Opening of the trial of Oleg Orlov of the NGO Memorial for "discrediting" the Russian army

He is one of the founders of the NGO Memorial, Nobel Peace Prize and dissolved by the Russian justice in 2021: Oleg Orlov is on trial in Moscow for denouncing the war in Ukraine, and he risks being sentenced to several years in prison. A "travesty of justice" in the eyes of the Council of Europe, which is asking Russia to drop the charges against it.

Oleg Orlov, here on March 21, 2023. AP

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From the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, he took to the streets to denounce the war. Several times arrested, several times convicted, Oleg Orlov has not ceased, despite the risk involved, to militate and to express himself publicly, a commitment that dates back to Soviet times and the very first years of the NGO Memorial.


Oleg Orlov had been against the war since Afghanistan, which Russia had been waging in the 1980s. He was against the war forty years ago, against the war in Chechnya, against the war in Syria, Georgia, etc. " says Natacha Morozova, legal consultant to the International Federation for Human Rights, at the microphone of Daniel Vallot of RFI's international service. But the activist, who knew he risked prison, still stayed in Russia, "because it's his country, he doesn't want to leave it, he wants to fight, even though he's fully aware that he can end up in prison."

Now 70, Oleg Orlov is being prosecuted for "public activities aimed at discrediting the army". At issue was an article that described the war in Ukraine as a disaster for Russia. The Memorial activist could face up to three years in prison at the end of the trial that opens today.

Read also: The NGO Memorial dissolved in Russia: "A return of 30 years back"

'A shame in the face of the horrors of the army'


The trial of Oleg Orlov (...) is a travesty of justice that reveals contempt for the most fundamental human rights," Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic said in a statement on Wednesday 7 June. According to Ms Mijatovic, the proceedings against Mr Orlov are aimed at "punishing him for his continued denunciation of Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine". "Oleg Orlov's courage and devotion to human rights are crucial when it comes to speaking truth to power," Mijatovic said. "He should never have been prosecuted in the first place.


Founded in 1989, Memorial has detailed the crimes of the USSR for more than 30 years, gathering archives, mounting exhibitions and pressuring the state to acknowledge responsibility. At the same time, she fought for the defense of victims of human rights violations. Last October, Memorial was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, alongside the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) and Belarusian activist Ales Beliatski, imprisoned in his country.

After the prize was announced, Orlov told AFP he felt "permanent pain and shame at the horrors that the (Russian) army is committing in a sovereign neighbouring country".


and with AFP)

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