Free Russia Foundation Launches #NoToWar Campaign

One year without Boris Nemtsov

Feb 27 2016

Today, we would like to share with you the first article ever published by Free Russia Foundation exactly one year ago – our tribute to Boris Nemtsov. Let’s take a look back and think about what has changed or not since.

Boris Nemtsov is not alive. He is no longer with us… It is impossible to believe such words. Forgive us if we can’t refer to him in the past tense. Our sense of shock and humanity won’t allow it.

He is one of the most vigorous, charismatic, charming, magnetic and passionate personalities in Russian politics. He is straight, honest and incorruptible. He is a very bright star. His energy and his enthusiasm constantly move us forward. He has always lived on the edge. He never gives up. He is one of the few free persons in our enslaved country. He is undoubtedly a grand historic figure. He will always be alive in our hearts, in the cause he believed in and that we promise to continue.

Boris Nemtsov was shot in the back on February 27, 2015. Strangely, those words are easier to believe in than the words he is not alive. Easier, because it’s a shock but not a surprise that Putin’s Russia assassinates its opponents and because a mafia state operates like that. We remember Listiev, Yushenkov, Starovoitova, Politkovskaya, Shchekochikhin, Litvinenko, Estimirova, Magnitsky and others. We let the regime take us out one by one. When is our red line, our rubicon?

Isn’t it time for the Russian opposition and civil society to stand up and confront the corrupt and criminal regime? It is  enough to keep silent, pretend we are fine or act in half-measures. Boris has devoted himself fully to the fight for our freedom.

He has had a dream of a Free Russia. Let’s combine and multiply our efforts! Our country is owned by a gang of crooks and thieves, murderers of people like Boris and thereby the killing of our dignity and future.

The loss of Boris is huge and incomprehensible. He is a hero. He is a martyr. But let’s make his death not in vain. Let’s make Russia Free. He wanted it. We deserve it. Let’s take our country back.

The person, time and location of the shooting were not a coincidence. The shooting at Boris was symbolic. He was one of the few consolidating figures in the Russian opposition. He was an opposition figure of a global level.

He was a visionary. He was killed coldly near the Kremlin and on the eve of a big protest rally. In our long, Russian history our rulers liked to execute their rivals near the Kremlin. It’s a clear signal to all the dissenters: leave or you’ll be in jail or murdered. It’s a clear signal to the entire country, to its law-enforcement structures and to the public as well. Like a metastasis it will leak from Moscow to the regions: it’s ok to get rid of your political opponents. It nourishes the atmosphere of hatred and intolerance. It destroys our society.

We have established the Free Russia Foundation because we have a strong vision of Russia After Putin, the vision of the country that still has hope for a democratic future. We have started it because we  deeply understand how bad the situation is in our homeland and how strong the pressure that government places on any person of a free mind.

This hope is fading from day to day. If we don’t fight for changes today, it might be too late tomorrow.

Russians, wake up! Let’s build a successful society and stop being a global threat, invading neighbors and killing our own people. The murder of Boris is a bitter loss for all of us – those of us, like him, are dreaming of a Free Russia.

Let’s make Russia free! Join us today! Together we can make it happen.

The Free Russia Foundation team

Boris Nemtsov is not alive. He is no longer with us… It is impossible to believe such words. Forgive us if we can’t refer to him in the past tense. Our sense of shock and humanity won’t allow it.

He is one of the most vigorous, charismatic, charming, magnetic and passionate personalities in Russian politics. He is straight, honest and incorruptible. He is a very bright star. His energy and his enthusiasm constantly move us forward. He has always lived on the edge. He never gives up. He is one of the few free persons in our enslaved country. He is undoubtedly a grand historic figure. He will always be alive in our hearts, in the cause he believed in and that we promise to continue.

Boris Nemtsov was shot in the back on February 27, 2015. Strangely, those words are easier to believe in than the words he is not alive. Easier, because it’s a shock but not a surprise that Putin’s Russia assassinates its opponents and because a mafia state operates like that. We remember Listiev, Yushenkov, Starovoitova, Politkovskaya, Shchekochikhin, Litvinenko, Estimirova, Magnitsky and others. We let the regime take us out one by one. When is our red line, our rubicon?

