Russia: Human rights campaigner Oleg Orlov loses enchantment

A Moscow court on Thursday upheld the jail sentence of Oleg Orlov, head of the Nobel-prize-winning human rights organization Memorial. Orlov has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for “discrediting” the Russian army.

Orlov said he stood by his denunciation of “mass repression” in Russia.

The 71-year-old was found guilty in February after penning an article saying the country had descended into fascism under President Vladimir Putin.

Russian court sentences activist to prison

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‘No remorse’

“I have no remorse or regrets. I am in the right place at the right time,” he told the packed courtroom via videolink from a detention center.

“When there is mass repression in the country, I am there alongside those who are persecuted, and in this way I help,” Orlov continued, before the sound was abruptly cut off from his video feed.

“Oleg Petrovich Orlov did not harm a single person,” his lawyer KatherinaTetrukhina said. “An elderly man with no previous convictions should not be deprived of his freedom and torn away from his wife, who needs him by her side, for peacefully expressing an opinion.”

Orlev’s supporters have voiced concern about the state of his health as his defense team argued that he was being kept in cruel and degrading conditions.

In his final words to the court, Orlov paraphrased from Germany’s Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals.

Russia had “distorted, perverted, and finally achieved the total destruction of justice and law in the state,” Orlov said.

The decision comes just days after theater director Zhenya Berkovich and playwright Svetlana Petriychuk were jailed for six years for “justifying” terrorism. The pair had staged a play in 2020 based on real transcripts of trials of so-called “Islamic State brides” from Russia and was seen as criticizing Russia’s intervention in the Syrian Civil War.

es/sms (AFP, Reuters)