MOSCOW — Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched a probe against prominent Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, accusing him of distributing false information about the Russian military.

Kara-Murza’s lawyer Vadim Prokhorov wrote on Facebook on April 22 that his client was questioned at the Investigative Committee with regard to the case, but he did not given any further details.

President Vladimir Putin signed a law on March 5, just days after Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, that calls for lengthy prison terms for distributing “deliberately false information” about Russian military operations.

The law envisages sentences of up to 10 years in prison for individuals convicted of the offense, while the penalty for the distribution of “deliberately false information” about the Russian military that leads to “serious consequences” is 15 years in prison.

Vladimir Kara-Murza (file photo)
Vladimir Kara-Murza

It also makes it illegal “to make calls against the use of Russian troops to protect the interests of Russia” or “for discrediting such use” with a penalty possible of up to three years in prison. The same provision applies to calls for sanctions against Russia.

A close associate of slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, Kara-Murza is best known for falling deathly ill on two separate occasions in Moscow — in 2015 and 2017– with symptoms consistent with poisoning.

Tissue samples smuggled out of Russia by his relatives were turned over to the FBI, which investigated his case as one of “intentional poisoning.”

U.S. government laboratories also conducted extensive tests on the samples, but documents released by the Justice Department suggest they were unable to reach a conclusive finding.

The arrest of the outspoken Kremlin critic comes amid a mounting crackdown by Russian authorities on opposition figures and any dissent to the ongoing war in Ukraine that started on February 24.

The investigative group Bellingcat found that Kara-Murza had been followed by Russian security agents who were also allegedly involved in the poisoning of another opposition figure, Aleksei Navalny.