Friederike Behr at Amnesty International
is blogging her attendance at the trial of Oleg Orlov, who stands accused of slander for his accusations that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov is to blame for the death of human rights defender Natalia Estemirova.
This trial should not happen at all. Defamation laws have no place in criminal law. In addition they should not be used to provide any special protection for public officials, nor should public authorities take part in bringing actions for alleged defamation of public officials.
Today, Oleg Orlov explained how he considers Ramzan Kadyrov to be responsible for the murder of Natalia Estemirova. He quoted from dozens of statements made by the head of Chechnya himself or his close allies, claiming to have full control over events in Chechnya, justifying unlawful actions against alleged enemies of the state or enemies of the Chechen people and calling human rights defenders, including staff from Memorial, “enemies of the people”. He also reminded the judge that in his statement, made on 16 July 2009, he said that he did not know if Ramzan Kadyrov had ordered the killing. Rather he took into consideration the strict control Ramzan Kadyrov has over the Chechen Republic as well as the negative attitude Ramzan Kadyrov expressed towards human rights defenders.
Behr also talks about the wider issues surrounding Estemirova’s death, and discusses some aspects of the journalist’s working life. Read the full piece here