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27 Oct, 2009 15:38

Chechen president Kadyrov vs human rights chief

A criminal case against the head of a human rights group, Oleg Orlov, accused of slander against the Chechen President, has been initiated on Tuesday, said Ramzan Kadyrov’s lawyer, according to news agency Interfax.

The maximum sentence for this crime is three years in prison.

Ramzan Kadyrov called for legal action after the head of the “Memorial” center claimed the Chechen president was responsible for the murder of one of the center’s members, Natalia Estemirova. She was kidnapped in the capital of the republic on the 15th of July 2009, and later found dead in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia.

After the president registered the claim, local police refused to prosecute the case, so the lawyer of the plaintiff, Andrei Krasnenkov, applied to prosecutors in Moscow.

The Chechen President’s civil claim was upheld in the Moscow court, which decided to award $2,500 in damages to Kadyrov. Meanwhile, the president demanded $340,000.

Thus the court has already recognized that Orlov’s words tarnished the reputation of the president.

The human rights center sent an appeal to Moscow State Court in order to void the decision. Kadyrov’s lawyer responded with the comment: “I believe this appeal has no future.”

In addition, the president demanded that the amount of compensation be raised.

Police have made no comments on the commencement of the case.

On the 22nd of October, Orlov and two other members of the “Memorial” human rights group were awarded as laureates of the Andrey Sakharov Prize, becoming the first Russian laureates of this award. The prize was established to mark achievements in the field of human rights activism.