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Russia: political opponent Oleg Orlov demands three years in prison

The fight against Vladimir Putin’s opponents continues. This Monday, Russian prosecutors asked for two years and eleven months in prison for dissident Oleg Orlov, a Russian human rights activist, for repeatedly exposing Moscow’s military offensive in Ukraine in an appeals trial. A veteran of Memorial, one of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize winners dismantled by Russian justice, the 70-year-old is one of the last Kremlin critics not to be jailed or sent into exile abroad.

Oleg Orlov refused to speak at this hearing, saying that he was waiting for the last speech allotted to the accused, before the verdict was announced, to express his opinion. He previously called the persecution “unfair” and said he was “persecuted for expressing an opinion.” Following the first trial in October 2023, Oleg Orlov was found guilty of “discrediting” the army and sentenced to a small fine—a very lenient sentence in Russia, which is accustomed to jailing government critics. This sentence was demanded by the prosecution, but then it changed its mind and filed an appeal.

“Continue the fight” from Russia

While most of Vladimir Putin’s critics have been jailed or expelled in recent years amid increasing repression, Oleg Orlov explained to AFP in early February that he remains in Russia to “continue the fight.” Active since the 1970s, Oleg Orlov has become one of the pillars of Memorial, the main organization fighting in Russia to preserve the memory of Soviet repressions and document current ones. The NGO was dissolved at the end of 2021 by Russian justice, but was then awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, a few months after the Russian attack on Ukraine began.

All this happened ten days after the death in prison of Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Putin’s main political opponent. On February 22, Vladimir Kara-Murza, another opponent of the Russian president, urged Russians not to “despair” from his cell.

Source: Le Parisien

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