On the morning of May 26, 2015, Kara-Murza had breakfast at a Moscow café and then headed to a meeting with Mikhail Yastrubitsky. During the meeting, Kara-Murza suddenly became ill.
Yastrubitsky called an ambulance. A woman passing by happened to be a doctor. After examining Kara-Murza, she speculated he’d been poisoned. He was brought to Davydovsky Hospital, where the doctors diagnosed him with heart failure.
Kara-Murza grew even more ill and was transferred to intensive care. Nobody understood the nature of his poisoning. He experienced multiple organ failure and fell into a coma. The doctors estimated his chances of survival to be five percent.
But survive he did. Kara-Murza spent over a month in the hospital. He came out of the coma and began the long process of recovery. His peripheral nervous system had been damaged, and he couldn’t move his left arm and leg. In July 2015, he was brought to the United States for rehabilitation. Khodorkovsky paid for his evacuation and treatment.
A month and a half after returning to America, Kara-Murza still had difficulty speaking. But he wanted to return to Russia at the first opportunity to continue his work — and he did so as soon as he was able. In November 2015, Kara-Murza, still walking with a cane, boarded a plane for the first time since being poisoned.
“We, in general, didn’t understand, didn’t imagine, didn’t assume that something so horrible could happen,” Yastrubitsky said. “We ended our conversation and as we left, [Kara-Murza] was already lying in the corridor on some chairs. He had terrible vomiting, had to run to the toilet every five minutes.”
An operation was scheduled for the following morning. But right before it began, the well-known cardiac surgeon Mikhail Alshibaya stopped the doctors. “What are you doing? There’s nothing wrong with the heart, it’s poisoning!” Kara-Murza’s lawyer Vadim Prokhorov recalled Alshibaya saying.
The first poisoning
On February 1, 2017, Kara-Murza was sitting in the Italian café Rukkola with his friend Kirill Goncharov, who was then a Moscow Regional Council deputy from the Yabloko party. Afterwards, Kara-Murza went home. He was supposed to fly to the United States the next day.
But around five o’clock in the morning, he woke up in a state very similar to the one he found himself in back in May 2015. He called his wife.
Evgenia messaged Denis Protsenko, the doctor who had treated Kara-Murza after his first poisoning. Now the chief physician at Yudin City Clinical Hospital, Protsenko replied: “Bring him to me here. I’ll assemble the team.”
Kara-Murza was saved, but he had to return to the United States rehabilitation once again. This time everything went faster, Evgenia said, since the doctors “already knew what they were dealing with.” Indeed, Kara-Murza was immediately diagnosed with “poisoning by an unidentified substance.”
Attempts by Kara-Murza and his lawyer Vadim Prokhorov to force Russian law enforcement agencies to investigate both poisonings came to nothing. As of this writing, no criminal case has been launched.
While the FBI investigated the poisonings, they initially refused share their findings with Kara-Murza. Prokhorov believes this was the result of a visit top Russian security officials paid to Washington in January 2017.
It was only after Kara-Murza sued the FBI that he and his lawyer leader that federal investigators believed he’d been poisoned both times (the poison itself, however, remained unknown). What’s more, according to Prokhorov, the declassified documents revealed that Kara-Murza’s poisonings had indeed “been the subject of talks” between FSB Chief Alexander Bortnikov and the FBI.
the second poisoning
Like many of his peers, Kara-Murza has paid a heavy personal price for his advocacy. In both 2015 and 2017, he was poisoned and left in a coma under circumstances that resembled those under which other Russian dissidents have been poisoned. Kara-Murza has stated he believes the poisonings were part of the Russian Government’s retribution for his work advocating for the passage of the sanctions regimes listed above. Even after these attempts on his life and in the face of grave danger, Kara-Murza has continued his advocacy, including through his vocal opposition to Russia’s February 24, 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
Before the alleged poisonings, Vladimir Kara-Murza was followed by members of the FSB squad
Billingcat Investigation:
The Insider Investigation:
Counter-sanctions. How FSB officers tried to poison Vladimir Kara-Murza
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