Rights Group Claims 70-year-old Russian Activist Was Coerced Into Signing Form For Combat In Ukraine

According to a human rights organization, a 70-year-old Russian human rights activist who is currently in jail was reportedly asked to sign a form expressing his willingness to participate in the conflict in Ukraine.

Oleg Orlov, one of the cofounders of Memorial, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022, faced multiple arrests in the same year for participating in protests against the war in Ukraine.

He protested the war and was subsequently sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for “discrediting the armed forces.”

In a series of X posts, Memorial revealed that upon his arrival at a Moscow detention center, Orlov was asked to sign papers that enlisted him in Russia’s war.

The exact timing of this incident remains unclear.

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All new detainees at the center were being offered the opportunity to sign up instead of serving time behind bars, Memorial reported.

Russia’s military has enlisted thousands of prisoners to join its war effort, according to the UK’s Ministry of Defence. This move is intended to increase the country’s troop count without having to implement new mandatory mobilization measures.

Memorial reported that when Orlov was informed of the request, he jokingly inquired if they were “embarrassed” by his age, as he will be turning 71 this year.

Memorial assured Orlov that there was no reason for them to feel embarrassed.

Memorial reported that instead of enlisting, Orlov expressed his disagreement by writing, “I do not agree.”

The group highlighted that Russian authorities appeared unaffected by the fact that Orlov was imprisoned for his opposition to the war and his support for Ukraine in the first place.

According to Reuters, the head of the Nobel Prize committee, Joergen Watne Frydnes, described the sentencing of Orlov as “politically motivated.”

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