A blow to Russian dissidents: prison sentence for Oleg Orlov, winner of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize

Russian justice sentenced him today to two years and six months in prison for discrediting the army experienced activist Oleg OrlovHead of Memorial, Human rights organization that received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022. As soon as the verdict was announced, the hooded police officers handcuffed the 70-year-old Orlov and locked him in a cell in the same room of the Golovinsky Court in Moscow.

The activist was convicted an article in which he described the current political regime as “totalitarian and fascist,” something that is, in his words, “not a bit” exaggerated given the events of the last few months, including the recent death in prison of opponent Alexei Navalni.

On October 11, Orlov, who also demonstrated against the war in Ukraine in Red Square, was fined 150,000 rubles ($1,500) for the same caseHowever, prosecutors appealed the verdict, accusing Orlov of harboring “ideological and political hatred” against Russia. The Moscow City Court then ordered a repeat of the trial.

The judge then took into account, among other things, the defendant’s age and his brilliant career as an activist over the last 30 years as mitigating factors. Furthermore, too On this occasion he was accused of hostility to traditional moral principles and also against the Kremlin’s patriotic values.

“They accuse us of discrediting without explaining what it is about and how it differs from legitimate criticism. They accuse us of deliberately spreading false information without making any effort to prove its falsity,” Orlov said the day before as he spoke his final words. Orlov identified with the character in the novel “The Trial” by Franz Kafkabecause he doesn’t understand why or what they are accusing him of.

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“The state in our country again.” It not only controls social, political and economic life, but also seeks total control over culture and scientific thought and invades private life.. It absolutely will,” he said.

More than a dozen Western diplomats, including U.S. and European Union officials in the Russian capital, attended the hearing on Tuesday, Memorial reported on Telegram. During the process, Orlov refused to admit his guilt and renounced the presence of witnesses in his defense.on the grounds that this could pose a risk to them since he was classified as a foreign agent in early February.

The verdict coincided with that ninth anniversary of the assassination of opposition leader and former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov near the Kremlin. The courts opened criminal proceedings against Orlov in March over the article entitled “They wanted fascism, they already have it,” published in the French press and posted on Facebook in November 2022.

“The bloody war that the Putin regime has declared in Ukraine means not only the mass murder of people, but also the destruction of the infrastructure, economy and cultural assets of this extraordinary country,” the article says.

In December 2021, Russian courts liquidated both Memorial International and the Memorial Human Rights Center for creating a “false image of the USSR as a terrorist state,” after which that organization received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo a year later.

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