Oleg Orlov, a manager of the NGO Memorial co-winner of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, has drawn up Wednesday an indictment of the Russian assault against Ukraine, on the last day of his trial for having precisely denounced Russia. this offensive.
His friend Dmitri Mouratov, editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and another co-winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, lent him a helping hand.
Mr. Orlov risked five years in prison for having “discredited” the Ukrainian army, but the prosecutor finally demanded on Wednesday a fine of 250,000 rubles, or around 2,400 euros, a request of rare magnanimity in Russia, where many people have been sentenced to prison terms for similar acts.
Oleg Orlov, who has been appearing free since June and is one of the few Kremlin critics still at large in Russia, then spoke.
Public figure who also worked on crimes committed in Chechnya by pro forces -Kremlin, he repeated loud and clear all the bad things he thinks about Vladimir Putin's decision in February 2022 to attack his Ukrainian neighbor.
“I am being prosecuted only because I used my rights (…) it is a political trial,” he said, insisting, his voice slightly trembling, on the fact that “the war (. ..) destroys the future of our country.”
Dmitri Mouratov with his energetic voice undermined the Kremlin's speech which likes to compare its assault against Ukraine to the USSR's fight against Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
“What is the difference between the Great Patriotic War and the special military operation?” he asked, using the euphemism imposed by Vladimir Putin regarding of the conflict in Ukraine.
“The Great Patriotic War was for our land. (The Soviet invasion of) Afghanistan and the special military operation (in Ukraine), these are the lands of others,” he insisted, drawing a parallel with the war which contributed to the fall of the USSR.
New example of the repression in Russia of Kremlin critics since the attack on Ukraine, the trial of Mr. Orlov also illustrates the desire of the Russian authorities to muzzle reproachful interpretations of the Soviet past and of President Putin's regime.
– Psychiatric expertise –
The prosecutor even requested a psychiatric assessment of the defendant on Wednesday, citing, to justify it, Oleg Orlov's activism against the invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s or his recent criticism of the Chechen leader close to the Kremlin, Ramzan. Kadyrov.
The judge rejected this request.
< /p> Oleg Orlov (l) carries a chair to his trial next to his friend Dmitri Mouratov, in a Moscow court, October 11, 2023 © AFP – Alexander NEMENOV
Seasoned activist aged 70, the defendant has sharply denounced the Russian operation on Ukrainian territory on several occasions while choosing to remain in Russia, despite the high risk of ending up in prison, like many other critics, famous or anonymous, of the Russian regime.
He rejected all accusations against him, calling them “idiotic”.
Concretely, Oleg Orlov is accused of having demonstrated against the Russian offensive in Ukraine and of having signed a platform in vitriol against the Russian authorities entitled “They wanted fascism, they got it”, published by the French media Mediapart.
This text accuses Russian troops of the “mass” murder of Ukrainian civilians and denounces the “victory” in Russia of the country's “darkest forces”, those who “dreamed of total revenge” after the disintegration of the USSR .
Russian justice therefore accuses Oleg Orlov of “public activities aimed at discrediting” the armed forces, under an article of the Penal Code adopted in spring 2022 and used massively to punish critics of the armed forces. assault on Ukraine. The article was toughened in March, now providing for sentences of up to five years in prison.
The prosecutor indicated that she ultimately only required a fine, the age and health of the activist being, according to her, “extenuating circumstances”.
Biologist by training, Mr. Orlov joined the Memorial association from its creation, at the end of the 1980s, which has become a pillar of the quest for truth on the crimes of the USSR and the defense of human rights in post-Soviet Russia.
The NGO was dissolved by Russian justice at the end of 2021, a few weeks before the attack on the Ukraine.
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