Moment 70-Year-Old Anti-Putin Activist Is Applauded By Supporters While Being Led Away To Jail In Handcuffs

Moment 70-Year-Old Anti-Putin Activist Is Applauded By Supporters While Being Led Away To Jail In Handcuffs

This is the moment one of Russia’s most distinguished human rights campaigners was handcuffed and forced to the cells for daring to criticise Vladimir Putin’s war.

Oleg Orlov, 70, won a share of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022 after the Memorial group was banned and dissolved in Russia.

Today he was jailed for 30 months in the latest sign of the growing repression being imposed by dictator Putin and the Kremlin regime.

His lawyer Katerina Tertukhina momentarily clutched the back of his hand as the guards came to handcuff him and lead him into the glass court cage where he raised his fist defiantly.

As he was led away through the court building dozens of supporters applauded the distinguished campaigner.

In his final speech to court, Orlov – for two decades one of the leaders of Memorial – had lambasted the ‘totalitarian’ and ‘fascist’ Russian state, warning officials that they could be next to fall foul of Putin’s tyranny.

The pensioner was escorted out of the courtroom by at least eight armed security officials who hid their faces as he was sentenced to 30 months in Putin’s hellish prison system, in which Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny this month died in a suspected murder.

He was convicted over an article he wrote accusing Putin of leading Russia to fascism. This came in a retrial after he was earlier fined due to his age and health.

In an emotional final speech in court, Orlov said: ‘I want to appeal to those who are now moving the steamroller of repression forward with their work. To government officials, law enforcement officials, judges, prosecutors.

‘In fact, you understand everything perfectly well, and not all of you are staunch supporters of political repression. Sometimes you regret what you have to do, but you say to yourself: ‘What can I do? I’m just following the instructions of my superiors: the law is the law.’

Addressing the judge, he said: ‘I turn to you, your honour, I turn to the representative of the prosecution: Aren’t you scared yourself?

‘Isn’t it scary to see what our country, which perhaps you also love, is turning into? Isn’t it scary that not only you, but also your children and, God forbid, your grandchildren may have to live in this absurdity, in this dystopia?

‘Doesn’t the obvious come to mind: the steamroller of repression may sooner or later roll over those who launched and pushed it, because this has happened more than once in history?’

He warned: ‘All these are links in the same chain: the death, or rather, the massacre of Alexei (Navalny), the judicial reprisals against other critics of the regime, including me, the strangulation of freedom in the country, the entry of Russian troops into Ukraine.’

Orlov praised Navalny in his remarkable courtroom address before sentencing.

‘He was an amazing person, brave and honest, who, in conditions that were made incredibly harsh specifically for him, did not lose optimism and faith in the future of our country,’ he said. ‘Whatever the specific circumstances of his death might have been, this was a murder.’

Orlov previously told The Guardian: ‘I made a decision a long time ago that I want to live and die in Russia, it’s my country…..Even though it’s never been so bad.’

The U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Russia, Mariana Katzarova, called Orlov’s trial ‘an orchestrated attempt to silence the voices of human rights defenders in Russia’ and a ‘textbook example of a repressive system.’

Memorial, founded in 1989, has documented human rights abuses from the time of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to the present and defended freedom of speech, with a focus on identifying and honouring individual victims.

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