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HRO.org report: Criminal charges dropped against Oleg Orlov

Vera Vasilyeva 20/01/12

Source: HRO.org

· Human rights defenders  · Magadan region

Ramzan Kadyrov’s legal counsel, Andrei Krasnenkov, did not object to the case being closed, but insisted that it first be examined on its merits. <...> Orlov’s lawyer cited a fragment from the novel The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, in which the Master says to the poet Ivan Bezdomny: ‘You, of course, are an innocent.’ [1] 
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On 20 January 2012, Moscow’s Khamovnichesky district court closed the criminal case against Oleg Orlov, chair of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, who had been charged with slandering the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov.

The final hearing in the appeal at the Khamovnichesky district court against the acquittal of Oleg Orlov under Article 129, Section 3, of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation ('slander') lasted no more than half an hour. The hearing was attended by Oleg Orlov, his lawyer Genri Reznik, prosecutor Irina Vasilyeva and Andrei Krasnenkov, legal representative of Ramzan Kadyrov.

Having ascertained there were no procedural motions from either party, the presiding judge Andrei Lutov raised the question of ceasing criminal proceedings on the basis of the recently introduced changes to Russian legislation. President Dmitry Medvedev’s amendments to the Russian Criminal Code decriminalising slander entered into force in December 2011.

The state prosecutor agreed to this, remarking that the case needed to be closed and the acquittal quashed since 'the crime has been abolished by the new legislation.' 

Ramzan Kadyrov’s legal counsel, Andrei Krasnenkov, did not object to the closing of the case, but insisted that it first be examined on its merits. He also alleged that Oleg Orlov had violated the terms of bail that he should not travel out of Moscow.

For his part, lawyer for the defence Genri Reznik agreed with the court’s decision, in so far as the rights of his client had not been violated. 'Given that Oleg Petrovich and I have the moral satisfaction that he has been fully acquitted and there is in no need for exoneration,' Reznik added.

Genri Reznik dismissed the claims put forward by Andrei Krasnenkov as unlawful. Furthermore, the lawyer stated that there had been no conditions of bail imposed on his client. Genri Reznik hinted at lack of legal qualification of Kadyrov’s legal counsel, emphasising at the same time that he in no way wished to offend his opponent. The lawyer also cited a fragment from the novel The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, in which the Master says to the poet Ivan Bezdomny: 'You, of course, are an innocent.' [2]

After all parties had had their say, Judge Andrei Lutov retired to his chambers for further deliberation. Fifteen minutes later, the judge ruled in favour of dismissal of the criminal case.

Now Ramzan Kadyrov’s representative has ten days to appeal the court’s decision before Moscow City Court. If it is not appealed within ten days, then the ruling will enter into force.

In the legal proceedings in question, the prosecution had claimed that Oleg Orlov had slandered Ramzan Kadyrov in alleging the latter bore responsibility for the death on 15 July 2009 of his colleague Natalya Estemirova, who worked for Memorial in Grozny. On 14 June 2011, justice of the peace Karinna Morozova acquitted Oleg Orlov of the charge of slandering Ramzan Kadyrov. The hearing of the appeal in Khamovnichesky district court began on 4 October 2011.

[1] Mikhail Bulgakov, Master and Margarita, translated by Michael Glenny, Collins and Harvill Press, London, 1967
[2] Ibid.
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Rights in Russia,
26 Jan 2012, 14:46
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