Russian court upholds sentence for chairman of Memorial human rights group — Novaya Gazeta Europe
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Russian court upholds sentence for chairman of Memorial human rights group

Jailed human rights activist Oleg Orlov is seen on TV screen as he participates in a court appeal hearing via video link from his prison against his sentence at the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, 11 July 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

Jailed human rights activist Oleg Orlov is seen on TV screen as he participates in a court appeal hearing via video link from his prison against his sentence at the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, 11 July 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

A Moscow court upheld the 2.5-year sentence of veteran human rights activist and co-chairman of the Memorial human rights group Oleg Orlov on Thursday, Russian independent media outlet SOTAvision reported.

Orlov, who refused to defend himself in the trial and joined the court hearing via video link, read a quote from a 1947 Nuremberg trial regarding courts in Nazi Germany in his final statement.

“They distorted, perverted, and finally accomplished the complete overthrow of justice and law in the state. They made the system of courts an integral part of the dictatorship,” Orlov said, noting that the quote was “remarkably suitable for characterising the current state of the Russian judicial system”.

Orlov was initially ordered to pay a fine of 150,000 rubles (€1,500) in October for “repeatedly discrediting the Russian military” for an article he wrote condemning the war in Ukraine, but the Prosecutor General’s Office requested a retrial, arguing that his sentence had been overly lenient.

Orlov was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison in February after the court found that his article, entitled “They wanted fascism. They got it”, was motivated by hostility “against traditional Russian spiritual, moral and patriotic values”.

While waiting for the judge to return to the courtroom, Orlov asked everyone present to drink to his health after the trial, saying, “The place across the road has excellent chacha”, a traditional Georgian grape pomace brandy.

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