Memorial’s Oleg Orlov to be represented by Genry Reznik


Mr Reznik, a prominent bar lawyer, will represent the respondent in the case involving allegations of “slander” brought by President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov against the Head of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, Oleg Orlov.

On the day that Natalya Estemirova was abducted and murdered (15 July), Oleg Orlov made a statement in which he said

“I know, I am certain who is guilty of the murder of Natasha Estemirova. We all know this man. His name is Ramsan Kadyrov, President of the Chechen Republic. Ramzan had already threatened Natasha, insulted her, and considered her his personal enemy. We don’t know if he himself gave the order, or whether that was done by his closest people so as to please the leadership. And it would seem to suit President Medvedev to have a murderer as head of one of the republics of the Russian Federation”.

When Natasha dared to speak disapproving about young women being made, almost by force, to wear headscarves in public places, there was a conversation with Kadyrov. She recounted how Kadyrov threatened her, saying literally: “Yes, my hands are drenched in blood, and I’m not ashamed of it. I have killed and will kill bad people. We are fighting the enemies of the republic.”

We know that the last of Natasha’s reports about new abductions, extra-judicial executions, public shooting in the middle of a Chechen village aroused indignation among those at the top in Chechnya. The so-called Human Rights Ombudsperson for Chechnya Nurdi Nukhazhiev told the head of our Grozny office about this. He said that he didn’t want anything to happen and would therefore criticize human rights defenders.

We took a risk which proved unjustified. We are very much to blame.

We must call things by their real name. In Russia we are seeing State terror. We know about murders in Chechnya and beyond its boundaries. They kill those who try to tell the truth, to criticize the authorities. Ramzan Kadyrov has made the work of human rights defenders in the Republic impossible. Those who killed Natasha Estemirova wanted to stop the flow of truthful information from out of Chechnya.

It may be that they have succeeded.

Kadyrov phoned Orlov, called the public accusation “unethical” and said that Orlov had violated his civic rights.

Later, just before the murders of the Head of the charity “Let’s Save the Generation”, Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband, Kadyrov said in an interview to Radio Svoboda, that he had no reason to kill a woman “who nobody needed” and added that the murdered human rights defender “never had any honour, dignity or conscience”, that she had not taken part in the Grozny Public Council – “she doesn’t go to meetings, doesn’t speak, she throws out all kinds of nonsense, rubbish”.

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