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Moscow critic Oleg Orlov sentenced to prison, days before Navalny funeral


Oleg Orlov in custody inside a Russia courtroom Associated Press/Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko

Moscow critic Oleg Orlov sentenced to prison, days before Navalny funeral

A Russian court found the 70-year-old activist guilty of “repeatedly discrediting” Russia’s military on Tuesday and sentenced him to 2 ½ years in prison. Orlov co-chairs the Nobel Peace Prize–winning human rights society Memorial and is a known critic of the Moscow regime, specifically condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy condemned the verdict and accused Russian leaders of “dragging the country back into a dark, dangerous and isolated place” by stripping citizens’ rights.

Wasn’t Orlov already tried? The court previously found Orlov guilty in October and fined him 150,000 roubles. Prosecutors petitioned a higher court for a re-trial and a harsher punishment. Orlov reportedly ignored the second case, opting to read Franz Kafka’s The Trial throughout the proceedings. He also stated, “I don’t regret anything, and I don’t repent anything,” during closing arguments before condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine once again.

Orlov’s trial comes days before the funeral of fellow opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Russian leaders claim Navalny suffered from “sudden death syndrome” in an Arctic penal colony earlier this month. Vladimir Putin is widely believed to be behind Navalny’s death, with U.S. President Joe Biden publicly stating, “Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death.”

What do we know about Navalny’s funeral? Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said the funeral will occur Friday in southeast Moscow after reportedly struggling to find a venue to host the event. Yarmysh said her team was told funeral agencies were “forbidden” from working with them. Posting on social media, Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, accused Putin and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin of trying to stop the funeral. Russian authorities previously arrested hundreds of Navalny’s mourners days after his death, prompting safety concerns for the funeral.

Dig deeper: Read William Inboden’s column in WORLD Opinions about the meaning of Navalny’s death.


Christina Grube

Christina Grube is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.


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