Russian dissident Kara-Murza moved to isolation cell in new Siberian prison

By Mark Trevelyan and Lucy Papachristou

LONDON (Reuters) -Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza has been transferred to a new Siberian penal colony and placed in solitary confinement for four months, according to a letter he wrote to his lawyer.

Kara-Murza said in the letter, published by his wife Evgenia on Tuesday, that the move was punishment for not standing up when a guard commanded him to "rise", which he said the authorities had deemed a "malicious violation".

Kara-Murza said he had been sent to a type of punishment cell known by its Russian initials as an EPKT, the strictest form of isolation from other inmates.

He wrote ironically that the point of the transfer was "so that life doesn’t seem like honey".

Kara-Murza, who had condemned Russia's war in Ukraine and lobbied for Western sanctions against Moscow, was sentenced to 25 years last April on treason and other charges that he denied, comparing the case against him to a Stalinist show trial.

It was the harshest sentence imposed on an opposition politician since the start of the war. Putin's best-known opponent, Alexei Navalny, was already in jail at the time of the invasion and has since had his term extended by 19 years to more than three decades on new charges related to "extremism".

Kara-Murza suffers from a neural condition after surviving two attempts to poison him, and his wife Evgenia has voiced fears for his life in prison. On Monday she sounded the alarm after he was moved without explanation from his previous prison.

Kara-Murza wrote that his new penal colony, IK-7, was a short drive from the previous one in the city of Omsk.

"Everything is okay with me – I’m clothed, shod, fed and warm, the people here are all fine," he said.

But referring to the prison writings of Russian novelists Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, he noted the unsettling effect of being moved suddenly from one colony to another. He said he expected to be transferred back in four months.

Kara-Murza is a Russian and British citizen and was a close aide to opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated in central Moscow in 2015.

He was arrested a few weeks after the start of the Ukraine war, hours after U.S. news channel CNN broadcast an interview with him in which he said Russia was run by "a regime of murderers".

(Writing by Felix Light and Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Ed Osmond)