Memorial’s Oleg Orlov Called as Witness in “Book Trial”
Human Right Center Memorial’s Oleg Orlov took the witness stand in the case of the “extremist materials” charges against the monograph International Tribunal for Chechnya.
January 30, 2013 in the city of Nizhny Novgorod its Dzerzhinsky District Court resumed the hearing regarding recognition of the book International Tribunal for Chechnya an “extremist material.” In the course of the proceedings Oleg Orlov, a Member of the Governing Board of the Human Rights Center Memorial, took the witness stand, having traveled for questioning from Moscow.
He was summoned after a request made by Alexander Manov, the lawyer representing Stanislav Dmitrievsky, the editor and co-author of the monograph. Oleg Orlov also answered Igor Kaliapin, the Chair of the Inter-regional Civic Organization Committee Against Torture, involved in the case as an interested party. A representative of the Prosecution had no questions for Orlov, and the representative of the Ministry of Justice who attended the sessions until this day did not make an appearance, having previously requested the Court to continue proceedings without him.
Oleg Orlov told the Court about the organization of primary information gathering which the controversial monograph was based on. He noted that in his approximation the information presented in the book International Tribunal for Chechnya about the crimes committed by sides during the armed conflict in the North Caucasus is more than 50% based on results of the monitoring conducted by the HRC Memorial. The authors of the study agreed with such this approximation. Orlov underlined that the authors used this information correctly, without any distortions or inaccuracies. The witness detailed mechanisms of monitoring the situation with human rights that HRC Memorial conducted in the Chechen Republic starting in the year 2000, including how the organization represented interests of victims, corresponded with the Prosecutor’s offices, cooperated with governmental agencies and international organizations. He clarified that an absolute majority of the crimes committed by representatives of the government upon civilians in this conflict remains uninvestigated.
Oleg Orlov described the monograph as a serious scientific study. He underscored that instances of human rights and international humanitarian law violations committed in Chechnya were analyzed in the light of the norms of the international criminal law for the first time in this particular work. “The main theme of the book is impunity,” Orlov stressed, “and Dmitrievsky and his co-authors offer legal ways of fighting this impunity”. When answering attorney Manov whether the book contains “hidden meanings or incitations”, the witness noted that “the book is absolutely transparent and the call to justice contained in it is expressed clearly enough.” Orlov added that he finds no signs of extremism in the book.
When answering the questions of attorney Kaliapin, Orlov stated that human rights defenders must pay attention to such phenomena as inciting adversity, ethnic hatred, xenophobia, etc. To talk about these things without quoting certain expressions of the “language of adversity” is impossible.
That’s why using such quotes in the controversial monograph is both legal and scientifically justified.
At the end of the session the sides exchanged opinions regarding the possibility of launching another expert study of the book and what potential experts would be included if that would go ahead.
The next session is scheduled for 2:00 pm, February 7, 2013.
Reports from the previous sessions and the documents of the case are available on HRC Memorial’s site at:
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February 3, 2013