Among the casket bearers earmarked for Senator John McCain's Saturday commemoration ceremony in Washington are a former vice president, an actor, businessmen, and a Russian dissident who approached the deceased senator at death.
Dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza is an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who suffered from organ failure and fell into an almost deadly coma after he was poisoned in early 2017 in Moscow with an unknown poison. The incident was the second time poisoned in two years. "The doctors say if it's a third time, that's it," the 36-year-old said.
It was widely believed that both attacks were conducted by the Kremlin. Kara-Murza has been cross-examined over the past decade against the corruption and criminal behavior of the Russian government in its position as vice-chairman of Open Russia, a group the Kremlin considers "undesirable" and "foreign agent." , [1
"I owe this thanks above all to John McCain," Kara-Murza wrote. "Eighteen months ago, when I was lying in a Moscow hospital after a serious poisoning and was in a coma, McCain went down to the Senate floor to draw my attention. Public attention is often the only protection in these situations, and that's it for me. "
McCain was a bitter opponent of Putin, who often earned the wrath of the Russian leader and in one of his last remarks McCain criticized President Trump for his friendly attitude towards Putin and struck her joint press conference in July, in which Trump rejected Putin's denial Suggesting US Presidential Appraisal for Russian Presidential Election 2016. 19659007] McCain recalls it as "one of the most shameful performances of an American president."
This Saturday, Kara-Murza becomes one of more than a dozen To be a pallbearer for McCain, a reflection of her years of friendship and an opportunity for the late Senator to expel Putin – and, indirectly, Trump – from the grave.
Last September, Kara-Murza visited McCain in Washington with his wife and three children, three months after the senator was diagnosed with the brain It was April this year, when a mutual friend said McCain was planning his funeral and wanted to attend Kara-Murza
"I was speechless and heartbroken, near tears at that moment," Kara-Murza said. With millions of viewers attending Washington National Cathedral, the event will be critical to his case.
Kara-Murza and McCain were originally brought together by Putin's leading opponent Boris Nemtsov, a Russian dissident leader who was Deputy Prime Minister. He was shot dead on a bridge in the shadow of the Kremlin in February 2015, an act condemned as a state-sponsored assassination.
McCain was one of Nemtsov's most faithful supporters in his life, and they met whenever he came to Washington, with his younger friend and advisor, Kara-Murza, present. The first time that all three were together was in 2010, just before Nemtsov was arrested during a demonstration against Putin's crackdown on civil liberties.
The violent intimidation and arbitrary arrests of the two men hardened the senator's view that Putin was an autocrat who needed punishment. This brought him into conflict with the establishment of the Republican Party. George W. Bush said "we do not know enough about him" to pass a verdict during the presidential election in 2000, and with then-candidate Barack Obama, who made a "reset" with Russia during a presidential 2008 debate with McCain.
"I looked in Putin's eyes and I saw three letters – a K, a G and a B," McCain said in response.
Such skepticism made McCain, an enemy of the Kremlin, referred to him after his death last Saturday with state-sponsored media as a "relentless enemy of Russia." Kara-Murza remembered a meeting in Washington where McCain Nemtsov said he was worried about his life and that he should not return to Russia. "It's my country, I will not give up this fight … I have no choice," he replied. Within a year, Nemtsov was dead.
McCain and Kara-Murza, separated for five decades, joined forces closely after Nemtsov's death and continued to meet regularly in Washington. They were among the loudest proponents of the Magnitsky Act, which in 2012 sanctioned Russian officials as punishment for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in jail after he highlighted state corruption and human rights violations.
McCain co-sponsored the legislation, while Kara-Murza testified before the congress, later calling on the Canadian and European governments to follow suit. The paralyzing sanctions have cut off dozens of oligarchs and state employees from access to funds and assets.
The measures have angered Russian officials and today remain as politically divided as when they were introduced.