Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

14 June 2011

Russian human rights defender not guilty of slander charges

Russian human rights defender not guilty of slander charges

A leading Russian human rights defender accused of slandering the Chechen president has been acquitted by a court in Moscow.

Oleg Orlov, head of the NGO Human Rights Centre Memorial, was acquitted of slandering Ramzan Kadyrov during a hearing on Tuesday.  Orlov had said he believed Kadyrov was responsible for the murder of his colleague Natalia Estemirova, who was abducted and killed in Chechnya in July 2009.

“Oleg Orlov should never have been criminally prosecuted for expressing his opinion,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern and Central Europe.

“The decision is a small but welcome sign of respect for the rule of law and the right to freedom of expression, even as human rights defenders in Chechnya continue to suffer threats and intimidation.”

The judge found that Oleg Orlov had only expressed his opinion, and had not knowingly made false claims about Ramzan Kadyrov. 

It was revealed during the trial that that Natalia Estemirova had received numerous threats when she was working in Chechnya, which she had only revealed to her close friends. 

“The next step for the Russian justice system should be to fully investigate the killing of Natalia Estemirova and to bring those responsible for her murder to justice,” said John Dalhuisen. 

Following Natalia Estemirova's murder Memorial suspended its work in Chechnya, and the authorities in Chechnya continue to intimidate and harass human rights activists.

Amnesty International had called throughout Oleg Orlov’s trial for criminal charges to be dropped.

Russian president Dmitryi Medvedev has recently proposed that slander be removed from the Russian criminal code. 

Oleg Orlov has already been convicted of slander in a civil case brought by Ramzan Kadyrov.

The UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression has called on countries to abolish criminal defamation laws, on the grounds that civil defamation laws provide adequate protection.

Memorial was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2009.

Read More

Trial of Russian human rights defender Oleg Orlov continues (Blog, 3 March 2011)
Russian Federation: Criminal charges against human rights defender must be dropped (Public statement, 11 August 2010)
Russian Federation: Natalia Estemirova: Unforgotten in her commitment for human rights (Document, 15 July 2010)

Issue

Activists 
Freedom Of Expression 
Trials And Legal Systems 

Country

Russian Federation 

Region

Europe And Central Asia 

@amnestyonline on twitter

News

29 July 2014

Burundi’s ruling party is perpetrating a relentless campaign of intimidation against government critics and its youth wing is carrying out crimes with impunity ahead of next... Read more »

24 July 2014

The prolonged execution of a prisoner in Arizona yesterday represents another wake-up call for authorities in the USA to abolish the death penalty, said Amnesty International... Read more »

22 July 2014

Indonesia’s new President Joko Widodo must deliver on campaign promises to improve Indonesia’s dire human rights situation, Amnesty International said.

Read more »
24 July 2014

Poland is the first European Union member state to be found complicit in the USA’s rendition, secret detention, and torture of alleged terrorism suspects, Amnesty International... Read more »

25 July 2014

Amnesty International's experts respond to some of the questions raised around the Israel/Gaza conflict.

Read more »