Russian opposition activist faces 25 years in prison on treason charges
The trial has begun in Moscow of the latest Russian opposition activist to face charges over speaking out against the Kremlin.
Vladimir Kara-Murza is accused of treason for spreading what prosecutors claim was 'fake news' about the Russian army. He faces 25 years in jail.
His lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, said the trial was politically motivated and unduly accelerated.
"It is obvious that the authorities decided to hold the trial of Kara-Murza at a cosmic pace, as quickly as possible, the next hearing is already on Thursday 16 March, and unfortunately there is no doubt what the final verdict will be."
At the European Parliament, prominent liberal MEP for Renew Europe, Guy Verhofstadt, spoke out against Moscow's treatment of Kara-Murza and other Kremlin opponents.
"I think that this parliament during this session has to stand by them and to put back on the table the liberation of Alexei Navalny and with them of all political prisoners, as Russia`s Vladimir Kara-Murza was in prison, Alexei Gorinov and many others arrested for speaking out against the war in Ukraine," he said.
Kara-Murza is a Western-educated activist who was a close associate of the assassinated opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
In October last year, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, awarded its Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize to Vladimir Kara-Murza.
He is among several critics of Vladimir Putin to have been detained since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.