Urgent Appeal

Russia: Judicial harassment of Memorial co-chair Oleg Orlov


The Observatory has received information about the judicial harassment of Mr Oleg Orlov, co-chair of Memorial Human Rights Center (HRC “Memorial”), a member organisation of FIDH. A prominent figure in the defence of human rights in Russia, Mr Orlov was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Expression, and in 2012 the Moscow Helsinki Group Award for his “historic contribution to the defence of human rights and the human rights movement”.

On 29 April 2023, Oleg Orlov will be presented with a final accusation report by the Russian Investigative Committee, in Moscow and in the presence of his lawyer for the charge of “public actions aimed at discrediting the use of armed forces of the Russian Federation” (Article 280.3(1) of the Criminal Code). This report will then be sent to the Koptevskiy District Court in Moscow, which will schedule a date for the trial. Orlov was formally charged in early April 2023 for his involvement in anti-war movements.

On 21 March 2023, the apartments of Oleg Orlov and eight other members of Memorial were searched as part of an investigation for alleged “exoneration of Nazism” (Section 354.1 (2) (c) of the Criminal Code). They were subsequently taken to the Investigative Committee of the Tverskoy District, Moscow for interrogation. All of them were released pending investigation under witness status, and were given an order of non-disclosure of details of the case.

On the same day, the Investigative Committee opened criminal proceedings against Oleg Orlov on the charge of “public actions aimed at discrediting the use of armed forces of the Russian Federation”. This accusation is based on an article written by Oleg Orlov titled “Russia: they wanted fascism, they got it” (“Russie : ils voulaient le fascisme, ils l’ont eu”) published on the French blogging platform Le Club de Mediapart on 13 November 2022.

The judicial harassment of Oleg Orlov is another blow to the Russian human rights organisation Memorial, which had been dissolved by the authorities in December 2021, which was later confirmed in appeal in April 2022. It is also part of a broader crackdown on anti-war protesters who oppose the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Observatory recalls that in 2022, Orlov was fined five times for holding solitary anti-war demonstrations. Two of these convictions were under the law on “discrediting the army” (Article 20.3.3 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation).

The Observatory strongly condemns the criminal proceedings against Oleg Orlov, calls on the Russian authorities to drop all charges against him and to stop all acts of harassment, including at the administrative and judicial levels, against him and all human rights defenders and organisations in Russia.

How You Can Help

Please write to the authorities of Russia, asking them to:

1. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Oleg Orlov and  all human rights defenders in the country;
2. Drop all charges and put an  immediate end to all act of harassment, including at the judicial and  administrative levels, against Oleg Orlov, as well as against all human  rights defenders in the country;
3. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, as  enshrined in international human right law, and particularly in Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political  Rights.


• Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Twitter: @KremlinRussia_E
• Mr. Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Twitter:@GovernmentRF
• Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, E-mail: ministry@mid.ru
• Mr. Igor Krasnov, General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, Email: pressa@genproc.gov.ru
• Mr. Alexander Bortnikov, Director of Federal Security Service (FSS), Email: fsb@fsb.ru
• Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. E-mail: mission.russian@vtxnet.ch
• Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. E-mail: mission.russian@vtxnet.ch
• Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, France. Email: russia.coe@orange.fr

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Russian Federation in your respective countries.

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