Russia: Dissident Orlov sentenced to prison

Russia: Dissident Orlov sentenced to prison

A Russian court on Tuesday sentenced dissident Oleg Orlov, a prominent human rights figure, to two and a half years in prison, in a continuation of ongoing repression that has already pushed almost all dissidents into prison or into exile.

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The 70-year-old, a veteran of Memorial, a 2022 Nobel Peace Prize-winning NGO dissolved by the Russian judiciary, has chosen to remain in Russia to “continue the fight,” unlike many other Kremlin critics. “.

He was convicted for repeatedly condemning the military attack launched by Vladimir Putin in Ukraine two years ago. This is an opinion he repeated on Monday, before the Golovinsky Court in Moscow, during his final speech.

When the verdict was read, Mr Orlov, wearing a thin jacket and glasses, winked at his wife Tatyana Kasatkina and then said: “Tanya, you promised me!”, apparently telling him not to cry.

Dozens of his supporters were present in court to support Orlov, according to an Agence France-Presse journalist during the hearing. When he left the room, handcuffed and surrounded by police, he was applauded with cries of “We love you!”

“We have returned to the Soviet system, where those who are not on the side of power are accused of lying,” Ian Raczynski, another human rights advocate, told AFP.

Svetlana Ganushkina, who is defending the same case, expressed her regret at the trial, which “has nothing to do with the law.” “To stand trial for statements calling for peace and criticism of the authorities is ridiculous. But every tyrant needs enemies,” she said.

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“Don't lose courage!”

The day before the ruling, Mr Orlov again protested against the “stifling of freedom” in Russia and the “entry of Russian forces into Ukraine”. He added: “I do not regret anything and I do not regret anything.”

He also described the death of opposition figure Alexei Navalny on February 16 in his prison in the Arctic as a “murder,” and called on Russian opposition supporters “not to lose courage and optimism.”

For his wife, Tatiana Kasatkina, also a colleague at Memorial, “the main thing is to keep working.”

“It is very important to have a voice that can be heard from here (…).” “We could not live anywhere else, and staying in Russia was our joint decision,” she told AFP after the trial.

US Ambassador Lynn Tracy said on Tuesday that she was “disturbed” by the conviction of Oleg Orlov, stressing that he has been fighting “for the rights of Russians for more than 45 years” and accused the Kremlin of “plunging the country once again into a period of decline.” obscurantism.

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented that this dissident “was clearly the subject of judicial harassment during his trial,” calling for “the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, especially Vladimir Kara-Murza, whose health condition is extremely deteriorating.” worrying.

The 42-year-old, a long-time dissident, was sentenced in April 2023 to 25 years in prison for spreading “false information” about the Russian military, and is serving his sentence in Siberia.

Sofia (22 years old), an archive employee who was interviewed by AFP near the court, said: “We have to continue working and thinking as we did before. Oleg certainly will not want us to cry.”

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For Alexei, the 61-year-old chess coach, who has known the opponent since 1989, “We have lost a new important piece in our camp.” We will continue to lose as long as this force remains in place.”

“Dark powers”

At the end of the first trial, Oleg Orlov was found guilty in October 2023 of “defaming” the army and sentenced to a small fine, an extremely lenient sentence in a Russia that has made a habit of imprisoning critics of power.

The prosecution had requested this ruling, but changed its mind and appealed it, then ordered a new trial.

In fact, Oleg Orlov is accused of demonstrating against the Russian attack in Ukraine and signing a scathing column against the Russian authorities published in the French media Mediapart.

He accused Russian forces of committing “mass” killings of Ukrainian civilians and lamented the “victory” of “dark forces” in Russia, those who “dreamed of complete revenge” after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Active since the 1970s, Oleg Orlov has become a pillar of Memorial, the main organization fighting in Russia to preserve the memory of Soviet repression and document those currently underway.

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About the Author: Hermínio Guimarães

"Introvertido premiado. Viciado em mídia social sutilmente charmoso. Praticante de zumbis. Aficionado por música irritantemente humilde."

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