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Monday, December 4, 2023

Russian authorities search to high-quality a human rights advocate for criticizing the conflict in Ukraine

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TALLINN, Estonia — Russian authorities on Wednesday sought to impose a high-quality on a distinguished human rights advocate on trial for criticizing the conflict in Ukraine, the most recent step in a relentless crackdown on activists, impartial journalists and opposition figures.

Oleg Orlov, co-chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights group Memorial, has been charged with publicly “discrediting” the Russian navy after he wrote a Fb put up denouncing the invasion of Ukraine.

Below a legislation adopted shortly after the Kremlin despatched troops throughout the border, it’s a legal offense if dedicated repeatedly inside a 12 months; Orlov has been fined twice for antiwar protests earlier than going through legal expenses.

A Moscow court docket started listening to the case in March, and Orlov confronted as much as 5 years in jail if convicted. In closing arguments Wednesday, nonetheless, the prosecution requested the court docket to impose a high-quality of 250,000 rubles (about $2,500).

“Thank God!” gasped Orlov’s spouse when she heard that in court docket, based on the Russian information outlet Mediazona.

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Memorial, one of many oldest and probably the most famend Russian rights organizations, was awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize together with imprisoned Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski and the Ukrainian group Middle for Civil Liberties.

Memorial was based within the Soviet Union in 1987 to make sure that victims of Communist Social gathering repression can be remembered. It has continued to compile info on human rights abuses and observe the destiny of political prisoners in Russia whereas going through a Kremlin crackdown in recent times.

The group had been declared a “overseas agent,” a designation that brings extra authorities scrutiny and carries robust pejorative connotations. Through the years, it was ordered to pay large fines for alleged violations of the ”overseas agent” legislation.

Russia’s Supreme Court docket ordered it shut down in December 2021, a transfer that sparked an outcry at dwelling and overseas.

Memorial and its supporters have known as the trial in opposition to Orlov politically motivated. His protection workforce included Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of the impartial newspaper Novaya Gazeta and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021.

Addressing the court docket Wednesday, Orlov rejected the fees and urged Russia “to return to a lawful path.”

“Solely that may save our nation from potential disasters,” he mentioned.

After invading Ukraine in February 2022, the Kremlin doubled down on suppressing dissent, adopting laws successfully outlawing any criticism of what it insisted on calling its “particular navy operation.”

Since then, almost 8,000 Russians have confronted misdemeanor expenses and over 700 individuals have been implicated in legal {cases} for talking out about or protesting the conflict, based on the OVD Information human rights and authorized help group.

The authorities have additionally used the brand new legislation to focus on opposition figures, human rights activists and impartial media. Prime critics have been sentenced to lengthy jail phrases, rights teams have been compelled to close down operations, impartial information websites have been blocked and impartial journalists have left the nation, fearing prosecution.

Lots of these exiles have been tried, convicted and sentenced to jail phrases in absentia. The dimensions of the crackdown has been unprecedented in post-Soviet Russia.


Observe AP’s protection of the conflict in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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