Chairwoman of European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights expressed on 13th of September, at the meeting of the committee, great concern over the ongoing case against Russian human rights defender Mr Oleg Orlov, winner of the 2009 European Parliament Sakharov-prize for freedom of thought.[:] The first hearing concerning criminal charges, case No. 310555, of libel against Mr Orlov was held today at District Court No. 63 in Khamovniki district in Moscow.
Charges against Mr Oleg Orlov, Chairman of Human Rights Centre Memorial, were brought on 20th of October 2009 on grounds of Article 129 (3) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Mr Orlov had on 15 July 2009 made a statement concerning alleged involvement of the President of the Chechen Republic, Ramazan Kadyrov, in the killing of Orlov’s colleague and human rights defender Natalya Estemirova, in July 2009.
Prior to criminal charges, Mr Orlov was subjected to a civil defamation suit filed by Ramazan Kadyrov, and on 6 October 2009 was found guilty and fined. Mr Orlov appealed the verdict but lost the appeal.
The Chair denounced the charges against Mr Orlov as retaliation for his long standing human rights work in Russia.
Chairwoman was nevertheless pleased to learn that EU had attended the hearing to monitor the proceedings. “Close monitoring is vitally important is a case that is as alarming as this one is,” she added.