Russian Human Rights Activist Sentenced for Defamation

The pressure on russian human rights activists are increasing. On Tuesday a court in Moscow sentenced the human rights organization Memorial and it’s Director Oleg Orlov for defamation of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.

Memorial and Oleg Orlov will have to pay 70 000 rubles, about 18 000 SEK.

– The sentence against Orlov and Memorial is a threat to the freedom of speech. People are free to criticize those in power. Russian society stifles its critics, which ultimately threatens the survival of open society, says Robert Hårdh, Executive Director of Civil Rights Defenders.

The trial of Oleg Orlov began September 25 after he had made statements regarding the murder of Natalya Estemirova, one of Russia’s most prominent human rights defenders, who worked on Memorials office in Grozny, Chechnya. Estemirova was kidnapped on July 15 in Grozny and was on the same day found shot dead in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia. Together with her colleagues Natalya Estemirova reported on the grave human rights violations by the regime in Chechnya. Oleg Orlov pointed out Ramzan Kadyrov and his regime for being behind the assassination.

– This verdict was expected, although we are sure that what Oleg said on Kadyrov’s involvement in the murder is true, says Jekatarina Sokirianskaia, an expert on North Caucasus at the office of Memorial in Moscow.

The Lawyer’s of Memorial and Oleg Orlov will now appeal to the Russian judicial system and if tha is not enough the case will be brought to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. According to Jekatarina Sokirianskaia ECHR has previously held that public figures and especially politicians must tolerate a greater degree of criticism.

Ramzan Kadyrov claims were initially 10 million rubles, approximately 2.5 million USD. In light of this, Jekatarina Sokirianskaia finds current rules, after all, like a little success. But in the long term appeal is a very ominous sign:

– This Judgment will surely affect human rights defenders negatively. It seems that Kadyrov has decided to pursue all journalists and human rights activists who criticize him.

Categories: News.
Tags: Ekaterina Sokirianskaya, European Court of Human Rights, Memorial, Natalia Estemirova, Oleg Orlov, and Ramzan Kadyrov.
Regions: The North Caucasus.