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This Russian Activist Was Sentenced To Prison For Criticizing Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Oleg Orlov, one of Russia’s most prominent human rights activists, had criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said president Vladimir Putin had pushed the country towards fascism.

Russia has jailed this 70-year-old activist for two-and-a-half years for criticizing its war in Ukraine.

Oleg Orlov co chair nobel prize jailed russia
Oleg Orlov is seen handcuffed after being sentenced to two and a half years in jail on charges of repeatedly “discrediting” the Russian army, in Moscow. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP)

Oleg Orlov, one of Russia’s most prominent human rights activists, had written an article for a French magazine that criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said president Vladimir Putin had pushed the country towards fascism.

russia human right activist oleg orlov jailed ukraine war memorial

Initially, in October 2023, Orlov, who is the co-chairman of a Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights group called Memorial, was fined 150,000 rubles, or around $1,650 US dollars.

Oleg Orlov russia human right activist jailed
Oleg Orlov, the co-chair of Russia’s human rights organisation Memorial – a Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient, accused of repeatedly discrediting the Russian army, stands with Russian journalist, Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov. (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

But Russian authorities appealed for a tougher sentence, saying that Orlov wrote the article out of resentment towards “traditional Russian spiritual, moral, and patriotic values”, and hatred for the Russian military.

poster disputes russia Oleg Orlov jailed
A protester disputes with police officers who detaine him during an unsanctioned protest rally over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine at the Pushkinskaya Square, Ferbruary,27,2022, in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Feb. 27, a court in Moscow then sentenced him to 30-months in prison for “discrediting the Russian military.”

russia activist oleg orlov jailed ukraine war memorial

Since its invasion in February 2022, Russia has passed laws criminalizing anti-war protests and war reporting, with people facing up to 15 years in prison.

russia jailed oleg orlov ukraine war memorial

In his closing statement, Orlov said that he had committed no crime and did not regret anything.

oleg orlov jailed ukraine war memorial russia

He added that Russia invading Ukraine, strangling freedom in the country, “killing” opposition leader Alexei Navalny and imprisoning him are all “links in the same chain”.

Oleg Orlov russia activist jailed
Human rights campaigner and head of the Nobel Prize-winning Memorial group Oleg Orlov, 70, who was labelled a “foreign agent” earlier this month, talks to an AFP reporter during an interview at his flat in Moscow on February 12, 2024. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)

He echoed Navalny’s last message and called on those fighting for Russia’s freedom not to lose heart and optimism, saying that victory is inevitable.

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