U.S. Senators Cardin, Durbin, Graham, Whitehouse, Wicker, and U.S. Reps. Keating, McGovern among speakers
Watch the full event HERE or click the image above
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 20, 2023) — The McCain Institute at Arizona State University (ASU) hosted lawmakers and human rights organizations from across the political spectrum on Capitol Hill yesterday to call on the Russian Federation to release Russian journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza from prison. Kara-Murza was sentenced to 25 years in prison, the maximum sentence possible, following a sham trial earlier this week. Kara-Murza’s wife Evgenia has been a vocal advocate for his release and participated in today’s event.
“Just as he was a hero to Senator McCain, Vladimir Kara-Murza remains a hero to those yearning for freedom around the globe,” said McCain Institute Executive Director Dr. Evelyn Farkas. “Today’s event was a show of force towards his jailers in Moscow. The United States and our partners have not and will not relent in pressuring the Putin regime to release Vladimir back to his family.”
“Two days ago, on April 17 the Moscow city court presented the verdict in my husband’s case. Two decades fighting Putin’s regime, two poisonings and now this,” said Evgenia Kara-Murza. “I am at a loss of words, yet words are my only weapons. My only means to make sure the world knows the names of my husband and those who have stood up for what is right. In the words of Senator John McCain, courage is not the absence of fear but the capacity to act despite our fears.”
“We are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to get Vladimir home to his family,” said Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.). “We now tell actors around the world, if you abuse human rights and marshal in corruptions there will be consequences to you. Not just your country, you. We are going to continue to put a spotlight on these cases.”
“It’s an honor to be here to recognize and pay tribute to a man who has given up his freedom to a cause that will make the world better. He knew that if he returned, he could shine a light on the brutality of Putin’s totalitarian regime.” said Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) “To take words of criticism and turn them into a 25-year sentence is an outrage.”
“Heroes are the ones that run into the building that’s burning to help those who can’t get out. Vladimir is a hero in every sense,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “It’s not a mystery what would happen if he went back to Russia. He’s met the moment, now what can we do to help?”
“I met Vladimir through John McCain, I am a frequent flier for the McCain Institute’s Sedona Forum where both Vladimir and Evgenia Kara-Murza have appeared,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). “If Vladimir is willing to pay the price to illuminate Putin’s evil machinery, we must honor and remember him by working to disable that machinery. I don’t think there is more he could’ve done as a Russian patriot by bringing light to this machine.”
“People in both caucuses know where we stand and where our hearts are with Vladimir, and it is important that we reach out to the State Department and get his case designated,” said Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). “My hat is off to Evgenia for all that she has been through, and I pray for peace in Russia and around the world.”
“They can put a person behind bars, but they can’t imprison words and they can’t hold values captive,” said Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.). “There are no bars that could confine the things that Vladimir has done and continues to do even in captivity.”
“I first got to know Vladimir many years ago through Boris Nemtsov,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). “He is a leader that has helped mobilize opposition around the globe towards Putin’s brutal regime. Vladimir is a good person, a decent person, an honest person, and a righteous person.”
“Vladimir has done nothing to earn a 25-year sentence, this is retribution pure and simple,” said Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.). “Today my colleagues and I are here to demonstrate support for the Kara-Murza family, and as Republicans and Democrats are united behind Ukraine’s defense, voices like Vladimir’s are more important than ever.”
The event was hosted by the McCain Institute, Free Russia Foundation, George W. Bush Institute, Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign, Human Rights First, National Endowment for Democracy, Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights, Freedom House, and the Reagan Institute.
About the McCain Institute at Arizona State University
The McCain Institute is a nonpartisan organization inspired by Senator John McCain and his family’s dedication to public service. We are part of Arizona State University and based in Washington, D.C. Our programs advance democracy and human rights, empower character-driven leaders, combat human trafficking, and prevent targeted violence. Our unique power to convene leaders across the global political spectrum enables us to make a real impact on the world’s most pressing challenges. Our goal is action, not talk, and like Senator McCain, we are fighting to create a free, safe, and just world for all.
About Arizona State University
Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American research university, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence, and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social, and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.