"The International Tribunal for Chechnya" is not extremist but a work of serious scientific study

1 February 2013 

Source: HRO.org (info)
On January 30, 2013 the Dzerzhinsk District Court of Nizhny Novgorod region (under Judge Olga Khaidukova) continued its examination of a request by Nizhny Novgorod's state prosecutor to have the book "The International Tribunal for Chechnya" deemed extremist. During the proceedings, Oleg Orlov, a member of the Memorial Human Rights Centre was questioned as a witness. He had come specially from Moscow to take part in the process. Memorial Human Rights Centre reports.

Oleg Orlov was summoned at the request of Alexandr Manov the lawyer representing the interests of the book's editor and co-author Stanislav Dmitrievsky. The witness was also asked questions by Igor Kalyapin the chairman of the "Committee against Torture" who was taking part in the proceedings as an interested party. The representative for the Prosecutor's Office did not have any questions for Orlov, the representative for the Ministry of Justice was not even present at the hearing and asked that the proceedings proceed without him.

Oleg Orlov told the court how the collection of the factual information, which formed the basis for the disputed monograph had been organized. He noted that, in his estimation, more than 50% of the information set forth in the book "The International Tribunal for Chechnya" about the crimes committed by the parties to the armed conflict in the North Caucasus, was based on the results of monitoring carried out by "Memorial". The authors of the research paper also agreed with this assessment. Orlov underlined that this information had been used correctly and properly by the authors without any distortion or inaccuracies.

The witness spoke in detail about the human rights monitoring mechanisms that have been employed by "Memorial" in Chechnya since 2000. He also spoke about how the organisation has represented the interests of victims, been in correspondence with the prosecutor's office, worked with state authorities and international organizations, and explained that the vast majority of the crimes committed by the state against civilians had remained unresolved.

Oleg Orlov described the monograph as a serious scientific study. He stressed that the cases in this work of human rights and international humanitarian law violations committed in Chechnya, were the first to be analysed in detail in the light of international criminal law. "The main theme of the book - is impunity - said Orlov - and Dmitrievsky and his co-authors are suggesting ways of combating this impunity in law."

Responding to a question put by Manov's lawyer about whether the book contained any "hidden undertones or calls to action," the witness noted: "The book is absolutely transparent. And the call for justice is expressed in it very clearly." Orlov added that, it went without saying, that he saw no sign of any extremism in the book whatsoever.

Responding to questions from Igor Kalyapin, Oleg Orlov said that human rights activists are obliged to pay attention to such things as incitement to hatred, racial hatred and xenophobia. It is impossible to talk about these things without citing specific manifestations such as "hate speech". Therefore, the use of such quotations in the controversial book was both legally and scientifically justified.

At the end of the sitting, the parties exchanged views on whether it would be possible to appoint another expert appraisal on the text of the book, and if so, who should be a member of this expert group and what their professional backgrounds should be.

The next hearing is scheduled for 14:00 on 7 February 2013.