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WASHINGTON — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Monday drawing his attention to the recent hospitalization and possible poisoning of Russian pro-democracy advocate and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza.

“As you begin the difficult task of formulating the Administration’s Russia policy, we write to ask you to pay close attention to a most troubling development,” the senators wrote. “Mr. Kara-Murza is a friend of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Over the years, many Members of Congress and our staffs have met with him to discuss the deterioration of the rule of law, free speech, and press in Russia.  He testified before our committee in June of last year about the punishment of dissent and the dangers that opposition activists face in Russia.  In addition to numerous political prisoners, since Vladimir Putin rose to power in Russia, around 30 journalists, critics, and opponents of the Kremlin’s policies have been killed.”

The letter can be found here and below:

 

February 6, 2017

 

The Honorable Rex Tillerson

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

320 21st Street, NW

Washington, DC 20451

 

Dear Secretary Tillerson:

 

As you begin the difficult task of formulating the Administration’s Russia policy, we write to ask you to pay close attention to a most troubling development.  News broke last week that thirty-five year old Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian pro-democracy advocate and journalist, was hospitalized and is currently on life support in Moscow.  Reports indicate that he has symptoms similar to an incident two years ago, when he was hospitalized due to an apparent poisoning. 

Mr. Kara-Murza is a friend of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Over the years, many Members of Congress and our staffs have met with him to discuss the deterioration of the rule of law, free speech, and press in Russia.  He testified before our committee in June of last year about the punishment of dissent and the dangers that opposition activists face in Russia.  In addition to numerous political prisoners, since Vladimir Putin rose to power in Russia, around 30 journalists, critics, and opponents of the Kremlin’s policies have been killed.

We recognize the complexity of our relationship and the numerous issues that the Administration needs to address with Russia.  However, the murder of dissidents cannot be tolerated.  As you review U.S. policy, we ask that you make this issue a priority.

We appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to working with you.

 

Sincerely,

Ron Johnson   

United States Senator

Chris Murphy

United States Senator              

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