EURASIA LIFT

Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

RUSSIA: OLEG ORLOV NOT GUILTY – Court Rules Against Kadyrov Defamation Case

Posted by Info on 14/06/2011

A judge in Moscow decided that human rights activist Oleg Orlov was not guilty in a slander case involving Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

Orlov, the head of the Memorial human rights group, was charged with defamation last July after he publicly accused Kadyrov, formerly a Chechen gunman, of being behind the murder of Chechen rights activist Natalia Estemirova in 2009.
Kadyrov, 34, who called Estemirova a “woman without honor or shame” shortly before her death, has denied the allegations.
Estemirova, 51, was kidnapped early on July 15, 2009, in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, and her body was found later in the neighboring North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia.
Estemirova recorded hundreds of cases of alleged abuse against civilians by the militia under control of ex-militant turned Kremlin loyalist Kadyrov.

PRESS RELEASE – by “FRONT LINE – protection of human rights defenders”: Libel charges dropped against head of Human Rights Center ‘Memorial’ Oleg Orlov
Front Line welcomes today’s decision of Khamovniki district court of Moscow to drop all libel charges against human rights defender Oleg Orlov head of the Human Rights Centre ‘Memorial’. HRC ‘Memorial’ is a leading human rights organisation in the Russian Federation, particularly known for its work in the North Caucasus.

The criminal case was initiated against Oleg Orlov by the Prosecutor’s office in accordance with part 2 and 3 of Article 129 (libel) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation in October 2009 following comments which Oleg Orlov made in connection with the assassination of his colleague, Natalya Estemirova, a human rights defender and member of staff of the Grozny office of ‘Memorial’ who was abducted and murdered on 15 July 2009. That same day, Oleg Orlov made a public statement regarding the responsibility of the President of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, in the killing. The ‘Memorial’ statement also alleged that President Kadyrov had previously threatened Natalya Estemirova and underlined the fact that ‘Memorial’ had been aware that their latest communications “concerning new abductions, unlawful executions and public killings in one of the Chechen villages had provoked the anger of high level Chechen officials.”

The assassination of Natalya Estemirova was followed by the killing of human rights defender Ms Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband Mr Alik Dzhabrailov on 11 August 2009, a day after they were abducted by armed men who identified themselves as members of the security forces. On 31 August 2009, the charity worker Ms Zarema Gaysanova was abducted in a military operation which was lead by Ramzan Kadyrov himself.

Almost 2 years later, there is no substantial progress in the investigation into those crimes. Human rights defenders in Chechnya continue to face a defamation campaign, intimidation and threats, including from high Chechen officials. Human rights organisations documented several serious human rights violations in Chechnya such as torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, allegedly committed by law enforcement agencies under the de facto control of Ramzan Kadyrov.

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