Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Veteran Rights Activist Orlov Transferred Before Prison Sentence Begins

Russian human rights activist Oleg Orlov in court. Sergei Karpukhin / TASS

The Russian human rights group Memorial said Monday that its co-founder Oleg Orlov was transferred to a detention center in southwestern Russia before his prison sentence was set to enter into force.

A Moscow court in February found Orlov, 71, guilty of “discrediting” the Russian army after he openly criticized the invasion of Ukraine, sentencing him to two-and-a-half years in a medium-security prison. The activist has appealed the verdict against him.

Under Russian law, a prison sentence does not enter into force until a higher court issues a ruling on an appeal. 

Memorial said in a statement that authorities on Thursday night moved Orlov from Moscow to a detention center in the southwestern city of Samara without notifying his lawyer or wife. 

“We have appealed the verdict... therefore, it will have entered into legal force only after an appellate court, which could theoretically commute the sentence or acquit,” the activist’s lawyer Katerina Tertukhina said.

An unnamed lawyer at Memorial said Russian prison authorities sometimes justify the premature transfer of prisoners as a way to help ease overcrowded detention centers. 

According to the lawyer, the judge who sentenced Orlov granted visitation rights to his wife Tatiana on Thursday.

“This is a terrible humiliation... It’s hard to interpret this as anything other than revenge or a desire to ‘spite’ Orlov,” the Memorial lawyer said. 

Tatiana Orlova requested that the authorities not transfer her husband until his sentence enters force due to his poor health.

Memorial described the transfer, which is standard practice for many prisoners in Russia, as a “torturous” process in cramped spaces.

“[Orlov] is very tired. He still doesn’t know where and on what grounds he’s being transferred. It’s possible that Samara is not the final destination,” Memorial wrote.

Russia’s Justice Ministry designated Orlov a “foreign agent” 11 days ahead of his sentencing.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more