Independent expert: the trial of Oleg Orlov is a textbook example of the politicization of law enforcement agencies and the justice system

Независимый эксперт: суд над Олегом Орловым – хрестоматийный пример политизации правоохранительных органов и системы правосудия

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation Mariana Katsarova. Independent expert: the trial of Oleg Orlov is a textbook example of the politicization of law enforcement agencies and the justice system Human rights

Independent UN expert Mariana Katsarova condemned the ongoing prosecution of Oleg Orlov, co-chairman of the liquidated Memorial Society. In her statement, the human rights activist called the trial against Orlov “politically motivated.”

On Monday, February 26, state prosecutors reportedly demanded a prison sentence of two years and 11 months for the human rights activist. The verdict will be announced on February 27. Orlov is accused of discrediting the armed forces of the Russian Federation – for an anti-war article.

“I call on the Russian authorities to immediately drop all criminal charges against Oleg Orlov, known for his tireless fight for human rights and research into historical truth in Russia,” said Mariana Kazarova, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Russia.

She emphasized that the provisions of the law, under which Orlov was charged with discrediting the Russian armed forces, have no basis in international law and are a gross violation of Russia’s international obligations to protecting freedom of speech and creating a safe environment for human rights defenders.

“The entire package of laws prohibiting so-called “fake news” about the war and “discrediting the army,” adopted a week after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, must be immediately repealed.” , said Katsarova.

In October 2023, Orlov was sentenced to pay a fine of 150,000 rubles (approximately $1,628), but the Moscow City Court overturned the verdict and granted the prosecutor’s request to return the case for further investigation – in an attempt to toughen the charges.

“This case is an example of increasing repression against human rights defenders in Russia, where the judiciary, under political pressure, abandoned its independence,” the expert said.

“Court against Orlov is not just a personal attack, but an organized attempt to silence human rights activists in Russia and those who voice any criticism of the war in Ukraine. This is a textbook example of a repressive system in which law enforcement and the judicial system are used for political purposes,” she said.

After the news of the death of Alexei Navalny, Katsarova was joined by a group of special rapporteurs UN, which called on the Russian government to immediately release all political prisoners in Russia.

In a statement today, Katsarova noted that Russian authorities are moving in the opposite direction and the number of political prisoners continues to grow. Since last Friday, authorities have detained hundreds of civilians across Russia for laying flowers in memory of Navalny.

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The trial of Orlov was accompanied by obvious violations of the right to a fair trial, she said Special Rapporteur. She noted that the new charges were prepared in a hurry, and the indictment was confirmed in less than 24 hours. The court also significantly limited Orlov’s ability to prepare his defense: he was given only six days to familiarize himself with the case materials.

Katsarova and a number of other UN special rapporteurs sent a letter to the Russian authorities in May 2023 , in which she called for all charges against Orlov to be dropped.

“I reiterate my call for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Russia and an end to the repression of civil society and anti-war activists,” the Special Rapporteur stated.

* Special Rapporteurs are not UN staff and are independent of any government or organization. They are appointed by the Human Rights Council, work in a personal capacity and do not receive a salary from the UN for their work.


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