Statement by International Memorial Association in Support of Oleg Orlov

7 June 2023

Source: Memorial Society [Facebook]

On 8 June, the trial will begin against our comrade, co-chair of the Memorial Centre for the Defence of Human Rights and board member of the International Memorial Association, 70-year-old Oleg Petrovich Orlov. Many of us have worked with Oleg in Memorial since the late 1980s. We have spent a lifetime together. We at Memorial know full well his chief quality: his uncompromising and fearless drive to defend those persecuted by the Russian regime and to know and assert the truth about our past and present. This is why they want to convict him, because speaking the truth in today’s Russian state has become a crime. Today, thousands of people in Russia have been imprisoned simply for speaking the truth.

Oleg Orlov is accused of “repeated discreditation” of the army (Article 280.3, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code]) and is threatened with three years’ incarceration. The reason for this was his essay, “They Wanted Fascism. And They Got It,” which was published in many European languages. In it, Oleg contemplates the present and future of Russia and Europe, analyzes the causes that led to this aggressive war, and comes to a sad conclusion about the triumph of fascism in Russia. In Russia, though, free thinking about the fatherland’s fate has become a crime. The very freedom to express one’s opinions, which is guaranteed by the Russian Constitution and international human rights standards, has become criminal.

We have no hope that the court will acquit Oleg Orlov. Justice in Russia today is rendered not according to the law but by decree from above. We declare our solidarity with him and our confidence that his words will be deemed true in time.

International Memorial Association 

Picture by Lilya Matveeva

Translated by Marian Schwartz

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