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— 13 декабря 2012 г. —

Oleg Orlov on the International Human Rights Day: We Shall Fight Yet!

December 10, 2012. The Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia’s oldest human rights organization, held its awards ceremony on the International Human Rights Day.


The nomination for the “Historic contribution in defense of human rights and the defense of human rights movement” went to Oleg Orlov, the longtime Chairman of the Board of the Human Rights Center Memorial, head of the "Hot Spots" program within Memorial.
In 1980, Oleg Orlov pasted the streets with posters against the war in Afghanistan by himself. In 1981, when many expected deployment of Soviet forces in Poland amid protests there, he distributed flyers in support of that country’s Solidarnosc movement. Oleg Orlov was involved in the foundation stages of the Memorial Society in 1987 and then headed the Council of the Human Rights Center Memorial for more than fifteen years. He took part in designing legislature to humanize Russia’s sites of detention (Penal System) as an expert of Russia’s Supreme Council. He was a member of the President of the Russian Federation’s Human Rights Council since 2004 and left in 2006 in an act of protest against offensive statements made by President Vladimir Putin about the murdered journalist and writer Anna Politkovskaya.
Oleg Orlov’s main focus was and remains the defense of human rights in the North Caucasus. His work often went along with risk. He participated in the attempts to evacuate civilians, free hostages and prisoners, and negotiate between warring sides as part of the Sergey Kovalev Group during the fighting and bombing in Grozny at the end of 1994 and early 1995. As part of the same group Oleg Orlov also conducted negotiations with terrorists when a terrorist group commanded by Shamil Basayev held thousands of hostages in a hospital in the city of Budennovsk. As a result, the armed conflict stopped in Chechnya, a dialogue between the warring sides began under the auspices of the OSCE, and all of the hostages were freed - a hundred and fifty volunteer-hostages replaced them. Orlov and his colleagues were among the volunteers.
Oleg Orlov and three journalists of the REN TV channel crew were abducted from their hotel in the city of Nazran in November 2007 by a group of armed people. With bags on their heads and threatened to be shot, they were driven up into the mountains, and after a beating, left in the snow. Orlov led the journalists out to the nearby village.
In 2009 Orlov made a statement about the complicity of Chechnya’s President Ramzan Kadyrov in the abduction and murder of the Memorial member Natalia Estimirova. Kadyrov took Orlov to court for slander but lost the lawsuit in June 2011.
Oleg Orlov continues to work in the “hot spots” of the North Caucasus, and is a member of the Board of the HRC Memorial and the Board of International Memorial.
As she handed the prize to Oleg Orlov, the Chair of the Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva read out an address from the veteran of the Russian human rights movement Sergey Kovalev: “I regret that due to ill health I can’t personally award this prize to Oleg Petrovich Orlov. It would have been a great honour for me. It goes without saying that Oleg Petrovich deserves this award. More so, I am sure that today we have not praised him enough for his service to the human rights movement. Oleg Petrovich truly made a historic contribution in the work of defending human rights. We know each other from the very beginning of Memorial: he walked in the streets and collected signatures and invited anyone who wasn’t indifferent to take part in Memorial’s creation. On the first meeting I was conquered by his extraordinary smile. Unfortunately, in these times it appears on his face a lot less often.”
The award “for a historic contribution” makes one think that it is time to retire from work, go fishing, and spend time reminiscing the past, noted Orlov in reply, “but I (nor other human rights defenders) don’t succumb to this temptation. As paradoxical as it may sound, we can thank the current authorities for that. No, it is too early to rest. We shall fight yet!”


This year is the fourth time The Moscow Helsinki Group Award was awarded.
This year the award was given in the following categories to nine nominees:
    Bravery exhibited in defense of human rights: Sergey Mokhnatkin;
    Defense of human rights by means of culture and the arts: screenwriter Vladimir Sinelnikov;
    Journalism in contribution to advancement of human rights values: journalist Christina Gorelik;
    Contribution to human rights education: professor Olga Zimenkova;
    Defending human rights in court: lawyer and member of the human rights defense of the Komi region Ernest Mezak;
    Successful development and management of human rights organizations: head of the Astrakhan city branch of Soldier’s Mothers Committee Lyubov Glarivanova;
    Defense of social rights and interests of local communities: the director of the human rights centre in Dzerzhinsk city in the Nizhny Novgorod Region, Emma Feldstein;
    Expert and scientific activity in the field of human rights: director of the Sakharov Archives in Moscow Bela Koval;
    Developing traditions of human rights among youth: lawyer Yuri Blokhin;
Former laureates of the Moscow Helsinki Group Award in the category "Historical contribution in defense of human rights and the human rights movement" were Alexander Daniel, Yuri Shmidt, and Boris Pustyntsev.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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