UN expert: Oleg Orlov trial in Russia – “abuse of legal system for political purposes”

Эксперт ООН: суд над Олегом Орловым в России – «злоупотребление правовой системой в политических целях»

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation Mariana Katsarova. UN expert: Oleg Orlov trial in Russia – “abuse of legal system for political purposes” Human rights

Russian authorities must immediately drop all criminal charges against human rights activist Oleg Orlov and overturn the unfair court decision against him. This was stated on Thursday by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation, Mariana Katsarova.

“Today Oleg Orlov, the country’s leading human rights activist and co-chair of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization Memorial, celebrates his 71st birthday behind bars as punishment for his outspoken opposition to Russia’s war against Ukraine.” , the UN expert said in her statement.

“Oleg Orlov’s health has continued to deteriorate since his imprisonment, and Russian authorities must ensure he has adequate access to medical care,” Katsarova warned.

Infringement of rights

In February 2024, a Russian court sentenced the human rights activist to two and a half years in prison for condemning Russia’s war against Ukraine.

“By keeping Oleg Orlov behind bars on charges that have no basis under international law, the Russian authorities are showing the entire Russian population what tools they are willing to use to silence peaceful dissent and independent voices, and demonstrate the ruthlessness with which government authorities can act,” the expert said.

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According to Katsarova, the Golovinsky District Court of Moscow appears to be deliberately rushing the process in order to reach a final verdict on the appeal, which Orlov filed on March 12, 2024.

The expert noted that Orlov’s right to defense is seriously infringed: the need for daily appearances in court excludes the possibility of consultations with a lawyer, and interaction in court is strictly controlled and limited, which violates the principle of advocacy secrets.

“We must call these actions by their proper names, namely the blatant politicization of law enforcement and judicial activities with the aim of suppressing civil and political rights in Russia,” Katsarova said.

International Solidarity

She stressed that the international community expresses its solidarity with Oleg Orlov and other suppressed voices in Russia. In a letter to the Russian Federation dated 17 May 2023, Katsarova and other UN Special Rapporteurs condemned the persecution of Oleg Orlov for his legitimate human rights work and the exercise of his freedoms of expression and association.

Katsarova stated that the harsh sentence imposed on Oleg Orlov for the so-called “discredit of the Russian army” (Article 280.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) represents a significant escalation in the use of “illegitimate domestic legal norms and the compromise of institutions for political purposes.”

On the day of Orlov’s sentencing, she pointed out that his show trial was part of the authorities’ strategy to suppress civil society. Previously, she called for the repeal of the law under which the human rights activist was convicted.

“The imprisonment of Oleg Orlov and the liquidation of Memorial by the Supreme Court, along with the recognition of Orlov as a “foreign agent” , indicate the government’s systematic persecution of dissent, the erosion of civic space and the harsh punishment of any opposition to the war against Ukraine,” Katsarova said.

Special rapporteurs are part of the so-called Special Procedures of the Council for Human Rights, the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system. They are not UN staff and are independent of any government or organization. They serve in an individual capacity and are not paid for their work.


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