A prominent Russian opposition activist who almost died from an apparent poisoning two years ago was in stable but critical condition Friday after suddenly falling ill during a trip to Moscow.
Vladimir Kara-Murza, a U.S. green card holder with dual British-Russian citizenship, was in Russia promoting a documentary film about Boris Nemtsov, his close friend and Russian opposition leader who was shot and killed only a few hundred yards from the Kremlin in 2015.
Kara-Murza, a journalist who lives in Virginia with his wife, Evgenia, is chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom and coordinator of the Open Russia Foundation, which promotes civil society and democracy. He has also testified before Congress on political repression in Russia.
Kara-Murza’s condition is similar to 2015 when he almost died from sudden kidney failure in a suspected poisoning in Moscow.
His lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, said in a posting on Facebook that his condition stabilized but that Kara-Murza remained in critical condition with kidney failure after falling ill Thursday.
"He is already on life support and in a medicated coma. It's the same clinical picture (as last time)," his wife told the BBC. "The reason is unclear like last time. He's (recently) been active and healthy."
Evgenia Kara-Murza said her husband, who had been staying at his in-law's home, suffered the same symptoms as in May 2015. In that incident, he was treated in Moscow but eventually transferred abroad following the intervention of British and U.S. diplomats.
On Wednesday, Kara-Murza posted a Facebook tribute to Nemtsov along with a photo of roses at the site on the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge near the Kremlin where he was shot and killed in February 2015 by gunmen in a passing car. Kara-Murza’s suspected poisoning in 2015 also occurred during a visit to Moscow to honor his slain friend.
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After his recovery two years ago, Kara-Murza said the ordeal began with the sudden failure of his kidneys followed by other vital organs in what he called a politically motivated attack.
"Frankly there is no other possible reason," he told CNN. "I don't have any money dealings. I don't have any personal enemies. I didn't steal anybody's wife."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who spoke out this week against dissidents and journalists targeted for murder in Russia, said it appears Kara-Murza was again singled out for his political and opposition activity.
“(Russian President) Vladimir Putin does not deserve any benefit of the doubt here, given how commonplace political assassinations and poisonings have become under his regime," said Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.
He called on the Trump administration and new U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillersonto "make Kara-Murza's cause America's cause," to question Russian authorities on the incident and to "ultimately hold Putin accountable if he was targeted by the regime.”
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the ranking member of the foreign relations committee, praised Kara-Murza for his activism and human rights work and said his mysterious illness “appears to be part of an alarming trend where Russian political opposition are targeted for their work.”
Doug Stanglin , USA TODAY