TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Russian authorities on Wednesday sought to impose a tremendous on a outstanding human rights advocate on trial for criticizing the battle in Ukraine, the most recent step in a relentless crackdown on activists, unbiased journalists and opposition figures.
Oleg Orlov, co-chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights group Memorial, has been charged with publicly “discrediting” the Russian army after he wrote a Fb put up denouncing the invasion of Ukraine.
Below a legislation adopted shortly after the Kremlin despatched troops throughout the border, it’s a felony offense if dedicated repeatedly inside a 12 months; Orlov has been fined twice for antiwar protests earlier than dealing with felony fees.
A Moscow courtroom started listening to the case in March, and Orlov confronted as much as 5 years in jail if convicted. In closing arguments Wednesday, nonetheless, the prosecution requested the courtroom to impose a tremendous of 250,000 rubles (about $2,500).
“Thank God!” gasped Orlov’s spouse when she heard that in courtroom, in line with the Russian information outlet Mediazona.
Memorial, one of many oldest and essentially the most famend Russian rights organizations, was awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize together with imprisoned Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski and the Ukrainian group Middle for Civil Liberties.
Memorial was based within the Soviet Union in 1987 to make sure that victims of Communist Celebration repression can be remembered. It has continued to compile info on human rights abuses and monitor the destiny of political prisoners in Russia whereas dealing with a Kremlin crackdown in recent times.
The group had been declared a “international agent,” a designation that brings extra authorities scrutiny and carries sturdy pejorative connotations. Over time, it was ordered to pay huge fines for alleged violations of the ”international agent” legislation.
Russia’s Supreme Courtroom ordered it shut down in December 2021, a transfer that sparked an outcry at residence and overseas.
Memorial and its supporters have known as the trial towards Orlov politically motivated. His protection crew included Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of the unbiased newspaper Novaya Gazeta and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021.
Addressing the courtroom Wednesday, Orlov rejected the fees and urged Russia “to return to a lawful path.”
“Solely that may save our nation from potential disasters,” he mentioned.
After invading Ukraine in February 2022, the Kremlin doubled down on suppressing dissent, adopting laws successfully outlawing any criticism of what it insisted on calling its “particular army operation.”
Since then, almost 8,000 Russians have confronted misdemeanor fees and over 700 folks have been implicated in felony circumstances for talking out about or protesting the battle, in line with the OVD Data human rights and authorized help group.
The authorities have additionally used the brand new legislation to focus on opposition figures, human rights activists and unbiased media. High critics have been sentenced to lengthy jail phrases, rights teams have been compelled to close down operations, unbiased information websites had been blocked and unbiased journalists have left the nation, fearing prosecution.
Lots of these exiles have been tried, convicted and sentenced to jail phrases in absentia. The dimensions of the crackdown has been unprecedented in post-Soviet Russia.
Comply with AP’s protection of the battle in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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