Prominent Russian activist detained after Moscow anti-war protest

Oleg Orlov, of the now-banned Memorial human rights group, held a banner in Red Square to protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Oleg Orlov, a prominent Russian human rights activist, has been detained after staging a one-man protest in Moscow’s Red Square against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Members of Memorial, a now-banned human rights organisation of which Orlov had been a leader, shared a video of him on Sunday holding a banner before being taken away by police.

The sign read, “Our unwillingness to know the truth and our silence makes us conspirators to this crime.”

Human rights group OVD-Info also reported one other isolated protester – a man arrested in front of Moscow’s city hall for wearing blue and yellow, the colours of Ukraine’s flag.

OVD-Info, which monitors political arrests, says more than 15,000 people have been detained at rallies across the country to protest against the war.

Demonstrators taking to the streets risk fines and possible prison sentences.

This handout photo courtesy of longtime activist with Memorial, Russia's most prominent rights group, and human rights campaigner Oleg Orlov shows his front door painted over with the letters "Z" -- a symbol used to show support for Russia's military action in Ukraine -- and a sign reading "collaborator" in Moscow on March 28, 2022.
Oleg Orlov’s front door was previously painted over with the letter ‘Z’ – a symbol used to show support for Russia’s military action in Ukraine – and a sign reading ‘collaborator’ [Courtesy of Oleg Orlov/AFP]

According to Memorial, this was Orlov’s fourth arrest in recent times. His lawyer is with him.

In recent weeks, a number of activists have reported acts of intimidation, including their homes being vandalised.

Orlov himself had his front door tagged with “Z”  and his photo pasted on with the word “collaborator”.

The Z symbol is widely used by Russian authorities and Putin supporters, decorating building facades, bus doors, car windscreens and T-shirts.

In late December 2021, Russia’s Supreme Court ruled that Memorial should be shut down, part of a sweeping crackdown by authorities on rights activists, independent media and opposition supporters.

Prosecutors had accused the Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Centre and its parent structure, Memorial International, of violating Russia’s “foreign agent” law.

The court ruled in favour of the prosecution, which charged at the hearing that Memorial “creates a false image of the USSR as a terrorist state, whitewashes and rehabilitates Nazi criminals”, referring to the Soviet Union.

Memorial, which has spoken out against the repression of critics under Russian President Vladimir Putin, dismissed the lawsuit against it as politically motivated.

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