Russian activist Oleg Orlov receives a 30-month prison sentence | Latest updates on Russia-Ukraine conflict

In a shocking turn of events, a Moscow court has found veteran human rights advocate Oleg Orlov guilty of discrediting the armed forces for speaking out against the war in Ukraine. The Russian court has sentenced him to two-and-a-half years in prison.

Video footage shared online by Memorial, a now-banned Russian human rights group, captured the moment Orlov, the 70-year-old co-chairperson of the Nobel Prize-winning organization, was handcuffed and escorted by officers to a van after the verdict was delivered by the Golovinskii district court in Moscow.

Memorial denounced the trial as a travesty of justice and an attack on the fundamental right to free expression. They, along with numerous other rights groups, stated that Orlov’s legal team would appeal the verdict, and they promised to continue their work.

Human rights activists have raised concerns about the escalating targeting of Kremlin critics since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Orlov’s prosecution stemmed from an article he wrote that criticized the invasion and accused Russia, under President Vladimir Putin’s leadership, of descending into fascism.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Orlov’s article reflected a hostility towards traditional Russian values and a hatred towards the Russian military. Despite the prosecution’s claims, Orlov maintained his innocence in his closing statements, condemning the totalitarian and fascist nature of the Russian state.

The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Russia, Mariana Katzarova, described Orlov’s trial as a deliberate attempt to silence human rights defenders in the country. Orlov, in a recent interview, expressed no illusions about the trial’s outcome but remained defiant in continuing his work within Russia.

As anti-defamation laws in Russia become more stringent and harsh penalties are imposed on those spreading misinformation about the army, Orlov’s unwavering commitment to his human rights work sets him apart as a courageous advocate. Despite the risks, he believes that his presence in Russia is more beneficial in the fight against injustice.

Leave a Comment