Isn’t it time for the Russian opposition and civil society to stand up and confront the corrupt and criminal regime? It is  enough to keep silent, pretend we are fine or act in half-measures. Boris has devoted himself fully to the fight for our freedom.

He has had a dream of a Free Russia. Let’s combine and multiply our efforts! Our country is owned by a gang of crooks and thieves, murderers of people like Boris and thereby the killing of our dignity and future.

The loss of Boris is huge and incomprehensible. He is a hero. He is a martyr. But let’s make his death not in vain. Let’s make Russia Free. He wanted it. We deserve it. Let’s take our country back.

The person, time and location of the shooting were not a coincidence. The shooting at Boris was symbolic. He was one of the few consolidating figures in the Russian opposition. He was an opposition figure of a global level.

He was a visionary. He was killed coldly near the Kremlin and on the eve of a big protest rally. In our long, Russian history our rulers liked to execute their rivals near the Kremlin. It’s a clear signal to all the dissenters: leave or you’ll be in jail or murdered. It’s a clear signal to the entire country, to its law-enforcement structures and to the public as well. Like a metastasis it will leak from Moscow to the regions: it’s ok to get rid of your political opponents. It nourishes the atmosphere of hatred and intolerance. It destroys our society.

We have established the Free Russia Foundation because we have a strong vision of Russia After Putin, the vision of the country that still has hope for a democratic future. We have started it because we  deeply understand how bad the situation is in our homeland and how strong the pressure that government places on any person of a free mind.

This hope is fading from day to day. If we don’t fight for changes today, it might be too late tomorrow.

Russians, wake up! Let’s build a successful society and stop being a global threat, invading neighbors and killing our own people. The murder of Boris is a bitter loss for all of us – those of us, like him, are dreaming of a Free Russia.

Let’s make Russia free! Join us today! Together we can make it happen.

The Free Russia Foundation team

Free Russia Foundation Condemns Expansion of Charges Under the Politically-Motivated Criminal Prosecution of Vladimir Kara-Murza and Demands His Immediate Release

Oct 06 2022

Today, Russian media outlets have reported that new charges of high treason (Article 275 of the Russian Criminal Code) have been filed against opposition politician, human rights activist, and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza.

Vladimir Kara-Murza’s attorney Vadim Prokhorov confirmed that the charges of state treason have been filed against the politician on three counts. They allege speeches criticizing the Russian authorities at public events in Lisbon, Portugal; Oslo, Norway; and Washington, DC. According to the lawyer, the speeches, that indeed took place, posed no threat to the security of Russia, on the contrary, they were aimed at protecting the interests of Russia and its citizens and at correcting the current catastrophic situation.

The pro-democracy leader faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Vladimir Kara-Murza has pleaded not guilty.

Natalia Arno, president of Free Russia Foundation, in her comments on the new charges expressed outrage at the illegal prosecution of Kara-Murza.  “Charges of state treason for public speeches are absurd especially with regards to Vladimir, who is globally recognized as a true patriot of Russia and revered for his work in defense of the interest of the Russian people and democratic principles.”

Arno noted that Vladimir Kara-Murza served as Foundation’s Vice President, but was relieved from that position on August 3, 2021. “This decision was made by our board in recognition of the fact that Vladimir had been spending most of his time working in Russia, that was his main focus and his plan,” she explained.

The Foundation considers the criminal case against Vladimir Kara-Murza fabricated and politically motivated, a retribution for his work in support of human rights and his courageous quest against Putin’s autocracy.

“It has been absolutely clear from the very beginning that the detention and persecution of Kara-Murza is part of the wider campaign by the Russian authorities to punish and suppress any dissent,” said Natalia Arno.

