Chairwoman Hautala has received with disappointment the news that criminal charges against Mr Oleg Orlov are still ongoing[:], despite the announcement on 9th of February by the Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov, to drop the charges. The investigation has been referred to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
In statement on 15 July 2009 Mr Orlov indicated that he believed Kadyrov, or his administration, were responsible for the murder Natalia Estemirova, the head of Memorial’s office in Grozny. Kadyrov lodged an administrative complaint of libel against him which resulted on 6 October 2009 in guilty verdict of libel by the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow. On 9th of February Mr Kadyrov announced that he would drop the criminal charges for libel against Mr Orlov.
The continuation of the criminal case is a cause for great concern. These proceedings agains Mr Orlov serve only to silence his criticism of the Chechen administration and seem of outright judicial harrasment, Ms Hautala said.
Oleg Orlov is the Chair of human rights organisation Memorial and together with Ms Ludmila Alekseyeva, Mr Sergey Kovalev and all other human rights defenders in Russia, they were awarded the prestigious 2009 European Parliament Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
According to the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Mr. Orlov is summoned to appear at the Ministry on July 6.