Durbin Praises Russian Dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza for Winning Pulitzer Prize for Writings Criticizing Putin Regime

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin honored the courage of Kara-Murza, who has continued his writing from a Russian gulag after being jailed by Putin

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, today took to the Senate floor to deliver a speech honoring Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian opposition figure who has survived two poisoning attempts by the Kremlin, for earning a Pulitzer Prize for his writings aspiring for a democratic Russia and criticizing Vladimir Putin’s disastrous war in Ukraine.  In his remarks, Durbin spoke with admiration about Kara-Murza’s advocacy for a more democratic future for the Russian people and an end to the war in Ukraine. 

“Last week, we learned the most recent winners of the Pulitzer Prize.  I am pleased that among this year’s winners is a friend of mine who has made it his life’s work to help bring democracy and freedom to his home country of Russia, Vladimir Kara-Murza,” Durbin began his remarks.

“Putin’s government has tried to kill this man repeatedly, to silence him in the uniquely Vladimir Putin way—to poison him.  But each time, Vladimir [Kara-Murza] survived and continued his work, including writing a regular column for the Washington Post about the need for change in Russia,” Durbin said. 

In March 2022, Kara-Murza visited Durbin’s Washington office to discuss his hopes for and determination to pursue a more open Russia.  Despite the continued threat to his life, Kara-Murza insisted that he would return to Russia to speak out against Putin’s leadership.

“While he and his family became residents of the United States, he insisted on maintaining his home in Russia.  Two years ago, he came to see me before returning to Russia.  I will never forget asking Vladimir about his decision to return [to Russia].  He was unequivocal.  He felt he had to return,” Durbin said.

“His aspirations were simple.  He believed in a better future for Russia—one in which Russians could live in a free and prosperous society and be at peace with their neighbors,” Durbin continued.

Shortly after returning to Russia, Kara-Murza was jailed by Putin.  While in a gulag, Kara-Murza has continued his writings, sounding the alarm on Putin’s regime and offering a different vision for Russia. 

“It was this powerful writing that won him international recognition and a Pulitzer Prize.  I want to congratulate him, and to thank his family for their courage, on receiving this prestigious award.  Most importantly, I want to remind him that what he is doing is not ignored, nor forgotten,” Durbin said.

“And to Putin, I say: Your folly in Ukraine and domestic repression cannot hide the light of Kara-Murza’s moving words,” Durbin concluded his speech.

Last year, the Biden Administration moved to impose Magnitsky Law related sanctions on several Putin henchmen involved in the jailing of Kara-Murza.  The decision was announced after Durbin and U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging him to swiftly impose Magnitsky Law related sanctions against Russian officials responsible for the arrest, jailing, and poisoning of Kara-Murza

In 2022, the Senate passed Durbin, Shaheen, and Rubio’s bipartisan resolution honoring Kara-Murza.  The resolution also pays tribute to his advocacy for human rights in Russia and support for the anti-war movement.  Additionally, it urges the U.S. and its allies to secure his release and that of other Russian political prisoners, and calls for the U.S. government to support the cause of democracy and human rights in Russia. 

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here for TV Stations.