“Today, accusations of discrediting the Russian military and participating in activities of an undesirable organization have been further inflated by charged of high treason, one of the most severe criminal offenses that can send a person to prison for decades. Vladimir Kara-Murza is a Russian patriot who has fought for many years for a prosperous future for his country. For this, the Kremlin tried to kill him twice, but, having failed to achieve its aim, arrested him and is now persecuting him on false charges that could lead to years of unjust imprisonment.

This is a tragic case  that shows us the ways Vladimir Putin’s dictatorial regime is suppressing all opposition in order to sow fear among Russians and remain in power at any cost. For years, Vladimir Kara-Murza has been one of the most consistent and determined advocates of democracy and human rights in Russia. His bogus arrest only underscores the importance of the idea of justice for the people of Russia and Ukraine, who have suffered too long from the actions of the Kremlin kleptocracy.” Free Russia Foundation, which supports Russian activists, journalists, and human rights defenders, considers the charges against Vladimir Kara-Murza unjust and politically motivated, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release. We demand the Russian authorities to stop manipulating the law to achieve false, illusory goals that destroy the very foundations of democracy and international security.

Free Russia Foundation Condemns the Signing of the Treaty on the “Incorporation of New Territories into Russia,” De Facto the Annexation of the Occupied Territories of Ukraine

Sep 30 2022

On Friday, September 30, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the heads of the self-proclaimed “Luhansk People’s Republic” and “Donetsk People’s Republic,” as well as the occupation administrations of Zaporizhia and Kherson regions, signed treaties in the Kremlin on “joining Russia.”

Free Russia Foundation strongly condemns the decision of Vladimir Putin and his administration to continue the illegal annexation of the occupied territories in Ukraine. The forcible change of international borders at the expense of another sovereign state and the so-called “referenda” that preceded it are a serious violation of the foundations of international law and cannot be recognized under any circumstances.

Natalia Arno, president of Free Russia Foundation: “Today Vladimir Putin has de facto announced the illegal annexation of the occupied territory of a sovereign state. The signing of this treaty is a blatant violation of the fundamental norms of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, of which Russia is a member. Such actions by the Russian President, together with previously announced military mobilization and nuclear blackmail, only lead to an escalation of the conflict and new human sacrifices. In the modern world, borders cannot be redrawn at gunpoint. Russia’s actions are illegal and unacceptable to the civilized world.”

Free Russia Foundation, which provides support to Russian activists, journalists, and human rights defenders, calls on all countries and international organizations to join us in resolute and public condemnation of Russian military aggression and its illegal actions to tear away the territory of sovereign Ukraine. We urge you to call on the Kremlin to cease its hostilities and leave the territories it has seized.

Free Russia Foundation Condemns the Kremlin’s Decision to Annex the Occupied Territories of Ukraine and Preparations for Mobilization in Russia

Sep 20 2022

On September 20, 2022, the occupation authorities of the self-proclaimed republics “LNR” and “DNR” and other occupied territories of Ukraine, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, hastily announced that they would hold “referendums on joining Russia” in the near future. The authorities of the “LNR” and “DNR” added that the vote will take place as early as this week, from September 23 to 27, 2022.

On the same day, the Russian State Duma introduced the concepts of “mobilization,” “martial law” and “wartime” into the Russian Criminal Code. The deputies voted for the law in the third reading unanimously — all 389 of them. Now voluntary surrender, looting and unauthorized abandonment of a unit during combat operations will result in imprisonment.

From the first day of the war unleashed by Putin’s regime and its allies against independent Ukraine, Free Russia Foundation, which supports Russian activists, journalists, and human rights activists forced to leave the country because of direct security threats, has condemned the crimes of Putin’s regime against independent Ukraine. We respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states and consider human life and freedom to be of the highest value.

The forthcoming “referendums”, mobilization, and martial law are a collapse of the whole system of “Putin’s stability,” the illusion of which the Kremlin has been trying to maintain since the beginning of the full-scale war with Ukraine. Vladimir Putin is preparing to blatantly violate international law once again and launch an attack on democracy and freedom in Ukraine and Europe. Any statements by the Kremlin that residents of the occupied territories of Ukraine want to become part of Russia are false.

