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Russia: Court Convicts Human Rights Leader in Sham Trial

Nobel Laureate Oleg Orlov Sentenced to Two and a Half Years in Prison

Oleg Orlov in court in Moscow, Russia, October 11, 2023.  © 2023 Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo

(Moscow) – A Russian court sentenced one of the country’s top human rights leaders, Oleg Orlov, to 2 years and 6 months in prison, on charges of “discrediting” Russia’s armed forces in what was clearly a farcical trial, Human Rights Watch said today.

Orlov, 70, is the co-chair of Memorial, one of Russia’s leading human rights groups and one of three recipients of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. The charges against him stem from an article he published in 2022, alleging that Russia was descending into fascism.

In October 2023, a court fined Orlov on a “repeated discreditation” charge. Orlov appealed the verdict, and the prosecutor’s office counter-appealed, charging him with an aggravated “discrediting” offense, after which the case was sent to retrial.

The following quote can be attributed to Tanya Lokshina, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch:

“The case against Oleg Orlov is a Kafkaesque farce. The Kremlin should not be allowed to eliminate its critics in sham trials. International actors should do everything in their power to free Orlov and hold Russia accountable for its persistent and outrageous human rights violations before it’s too late.”

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