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Kremlin Critic Emerges From Coma

Russia journalist and activist Vladimir Kara-Murza in 2012.
Russia journalist and activist Vladimir Kara-Murza in 2012.

Friends and allies of prominent Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr., who mysteriously fell ill with poisoning symptoms in Moscow, say he has regained consciousness after a weeklong coma.

“Vladimir has come out of a coma,” former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky said in a June 2 tweet.

Kara-Murza, 33, is a coordinator for Open Russia, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) run by Khodorkovsky, a prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin who spent over a decade in prison in Russia and now lives in Switzerland.

Open Russia recently released a documentary critical of the Kremlin-backed leader of Russia's Chechnya region, Ramzan Kadyrov.

The NGO quoted Kara-Murza’s wife, Yevgenia, as saying on June 2 that her husband “is opening his eyes and recognizes his relatives.”

Kara-Murza's sudden and rapid illness on May 26 prompted some of his supporters to suggest he may have been deliberately poisoned.

His family, however, has publicly maintained that while he shows “symptoms of poisoning,” no evidence of foul play has emerged.

In addition to his work with Open Russia, Kara-Murza was a political ally of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead in central Moscow in February.

He serves as a senior of member of the opposition RPR-Parnas party, which Nemtsov co-founded.

Kara-Murza’s fellow activist in the party, Natalya Pelevina, said in a June 2 tweet that he emerged from a coma and is “getting better.”

Kara-Murza is a dual Russian-British citizen who, together with his wife and children, is based in Washington. He travels frequently to Russia, however, to conduct seminars and other events for opposition activists.

In Washington, Kara-Murza serves as a key liaison between Russian opposition groups and top American policymakers.

In April, he joined former Russian Prime Minster and current Kremlin opponent Mikhail Kasyanov to lobby U.S. lawmakers to impose sanctions on Russian television "propagandists" they accuse of spearheading a media vilification campaign that they say helped lead to Nemtsov's slaying.

Kara-Murza's father hosts a talk show for RFE/RL's Russian Service.

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