Three decades ago, the Ukrainian people proclaimed the independence of their state. Since 2014, the world has seen that Vladimir Putin has undermined Ukraine’s sovereignty and any attempts at anti-war protest in Russia through military force, repressive legislation, false statements, and massive state propaganda. Despite all the suffering inflicted on Ukraine, Putin has failed to achieve this goal: Ukrainians continue to show fortitude and determination to defend their country at any cost, and Russian anti-war resistance continues despite repression.

We consider any attempts to tear away Ukrainian territory through so-called “referendums” categorically unacceptable and call on state institutions and international human rights organizations to join the demand for an immediate end to the war and the liberation of the occupied territories. Any war brings suffering to humanity and endangers peace. We will not allow a totalitarian dictatorship to prevail and we will continue to fight for Ukraine’s independence and Russia’s democratic future.

Free Russia Foundation announces the appointment of Vladimir Milov as Vice President for International Advocacy

Sep 01 2022

September 1, 2022. Washington, DC. Free Russia Foundation announces the appointment of Russian politician, publicist, economist, and energy expert Vladimir Milov as FRF Vice President for International Advocacy.

In her announcement of Vladimir’s new role, Natalia Arno, President of Free Russia Foundation, remarked: “I am delighted to welcome this distinguished Russian civil society leader to our team. I am certain that Vladimir will become our force multiplier and make a profound contribution to FRF’s mission, including strengthening civil society in Russia, standing up for democracy defenders who oppose war, both inside and outside the country, building coalitions and mobilizing supporters. Vladimir Milov’s professional skills and extensive experience in human rights advocacy will help us come up with effective and innovative approaches to combat the authoritarian regime and repression that the current Russian government has unleashed against citizens of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.”

Vladimir Milov was born on June 18, 1972. From 1997—2002 he worked in government agencies, more than 4 years of which were in senior positions, from assistant to the Chairman of the Federal Energy Commission to the Deputy Minister of Energy of Russia.

Vladimir Milov has bravely and publicly called out the authorities for monopolizing the economy, and encroaching into public and political life of Russian citizens. Milov’s profile as an opposition leader rose thanks to his joint project with Boris Nemtsov. The report titled “Putin. Results,” condemned the activities of the Russian government during Putin’s presidency. In 2010, Mr. Milov headed the Democratic Choice movement, which later served as the basis for the creation of a political party with the same name.

In 2016, Mr. Milov became an associate of the unregistered presidential candidate Alexei Navalny. On May 11, 2017, he began hosting a weekly segment on the economy, “Where’s the Money?” on the NavalnyLIVE broadcast on YouTube.

In April of 2021, he left Russia for Lithuania amidst persecution of Alexei Navalny’s organizations. In February of 2022, he categorically condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On May 6, 2022, the Russian Ministry of Justice added Vladimir Milov to the list of media outlets considered as “foreign agents.” Vladimir Milov is a regular guest expert for the world’s leading media outlets — CNN, CNBC, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal.

Kara-Murza faces a new charge as the Kremlin cracks down on its opponents

Aug 04 2022

Russian pro-democracy politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, who’s been in jail since April for allegedly spreading “disinformation” about the Russian military, now also stands accused of “carrying out the activities of an undesirable organization,” which names Free Russia Foundation in the newly filed charge.

Free Russia Foundation, unconstitutionally designated as an “undesirable” organization by the Russian government in June 2019, did not organize an event on political prisoners in Moscow in 2021. FRF does not have any presence or programs inside Russia. Additionally, FRF has never conducted any work in the State of Arizona.

FRF strongly condemns the new charges brought against Vladimir Kara-Murza by Russian authorities and demands the dropping of all charges against him and calls for his immediate release.

“All actions of the Kremlin directed against Russian opposition politicians and activists have nothing in common with establishing the truth. They are instead aimed solely at getting rid of opponents of Putin’s regime,” FRF President Arno stated.