taken into custody for speaking out against the war during a town council gathering. A clip on YouTube captured him expressing doubt about hosting a children’s art contest in his district while “innocent children are losing their lives” in Ukraine. As a consequence, he was given a seven-year prison sentence.

According to Gorinov, who is currently incarcerated, the lengthy prison sentence given to a relatively unknown activist has caused a great deal of surprise. In a written statement to AP in March 2023, the 62-year-old stated that the government was seeking to make an example out of an average citizen rather than a well-known public figure.

Gorinov, who suffers from a long-standing respiratory ailment, underwent surgery to remove a portion of his lung prior to his incarceration. His physical well-being worsened while spending six weeks in solitary confinement at a penal colony located in the Vladimir region, located to the east of Moscow. Currently, he is still in the process of recuperating.

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