Oleg Orlov, co-chair of Nobel Peace Prize winning group, sentenced to 30 months in jail in Russia

Oleg Orlov stands surrounded by journalists prior to a court session for a new trial on charges of repeated discrediting Russian military, in Moscow, Russia, on February 27.
Oleg Orlov stands surrounded by journalists prior to a court session for a new trial on charges of repeated discrediting Russian military, in Moscow, Russia, on February 27. Copyright AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
Copyright AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
By Euronews with AP
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The 70-year-old human rights advocate was convicted of “repeatedly discrediting” the Russian army in an article where he condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Oleg Orlov, the 70-year-old co-chair of Nobel Peace Prize winning Memorial Human Rights Centre, was given a 30-month jail sentence by a Moscow court on Tuesday over his criticism of the war in Ukraine.

The veteran human rights advocate was convicted of “repeatedly discrediting” the Russian army in an article he wrote denouncing the invasion of Ukraine, which started on February 24, 2022 and sparked an ongoing war now in its third year.

In Russia, authorities officially still refer to the conflict as a “special military operation” rather than an invasion. Any criticism of the war has been censored and criminalised as an insult to the Russian army, a crime punishable with a fine and even jail time.

Orlov has rejected the case against him as politically motivated, telling the Moscow court who condemned him: “I don’t regret anything and I don’t repent anything.” The activist was handcuffed and taken directly into custody from the courtroom.

His organisation, Memorial, called the sentence “an attempt to drown out the voice of the human rights movement in Russia and any criticism of the state.” It vowed to continue its work. Memorial, the group co-chaired by Orlov, documented human rights abuses during the Soviet era. It won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2022.

Initially, Orlov had been ordered to pay a fine of 150,000 rubles (about €1,381 at the time), but the prosecution appealed the verdict, seeking the harsher punishment - which it obtained on Tuesday.

The court’s decision was condemned by several Western diplomats, including US ambassador to Moscow Lynne Tracy. In a statement, she wrote: “I am alarmed and concerned by today’s outcome. Oleg Orlov has personally fought for the rights of Russians for more than 45 years. In previous times his efforts have been awarded at the highest levels. In today’s Russia he is being locked away for them.”

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