Speed Reads

Not so innocent?

Putin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza is in a coma in Moscow after second apparent poisoning in 2 years

President Trump's continued defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin, coupled with his politically puzzling statement over the weekend, after Fox News' Bill O'Reilly called Putin "a killer," that America is not "so innocent" either, has prompted bipartisan confusion and consternation in Washington, as well as a demand for an apology from the Kremlin. "I repeat, there is no moral equivalence between that butcher and thug and KGB colonel and the United States of America," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on Tuesday. While the U.S. is having this discussion over Trump's motives for sticking up for Putin, a high-profile Putin critic, Vladimir Kara-Murza, is in a coma in a Moscow hospital, apparently poisoned for the second time since 2015.

Kara-Murza was one of the organizers of the 2012 protests against Putin in Moscow, and in 2015, the same year fellow Putin critic and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov was shot dead on a bridge outside the Kremlin, Kara-Murza suddenly took ill with a mysterious malady that involved elevated levels of heavy metals in his blood; he suffered severe nerve damage, moved his family to Virginia, then returned to Russia to continue his anti-Putin advocacy. "Those who oppose Vladimir Putin's regime, risk not only their well-being and their freedom — they also risk their lives," he told Congress eight months ago. He suddenly fell ill again last Thursday, and his wife says she is sure he was poisoned again.

Soviet Russia secretly researched untraceable poisons and tested them on gulag prisoners, The New York Times reports, citing security service defectors, and since Russia legalized targeted killings overseas in 2006, several Putin critics and opponents have wound up dead in and outside of Russia. You can learn more about Kara-Murza's case in the ABC News report below. Peter Weber