Russian human rights activist again before the court: “The verdict will be guilty” | outside

It would not have happened often that the assistance of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate was enlisted in a criminal case. Co-chair Oleg Orlov of the now-banned human rights organization Memorial asked for it in Moscow on Thursday and got his way.

Orlov is on trial for criticizing the “special military operation,” as the Kremlin still calls the invasion of Ukraine. Therefore, he can be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Prosecutors are mainly accusing Orloff of an opinion article on the French online news site Mediapart. Its headline read: “They Wanted Fascism, They Got It.”

In the article, which he later posted on Facebook, Orlov argued that the conflict in Ukraine not only leads to the loss of many lives and the destruction of infrastructure, the economy and cultural objects, but also deals a heavy blow to the future of Russia itself. Orlov wrote: “The totalitarian country left communism thirty years ago, and again fell into the system of totalitarianism, but now it is fascism.”

It was remarkable that Orlov asked the judge for permission to be present with Dmitry Muratov on the first day of the trial. He is the editor-in-chief of the now banned opposition newspaper ‘Novaja Gazeta’ and the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021.

Charge based on linguistic analysis

According to Orlov, the charge against him is based on a linguistic analysis of his article. Because Muratov has a linguistic background, Orlov was keen to include the journalist as a member of his defense team. The judge allowed it.

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According to the prosecutor, Orlov, who was fined twice last year for criticizing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, had “criminal intent” in his article for Medipart.

Orlov said he was not guilty, and that he did not understand how he could be held responsible for the opinion. If we believe the Russian state, Orlov argued, the conquest of Ukraine must serve Russia’s peace and security. But I believe that it was done against the interests of Russia and its citizens.” He felt that the investigation against him did not prove respect for these interests.

Memorial Orlov is one of the oldest and most respected human rights organizations in Russia

On the eve of the trial, Orlov told the French news agency ‘Agence France Presse’ that the allegations against him were “foolish accusations”. He said he stood by his words but had no illusions about the outcome of the trial. Some may tell themselves that it is better to remain silent. But my past life and my attitude assured me that it would not be so.” “The verdict will be guilty, and no one doubts it.”

fist up

However, the rights activist was euphoric before the trial began. “Everything will be fine,” said Orlov, defiantly raising his fist. The book, published earlier this year by Russian journalist and researcher Alexander Paunov, presented the fall of European dictatorships.

Memorial Orlov is one of the oldest and most respected human rights organizations in Russia. Since its founding in the late 1980s, the movement has been researching and documenting Stalin’s repression. The International Chapter of Memorial has been campaigning for years against human rights abuses in Russia under President Vladimir Putin.

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At the end of 2021, the Russian court decided to dissolve Memorial, just months before Putin sent his troops into Ukraine.

Denton Watson

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