Tanya Lokshina: Human Rights Defender Arrested in Chechnya [Human Rights Watch]

posted 10 Jan 2018, 11:00 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 10 Jan 2018, 11:04 ]
9 January 2018

By Tanya Lokshina, Russia Programme Director, Human Rights Watch

Another Attempt to Fraudulently Frame a Critic on Drugs Charges

This morning, Chechen authorities arrested activist Oyub Titiev, who works as the Chechnya office director at a leading Russian rights group, Memorial Human Rights Center. Titiev, born 1957, took over for Memorial in Chechnya after the kidnapping and murder of his colleague, Natalia Estemirova in 2009. In recent years, he received many threats aimed at making him quit human rights work. Now, his life and safety are in jeopardy. Seven hours after his arrest, Chechnya’s interior ministry confirmed they took him into custody, allegedly on suspicion of a drug-related crime. At about 10:30 a.m. a witness saw five to six police officials stop and search Titiev’s car by the Khumyk river bridge, not far from the town of Kurchaloi. The officials then took Titiev to the Kurchaloi district police department. When a lawyer from Memorial arrived at the police department that afternoon, an officer refused to let him in, claiming Titiev wasn’t on the premises. Another police officer, however, admitted off the record that they had Titiev in custody. At about 5 p.m., Chechnya’s deputy interior minister informed Russia’s federal ombudsperson, in response to her inquiry, that Kurchaoi police had detained Titiev. Around that time, Titiev’s lawyer was admitted to the station, and local police told him his client was being charged with unlawful drug possession. [Read more]